Poison Ivy

Poison ivy in a strawberry

Poison ivy in a strawberry

“Leaves of three, let it be,”

unless its a tree or raspberry.

Every year about this time, we end up getting poison Ivy. This year, I was attacking some on the edge of the garden, where a visiting four year old was playing. To pull poison ivy, we get a garbage bag in one hand and a grocery bag in the other, contacting the leaves and stems only with the inside of the bags. Then we can pull the vines out from their base. But one always gets carried away, and the oil gets on shoes and the cuffs of pants. I collected a whole garbage bag full, and got some on my hands and face from a hole in the grocery bag. I was worried that I had breathed some, and it should be well known that if one burns a pile of brush, the poison ivy fumes can cause suffocation by inflaming the lungs in the allergic reaction. This happened to an old friend’s wife, driving down Ford road one day when they were burning brush. She was hospitalized, and nearly died.

The best way to remove poison ivy is to employ goats, who love to eat the stuff. This sounds terrible, but goats, like one in twenty people, are not allergic to poison ivy at all. Goat owners might even rent them out for the purpose.

The best method of treating the skin is a drawing salve concocted from a mixture of corn starch and egg white, with a little peroxide thrown in to counter bacteria from the egg, and vinegar to melt the oil. As the paste dries on the skin, it draws the oil out. An acquaintance long ago found the recipe on the internet. This paste can then be washed off when it dries, and reapplied as the oil seeps out of the skin. It is a bit messy as it flakes off, but well worth the trouble. To wet the skin with Vinegar works to break the oil, and stops the itch within a few minutes, much better than calamine lotion. Jewel weed, an orange flowered plant that grows in swamps, is a natural remedy used in many over the counter salves. We learned this from Mrs. Emrick, who learned it from her husband Paul, who learned it from the Indians in Ohio. My sister makes an extract suspended in alcohol, which then can be stored in a bottle. One might add aloe and vitamin E cream to get fancy. But the key above all is to dissolve the oil on the surface with soap and vinegar, and then draw out what oil has gone into the skin. Antihistamines like Benedryl might also help, since it is an allergic reaction.

Once my friend had ivy in his tennis shoes. The doctor did not figure out, and treated him for athlete’s foot. I guessed it from having seen so much of the stuff.

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