Beneficial Herbs for the Skin: Jewelweed
Time for a quicky botanical lesson!
Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis), or Spotted Touch-Me-Not, is a leafy plant found plentifully near shady, wet, woodland areas such as creek banks. It blooms mid-summer to fall with orange-y trumpet-shaped flowers.
Known for its usefulness in soothing skin irritations, burns, insect bites, and inflammation, jewelweed can be especially helpful in preventing or treating poison ivy rashes. The juice from the leaves and stems neutralizes the oily urushiol left behind from encounters with poison ivy or stinging nettles, if used before or soon after exposure.
The alternate name of touch-me-not is derived from the tendency the seedpods have to "pop" when touched. The seeds of this annual plant self-sow in large stands; above you see jewelweed growing profusely along a bank flanked by sunny black-eyed susans. The plant attracts honeybees, hummingbirds, and butterflies to its colorful jewel-like blooms.
I hand-picked loads of jewelweed at a neighbor's property, so that I could infuse its beneficial qualities into a specialty soap. The leaves and flowers were simmered in oil, which I then used to create my Nature Friend bar. I also incorporated the chopped leaves, along with plantain leaf, which is another great dermatological herb.
Lavender and peppermint essential oils promote healing and anti-histamine action, reducing the itch and inflammation. Lather on this soap before going outdoors as a shield, or use to cleanse affected skin after exposure. Even if you haven't caught the rash in time, this gentle goat's milk formula can soothe troubled skin and assist in the quick healing of the rash.