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eating poisin oak leaf as a preventative treatment?  RSS feed

 
                    
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Anyone heard of this or tried it?  I've found a few things on "the internet" but god knows how reliable the internet people are.    So, I'm coming to somewhat more reliable internet people for advice!  ha!

The idea is that in early spring (before the plants have high amounts of the oils built up) you eat a little bitty sliver of a new leaf and this has a homeopathic effect, making you less allergic or totally non-reactive for the rest of the year. 

Sounds AWESOME, right?  But, does it work?  Will I die if I try this?  I understand inhaling the smoke to be mucho bad, but I feel like the wet environment and digestive acids down in my guts will have a much different outcome.  Or at least I hope.  I just might try this as soon as the dang stuff leafs out.  I threatened to do it last year and pussed out at the last minute. 

It's only march and I have rashes on both forearms and my neck.  I know suffering makes you a better person and all, but seriously...I hate this stuff.  And yes, I know what the hell it looks like, all times of the year, I really don't need a lecture on that from anyone. When you're doing work in the woods sometimes you find yourself in the middle of a patch of it and there's no way to avoid getting it on your clothing, on which I inevitably rub my forearms later.  I have no idea how it got on my neck.....hate my life a little bit right now though. 
 
Jami McBride
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Wow bummer, I have never heard of eating a bit of the plant. I'd back out too I think.

But I do know how to take back your life 

Mix about a tablespoon of salt with 1/2 cup of warm water, adjust this so you have a seriously saline solution. 

Grab a cotton ball and dip it in your new stop-itch, dry-out and completely kill solution.  Now rub all your infected skin.  When ever you want to itch - dip and rub.  Make sure you don't rub to hard and run your skin raw.

At first this will make the itch a bit worse, just like hot water/shower will, because it is releasing the histamine causing the itch in your skin.  Hold on soon you will release all the current histamine and RELIEF is what you will feel next. 

This treatment can last for hours, but don't relent.... reapply the saline solution often, this will dry up the oil in your skin completely healing your poison oak attack.

Take your cotton ball and solution with you so you reapply it without fail.  When the rash becomes light pink it's on the run, keep on it until your skin is completely clear or it will flare up again.

Hope your feeling better soon.

 
ronie dee
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Two main things about poison Oak and Ivy

1. DON'T SCRATCH
2. TECNU        http://www.teclabsinc.com/

Tecnu is a compound invented by a military scientist that is designed to get radiation off soldiers in case of exposure.

The discovery that it worked for poison oak and ivy was made by the scientist's wife.

When you contact poison oak/ivy you get an oil on yer clothes and/or skin and soap and water won't get the oils off. The tecnu will get the oils off and stop the reaction  to the oil from getting worse ( the itch and rash).

Hyvee store has it in the pharmacy area here... it is worth every penny.
 
                          
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I think it would be a lot safer to feed poison oak to your milk goats and drink the raw milk, which is supposed to have the same effect. The official line (pdf) is that immunity is not conferred by eating the plant and doing so can cause "severe gastric disturbance," which sounds unpleasant. I have heard that poison oak was once used as emergency field suture for wounds--a leaf would be rubbed against the edges of a wound and the resulting swelling would close the wound long enough for it to heal (and leave a hell of a scar, I bet). 

Anyone have any more information about the chemicals in Tecnu? Sounds like it's just a hardcore detergent and some mineral spirits. I had to look up the reference for it being intended to remove radiation. You can't remove radiation with a cleaning product. If it was intended to remove dust that is radioactive, that's a bit different. The only thing I can find on the internet about Octylphenoxy-Polythoxethanol is about its use in this product, so I have no idea how safe that particular surfactant is or what it does in the environment. The MSDS says it's fine just don't eat it or put it in your eyes and keep it away from fire.

I have never yet had the pleasure--I'm sure I will this summer, while I'm working on the farm, and I'm not looking forward to it!
 
ronie dee
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Yeah, i'm not too sure about how tecnu works on mitigating the radiation exposure and hope our military never has to find out how well it works.  It was explained somewhat on the 1st bottle i bought.

