Jewel Weed is a fascinating plant! It is a beautiful flowering plant in the impatient family. It is a great herb to know for those of us who like being out doors in all seasons. It is a great relief to those hikers and foragers, campers and gardeners. It is a common growing companion to poison ivy which is a good thing, as it just happens to be the antidote! And though it can be found growing with poison ivy, Jewel Weed only grows in moist, shady glens and along streams and ponds with ample shade and cannot tolerate drought or full sun. Poison ivy likes these conditions as well, but is extremely drought tolerant and can grow in full shade to full sun. So don’t count on finding Jewelweed with every patch of poison ivy you come across. This is why it is good to keep a bottle of Jewel Wash on hand!
The resin Urushiol, (the name of the oily antigen that is responsible for creating the rash reaction in sensitive people from exposure to poison ivy, poison oak, ginkgo fruit and other plants) binds to skin cells and triggers the rash-producing irritation. The active ingredient in jewelweed is a constituent called lawsone which has the same mechanism of action as urushiol, but lawsone binds faster. It basically locks out the urushiol if it is applied soon after contact so urushiol cannot bind to the skin.
I do love to use the plant fresh when I can obtain it and know I’ve been exposed to poison ivy. My favorite application is just to drop the aerial parts [stems, leaves, flowers and all; although the highest concentration of lawsone is found in the juicy stems] in a blender [or food processor] with a touch of water. Then I slather the juice on my exposed skin leaving it [with green plant bits and all] to dry for a few minutes [or as long as I can]. Then I’ll shower it off. Out of season, I always use Jewel Wash.
It is effective in reducing topical inflammation and as an antihistamine due to the constituents 2 methoxy-1 and lawsone, so it is beneficial in reactions from all kinds of irritating plants, such as stinging nettle, okra and even tomato plants; as well as bug bites, minor abrasions, razor burn, heat rash, and acne. It is suggested for ringworm, no doubt because of it’s constituent 4 naphthoquinone which is an anti-fungal. This opens for debate weather or not it would be useful in other fungal issues such as athletes foot and jock itch and possible application in yeast infections.
A few facts about Urushiol resin: Jewel Weed totally neutralizes the Poison Ivy’s oily antigen called Urushiol, and you will no longer spread it by scratching or rubbing. The Urushiol oil may be carried on the fur of pets, clothing, shoes, toys, tools, or other objects and then transferred to the skin. Approximately 24 to 36 hrs after a sensitized person is exposed to the Urushiol, a blistery, itching rash develops. Usually within 15 minutes of contact, the Urushiol binds to skin proteins. If it is washed off with soap and water before that time, a reaction may be prevented. After the antigen is fixed, however, it cannot be washed off or transferred to other areas. Scratching or oozing blister fluid cannot spread the antigen to other areas of the body or to other persons. [source]
I must say for the past 16 years I have gotten poison Ivy from our fence line, and the only over the counter thing I have found to help with the itch and drying up of the blisters is Jewel Wash. I have recommended also to others whom have found the same thing. I just keep a bottle on hand all the time. It seems every spring my husband and I end up with it poison ivy and we go through at least one bottle. Best stuff ever to dry it up
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