Sunday, July 28, 2013

Jewelweed Salve

This is Jewelweed.  Pretty, isn't it?  It's closely related to the popular garden plant, impatiens, and this variety with the orange blooms with dark red spots is also known as Spotted Touch-Me-Not.  There's another variety of Jewelweed with pale yellow flowers and it's deemed that that one doesn't pack as much medicinal punch as this variety.

Jewelweed is best known for it's skin-healing properties; and it's especially known to be a poison ivy deterrent if you know you've come in contact with it.  You can, ironically, often find jewelweed growing in proximity to poison ivy, and all you need do is cut open the stem and rub the juice on the area that came in contact with the poison ivy.  It should lessen the effects, if you break out at all.

And if you didn't realize you came in contact with the dastardly plant, you can also use the juice/oils from jewelweed on the rash.

I wish I'd known about this remedy from nature the last time I encountered poison ivy.  I have a tendency to recklessly attack weeds... though, less so after my last bout of itchy, poison ivy rash.

This is the tender side of my forearm.  Oof, that was a doozy.  I was up twice a night popping Benedryl and coating my arm in cortisone cream.  It barely offered any relief and I would have been much happier if I could have remedied my ailment with a natural method, and one that actually worked well.

So, with this growing all over our property, I decided to make a jewelweed salve so that I'm prepared for any future, dreadful bouts of itchiness.

Like I said, it's primarily associated with countering the effects of poison ivy (and other plant induced rashes), but it's also been known to heal other types of skin irritations such as bug bites, stinging nettle, ringworm, and even soothes and heals scrapes, cuts, bruises, eczema, and burns.  Pretty amazing stuff growing wild right out my back door!

While I can't yet testify to the success of deterring or alleviating the symptoms of poison ivy, as I haven't encountered it since I learned of this remedy (thankfully), I can tell you that it relieves the itchiness from mosquito bites.

Here's how I made the salve:

I went out into the yard and pulled 4 or 5 long stems.  They were about 3 feet tall - and they come out so easy - root ball, and all.

I cut off the root balls and mangled those delicate stems and leaves, twisting them to fit into a small pot.  Then, I nearly covered them with about a cup (maybe a cup and a half) of coconut oil.  No need to fully submerge them.  They'll be fully covered once the stems soften and the leaves wilt.

Let them heat (barely) on the lowest setting your stove will go. I covered the pot and let them warm/simmer for about an hour - till they turned this orange/brown color and the oil became dark.

I strained them into a jar...

...really smashing them down so as much of the oil is released as possible.

Then I grated about 5 tablespoons of beeswax and added that to the jar to dissolve in the coconut/jewelweed oil.  I put the jar in a pot of simmering water to keep the oil warm enough to dissolve the beeswax.

And once the beeswax was fully incorporated, I carefully spooned it into these twist up containers. This should last for up to a year and I'm storing the unused portion in the refrigerator.
(More on Jewelweed)

Now that's handy.  And I'm armed the next time I get a skin irritation - poison ivy - or otherwise! 

Linking with Clever Chicks, Homestead Barn Hop, Wildcrafting Wednesday, Down Home Blog Hop, From the Farm Blog Hop


Natalie said...

I had massive poison ivy last summer - not quite as bad as your arm (pictured) but it was all over my face, my waist, my arms, neck and chest. It was tangled up in the blackberries I was picking and I didn't even notice it. Although I knew jewelweed was a remedy, I couldn't get any. I've pinned your salve so that as soon as I can get my hands on some plants, I will make some to have on hand. Thank you ever so much for sharing.

Pam O'Brien said...

Hi Natalie,
I wish I could send you some (unfortunately, it wilts 2 minutes after harvesting it), as we are nearly overtaken with it!
Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment.

Kristiina said...

Natalie, there's a good chance that you can find some jewelweed in your area right now. I just saw the first flower on one of mine yesterday so in Ontario, you're probably well into flower.

Go to some public hiking trails and look in full sun to partial shade. Dense shade doesn't usually support them prolifically.

Mom, I just trimmed a batch to dehydrate. I think I'll keep a back up every year until the kids get chicken pox. Better safe than calamine lotion! XOXO

Pam O'Brien said...

Kristiina, you're a doll for helping out Natalie! I hope she can find some. Good idea to dehydrate some. I have enough around here to dehydrate 20 pounds... if you need any!! ;-) xoxo

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this post on Wildcrafting Wednesday! Jewelweed salve is a MUST this time of year. Even when I work outside pulling weeds and I am not sure if I touched poison ivy, I come in wash up good and slather the salve on my arms. :)

Jacqueline@ said...