Things grow bigger and badder at my farm so the poison ivy was like small trees. I use to get it badly and suffer terribly. So when i found technu i decided not to look too hard at the manufacture of the product. Going to permaculture conventions could be bad for the environment. If I look hard enough, it could be argued that buying toilet paper is bad for the environment.

When it comes to things like human suffering I tend to use what i know works and share the info with others that are suffering. I have a natural substance that works, but not as well, and not sure if the herb is available where Marina is right now.

If you have access to the herb Plantain - you can get some relief using it. (This is NOT the banana type plantain that you buy in the produce dept.) I've also heard that vinegar compress helps. But nothing I've found works as well as tecnu.
 
Jami McBride
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Salt and Water . . .  yea, it does sound to simple.  Funny how people feel only chemicals can be effective.  It's in our programming I guess.

I used to get poison oak so bad I had to go to the doctor and get shots + drugs that would keep me sleeping for days at a time.  Better to sleep through what my body was going through.  Then I found my to good-to-be-true solution - heavy saline solution   

It requires reapplying, but that's the only downside if you can call that a downside, after all so does calamine lotion.  Oh, and maybe people would find dissolving the salt into the water a chore.  We do have a lot of salt in our body chemistry, and saline has proven to be a big help in the treatment and repair of the human body.

When you discover something this good you just have to share even if it is a bit off topic.



 
                    
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Cool, thanks for the reassurance that it's a bad idea....sometimes the itch makes one desperate for solutions even if they're wacky sounding.  As you apparently know all too well, Jami!  SHOTS?!  Geeze, I've never had it that bad.  I've seen some little kids that have been really badly - well burned looking is the best way to describe it.  And then they itch and get skin infections from itching..... 

I think it would be a lot safer to feed poison oak to your milk goats and drink the raw milk, which is supposed to have the same effect.


Hilariously enough, the worst rashes I've ever had were on my calves, and came from chasing badly behaved goats up and down hillsides, and they were definitely eating the poison oak they ran around in.  I drank a whole lot of their milk that summer but it didn't seem to make me immune in the slightest.   

ALSO!  I think I'd rather bleed to death (k, probably not literally but....) than use that emergency technique Kerrick described.  An itchy swollen wound for weeks on end?!? 

Thanks so much for the salt water tip!  I'm going to start doing that to my neck right after this post.

We went to the hot springs this morning and a good soak in 111 degree water actually really helps.  It burns and itches sooo much for the first few minutes, though!  My arms feel pretty normal right now.  I have a big obvious scratch on my throat that is still irritating me...scratches from the sticks make me get really gnarly rashes...how did I not feel that scratch the moment it happened!? 

Yeah, I know of Tecnu but that stuff is expensive, not something I want to put out on my land in the greywater, and I've found that scrubbing really well with good soapy soap seems to work just as well as an after treatment.  In my personal experience soap and water does get the oil off, you just have to use a very thick suds and be thorough about rubbing it around before washing it off.  Sunlight degrades the oil on clothing and shoes. 

And (off topic!) I can (and will) definitely argue that toilet paper is bad for the environment on several levels.  I didn't use it for the first summer I lived here....and then all the leaves turned brown and crumbly in the fall and I thought "modernism has brought us this luxury....maybe I should enjoy this tiny window of cheap soft paper on earth while it lasts?"  and started buying it again.  Always get the recycled non bleached stuff, but the embodied energy in something we use to wipe our butts is kinda ridiculous.  I still use leaves in the summer, silver maple leaves work really well.  No tp at all's a step up the permie scale I'm not willing to fully take on as of yet.  I wonder if Sepp buys TP? 

I was hoping for a preventative tip, because the best aftercare in the world doesn't make it pleasant to deal with after the oil is on your skin.  I'm looking forward to when our outdoor shower is up and running again, as being able to take a luke warm and very thoroughly soapy shower immediately after being exposed is probably the best thing to do.  Not possible in the winter at our place. 
 
              
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Going back 20 years, give or take, a musician told me they use to boil poison ivy leaves to get the rosin from the leaves. They would store it in medicine bottles. He said before hunting season they would mix a little into a glass of water and drink it. They would add a bit more every day / week. When hunt season came, they had no issues with poison ivy. Now the guy was a kidder, but I did not take this as a joke. I do not think he was talking about tablespoons in an 8 oz glass of water either. It is the same principle as the current peanut allergy solution. I have had many people tell me it is crazy. My understanding is that somethings are cumulative toxins while others you build immunity to. I would do it personally if i had major issues.
 
