by Dominique Richard © 2015

Poison Oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum) and its eastern counterpart Poison Ivy (T. radicans) are two of the most notoriously painful plants in North America.

Only 1 nanogram (billionth of a gram) is needed to cause a rash. Some people appear to be immune; others become immune. However, you can gain or lose immunity, so to assume you can’t get it if you never had it before is unwise. Never assume immunity despite past experience as people change as they age. Upwards of 90% of people are allergic to urushiol oil; it’s a matter of time and exposure. The more times you are exposed to urushiol, the more likely it is that you will break out with an allergic rash. For some first time sufferer, it may take longer for the rash to show up – generally 7 to 10 days.

At first you get a slight itchy spot, which gets worse and worse. It can be a small itchy area that will annoy you, or it can cover your whole body with giant red sores that will drive you nuts.

Poison ivy, oak and sumac urushiol are potent.


Within an hour or so you should rinse with lots of cold water; use a garden hose. DO NOT use hot water as it will open your pores and let the oil in. Taking a warm or hot shower could prove to be disastrous!

For the first 6 to 12 hours use Grey Alder – Alnus Incana (buds) and apply to all affected areas every 1 or 2 hours depending on severity and pruritus (itching); use as needed, depending on the response you get.  Many say that after 1/2 hour the oil has soaked in and you can’t remove it. That is why it is very important to use this extract as soon as possible to avoid this.  Even if you waited more than 30 minutes Grey Alder will still relieve you faster than any other approach so to reiterate, use as needed.  Use it the moment you feel the return of some itching. The rash will be gone 50% faster than that of the normal course of duration which can last 2 or 3 weeks.

The next day you can take a shower (not a bath ever) in the hottest water you can stand, for as long as you can stand – this should ease the itch for up to 8 hours. Often this is not needed when you use Grey Alder buds extract topically. The rash can last anywhere from 1 to 3 weeks, depending on how bad it is and how promptly you attended to it. With Grey Alder the rash is gone in at least half of the time it normally takes.

Rubbing the rashes won’t spread poison ivy to other parts of your body (or to another person). You can spread the rash only if urushiol oil – the sticky, resin like substance that causes the rash — has been left on your hands.

Explanations for natural immunity to poison oak are complicated by myths, conflicting reports and ongoing controversies among authorities. Sensitization depends on the chance meeting of a special effector T-cell (with correct receptor site) and the poison oak allergen–a painful biochemical rendezvous. You may not have effector T-cells with the special receptor for urushiol–or perhaps your relatively few effector T-cells with precise poison oak receptor may never encounter the urushiol allergen. The allergen may be absorbed and degraded before the T-cells find it. Truthfully, most people will probably experience some degree of dermatitis if a sufficient quantity of urushiol is thoroughly rubbed into their skin. You may even be sensitized by a white blood cell transfusion from a sensitized person. Immunity to poison oak with age, exposure and embryonic phytochemicals are involve in the function of suppressor T-cells which inhibit or block the action and reproduction of other T-cells. Circulating IgG immunoglobulin antibodies that block the T-cell receptor for urushiol may also be involved (Stampf et al, 1990).


If Grey Alder – Alnus Incana (buds) is not available use Virginia Creeper – Ampelopsis Veitchii (young shoots) as an alternative because it is equally as good as Grey Alder. The same directions apply. Dampen a gauze pad with a small amount of drops and apply to the affected areas.  Dampen the dermatitis repeatedly as needed, this will arrest the blistering and associated pruritus (itching).

Individual embryonic plant extracts and their combined synergistic actions contribute much to a person’s whole being.