Tag Archives: urushiol

Herbal Medicine Kit – The Terrible Three!

Leaves of three I did not see
and now I have Poison Ivy…

~ Beverly R. Titus

Welcome Back…

…to another posting of the Herbal Medicine Kit.  Today we are learning about and discussing Poison Ivy, Poison Oak and Sumac.  We will discuss in more depth the herbs Grindelia & Comfrey.  We will also be making several herbal remedies; Poison Ivy, Oak & Sumac Remedy, Paste & Bath!

Poison Ivy, Oak and Sumac – The Terrible 3!

The Terrible 3!

Poison Ivy, Oak and Sumac are famous for the itching and oozing rashes they can cause.  Despite their names, these plants are not really poisonous at all…NO, Really!!  The danger lies in an allergen called urushiolir.

These plants are all related; so if you are one of the unlucky people to be allergic to one…you will be allergic most likely, to all three.

 The itching, blistering  and oozing rash usually associated with these Terrible Three plants appears anytime from a few hours of exposure to several days after exposure.

Other possible symptoms also may include nausea, tiredness, mental disorientation and fever.  Very bad cases can also cause breathing difficulties and kidney damage, requiring medical intervention.

And some people….don’t react AT ALL to these plants!

Poison Ivy Arm Rash

John and I had personal experience with our friends…the Leaves of Three when we went back to our Homestead in May.  Our acre of land was covered with beautiful green vegetation growing beneath our towering black oak trees.  Never having seen Poison Ivy as a kid we weren’t aware that we were traipsing through this wicked stuff for over 4 days, cutting and trimming and weeding and raking…well, you get the picture!

 Low and behold about 3 days later when we arrived back home we both broke out in odd rashes.  John’s was quite severe and lasted almost 2 months, mine was very mild and had the same duration.  We opted to NOT go to the Doctors because it seems the medicine of choice for them is steroids and we didn’t believe that would be beneficial to us…only a band-aid and side affects on top of that!

Oozing Poison Ivy Rash

The best way to protect yourself from Poison ivy, Oak and Sumac is to stay away from them…of course!  But if you aren’t aware of what they look like that is hard.  Become knowledgeable…you never know when you will run into them!

Be able to identify the Terrible 3!

Some Precautions to take:

Wear protective clothing, on arms and legs.  Wear gloves and heavy shoes.  Be prepared to throw these clothes away as the oils from the plants can stay imbedded into the fibers even after multiple, multiple washings.

If you do get the oils on your skin, wash immediately in COLD water and soap.  DO NOT use hot water as we automatically think of doing.  The heat from the water will open up your pores and push the oils in and even cause them to spread.

Herbs to the Rescue!

I find it interesting that one of the herbs used to alleviate the pain and itching from the Poison Ivy, Oak and Sumac grows near it…Grindelia.  I took pictures of it on our property not knowing at the time what it was.  Just that it was gorgeous.


Several Herbs are very helpful and beneficial for treating Poison Ivy, Oak and Sumac; Grindelia, Plantain, Comfrey, Jewelweed.


More Helpful Tips:

 Plantain poultices help to immediately reduce swelling and itching.  Jewelweed helps to effectively fight reactions.

Comfrey and Aloe Vera promote healing and help soothe the skin irritated by the allergic reactions.

A lukewarm bath of oatmeal, herbs and Epsom salts can soothe and give relief.

For oozing rashes, mix herbal paste with ground oatmeal and cover the rash.

Poison Ivy, Oak & Sumac Remedy

Click HERE to print


 Poison Ivy, Oak & Sumac Paste

Click HERE to print



 Poison Ivy, Oak & Sumac Bath

Click HERE to print




 Recap:  Today we looked a various herbs that help with allergic reactions to Poison Ivy, Oak and Sumac.  We made several herbal remedies.

 Looking ahead:  Next week we will be looking at, and discussing Shock.  We will be making a Rescue Remedy and also a Lavender Compress.

Reminder:  Gather your herbs and in this case some flowers; rock rose, impatiens, clematis, star of bethlehem and cherry plum, and your lavender!!

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 I am also a Contributing Author at:


Modern Homesteaders

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Three Things That Can End Your Summer Fun


It’s Summer Vacation for the kids, which means (hopefully) they will be outside playing, and soaking up the free time and clean air.

But there are three things that also happen to be out enjoying the summer sun, that can quickly ruin any outdoor fun.

Not only that, but it can be everything to a minor annoyance to outright dangerous depending on your own reaction to it.

Check out this article from Dr.Bones over at doomandbloom.net to make sure that you keep yourself and your kids out of these nasty little summertime blues bringers:

In the Northern Hemisphere, warm weather is upon us and school is done for the summer.  As such, we can expect a lot more time in the outdoors for the average family.  Although this is ordinarily a healthy pursuit, there are circumstances where you will find that some things out there that present hazards that are difficult to avoid.