I just shared this on my Deeprootsathome FB page! I'd love to do this, but I can't find the old jewelweed patch. I think it got mowed :(

Kelle said...

Wonderful post. I'm highly allergic to poison ivy also and, as a gardener, come into contact with it too often for comfort. I live in the Deep South and have yet to see any Jewelweed growing wild around here. I sowed some seeds that didn't do well...perhaps too hot down here. Then I found a Chinese variety, Impatiens balsamina (found at Horizon Herbs:, that is thriving for me. It's beautiful, lush, with bright purple flowers, and the bees love it! Best of all, it's doing it's job on my latest bout of poison ivy rash. Thanks for sharing your recipe. I'll be making my own straight away!

Anonymous said...

Hey just so you guys are aware, everywhere I've been reading it says that jewelweed loses it's potency being dried. Like as in, once it's dried it doesn't work at all. From what I understand, you can freeze it, tincture it, or make salve, but it doesn't work if it's dried. I just made Jewelweed ice cubes the other day to go with my plantain ice cubes...doing herbs is the only time i enjoy being in the kitchen! lol

Anonymous said...

How much jewel weed liquid do you use with the bees wax. :)


Poison ivy said...

Thanks for sharing your method for making the salve. I don't know why they don't have this bottled and sold in pharmacies. Maybe you could sell yours.

Anonymous said...

How long will this last without refrigeration?

Anonymous said...

I too am interested in this because the new farm we moved to has poison ivy. I am pretty sure I am not allergic, but my husband is so the kids are a guess. I am wondering if you could mail the root balls? I would love to find this plant, we don't have it in my yard, but I will keep an eye out and check to see if it is in our area. I have shipped many plants with success. You just need to wrap the roots in damp paper towels, usually. Anyway, if you'd like to try and ship some, I'd love to trade you something for them, or buy some to start my own growth.
I have also heard that once the plant flowers the stems are not as potent as before they flower in the spring. I have no idea how to test that theory, but that is what I have found in my research so far.
Thank you!!

Cortland Carrington said...

I can tell you this about Jewel weed... If you already have poison ivy, grasp a good sprig of Jewel weed, pulp it on a cutting board with your fingers, spoons or even a rolling pin, and then use the smashed up stems/leaves/juice to itch your rash... like a scouring pad. As you itch yourself with it, the jewel weed juices will get pretty deep into your rash, and remove the itch, generally speaking.

Brendan Lovering said...

I get poison ivy really badly sometimes. I have tried to use jewelweed a little bit with it, but have not had much success. That being said, I have never used an extract, just basically smeared the jewelweed onto the effected ivy parts. It would be really nice to know how this worked out. Its inspired me to use jewelweed extract on my next poison ivy rash.

Tori Tilton said...

Great post! I am wondering if I added jewelweed "juice" to my cold process soap recipe, if the healing properties would survive the heat of the saponification process? Anyone know? Also wanted to let you know that my husband used to have such a severe reaction to poison ivy that he would have to get a steroid shot if came into contact with it. We found that taking echinachea works just as well! It's been 8 years and several poison ivy rashes later and no more steroid shots!

Letty B said...

Hey I was planning on making some of the twist tubes like you did but then wondered if someone uses it on a recent poison ivy exposure won't the poison ivy oils then sit on the end of the tube? My fear is that if I use it on poison ivy then use it on a mosquito bite at another time it will give me the poison ivy again :(

Ida Miller said...

Several weeks ago my twin grand children had played with a friends cats and got ate up with the worse flea bites I have ever seen in 52 yrs. I bathed them with Jewelweed soap and then applied the Jewelweed tincture and was astounded at the results by morning 50cent size marks were the size of nickles.
Great stuff looking for recipes because it is costly to buy when you have family highly sensitive to poison ivy and sumac.

Redrider63 said...

I've just recently learned about jewelweed. I ordered some in oil off the internet so I can make soap. I was searching to find out how much to add and came across your page. So, I've also decided to make salve since my family gets poison ivory really bad. Can you apply from the dispenser without worry of spreading it if the poison ivy starts to seep? I'm 63 and have gotten it for as long as I can remember. Thanks so much for posting this.

Anonymous said...

Just made mine. Will be using today. Our woods is just covered in poison ivy and oak. We are working on cleaning it out. Yesterday we both ended up with it even though we were being careful. Thanks for the post on how to make it