The Druid's Garden

Spiritual Journeys in Tending the Land, Permaculture, Wildcrafting, and Regenerative Living

Poison Ivy Remedy: Jewelweed Infused Witch Hazel July 11, 2017

Jewelweed and Poison Ivy Like Each Other A Lot

Jewelweed and Poison Ivy Like Each Other A Lot

As I spend copious time in the outdoors, I often end up covered with poison ivy at least once or twice in the summer.I happen to like poison ivy as a plant a lot–she is beautiful, she is powerful, and she teaches us awareness (more on her soon).    But the contact dermatitis that I get from her on a regular basis kind of sucks.  Given that, I have a simple recipe that I make and keep on my shelf that seeks the healing power of two other plants: witch hazel and jewelweed.  This jewelweed infused witch hazel is a great remedy for poison ivy and clears it up very quickly.

 

If you can’t find jewelweed, I believe this recipe would be fairly effective with plantain or chickweed.  But Jewelweed is really the best.

 

Harvesting Jewelweed

Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) is also known as spotted touch-me-not, orange touch me not, and orange balasm.  It is an annual plant that self seeds readily, so once you know where it grows, you can easily find it in the same spot year after year.  It prefers damp, shady, forested enviornments, although I’ve also found it in wetter part sun or mostly sun environments.  The key is that it likes a moist forest floor.

The characteristic hollow stem of jewelweed (these leaves have a bit of insect damage)

The characteristic hollow stem of jewelweed (these leaves have a bit of insect damage)

On a recent plant walk, one of my attendees told me that jewelweed was named this way because if you put it under water in a flowing stream, it looks like a beautiful jewel!  So try it and see if you agree.

 

This plant’s primary use in herbal medicine is as a poison ivy remedy.  You can use it in two ways:

  • Fresh jewelweed can be applied to a location that was just exposed to poison ivy.  For this, simply pick a plant (especially getting the lower stem area and the places where the leaves join the stem that are very juicy), crush it, and rub it on the affected area.  This may take off the oils from poison ivy and prevent you from getting contact dermatits also known as poison ivy.
  • You can pick it and tincture it in witch hazel (or vinegar, in a pinch) and use this to dry out and soothe the poison ivy.
A patch of jewelweed along a damp forest path

A patch of jewelweed along a damp forest path

If you are making the remedy, you will need enough jewelweed (chopped up and crushed) to loosely fill a mason jar of whatever size you want to make.  Unless you are in poison ivy all the time, probably a pint or half pint jar is all anyone needs for a while.  It does keep indefinately, so it doesn’t hurt to make more.

 

I also like to leave an offering (a pinch of home-grown tobacco) for the jewelweed for the harvest, of course, to honor the plant and the land.

 

Making Your Poison Ivy Remedy

Poison Ivy on the skin is caused by the oils in the plant reacting with the skin.  This makes the skin blister up and get very itchy.  The more you scratch, you the more spread the poison ivy (by spreading the oils) all over your skin.  What this remedy does is help heal and take out the itch (jewelweed) and dry out the afflicted areas (witch hazel).  It works wonderfully.

 

Ingredients and Materials:

Scissors or a knife

1 bottle of witch hazel (you can make your own from the witch hazel plant by distilling the branches in the early spring or you can go to the drug store and pick some up)

5-10 jewelweed plants (depending on how much you want to make)

1 mason jar

Ingredients and materials (I was doing a plant walk and demo, so I have a lot more witch hazel than I needed for one jar!))

Ingredients and materials (I was doing a plant walk and demo, so I have a lot more witch hazel than I needed for one jar!))

 

Step 1: Crush up your jewelweed.

To make your preparation, you will want to get as much juice from the jewelweed as possible into your preparation.  To do this, I like to first crush the jewelweed with my hands or a blunt object. I don’t crush it too much, but enough that it will expose more surface area to the witch hazel.  Pay attention to the thicker areas where the leaves attach to the stem–these are very juice filled (and the juice is the medicine).

Crushing up the jewelweed

Crushing up the jewelweed

Step 2: Chop up jewelweed finely into the jar.

Chop up (or tear up) the jewelweed and add it to the mason jar. A good pair of kitchen scissors will help this process quite a bit–I find that better than any knife for this work.  You don’t want to over-fill the jar, but do fill it up loosely.

Chopping up Jewelweed

Chopping up Jewelweed

 

Step 3: Crush it some more in the jar.

At this point, I continue to crush the jewelweed.  Here, I used my fingers, but I oculd easily use a pestle (the round thing used to grind herbs in a mortar) or some such similar tool.  Get as much juice out as you can at this stage.

