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Medicinal Uses for Jewelweed

Cygnet Brown is a high school and middle school substitute teacher. She is the author of fourteen books and a long-time gardener.

Jewel Weed

Jewel Weed

What is Jewelweed?

Jewelweed is the Nearatic species of genus impatiens. It is the parts of the plant that grow above the ground that is used to make medicine. Be careful not to confuse jewelweed with potentilla, since both are known as silverweed. Jewelweed is a smooth annual that grows three to five feet tall. The flowers are trumpet-shaped and hang from the plant like a jewel from a necklace.

Jewelweed blooms from May until October in eastern North America from southern Canada to northern Florida. It is found in moist woods and near poison ivy and stinging nettle. However, just because there is poison ivy or stinging nettle, you won't necessarily find jewelweed because jewelweed will not grow in dry places or thrive in direct sunlight whereas those other two plants will. Wild jewelweed grows along creek banks. If you do not have access to wild jewelweed, there are garden varieties of impatiens that have the same properties (but not as concentrated as the wild varieties).


Medicinal Uses for Jewelweed

People take jewelweed by mouth to treat mild digestive problems. Jewelweed is said to aid digestion and increase the loss of body water through the urine (diuretic effect), but there isn't scientific information to back these claims. It is not known how jewelweed might work as a medicine. Some people also apply juices of jewelweed directly to the skin for the treatment of poison ivy.

The juice from jewelweed relieves bee and wasp stings. However, it does not always cure them completely. In addition, it helps soothe the irritations of nettle stings, minor burns, cuts, eczema, acne, sores, and other skin irritations.

It's also good to for warts, bruises, and fungal skin infections such as athlete's foot and ringworm.

The best-known medicinal use for jewelweed is in the treatment of poison ivy. Apply jewelweed juice to an area on the body that has been in contact with poison ivy to prevent rashes from the poison ivy from ever appearing. Jewelweed not only works as a prophylactic 9prevention) but also works in the treatment of poison ivy,

The symptoms of the poison ivy rash are:

  • Itchy skin where the plant touched your skin.
  • Red streaks or general redness where the plant brushed against the skin.
  • Small bumps or larger raised areas
  • Blisters filled with fluid that may leak out.

Pictures Of Poison Ivy, Oak & Sumac

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Treatment of Poison Ivy Rash with Jewelweed

The orange jewelweed (I. capensis) and yellow jewelweed (I. pallida) have been studied for their ability to poison ivy. In 1958, a study in 1958 found that impatien biflora was an effective alternative medication for skin irritation caused by contact with sumac. Later studies, however, did not give the same antipruritic effects after the rash appeared. These conflicting studies were reviewed and it was discovered that the method used to prepare and the type of application determined the effects of the jewelweed against poison ivy. According to a subsequent study done in 2012, an extract made from the orange jewelweed was not as effective as the topical application of crushed stems and leaves to the affected area.

If you have already developed the rash and you have access to jewelweed, break the stem of the jewelweed and rub it on the rash until you draw some blood. The rash will dry out, a scab will form and healing will take place often within a couple of days.

Making Jewelweed Tincture

It is sometimes necessary to capture jewelweed's medicinal properties for future use because jewelweed might be necessary. If you come across a source for jewelweed in season and know that you will be working around poison ivy, you can pick fresh plants and store them in a sealed container in the refrigerator. This will keep jewelweed available for up to a week.

Although jewelweed often grows where poison ivy does, as stated earlier in this article, jewelweed is not always available because of the time of year that the irritation occurs. Therefore you may want to prepare a tincture. Prepare your tincture by soaking fresh jewelweed in commercial witch hazel for a few weeks. the extract of the two herbs (jewelweed and witch hazel) preserves well. It will keep for several months. When using witch hazel in the preparation, use this tincture externally only.

Making Jewelweed Ointment

Jewelweed ointment can also be made by simmering a small amount of jewelweed in light vegetable oil (but not olive oil because olive oil will burn) for 10-15 minutes. Use only a small handful of the jewelweed stems per quart of oil or the jewelweed juice will form on the surface of the ointment and in a few days will go moldy. Strain the herb from the oil and add beeswax to thicken the oil. Heat until the beeswax has melted and remove spoonfuls to cool and test thickness. Add more oil or beeswax if needed. Add one capsule of oil-soluble vitamin E (as a natural preservative). Let mixture cool. Refrigerate and it will last for several months.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2013 Cygnet Brown


Cygnet Brown (author) from Springfield, Missouri on September 30, 2013:

You're welcome, epbooks, I do sincerely doubt that jewel weed grows in Las Vegas!

Elizabeth Parker from Las Vegas, NV on September 30, 2013:

I've never heard of jewel weed before but this was a very informative hub. Thank you for sharing!

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