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Poison Ivy Immunization - Yum!!!

Discussion in 'Wilderness & Survival Skills' started by abo4ster, Apr 30, 2008.

  1. abo4ster


    Aug 24, 2003
    Many here have expressed a concern regarding poison ivy. The last time I had it was in my teens and I have been all through it over the last 20 years with no effect (that was the kiss of death probably ;) ). BTW, Native Americans were suseptable too - the Cherokee had great respect for poison ivy and those plants that grew next to it.

    At any rate, I am aware of several that state they have immunized themselves or greatly reduced their exposure. I do the procedutre, but can't say specifically it made a difference with me as I hadn't gotten it for a long time before starting to do immunization.

    Below is a link with one method. I do it a little differently by eating a leaf once a week for nine weeks starting in the spring - otherwise the same with the same expectations. I just took my third dose for this year. Not suggesting you do this, just wanted to make you aware. Also, one of things not mentioned in the article is if you get poison ivy during the immunization process it won't work for that year.

  2. CanDo


    Mar 10, 2006
    Interesting, goes against everything else I've heard which states that the first couple of times you contact poison ivy, you may not react and it gets worse each time.
  3. tknife

    tknife Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 18, 1999
    I am severely allergic to it. I am just getting over a case of it actually. I hate that vile weed! (Poison oak around here) I have seen people eat the leaves, but I have also heard that people who are very allergic will have a bad reaction doing that. So I can't bring myself to try it.
  4. stingray4540


    Mar 26, 2007
    Sounds interesting, but man I would be worried about breaking out in my mouth and my throat swelling shut. I think I would encapsulate them if I did this, also, consult my doctor before hand.
  5. hollowdweller


    Sep 22, 2003
    I've always heard if you drank goat milk of goats that ate poision ivy you could be immune.

    I never got it bad but I do find I'm even more resistant now than ever and I've been milking goats for 20 years;)
  6. 555

    555 Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 5, 2007
    After many decades in the woods, I've never got a Poison Ivy rash.

    Anybody else the same way?

    Quiet Bear, I hope this works for you. I'll just stick to Ice Tea myself, thanks.:)
  7. j williams

    j williams Basic Member Basic Member

    Nov 14, 2005
    Never had a reaction to the stuff. I havent ever rolled around in the stuff to check my tolerance.....but, I dont seem to be sensitive to it.
  8. CanDo


    Mar 10, 2006
    To anyone who thinks they may be immune but isn't 100% sure: be careful! I'm not a biochemist but it seems that you can come in contact several times without a reaction and then suddenly get a bad case.


    Apr 14, 2006
    With all due respect, Quiet Bear, as per your own admission (above), what you are doing proves nothing. I think it is very reckless to suggest that this is a viable method for building immunity to the effects of poison ivy, especially considering that younger people view this forum.

    I am aware that people do this, including people a lot more knowledgable than me, with no ill effects, but that doesn't mean it works for everybody (if it works at all). Apparently, some people have died from allergic reactions to poison ivy (IIRC from breathing the fumes from someone burning the plant) so the potential danger is not to be taken lightly.

    I have never gotten poison ivy and, like you, I have been repeatedly exposed to it. I have never eaten any. Another thing, and I think you should consider this. Poison Ivy as we experience it, is an exaggerated allergic response for those that are susceptible and our susceptibility (sp?) can change over time. This happened to my great aunt. For years she had no reaction, and she was exposed many, many times. Then one time, she developed the reaction, and from that time on, reacted every time she was exposed (as far as she could tell).

    Quiet Bear,I've read your posts over the years, and always considered them well thought out and informative, but I think in this case, I have to strongly disagree. Please know that this is not meant as a personal attack, but rather an effort to head off any problems.

  10. Russ Andrews

    Russ Andrews Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Nov 27, 2002
    Each spring, my sister-in-law used to have her kids eat a sandwich containing
    one very small poison ivy leaf. The kids went all summer w/o having a reaction
    even though they were in frequent contact with it on the farm.

    Of course, their mother's sister ( my wife) never ate those sandwiches, and
    she never gets a reaction to poison ivy either.........

    So there you have it (LOL), Iron clad proof that eating poison ivy causes
  11. andrew7978


    Mar 19, 2007
    I agree with the people that have said you can not be allergic to it at one point in your life, but get it real bad at other points. I am not 100% sure on this, but for example I never had Spring allergies for the first 10 years of my life. Now every single Spring I break out with real bad allergies.
  12. Russ Andrews

    Russ Andrews Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Nov 27, 2002
    I never got poison ivy as a kid, and my brothers and I spent alot of time
    in the woods, in various parts of the U.S. We knew about poison ivy, but
    didn't pay it much mind, and didn't hesitate to chase almost any small
    critter through or into almost any knid of vegitation.

    I'm told that every cell in our bodies is replaced every seven years....
    so it's concievable that we could be more or less sensitive to something
    as an adult. Add to that all that we're exposed to in the form of
    polutants, and even medicines, and we have a mix of influences which may
    never be sorted out.

