“When the itch is inside the boot, scratching outside provides little consolation”
“I was cleaning my horses earlier today, and now I have this oozing sore on the right side of my neck,” says Sarah an attractive 30ish women last week in my office. She seemed anxious, particularly because she wondered if what she was experiencing was the consequences of coming in contact with poison oak. She said she was uncomfortable with an oozing thin yellow discharge that was weeping from the angry looking rash. The big patch on her neck was the main area of the eruption, but there were also small spots on other aspects of her right shoulder and arm.
I asked the usual questions. Does anything make the itching better or worse? Is the pain intolerable? How does hot and cold water effect her? How is the evening in general? Sleep? Since I wrote The Homeopathic Handbook for Poison Ivy and Poison Oak in 1991, I’ve sold close to 1000 copies and treated close to that many cases. It’s rare I can’t cure a case of poison oak (Click here to see the PDF Homeopathic Treatment of Poison Oak) or ivy in one or two prescriptions. The best news about that is that once you find the correct homeopathic remedy, you can often use it again and again. As well, each time you use the correct remedy, you reduce the likelihood of having the rash return. Read that again please, if you take the correct homeopathic remedy for poison oak or poison ivy, you will begin the deeper healing of this rash. You’ll get the rash less frequently and less severely. Eventually, most people will not get it at all! Do I have evidence for this? No research evidence, but I do continue to treat dozens of people annually who let me know that this is their experience….circumstantial evidence? Or testimonial.
It’s very common to use the same remedy several times over the course of a few years and then need the same remedy in a higher potency. I just saw this happen in a case in which I used Bryonia alba for the poison ivy dermatitis. Alexandra called me all the way from North Carolina for me to treat her. She had huge welts in the bends of her joints on the right arm of her upper body and then fluid filled bumps on the left ankle (an opposite side of the body pattern). The rash was itchy worse in bed, worse upon waking. She would wake up every night at 2:30 miserable. I decided to give her Bryonia alba because it seemed that sitting still gave her relief. She responded to several doses of 30C, but in a few days she needed a 200C. The rash resolved completely in 5 days. About a year later she called and said that she had the rash again and that the Bryonia 200C was helping but not completely resolving the rash. I considered giving her Sulphur or Rhus diversiloba, but the Bryonia 1M cleared the rash within 24 hours. That was two years ago.
Homeopathic prescribing for poison oak and poison ivy is based on the individual expression of the rash and related behaviors. In the case of the Sarah, the women cleaning the horses, what was unusual was that the itching wasn’t particularly bad, and the itch was not better or worse with just about anything. (No modalities is what we say in homeopathy). So with what I had to go on, I gave her Sanguinaria canidensis (Bloodroot), which is a remedy that is characterized by right-sided symptoms. The facts were, she had the rash only on her right side, with thin watery yellow discharge and no other symptoms. I only had a 200C so after three doses of Sanguinaria 200C; Sarah was on the mend. The only other confirmation I can think of is that Bloodroot- Sanguinaria characteristically flowers very early in the season, and this rash was happening very early in the season—early March.
Another recent poison oak cure occurred in a young girl. Brenda loves the outdoors and so do her parents. They brought her in with her eyes extremely swollen The main expression of the rash was painful swelling in her face and eyes. The only thing that helped was cold applications, a wet towel on her face or washing with cold water. Very few homeopathic remedies have this modality. Bryonia and Mezereum being two, but the most common remedy with this modality is Rhus diversiloba, the remedy made from the actual poison oak plant itself. Rhus diversiloba just like Rhus Toxicodendron greatly affects the face and has swelling. I gave her Rhus diversiloba 30C. She responded but needed a 200C as well. Four months later she needed a 1M of Rhus-diversiloba.
I hear many things said about poison oak and poison ivy. A colleague last week on a retreat wrote this “I’m from the east and am immune to poison ivy but not so sure about oak. I was freaked out about the prospect of “being in hell”. I took great “washing” precautions but was surely aware of my fear around an outbreak. Interesting to observe… The waiting game was not fun. Not knowing if I had banished all of the potential future exposure was also unsettling…. The invisible unknown!!” For me, that fear is just as real as the rash itself. Homeopathic treatment offers permanent relief from the pain and itching of our boundaries with nature. We can comfortably become more one with the natural world. Next time you see or hear someone scratching at this edge do suggest that they call me and consider making peace with this plant ally.
Treating Poison Oak Homeopathically: 5 Case Studies