Stop Itching With Herbs

Herbal Protection and Treatment for Poison Ivy & Bug BitesDon't Touch

Welcome to summer and all that it means: barbecues, hiking, evening walks, lush gardens – poison ivy and bug bites. Welcome to the downside of summer. We all look forward to the barbecues, long hours out enjoying nature and time in our gardens; but what about the bee stings, bug bites, and poison ivy? One serious bout of poison ivy is enough to make you want to hide indoors and avoid the entire season. But take heart: You really don’t have to hibernate or spend the entire season scratching. Many of the best anti-itch remedies are as close as your back yard, kitchen or local herbal store. These remedies work in various ways: They can neutralize the irritant that make you itch, draw out the toxin, block your inflammation response or quell the nerves that send irritation signals to your brain. Not every remedy will work for everyone every time. Experiment with what you have to see what works best for you.

Outsmart Poison Ivy

Poison ivy rashes are caused by potent urushiol oil. As little as one billionth of a gram of urushiol can irritate sensitive skin, and the oil stays active on unwashed clothes and dead plants for up to five years. If you think you’ve come into contact with poison ivy, immediately wash your skin and clothes in cold, soapy water. Use a drying soap, like Fels-Naptha. If you already have a rash, anything hot will irritate it.

When blood goes to the surface of your body, the itchiness gets worse; when you flush, you itch. If you keep yourself calm and cool, in the shade with a little bit of water, you’ll have less itchiness. Avoid spicy foods, the sun and hot water. Sip some cool, mildly sedating teas, such as skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora), passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) or chamomile (Matricaria recutita). These will be especially helpful if you’re emotionally worked up from the itchiness.


Jewelweed (Impatiens spp.) This well-known weed tends to grow near poison ivy and historically has been used in all stages of treating a poison ivy rash. Many people simply pick a branch of the juicy herb, crush it up and apply it to the affected area. 

Green or bentonite clay.  Clay can be used in many ways. Make a paste by mixing green or bentonite clay, salt and white vinegar, then add a few drops of peppermint, tea tree of lavender essential oil. Either type will help draw out irritating oils and soothe your itch. Spread the damp clay on your rash as often as needed and let it dry there. You also can use this clay on mosquito and black fly bites.w near poison ivy and historically has been used in all stages of treating a poison ivy rash. Many people simply pick a branch of the juicy herb, crush it up and apply it to the affected area.

Oatmeal works well for any itchy condition. It soothes irritated skin while also drawing out any remaining toxins. An oat bath is ideal for a large rash that already has settled in. Make a big pot of soupy oatmeal, strain it into the tub and put the rest in a sock. You will want the bath water to be tepid or cool because hot water can further irritate poison ivy. Use the goopy sock like a sponge and let the oat slime ooze over your rash. Alternatively, you can grind the oat flakes and make a cold paste with cool water, then smear it on; as the oats and water dries, it pulls out the oily exudate into the oat particulate. Your rash won’t spread, and it gives you relief.

Bug Bites

The thing about itching – it’s a stagnant problem. Mosquitoes insert irritating saliva into your skin. The saliva reacts in your skin, making you itch. The irritant is localized in your body; your goal is to neutralize it. Most of the anti-itch remedies for poison ivy also work for bug bites.


Plantain (Plantago spp.).  Plantain is a favorite bite and sting remedy of many herbalists, and for good reason. It stops the itch and pulls the bug’s toxins out of your skin. it also works amazingly well for bee stings. If it’s growing where you live, bend down, pick up a leaf, chew it or crush it with a rock and put it on the itch.

Lavender and peppermint essential oils. These essential oils help stop the itching and disinfect the bite. You can apply them directly to the skin or add them to other mediums like clay. Peppermint oil can irritate some people’s skin, so test it on a small patch of your skin first; you also can dilute it in a teaspoon of a carrier oil.

Yellow onion. The onion’s de-toxifying sulphur compounds help neutralize the poison of the bite or venom of the sting, reducing inflammation. Just slice open an onion and rub it on the bite. Keep doing it as often as necessary until the itching stops.

By: Anna Kelly-Niziolek, CCH, LMT, RMT of Airmeith Naturals

About Airmeith Naturals

Anna has over 25 years of experience working with herbs. She trained as a chef specializing in classical French cuisine. Anna has extensive knowledge of herbs used in cooking, as well as having researched the historic use of culinary herbs & spices. She is a Certified Community Herbalist who has completed multiple apprenticeships and classes with renowned Herbalists along with her own studies. Her concentration is in Western European Herbal Practices. She has attended college for Environmental Science as well as earning her certificate in Massage Therapy and is licensed in the state of Massachusetts. In addition, Anna is a Certified Reiki Master Teacher. Anna lives in Western Massachusetts with her family and has over an acre of gardens to play in. Anna is the herbalist at Airmeith Naturals in Holyoke Massachusetts
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1 Response to Stop Itching With Herbs

  1. Pingback: Friday-May 31, 2013 | Gardengirl's Journal

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