Nicholas Covey
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My mom has done this with poison ivy for years. She has some nutty ideas, but this seems to have cured her of her seasonal poison ivy infections.
 
              
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Quittrack wrote:
My mom has done this with poison ivy for years. She has some nutty ideas, but this seems to have cured her of her seasonal poison ivy infections.


If you have more specific details and/or could confirm what I wrote above as to how much, how to extract, how often to take etc, it would be great. I was going on memory from what someone told me in casual conversation. Would love to have the details etc.
 
Nicholas Covey
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She takes one small leaf, rolls it up (with gloves of course) puts it into an empty gel tab and takes it with water during or after a large meal.
 
              
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Quittrack wrote:
She takes one small leaf, rolls it up (with gloves of course) puts it into an empty gel tab and takes it with water during or after a large meal.


Thank you for the specifics. One has to appreciate the simplicity in that.
 
Nicholas Covey
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I guess I should also specify that she only takes 1 per season. Usually the first leaf she sees she picks and uses that and hasn't been afflicted for probably 15 years now.
 
              
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Really appreciate it. Amazing stuff. Still a bit scary to try since there been no clinical trials done .

I have told many people about what the guy had told me (taking poison ivy rosin in water to build immunity) and most everyone told me it sounded crazy. Only a few saw how it could work. Good to hear someone else with a similar experience. I have a few ornamental volunteers poison ivy plants out in the yard. Tempting to try this year. Though I am not overly allergic. Not sure if I have any new leaves out, as some are already nice and green. Or even if it makes a difference.

Thanks again.
 
Nicholas Covey
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I'm not sure if it was the first leaves of spring because they were different in some way, or simply that it was to be done as early as possible before the first exposure.

Upon questioning, she apparently learned it from an electrical lineman, who had learned it from a much older (now retired) electrical lineman years ago.
 
Jonathan 'yukkuri' Kame
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1st post for forum newbie.  Greetings!

Anyway, one of my teachers was an Anishinabeg (chippewa) elder.  I remember him saying that they ingested trace amounts of poison ivy to develop immunity.  Dosage?

Also in native traditions it is taught that jewelweed often grows near poison ivy and the mucilage in the stem is a remedy for poison ivy rashes.  Probably less likely to find jewelweed near poison oak, which grows in drier environments if I am not mistaken. 
 
                          
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Euell Gibbons wrote about eating poison ivy in Stalking the Wild Asparagus. His arguments were very persuasive, and I've been doing it for probably twenty years now. I have not had poison ivy in that time. I pulled some by hand just a couple weeks ago, too. I don't pay too much attention to dosages, I just occasionally eat small leaves beginning when they first appear in the spring. I pick them by the stalk, and just bite them off, being careful not to touch my lips. My best friend is a doctor, and he's appalled that I do this, by the way.
 
Emerson White
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Had you ever been affected by PI before Oblio?

I really feel like this issue is ripe for misunderstanding because becoming immune to something typically involves raising an immune response, and raising an immune response to PI and PO (Urushiol specifically) is 100% responsible for the problem. So you could do a study and find that eating PO "increased the immune response" (i.e. made things a whole lot worse) and then someone could come along and not read carefully and easily turn  "increased the immune response" to "Increase Immunity" (i.e. make things better, the exact opposite of that original hypothetical study) and it would be very hard to catch, because 99.99% of the time immune response=immunity.
 
                          
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Emerson White wrote:
Had you ever been affected by PI before Oblio?...


Yes, I had it many times.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Some people are genetically immune. In some cases, I think the selection pressure for this may have been economic demand for urushi laquerware thousands of years ago...though immunity is also strongly correlated with Mythbusterhood. 

I think the mechanism for this remedy is similar to the way eating raw honey comb can reduce the severity of hayfever. The immune system has a sense of what is a normal part of the diet, vs. a significant threat.

I bet eating mango and/or pistachio would help some, as well. Proper dosage probably depends on current sensitivity.
 
