I’ll have to admit that until a few years ago, I had no idea what Jewelweed was. I had seen it growing up in Minnesota, but until I needed it, I didn’t have a clue.
What is Jewelweed?
Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) is also known as Touch-Me-Not. This is because of the unique action of the seed pod springing open when touched, thus dispersing the seed everywhere.
A member of the Impatiens family, like the decorative version we often plant in our yards, Jewelweed is best suited for the shade. It is easy to grow in almost any area that is constantly moist. You’ll usually find it in the summer growing in the same area as poison ivy. It has oval leaves that are slightly lobed. They often appear silvered or frosted when wet, leading to the name Jewelweed. The stems are very succulent and often drip with a slightly slimy juice when broken. The flowers are trumpet shaped and can be yellow or orange, even on the same plant.
Using Jewelweed for Poison Ivy Rashes
Above all, Jewelweed is great for combating poison ivy rash. The juice that comes from the stems and leaves helps to clear up the rash, speeding drying of the liquid-filled blisters and rash that follows. The juice can also be used to relieve itching. Furthermore, it has been used in the treatment of athlete’s foot and ringworm, proving itself as an anti-fungal. It has been used by Native Americans in a tea as a diuretic and a digestive aid.
In the spring and summer, the juice in the leaves and stems is plentiful. In the waning weeks of summer into fall, the stems become hard and knobby, but still contain some juice. Using it in a tincture is best during this time. The tincture can be different colors at different times of the year, ranging from pale to dark reddish brown. (The color of the tincture does not determine the effectiveness.)
Jewelweed is best used fresh. It seems to lose most of the properties when dried, so I never bother. I do freeze some at the end of the season because I know I’ll need it in the winter and I won’t be able to find any. I’m experimenting soaking the fresh plant in liquid vegetable glycerin with varying degrees of success. It seems to hold the good qualities of it, but turns a murky brown. I’ll continue to work on it and provide updates!
How to Make Poison Ivy Treatments With Jewelweed
You can make it into a tincture as described above.
Supplies & Ingredients:
- quart jar
- stems, leaves, and flowers of Jewelweed – chopped
- alcohol (I use 80 proof vodka)
- a few leaves of plantain, yarrow, chickweed, cleavers, and comfrey – chopped
- Place the Jewelweed in the jar, filling it about half full. Add the other leaves.
- Cover with alcohol – enough to cover the leaves by at least a quarter of an inch.
- Place the cap on the jar, making sure it is tight. Shake well.
- Place in the sun and shake every day. Leave for at least three weeks.
- When it is finished, strain and store the tincture in a cool, dark place.
Jewelweed Poison Ivy Solution
Then I use the Jewelweed tincture to make this Jewelweed poison ivy solution.
Supplies & Ingredients:
- a pint jar
- 4 ounces of the Jewelweed tincture (from recipe above)
- distilled water
- 5 drops lavender essential oil (find pure lavender EO here)
- 5 drops tea tree essential oil (find pure tea tree EO here)
- cotton cosmetic pads (like these organic cotton pads)
- a small jar with a tight fitting lid (these are the perfect size)
- Place 10-12 cotton pads in the smaller jar. Set aside.
- Pour the tincture into the pint jar. Add enough distilled water to double the volume. This will give you a 20% alcohol solution. If you find this too drying, you can add more distilled water.
- Add the essential oils and cap tightly. Shake well, and immediately pour over the cotton pads, making sure you saturate the pads completely.
- Store any remaining Jewelweed Poison Ivy Solution for up to 4 months.
Using Your Jewelweed Poison Ivy Treatment
To use this Jewelweed poison ivy treatment, simply squeeze any excess liquid out of the cotton pad and wipe it on the affected area. This not only makes a great treatment for poison ivy, oak or sumac, but also rashes, bug bites, and minor scratches.
Growing or Wild Harvesting Jewelweed
Most likely, if you have a moist area in your yard, you may have Jewelweed growing there. Look in marsh areas, along rivers and creeks or damp areas along the roadside. I’ve seen stands up to 8-feet-tall near my home.
To harvest, I take the top ⅓ of the plant, leaving the rest to continue growing. Never harvest all the Jewelweed in one place, or there won’t be any the next year. Jewelweed is a tropical annual that dies as soon as the frost hits it. It needs to be able to set seed to propagate more.
If you want to grow it, it is very easy. You can find the seeds in many places, including online here. Sow directly in the soil in a moist, shady area. It will germinate quickly and you’ll see two oval, pale green leaves that kind of look like fat kidney beans. These are the first seeds. Your plants will grow quickly and need very little care except watering when young.
Want a natural Jewelweed Poison Ivy Treatment, but don’t want to make it yourself?
If you don’t have the time or resources to make a poison ivy treatment with jewelweed, you can find a few natural options already made for you: