Wednesday, July 20, 2011

God's gift of Jewelweed....poison ivy relief!

*EDITOR'S NOTE* This is a repost from the archives - unfortunately most of the pictures have disappeared.  I'm reposting this due to the calls and emails I've had recently about poison ivy - it must be rampant this year!  You can order both Jewelweed Soap and Jewelweed Salve from my website.  Read on and learn how to make a very effective TOPICAL tincture for poison ivy relief!  Remember...Jewelweed is TOXIC if you ingest it!

Recently I talked about gathering Jewelweed....hopefully some of you were able to find this wonderful plant. Now...what do we do with it? Come with me as I work up the Jewelweed that we gathered! In this post I will cover making a tincture and the next post we will talk about oils and salves.

The first thing I did was to spread all of the Jewelweed out as thinly as possible. It took up 2 tables in our home. Our goal is to let it wilt a little so that we don't have a lot of excess moisture in our plant when we work with it. This is imperative if you are going to be making an oil or salve with the plant. Jewelweed wilts very quickly so this won't take long.

The first thing we are going to make is a tincture. We will need the plant material, jars, lids and 100 proof vodka. We can work up a tincture quicker than the oil - it will need to be a bit drier before we work with oil. Next step is to chop the plant material and put it into the canning jars. I use 1/2 gallon jars. Most people will not need that much but then you don't have to deal with my son who gets poison ivy every time he goes outside....all year long! I usually try to tincture a gallon each summer. I also make enough so that I am able to give some of this away...invariably I will be at church or a meeting and there will be someone suffering terribly with poison ivy. I pour out a small bottle for them and send them on their way - they are always amazed at how quickly this works!

You want to fill your jars almost to the top but don't pack the plant material down...just fill them loosely. These jars are almost full enough.....I will add Jewelweed until the plant material is just below the neck of the jar. Notice that the entire plant is in there....leaves, stems and flowers.

The next step is to cover the herbs with the vodka. I fill them until the vodka is just a hair below the rim of the jar. Then cap them with a lid and want an air tight top!

Now...MAKE A LABEL!! Do not not pass not sneeze....stop and make a label RIGHT NOW!!! If you don't you will not know what you have and this tincture is poisonous if you ingest it....make a label! The label should contain the following of herb, date, where gathered and your medium (100 proof vodka) and in the case of Jewelweed please remember to add that this is toxic and for external use only! So my label will read: "Jewelweed, 100 proof vodka, 9/20/07, Gap Creek, DO NOT TAKE INTERNALLY!! POISONOUS!!". The date is also vitally important because you don't want to use this for 30 days.

The liquid in this tincture is going to turn a lovely red....I have taken a picture in the sunlight to show you, however, do not store your herbs, or herbal products, in the sunlight!

Now, you are going to put your tincture away in a dark cupboard or pantry for 30 days. If you are in the pantry for something else, give the jar a good shake. I tip mine over and back up a couple of times. If you forget to do this the world will not end...I promise!

You can begin using this in 30 days. I usually wait until I need it....then I pour out enough to fill a small brown bottle, which I also keep in my pantry. Label the small bottle just as you labeled the large jar! Once you have poured off enough from the large jar that it leaves part of the plant material showing, it is time to strain. You don't want it to mold on you and ruin your product.

Take a stainless steel or ceramic strainer (no aluminum or plastic please!), line it with sterilized cheesecloth and place it in a stainless steel or ceramic bowl. Pour the entire contents into the strainer. Let the liquid flow through until all that is left in the cheesecloth is the plant material. Now, gather up that cloth and squeeze every drop of liquid you can from the plant...I often have one of my older boys come do this after I have had a go at it. Their hands are much larger and stronger than mine and I am amazed at how much more liquid they can squeeze out of something that I thought was dry!

Then you will place this wonderful liquid into a dark brown bottle.  You can find these at Mountain Rose Herbs...there is a link in my sidebar.  If you are making huge amounts, keep the extra liquid in large canning jars and place them where they aren't exposed to light. However, you should still have a brown (or blue) bottle in which to keep the portion of tincture that you are currently using.  REMEMBER TO LABEL ALL THE BOTTLES!!! just made the stongest form of herbal medicine there is...a tincture! may be do I use this? Remember....we do NOT ingest this tincture....we wash with it. If you have been out and even think you might have been in poison ivy....come home and wash all exposed skin with helps break the bond of the urisol oil from your skin. If you break out with poison ivy, wash with this frequently during the day. For really stubborn patches, or large patches, I have soaked a cotton cloth with this and then placed it on Elijah's arm and bandaged it into place. When it dries out I re-apply as necessary.

It has greatly shortened the length of an outbreak and the severity. What used to take weeks to takes a week or less...sometimes just a few days.

Let me know if ya'll have any post we'll talk about making a salve for poison ivy!


  1. I have tons of jewelweed and have been wanting to add it to the salve I make. So, I am looking forward to the next post too. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Could you please tell me how I can get some of this jewel weed. We have poison sumac, oak, and ivy all over our yard. I would like to know how I can get this weed. We are in the process of getting rid of the poison. But, I have it all over my body right now and it is miserable.
    If this stuff really works, I want to put some in my yard and be able to use it.
    Thank you for sharing.

  3. Hi Shelly,
    Unless you have a very shady, cool and perpetually damp yard, you will not be able to grow Jewelweed. It normally grows under trees along creek banks where it can keep its "feet" wet all the time. It grows, essentially, in muddy conditions.

    However, you can harvest it and make the tincture as I showed you above. I have also made a soap and salve with this herb for poison ivy. I tested them last year, with many willing volunteers :) and we were all very happy with the results.

    They will be available soon - and you can read about it here on my blog as soon as they are available.

    I'm sorry this doesn't help you in the moment I know, but be on the lookout, get some tincture made and be ready for the next outbreak.


  4. I remember why I had vodka in my cupboard!!! :-) Dawn just asked me about it the other day and I told her to put it back and that I bought for a reason and it would come to me. It was for tincture and homemade vanilla...I think. :-) LOL


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