Nicholas Covey
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I just know my mother got it seasonally all over her arms and legs since I can remember. Ever since she started this "remedy" she isn't afflicted at all. Her habits haven't changed at all and I personally observed her weed-eating some with shorts on two weeks ago (my mom is eccentric, to say the least) and hasn't had a spot that I am aware. Ten years ago, she would have been covered with blisters from her knees down if she did that.

I wish I could say for sure.

I'm actually contemplating doing the same since I have quite a lot around my property.
 
                              
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A number of years ago, I went to a cob building workshop in Western OR with my sister and young niece.  We were told by organizers, Becky Bee, that there was lots of Poison Oak and that taking a homopathic medicine, Rhus Tox(?) (which is poison oak), for two weeks beforehand a person wouldn't be affected by it.  Well since my niece was 3 or 4 at time we decided to try it and although she did end up running through patches of poison oak she did not have any reactions.  The eating of one small leaf per season does sound a lot like taking a homopathic dose...so maybe there is something to it.
 
charles c. johnson
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http://www.ivydry.com/ ivy dry works well . I had to buy some when i cleared ivy from my black raspberries.  Also rubbing Dawn dish soap on yourself before getting in the ivy helps to keep the oil off your skin. dawns grease cutting power to the rescue
 
Melba Corbett
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For most of my life, I've been immune to poison ivy.  My brother and I used to roll down the hillside covered in it when we were kids.  My other was horrified when she saw us do that, as she was very sensitive to it.  Neither he nor I ever got it.  She did, just from washing our clothes, and it spread all over her body.  She had a horrible time with it.   

As an senior adult, I sometimes get it now, so am more careful to wash my hands and arms with warm, soapy water when I've been out weeding it from my hillside with my bare hands.  (Yes, I still do that sometimes).  I can feel it burning my skin right afterwards, so know to get it off quickly and the warm, soapy water works pretty good.  I still don't have much of a problem with it, and if I get a tiny patch, it quickly disappears. 

I've also seen many people flush it out of the bloodstream by taking Vit C every hour or two when they were having a severe problem.  I just saw a small child with eyes swollen shut with poison ivy rash a week ago.  It was spreading all over his body.  He was clear in 24 hours after his mum gave him the Vit. C protocol.  This seems to work pretty well for some people. 

Jewelweed is supposed to be an antidote when crushed and the juice applied to the skin.  Baking soda made into a paste and rubbed on the skin can neutralize the acids.  Then you wash it off, and apply the jewelweed then if needed. 

Personally, I would be afraid to take it internally, although I have a Native American friend who swares it works by putting it in the capsule very carefully.  Can you imagine if you got the rash in your mouth, or throat?  I think there are safer methods, such as immediately washing the skin and doing the baking soda/jewelweed or Vit C.
 
Kirk Hutchison
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=) I'm naturally immune to that stuff. I've walked in shorts through huge patches of it without even mild itching.
 
                      
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Okay, my husband has poison oak now, and has had it for a few days. Yesterday he went to the local Tractor Supply and found a 'new' product. I am going to tell you it's name, and I can also tell you that he just said to me that it works.
The name is Appalachian Secrets, and writing straight from the instruction sheet that came with it, I quote. "After applying Appalachian Secrets to affected area, expect itching to stop within ten seconds, and improvement's to skin, within 24-48 hours, unquote."
It has warnings about not using it on chicken pox, measles, or large areas of the skin, or while using any other drug containing diphenhydramine. Other things are written, so please read the instruction sheet before using this product, should you so choose to.
He has told me on many occasion's the people have told him to eat the leaf, but when I ask him if they had, and how, they just say, "they've heard it works." I say, if you haven't tried it, then by all means try it, and then tell someone how it worked.
 
Jonathan Byron
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dragonfly wrote:
A number of years ago, I went to a cob building workshop in Western OR with my sister and young niece.  We were told by organizers, Becky Bee, that there was lots of Poison Oak and that taking a homopathic medicine, Rhus Tox(?) (which is poison oak), for two weeks beforehand a person wouldn't be affected by it.  Well since my niece was 3 or 4 at time we decided to try it and although she did end up running through patches of poison oak she did not have any reactions.  The eating of one small leaf per season does sound a lot like taking a homopathic dose...so maybe there is something to it.


