Nature's Pharmacy

& POISON OAK AND POISON IVY

These beautiful woodland vines can cause a nasty hot, itchy rash. This contact dermatitis can get quite severe in sensitive people.

What to Do

Use Kloss’s Liniment successfully for stopping the itch and spread of poison oak and ivy. Dilute it with water or witch hazel extract so that it stings but doesn’t burn. Keep the bottle handy and apply it frequently throughout the day. In areas where it’s not possible to use liniment (genitals and eyes), use plain unsweetened yogurt. Yogurt is cooling, drying, and disinfecting. Cover the affected area and let it dry. Assist the body in healing by taking echinacea tincture throughout the day. Since the rash produces a “hot” condition in the body, it is important to use cooling herbs to help with the symptoms. Cleavers, chickweed, burdock, and dandelion are all recommended. Make a tea with a combination of these herbs, and drink several cups a day.

Along similar lines, avoid spicy foods, as they will agitate the heat condition and make the itch worse. Though it’s tempting to take a hot bath or shower that will make the rash feel better temporarily, heat will likely agitate the condition in the long run. Bathe only in tepid water. Ocean water is one of the most healing treatments for these rashes. If you live near the sea, bathe in it daily. Or simulate the ocean waters in your tub: add kelp, baking soda, and sea salt to the tub, and bathe in cool water only. A drop or two of peppermint essential oil (no more or you’ll be jumping out of that tub before you get all the way in it!) will help cool the rash and give temporary relief from the burning.

Coping with Poison Oak and Poison Ivy

For the irritation, which at times can be unbearable, take frequent doses of kava and/or valerian tincture (½ teaspoon of the tincture every 2 hours). If you tend to scratch the rash at night, which is common, do what parents do to infants: cover the hands with socks at night.

Itch Relief Remedy

This is my favorite remedy for poison oak or ivy. Store this wonderful healing cream in a glass container with a tight-fitting lid. If it dries out, reconstitute by adding water.

  • 1 cup green volcanic clay powder
  • Water or witch hazel extract
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 4–6 drops peppermint essential oil
  • Mix the clay with enough water or witch hazel extract to make a creamy paste.
  • Add the salt and several drops of the peppermint essential oil; the paste should smell strong and feel cooling to the skin.
  • Spread directly on the affected area and leave on until the paste is completely dry.
  • To rinse off, soak a washcloth in water or witch hazel extract and rub gently.
  • Don’t scrub the skin.

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