    I don't know if it's true, but I've been told by other vets that the malaria
    pills we had to take caused changes in sensitivities. Prior to Viet Nam,
    I wasn't allergic to poison ivy.....afterwards, allergic big time...
  13. the possum

    the possum

    Jul 31, 2002
    I heard about this before. Dad said he was a young boy when they had a lumberjack come out and cut down (yes, with an axe ;) ) some big oak trees in their woods. Dad tagged around & watched the guy work. At one point he started on a tree covered with poison oak. Dad commented on it, and he said in a thick Polish accent that he was immune to it. He said when he was little, his mother crushed up a bunch of poison ivy leaves in a glass, and made him drink it like tea. Surprised, dad said "Didn't it make you react then?" or somesuch. "Oh yes. My tongue swelled up so much, I couldn't eben clobe my mout," he said with his tongue sticking out to illustrate. "But I've never got poison ivy since." He plucked one of the leaves off the poison oak and started chewing on it to prove his point.
  14. Bob W

    Bob W

    Dec 31, 2000
    I am extremely allergic, and have even been hospitalized.

    So I moved. Problem solved.
  15. abo4ster


    Aug 24, 2003
    Doc, no offense taken; I have developed a great respect for your knowledge over the years as well. Eight years ago I would have agreed with you 100%. My position on this has changed with several well known instructors doing this with numerous students, including children, and having positive results with no ill effects to thier respected knowledge. In fact the nine week method was taught to me by a chemistry/pre-med graduate. In addition, there are commercially available extracts that do the same based on the premise you don't have or have recently gotten the rash. I believe this adds to the validity. Lots of information on the web too.

    That's not say there is not that one in million that could have a horrible allegeric reaction, so again, I share this with everyone as a informational. Please know I would never share knowledge recklessly, and the knowledge I try to impart is based on personal experience or that of whom I trust explicitedly. Dendrology is my hobby and from that I have learned edible and medicinal plants and do realize the consequences of making a mistake can be lethal.

    Regarding your example of smoke and poison ivy, I have heard the same thing, and it's effects on the lungs and skin are similiar if not the same. Saliva neutralizes the effect of urushiol within your mouth - obviously you want to keep it off your lips and skin.

    HD - I have heard the goat's milk thing too. Reminds of how coon hunters typically become immune to rabies. Although getting pee'd on and drinking milk aren't exactly the same thing.:D
  16. Evolute


    Mar 19, 2001
    Immunity to urushiol can definitely change over time. I used to tromp around in poison oak a lot, with never a rash nor care. When I turned 24, that changed. I had a major outbreak of poison oak rash, and I've had reactions, ever since.

    I've seen people eat poison ivy, telling me that this gave them immunity. I have not tried it, wary that their anecdotal immunity may be unrelated to ingesting the occasional poison oak leaf.

    I usually have some poison oak rash, most of the time. If I see a significant photo opportunity which requires poison oak contact to get, then I wade into poison oak, and get the shot. It's just part of my job, and I rarely make a serious effort to avoid it.

    As part of the gear I carry (lens cleaning supplies), I carry Pec Pads (lint free disposable wipes) and Eclipse Fluid (highly purified methanol). I have experimented with using these to clean urushiol off me, immediately after exposure, to prevent developing a rash. This method appears successful, though I still usually don't bother.

    Once I have poison oak rash, I absolutely do not scratch it at all, ever. I have found that never scratching it, period, minimizes the itching, pain, etc., by at least 95%, making it not such a big deal, for me.
  17. blazink

    blazink Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 14, 2008
    Poison Ivy is just another one of those things surrounded in myth and mystery. I have had some very bad cases, including from smoke :(. It can be one of the worst tortures imaginable, refraining from scratching requires more will power than I have. Even if I could I have woken up in the middle of the night from scratching in my sleep. But, I have also come into contact with it and not had a reaction. I have also passed it along to my wife without having a reaction myself.
    Immediate washing with dish soap and cold water seems to have helped, dishsoap for the oil, cold water to prevent your pores from opening up. My wife swears by alcohol wipes.
  18. Fiddleback

    Fiddleback Knifemaker Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 19, 2005
    I was hospitalized from poision ivy more than once as a kid. Once my face swole up so bad I looked like the elephant man.

    I usually don't get it anymore. Go figure.

    But I won't be risking it by eating the stuff either.
  19. wintermute


    Oct 18, 2007
    I'd definitely advise eating it. I worked for the NYSDOT right out of college. SOme of the old stories about when they really started developing Long Island and building roads all over the place. A lot of slash and burn clearing. A bunch of guys got sick or died from inhaling smoke from burning poison ivy. Some of the old timers would eat a leaf here and there to build up their immunity to dermal contact. Many of these guys wound up with unrepairable digestive system problems.

    It's an allergic reaction - greater exposure doesn't build up your tolerance or immunity, in fact, it can have the opposite effect and make you more sensitive. Kind of like doctors and nurses that develop latex allergies.
  20. siguy


    Aug 26, 2006
    this last week at the ct gathering marty simon mentioned that he ate very young leaves from poison ivy plants in the spring and that he had no problems after that. he also said that due to scheduling of different things, he hasn't done it the past two or three years, and he still hasn't had a problem.

    he suggested that this technique was not clinically tested or proven and that he does not suggest it for anyone. he also mentioned the treatment you can get from your doctor that basically does the same thing.

    on a related note, at the gathering i got a little bit of poison ivy on one of my ankles. it was itchy, so to experiment i rubbed some peanut butter on it. it stopped the itching for about 12 hours until it had dried and flaked off completely. maybe just becuase it was creamy or maybe it was the oils in it, i don't know. it did help though. the next day i put some calamine lotion on it and it didn't seem to stop the itching as much.

    as evolute said, a major thing in helping it clear up is not scratching at all. scratching spreads it, so just don't scratch.

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