Touch Me Nots


A jewelweed flower (Impatiens capensis)

A jewelweed flower (Impatiens capensis)

Some people call it Jewelweed; my mother in law knows them as Touch Me Nots. Impatiens capensis is a pretty, delicate waterside plant whose juice boasts the ability to be able to soothe a poison ivy rash. I have read in many places that the two plants- Touch Me Nots and Poison Ivy- are often found growing together. While I have not found them exactly side by side before, both plants are common to my area…. especially Poison Ivy! I am fortunate to not react to Poison Ivy and some will exclaim in horror as I go traipsing through the bush harvesting medicinals, nary a care weather or not I brush up against some poison ivy. And some of the places I go have a blanket of Poison Ivy! Not everyone is so lucky, however and I have witnessed those who only need to be in the vicinity of Poison Ivy for their skin to rash up and become inflamed, irritated and itchy. Fortunately, you can prepare with some easy to make home remedies should yourself, family or friends need some TLC.

Jewelweed is a succulent, water loving plant. Its bright green stems seem almost translucent; perhaps this is because the stems inside are watery and juicy. It is this juice- as well as the stems, leaves and roots- which can help to soothe a poison ivy rash. If you are in the bush and need immediate relief, the fresh plant can be crush and rubbed onto the affected parts. You can also prepare ahead of time by harvesting Jewelweed when it is in season and using one or both of the following methods.

The whole harvested plants of Jewelweed. You can see how orange the roots are!

The whole harvested plants of Jewelweed. You can see how orange the roots are!

Harvesting Jewelweed

First you have to locate and harvest some Jewelweed. Perhaps you already know where some grows? Great! If not, look for it growing along steam banks, shallow shorelines and swampy areas. You can use the pictures posted here as a reference for what to look for. You can also reference some plant identification books. You can cut off the arial parts of the plant, or you can pluck up the whole plant by the roots. This is very simple with Jewelweed. The roots are quite shallow and as it is most often growing in wet soil, a simple tug near the bottom of the plant is usually all that is needed. And the roots are such a lovely shade of orange!I have found plants growing on the open shores of Lake Huron which are short and have fat, succulent stems. I have also found Jewelweed on shady stream banks and in swampy bush that is tall, spindly and skinny.

Jewelweed and Apple Cider Vinegar

This is a good method to preserve the soothing juices of Jewelweed without the need to refrigerate or freeze it. And the method is painfully simple! So, you can use just the arial parts, or you can use the whole plant plucked out by the roots. Wash off the plant. Now, cut up the whole plant- roots, stem, leaves and flowers- into smaller bits and fill a canning jar. You can use any size of jar you would like to or need, depending on how much healing vinegar you think you might need. Loosely fill the jar; you don’t really need to pack it in tight, but I usually push down the plant material a little bit. The next step is to pour on Apple Cider Vinegar until the jar is filled up. Put a lid on and let it sit in a dark, cool spot from 2 weeks to a couple months. The final step is to strain out the plant parts the resulting liquid is your medicine! The Apple Cider Vinegar helps to preserve it.

Filling up the jars with cut up Jewelweed. The jar on the left is full; still packing the one on the right.

Filling up the jars with cut up Jewelweed. The jar on the left is full; still packing the one on the right.

Jewelweed and Water

Another simple way to use Jewelweed is to boil it in water. Same as above, harvest and wash the plant and then cut it up into a pot. Cover with water, bring to a boil and then simmer gently for a couple of hours. The water will turn bright orange! Then, strain out the plant material and pour into ice cube trays. You can freeze these and store them in a freezer bag. They will be cool and soothing when you need it. This year I have used my copper distiller to make Jewelweed water. Distilling the plant helps to preserve the resulting plant water, and I will want to play with the distillate a bit to determine its effectiveness.

After simmering the Jewelweed for a while, the water has turned orange!

After simmering the Jewelweed for a while, the water has turned orange!

The strained water has been poured into ice cube trays and is ready to freeze.

The strained water has been poured into ice cube trays and is ready to freeze.

Now you know everything you need to to make a Jewelweed Poison Ivy remedy at home. We can also visit our Etsy Shop to purchase our Touch Me Not Soap which we make with the Jewelweed Vinegar. As with many medicinal plants, there is also a science to back up Jewelweed’s use for treating a poison ivy rash. The leaves and roots contain “lawsone” a plant constituent which has both anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine effects. Jewelweed also contains compounds called “balsaminones” which have anti-itching properties. If the science of Jewelweed interests you, click here for more info.

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