It may have provided some protection, but children are often not sensitive on the first exposures to poison ivy. As our immune system develops, and as we are exposed to poison ivy toxin, we tend to get more sensitized and react much more strongly.

Homeopathic dilutions at 4x or 6x might lead to desensitization in a way similar to the peanut desensitization or eating a small, young PI leaf that were mentioned. At the 'stronger' homeopathic doses (which are actually far more dilute - ie, 30X), there is absolutely zero of the rhus toxin in the preparation. That is the point where homeopathy talks about unproven 'molecular memory' effects.  Their practices might lead to some effect at lower dilutions, but at higher dilutions, this is unlikely. Immunology has very good theories that explain many biological phenomena, homeopathy has a rigid 'theory' that is more of a doctrine than anything else, and it has far less ability to explain and predict.
 
Erica Wisner
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don't know if this is helpful, but I have heard that the oil is an oxidiser, which would imply that part of its effect is literally a 'burning' effect in addition to the allergic reaction.  I've also heard it binds chemically to the skin.

The best results I've had treating it were
1) avoidance (I've gotten VERY good at spotting it, as I have to keep summer-campers from rushing into it as well; I don't have to bushwhack through it so I'm lucky that way.)
2) Soap and water; rinse; repeat. Technu is a specialized soap as far as I'm concerned.  There are subtleties like washing with cold water first (so the pores in skin stay closed as you wash off the bulk oil); after several rinses, switch to hot water so the pores open up and release any remaining oil before it has a chance to bind to skin).  Washing laundry with detergent and warm water generally seems to work, at least for my wardrobe.  If not washed, the oils can stay on clothing or tools for years, and this can be the source of 'recurrent' reactions when the person swears they are being careful in the woods (but their gear is still carrying the oils from several years ago.)
3) Drying agents like clay (calamine), salt, etc.

We do have jewel-weed here in the west, and it grows in many (but not all) areas where Poison Oak grows.  I haven't tried it because I'm usually not aware I've been "got" until I've left the area.  If I am aware, soap and water is my first preference.

I have occasionally had to bandage a poison oak sore overnight (my husband is terribly allergic), and I would not recommend it to anyone for any reason other than life-saving.  Bandages trap the oils against the skin and make the problem much worse, even if you change them frequently and include drying agents.  I suspect I am worsening my sensitivity to it by this method.  And for this reason, becoming non-allergic myself would be only partially useful, as I'd still have to remain alert to protect my husband from his potentially lethal allergy to it.

In case you're interested, other foods related to poison oak include mangoes, cashews, goji berries, and betel-nuts.  My husband has gotten hives or all-over itches from eating the first three, but pistachios don't seem to affect him.
 
maikeru sumi-e
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Erica Wisner wrote:
In case you're interested, other foods related to poison oak include mangoes, cashews, goji berries, and betel-nuts.  My husband has gotten hives or all-over itches from eating the first three, but pistachios don't seem to affect him.


Goji berries are not related. They're part of the nightshade/tomato family (Solanaceae), whereas all the others you mentioned are indeed part of the sumac family. I don't believe goji berries have urushiol.
 
Lisa Allen
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Think homeopathy!  I have a friend who takes a 30C dose of Rhus Tox (basically energetically Poison Ivy) before working in her garden which is rife with it - she never gets a rash!

Yes, you can purchase it (and that could be much easier) but you can make it too.  Tincturing Poison Ivy in Vodka (please be careful!), then making a homeopathic dilution/succusion in a first aid dose (lower potency) should do it.

As an example - 1 drop of the tincture, to 99 drops of water - then capped and tapped on your hand at least 50-100 times will make a 1C dose.  Take a drop out of this, place it in a new container with 99 more drops of water, cap and tap ("succuse" 50-100 times makes a 2C dose.  The more diluted and succused, the higher the potency, so if you did this 28 more times (I guess switching the bottles back and forth), you would get 30C.  Lower potencies are good for first aid or particular symptoms and would be good for your purposes here.  Higher potencies (mostly over 30C, and including the "M's" are for chronic issues when a person is determined by a process the homeopath uses to determine their "constitution."  It is intended to heal all disease at deep levels and can take a long time, with a long time between doses.

