Jewelweed has a long history as a Native american medicine. Its long been known for its skin healing properties for many skin aliments including itch and rash from all types of poison, burns from stinging nettle, bugs bites and hives. Many tribes of the Appalachian area including the Potawatomi and Powhatan tribe used for all skin aliments. Some Native tribes believed drinking a cup of jewelweed tea in early fall would protect them against poison the following year. (This is not advised). Even the Cherokee in upper North Carolina were said to have used this amazing plant for burn dressings and for treating gastrointestinal disorders. Widely used as a poison preventive the natives would rub the juice of the stems on their skin before entering poison invaded areas, for prevention and protection. The name is believed to have come when the Natives witnessed, in the moonlight or early morning sun, the silver color on the leaves, would sparkle and glisten like a jewel when wet. These people knew the importance of this great plant for medical purposes. And today still, jewelweed is proving to be an amazing valuable plant!
Jewelweed comes from the plant family Balsaminaceae. Genus: Impatiens.The most common variation in jewelweed is the spotted Orange (Impatiens Capensis). This is the variety is the most commonly used by herbalist providing the most medical properties. This version prefers partially shaded and moist soil. The pale jewelweed or yellow jewelweed (Impatiens Pallida) is less common than its orange cousin and prefers Limestone sites to grow its best. Both varieties grow between 2 and 5 ft tall, with course jagged edge leaves and thick stems. Jewelweed is a self seeding annual. The underneath of the leaves have a silver color, making them shine with jewel-like color when, wet from rain or morning dew and hit by sunlight. Jewelweed is commonly grown in most of the Us with the exception of Wyoming, Montana and the southwest including California. It's usually found growing near stinging nettle and poison ivy as that is Nature's remedy for these plants. It flowers between June and August, with orange or yellow small tube flowers. They form a seed pod and are often called touch-me-nots as the seed pod will explode when touched.
Jewelweed is most famous for being a poison ivy treatment, and healing rashes from poison ivy, oak and sumac. The leaves, roots and stems of this plant contain a compound called lawsone, which is anti-inflammatory, antifungal and a strong antihistamine. With these components It puts up a great defense to the urushiol, the compound in poison ivy that causes inflammation. It will atop the itch and cut healing time from all poison plant reactions. The antihistamine properties of this plant are able to stop the itch and burn from various other ailments as well including bug bites, hives, bee stings, chiggers, and burns from stinging nettle. Since jewelweed has anti-fungal properties it has been used to treat athletes foot and dandruff. In recent studies it has also shown great effects on treating psoriasis and eczema. The most recent study done by Wilkes University has found anti-cancer and antimicrobial properties in the Jewelweed. This is an amazing forgotten plant that is just starting to get a spotlight in today's herbal medicine through jewelweed products. The more studies being done, the more it will prove that this is a valuable wonderful medicine that should now remain in the spotlight!