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Jewelweed plant picture, Orange flower Impatiens capensis

Alternative Nature Online Herbal

Jewelweed, Nature's Answer to Poison Ivy?

Impatiens capensis

What is Jewelweed ?

Jewelweed is a native plant that has been used for centuries in North America by Native Americans and Herbalists, as an herbal remedy for poison ivy and poison oak rash and itching. Learn to find and use Jewelweed below.

The juice from the Jewelweed plant turns orange when exposed to air. Water preparations of Orange-flowered Jewelweed, as well as soaps made with it, will be orange to brown colored, but oil infusions and salves will be green.

What is Jewelweed used for?

The Jewelweed plant is best known for its skin soothing properties. Think of it like an aloe plant, though it's juice will often turn orange once squeezed from the plant. The leaves and the juice from the stem of Jewelweed are used by herbalists as a treatment for poison ivy, oak and other plant induced rashes, as well as many other types of dermatitis. Jewelweed may work by counter-reacting with the chemicals in other plants that cause irritation. Poultices and salves from Jewelweed are folk remedies for bruises, burns, cuts, eczema, insect bites, sores, sprains, warts, and ringworm. The science behind it is lacking, but many people swear by it. A 1958 study showed that 107 out of 115 people had good results, but newer studies negate the findings. Just search Jewelweed on Facebook to see how many people use it. I have used it for decades and it works for me, every time. When I wash with Jewelweed soap the same day as exposure, I don't break out and when I get a little breakout, it clears up fast!

Jewelweed plant with two orange flowers

Jewelweed plant blooming in late summer. I gather the tops and leave plenty of branches and flowers to make seed.

Jewelweed Plant Identification and Habitat

Jewelweed is a native annual found in the eastern part of North America from Southern Canada to the northern part of Florida. The Jewelweed plant is seen most often in moist woods and is a common plant of shady, wet areas. You will often find Jewelweed in ditches, along creek beds, or in shallow water growing in large colonies. It is also often found on the edge of wooded areas.

Also known as Touch-me-nots, Jewelweed grows from 2 to 6 feet tall, or taller in fertile soil, and bears hundreds of seeds per plant over the growing season. It is commonly said that wherever you find poison ivy, you will discover Jewelweed - however, this is not always true. Jewelweed will not grow in dry places for long and does not thrive in direct sunlight. Poison Ivy will grow in sun or shade.

Jewelweed impatiens plant leaves

Jewelweed leaves are oval, usually round- toothed; lower ones opposite, upper ones alternate. They have a waxy surface coating that repels water like a newly waxed car. The veins in the leaves end in the notches between the teeth. A bit trumpet-shaped, Jewelweed flowers hang from the plant much as a jewel from a necklace.

Pale Jewelweed has yellow flowers and Spotted Touch-Me-Nots have orange flowers with dark red dots. The flower is unmistakable, the only flower I can think of that resembles Jewelweed is Trumpet vine flower, and that takes some stretch of the imagination. Trumpet vine climbs trees and has pointed pinnate leaves.

The Jewelweed stem is succulent, hollow, and usually reddish at the joints. Jewelweed has very shallow reddish roots with fibrous tan rootlets. The seeds will 'pop' when touched, that is where the name Touch-Me-Nots came from. Jewelweed seeds are edible and said to have a mild walnut taste.

The Spotted Orange Jewelweed variety is most commonly used for treating irritated skin and poison ivy rashes, although the Pale Jewelweed may also have soothing properties.

Jewelweed can be used to shade young ginseng plants. There is plenty of Jewelweed in the wild, and it is not hard to find once you learn to identify it. It can sometimes become invasive but is easy to pull up because of the shallow roots.

Jewelweed can be grown to shade young ginseng plants.

There is plenty of Jewelweed in the wild, and it is not hard to find once you learn to identify it. It can sometimes become invasive, but is easy to pull up because of the shallow roots.

How to Use Jewelweed

When you are out in the field and find you have been exposed to poison ivy, oak, or stinging nettle you can reach for the jewelweed plant and slice the stem, then rub its juicy inside on exposed parts. It is said to ease irritation and prevent breakouts for most people.

Jewelweed or an infusion made from boiling leaves of Impatiens capensis may be frozen for later use. The easiest way to use it is to brew chopped jewelweed in boiling water until you get a dark orange liquid. Yellow Jewelweed will not yield orange color and may not be effective. Strain the liquid and pour into ice cube trays. When you have a skin rash, rub it with a jewelweed cube, and you might be amazed by its soothing, healing properties. It will keep in freezer up to a year. You can also preserve the infusion by canning it in a pressure cooker. Jewelweed does not dry well due to its high moisture and oil content. If you make a salve from Jewelweed, it is best kept refrigerated for long term storage.

Do not make alcoholic tinctures from Jewelweed because some people have had a bad reaction using jewelweed in alcohol based preparations. More isn't necessarily better with Jewelweed, and a strong concentrate should be diluted for use on skin, as some people have had reddening of skin with strong concentrations of Jewelweed.

Informative Link about Jewelweed/Alcohol Preparations

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Clinical Study on Jewelweed

"The Results of a Clinical Study,in which a 1:4 jewelweed preparation was compared for its effectiveness with other standard poison ivy dermatitis treatments was published in 1958 (Annals of Allerty 1958;16:526-527). Of 115 patients treated with jewelweed, 108 responded "most dramatically to the topical application of this medication and were entirely relieved of their symptoms within 2 or 3 days after the institution of treatment". It was concluded that jewelweed is an excellent substitute for ACTH and the corticosteroids in the treatment of poison ivy dermatitis. The active principle in the plant responsible for this activity remains unidentified."
by Varro Tyler, PhD in his book HERBS OF CHOICE

Recent clinical studies have failed to find scientific evidence for the effectiveness of Jewelweed preparations.
No explanation for the disparity is available.


Author, Photographer: Karen Bergeron Copyright 1999 - 2019

Amazing Jewelweed Soap, Salve and Spray

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Jewelweed Links

Common Sense Home - Jewelweed – Weekly Weeder #33

Manataka® American Indian Council - Jewelweed Earns Its Name

Medical Attributes of Impatiens sp. - Jewelweed, Touch-me-not

USDA Plant of the Week - Jewelweed