If you are in a pinch, you can estimate dilution and succuse your dilutions several times before administering.

A website I like with DIY homeopathic remedies is http://homeopathyandmore.com - and even their Constitutional Remedy test isn't bad!
 
Erica Wisner
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maikeru wrote:
Goji berries are not related. They're part of the nightshade/tomato family (Solanaceae), whereas all the others you mentioned are indeed part of the sumac family. I don't believe goji berries have urushiol.


Thanks for the info.  Any other sumac relatives (besides sumac itself) to be aware of?
 
Lisa Allen
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Erica - check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sumac_family

Also - remember the "antidote" plants, which often grow nearby Poison Ivy, etcetera (how handy is THAT?)

Jewelweed (Impatiens capensi)
Plantain (Plantago major)
Yarrow (Achilles millefolium)
Mullein (Verbascum thapsis)

Do a google "image search" for each Latin name here, and if you don't recognize any of them, try just googling the "genus" name without the species name to see what other species may live near you!  The reason I suggest this is that hundreds of pictures showing the same plant is very helpful for identification by us non-botanists hehe!

To use - chew some fresh plant material and apply to rash.  That usually does it.  You can also tincture these and carry it with a cotton ball (or cloth) and use it that way.
 
Jordan Lowery
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yarrow, mullein and plantain are all cures for poison oak? how are they used?
 
                      
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Clean your skin with a good lye based soap to remove the toxic oils initially then to help dry the pustules. I make some from tallow (and an alternative with veggie oils) plus crushed jewelweed. People love it and I sellout every spring.
 
Lisa Allen
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Hubert - I mention how in the last sentence of my post - it is not that complicated!  I suppose one could also make a salve and keep it around too, but I am sort of a lazy herbalist hehe!
 
                                      
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i've been doing this for a few years now. it seems to work very well. i used to get massive outbreaks on my hands (which my doctor said was impossible), now i wade through it and maybe get one red bump, in a random location.

i try to only eat the immature red leaves, which means getting on it in the spring, and forgetting about it by midsummer.

i've given a few other people this treatment, and never seen any ill effects.
 
Tracy Francis
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before you stert itching the rash and get it in flamed try to rub vinigar all over the effected site ,works for me...
 
Jami McBride
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quasiperiodic - can you give the details on how much and how you inject the leaves?

Thanks, I'm seriously considering this for my family.
 
Peter DeJay
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I've had excellent results with using urine on affected areas. Its similar to the saline dabbing, which works pretty good as well, but I think it works better. I'm curious about the homeopathic solutions such as early season ingestion. I might try that next year.
 
ellen rosner
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If you don't make your own, I recommend Oral Ivy which is a homeopathic
remedy and preventative. Works for me.

astroherbalist wrote:
Think homeopathy!  I have a friend who takes a 30C dose of Rhus Tox (basically energetically Poison Ivy) before working in her garden which is rife with it - she never gets a rash!

Yes, you can purchase it (and that could be much easier) but you can make it too.  Tincturing Poison Ivy in Vodka (please be careful!), then making a homeopathic dilution/succusion in a first aid dose (lower potency) should do it.

As an example - 1 drop of the tincture, to 99 drops of water - then capped and tapped on your hand at least 50-100 times will make a 1C dose.  Take a drop out of this, place it in a new container with 99 more drops of water, cap and tap ("succuse" 50-100 times makes a 2C dose.  The more diluted and succused, the higher the potency, so if you did this 28 more times (I guess switching the bottles back and forth), you would get 30C.  Lower potencies are good for first aid or particular symptoms and would be good for your purposes here.  Higher potencies (mostly over 30C, and including the "M's" are for chronic issues when a person is determined by a process the homeopath uses to determine their "constitution."  It is intended to heal all disease at deep levels and can take a long time, with a long time between doses.

If you are in a pinch, you can estimate dilution and succuse your dilutions several times before administering.

A website I like with DIY homeopathic remedies is http://homeopathyandmore.com - and even their Constitutional Remedy test isn't bad!
 
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