Crushing further

Crushing further

 

Step 4: Add witch hazel.

Now, pour in your witch hazel, ensuring that it covers the Jewelweed fully.  If the jewelweed is too firmly packed, you’ll end up with less (after you remove the plant material in a few weeks).

Add witch hazel

Add witch hazel

 

Step 5:  Lit sit (macerate) 2-3 weeks and then strain.

Let your preparation sit for a few weeks in a cool, dark place.  Then, you can strain out the jewelweed (you can do this by hand, or with a hand held potato ricer or tincture press).  Place the liquid back in the jar, ensuring that you don’t have any extra plant material.

 

Using your Jewelweed Infused Witch Hazel

You can use the jewelweed infused witch hazel when you have an active outbreak of poison ivy dermitis. Use a Q-tip or cotton ball and liberally apply the preparation to the affected area. Repeat this several times a day (or more, I usually do it 5-6 times a day or any time I enter the bathroom).  It will clear up the poison ivy very quickly!

 

I hope this small remedy helps many a forest wanderer this summer!

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Jewelweed Salve: For Bug Bites, Burns, Cuts, and Scrapes July 26, 2011

Filed under: Recipes,Wildcrafting — Dana @ 12:34 am
Tags: , , , ,

I think sometimes that we forget about the bounty that nature provides us.

Jewelweed is a common plant found in most of the USA. It grows about 3′ high and has little spotted touch me not flowers and little pods that explode when touched. For more information and photos on identifying Jewelweed, follow this link. It is found in forests, along swampy edges, and in shady areas.  While most people think this is a pretty weed, it actually has wonderful healing and restorative properties.  Here are a few:

  • Walking in the forest and get bit by a mosquito?  Use some fresh jewelweed.
  • Picking berries and get scratched by brambles? Use some fresh jewelweed.
  • How about that pesky stinging nettle? You guessed it, jewelweed.

I sought to create a salve that could be used year-round that contained jewelweed’s restorative properties.  Here’s what I came up with–it works wonderfully on burns, cuts and bug bites!

Jewelweed Salve

You’ll need the following ingredients:

  • 6 cups fresh jewelweed, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups good quality olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups loosely packed grated beeswax (you can use more or less, depending on how thick you want your salve.  If you add more, it will become the consistency of lip balm; less, the consistency of a jelly.  This amount is somewhere in between).
  • Essential oils: Tea Tree, Lavender, and Sweet Orange (or others of your choice, just make sure they are skin safe; the ones listed have healing/antiseptic properties).

And the following equipment:

  • Small pot
  • Strainer
  • Small containers to put in your finished salve.  I like using these from Mountain Rose Herbs.

Directions

  1. Go out and pick your fresh jewelweed.  I picked mine just as they were done flowering.
  2. Once you have picked it, rinse it off, removing any dirt or roots that you pulled out.

    Chopped jewelweed in pot with olive oil

  3. Coarsely chop up the jewelweed and add it to the pot.  Add the 2 cups good quality olive oil.
  4. Bring the oil to a simmer, and simmer the Jewelweed for 1 hour until it is cooked down.
  5. At this stage, I will cover the pot and let it cool down, then let it sit overnight before finishing the recipe.  This allows the jewelweed to be infused with the olive oil.
  6. Strain the jewelweed from the olive oil.  If you have a cheesecloth, this works best.  I didn’t have one last time I made it, so I used a metal strainer and a metal spoon.  Rinse out and dry your pot so no jewelweed particles are left in the pot.
  7. Grate your beeswax and measure it out.  I suggest adding less beeswax at first so that you can get the consistency of the salve you want.
  8. While you are grating, heat your jewelweed-infused olive oil back up.   Add your beeswax.  Stir until the beeswax is melted.
  9. To check the consistency of your salve, you can put a spoon in the freezer and then drop a little bit of the mixture onto the spoon.  It should solidify and then you can see how thick it is, and if you want it thicker, add more grated beeswax.

    Make sure the beeswax is fully melted. This image shows the mixture after essential oils are also added.

  10. Once you are happy with your consistency, add about 20-30 drops of essential oil to make it smell nice and give it additional healing qualities.  For my mix, I added 10 drops each of sweet orange, tea tree, and lavender.  Stir it up to make sure the oils are all mixed.
  11. Carefully pour your mixture into small tins.  Let set for about 30 minutes, or until cool.
  12. Store in a cool, dry place and enjoy!  Give some to your friends!

The salve cooled off and in tins!