Unless you live in Alaska or Hawaii, a mountaintop, or the middle of the desert, the outdoors will have a population of poison ivy, poison oak, and/or poison sumac.  Once exposed to one or the other, 85% of the population will develop antibodies against it that will generate an itchy rash of varying degrees of severity.  Winter does not eliminate the possibility of a reaction, as you can react against even the dormant vines or shrubs.

The old saying goes: “Leaves of three, let it be”. Although it is true that poison ivy comes in “leaves of three”, so do many other plants. Familiarize yourself with what it looks like.

Poison Ivy

Poison ivy and poison oak are very similar, with the same chemical irritant, known as Urushiol. This irritant is an “allergen”, which is a substance that can cause your body to react against it when exposed. Poison ivy leaves may be pointier, with poison oak often looking more like, well, oak leaves (see images). One or both is present just about everywhere in the continental United States.

Poison Oak

Poison Sumac is a shrub or small tree, growing up to nearly 30 feet in height in parts of the Eastern United States. Each leaf has 7–13 pointy leaflets. Although poison sumac has the same irritant present in poison ivy and poison oak, it is far more powerful.  Simply inhaling smoke from burning poison sumac has been reported to cause death by suffocation.

Poison Sumac


All of these plants contain toxic oil that causes a reaction after the first sensitizing exposure. The oil is in just about every part of the plant:  The vines, leaves, and roots. Most people don’t know they have been exposed, even if they know how to identify the plant. Just think how difficult it is to be aware of every single plant you might come into contact with when you hike in the woods.  Also, many people are exposed indirectly; for example, by petting the fur of a pet that has been exposed.

The best prevention is to avoid getting the toxin on your skin.  If you can’t avoid exposure, here is advice before you head out into the woods:

  • Long pants, long-sleeved shirts, work gloves, and boots are imperative if you’re doing work in areas known to have poison plants.
  • Some recommend an over-the-counter lotion called Ivy Block as a preventative. Apply it like you would a sunblock to likely areas of exposure.  Theoretically, it will prevent the oil from being absorbed by your skin.

Unfortunately, many times people don’t identify the exposure before it’s too late. The rash takes from several hours to several days to become apparent.

Usually, you will notice:

  • Itchiness where your skin was exposed to the plant.
  • Red streaky rashes where the plant brushed against you.
  • Small bumps or hives along with the redness.
  • Occasional blistering.

Typical poison ivy rash


The rash usually appears in the first day or two after your contact with the Urushiol, although it may take longer in first exposures.  The rash will continue to appear to spread over several days, even if you stay indoors. The rash, however, is not contagious. The more allergen you come in contact with, the more severe your reaction. Severe reactions to smaller amounts of Urushiol may be seen in those who are highly sensitive.  Serious symptoms may include generalized swelling of just about anywhere on the body, including the genitals, and widespread blistering.

Extreme case of reaction to poison ivy


The resin or oil from the plant that causes the reaction will remain active even on your clothes, so thorough laundering will be required.  Routine body washing with soap will not be useful after 30 minutes of exposure, as your system will already be producing antibodies.  Hot water seems to help the oil absorb into the skin, so use only cold water early on.  After all the irritant has absorbed, however, hot water baths are actually recommended by some to relieve itching.

Cleansers that remove resin or oil such as Fels-Naptha soap or Tecnu Poison Oak and Ivy Cleanser are more effective than regular detergent and can be used even several hours after exposure. Rubbing alcohol is another reasonable option and easily carried as hand sanitizers or prep pads; it is, however, very drying to the skin.

The good news is that, even if you choose not to treat the rash, it will go away by itself over 2-3 weeks. The bad news is that it could be so itchy as to make you absolutely miserable. Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) at 25-50 mg dosages 4 times a day will be helpful in relieving the itching. It’s important to know that the 50mg dosage will make you drowsy. This may be an added benefit at night to help you sleep, but not if you are in any situation that requires alertness. Unfortunately, calamine lotion and hydrocortisone cream, old standbys, will probably not be very effective.

Severe rashes have been treated with the prescription Medrol dose pack, (a type of steroid known as Prednisone).  Prednisone is a strong anti-inflammatory drug and will be more effective in preventing the inflammatory reaction that your antibodies will cause. This medicine would be a useful addition to any medical supply list if obtainable.

Some astringent solutions such as Domeboro have been reported to give relief from the itching. The active ingredient is aluminum acetate, which is similar to the aluminum chlorohydrate in many antiperspirants.

There are several alternative treatments for poison ivy, oak and sumac:

  • Cleansing the irritated area with apple cider vinegar
  • Essential oils mixed with Aloe Vera gel, such as tea tree, lemon, lavender, peppermint, geranium, and chamomile.
  • Baking soda paste
  • Epsom salt baths.
  • Jewel weed (mash and apply)
  • Chamomile tea bag compresses

For those who prefer drinking their tea: Passion flower, skullcap, and chamomile are all thought to be soothing.

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By  on June 17, 2013

This article can also be viewed here:  www.survivallife.com