Streams

Please Explain: Poisonous Plants

Friday, July 09, 2010

Leaves of three, let them be! Today’s Please Explain is all about poisonous plants. We're joined by Dr. Michael J. Balick, Vice President for Botanical Science and Director and Philecology Curator at The New York Botanical Garden Institute of Economic Botany, and Dr. Lewis Nelson, Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at New York University School of Medicine, and Director of the Fellowship in Medical Toxicology at New York University School of Medicine and the New York City Poison Control Center.

Guests:

Dr. Michael J. Balick and Dr. Lewis Nelson

Comments [21]

Marie from Brooklyn

Hi Leonard.

Mugwort (your caller's question) IS an antidote to poison ivy. Its botanical name is Artemisia vulgaris and it grows all over here.

Please bear in mind that poison ivy berries are an important food for birds. It's not all bad.

I have used jewel weed immediately after poison ivy contact and it worked, either as a placebo or for real, who knows. This was in Inwood where we gathered field garlic (delicious!), in amongst poison ivy plants.

Pics here for those interested:

http://66squarefeet.blogspot.com/2010/04/eating-field-garlic.html

Jul. 09 2010 01:57 PM
Danny from East Village

I had a poison ivy rash that lasted several weeks - what finally gave me relief was going to the beach and swimming in the ocean. Within a few days the rash was gone completely.

Jul. 09 2010 01:57 PM
Marie from Brooklyn

Hi Leonard.

Mugwort (your caller's question) IS an antidote to poison ivy. Its botanical name is Artemisia vulgaris and it grows all over here.

Please bear in mind that poison ivy berries are an important food for birds. It's not all bad.

I have used jewel weed immediately after poison ivy contact and it worked, either as a placebo or for real, who knows. This was in Inwood where we gathered field garlic (delicious!), in amongst poison ivy plants.

Pics here for those interested:

http://66squarefeet.blogspot.com/2010/04/eating-field-garlic.html

Jul. 09 2010 01:56 PM
Roger from Warwick

Here in the Hudson Valley we grow weapon-grade poison ivy. Is there any research into using poison ivy distillates for weaponry or for less toxic purposes?

Jul. 09 2010 01:56 PM
David from Piscataway, NJ

Here's another angle: increasing amounts of CO2 in our atmosphere will promote the growth of weedy/vine-like plants more than other plants.

Jul. 09 2010 01:55 PM
joe from manhatten

i am very allergic to poison ivy yet the poison ivy i come into contact up in the Catskills has noteffect on me.
are there differences potency grown at different areas or higher altitudes

Jul. 09 2010 01:55 PM
Dale from Brooklyn

I grew up around a lot of poison oak, and I'm allergic. One of the folk remedies I've heard that could apparently help immunity is drink the milk from goat that was fed poison oak. Goats don't like to eat poison oak, so you pretty much need to lock them in an area with poison oak.

Jul. 09 2010 01:53 PM
David Rosenfeld from Rockland County

What about Tecnu soap for removing the oils. It's been recommended to me by a professional arborist at the Botanical Garden

Jul. 09 2010 01:52 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Are there any therapeutic uses for urushiol? I saw some kind of "natural remedy" that included it in the ingredients, but I don't remember what it was for! Do the guests know what it might be used for, & whether there's any basis for that use?

Jul. 09 2010 01:51 PM
Dale from Brooklyn

There is an old article (like the 1980s) from the Smithsonian magazine about Poison Ivy. The recite a case about the lacquer was found in a Chinese tomb. The scientists got a rash from the lacquer and it was 2000 years old. So urushiol is very, very stable.

Jul. 09 2010 01:49 PM
Hanna von Goeler

There is a product called Zanfel that pulls the toxins out of the skin long after exsposure. It really works. I had a friend whose whole face was swollen, even after steroid therapy and this was the only thing that helped. Most doctors don't know about this product but it can be found at certain cvs pharmacies. People should know about this. There is also a plant called Jewelweed that often grows near Poison Ivy and was used by Native Americans against the rash...never tried it however, though I've seen it and popping it's seedpods is a fun pasttime for kids.

Jul. 09 2010 01:46 PM
Roman Y. Sannikov from Brooklyn, NY

While we certainly have to be cautious about plants and mushrooms, etc. but at the same time we shouldn't perpetuate a phobia of the natural world. There are a lot of wonderful and edible plants and fungi out there that Americans are completely oblivious of, much to their detriment.

Jul. 09 2010 01:44 PM
wayne from Staten Island

What is the mechanism that poison ivy itch persists for so long after you wash the toxin off? I thought the following; bee stings inject a venon and topical products digest the venom as a treatment. The presence of the venom causes the immune response of swelling and pain. Is this the same with poisonous plants?

Jul. 09 2010 01:42 PM
sclark

Both my sister and I were immune to Poison ivy as children. We would expose ourselves on purpose to prove it to the kids in the neighborhood . We'd walk barefoot into a large, shiny patch. I had a good friend who was extremely allergic. She only needed to be down wind from it and her whole face would swell up.
Recently, I've noticed I now get minor skin outbreaks, smaller than the size of a dime and barely itchy. Like everything my immune system has abated a bit with age.

Jul. 09 2010 01:37 PM
Kent from North Bergen

I really can't tell you what poison ivy looks like, however I have been standing next to people that touched it and broke out. I know I have been exposed to it all my life, but never had a reaction. Is it possible that people of color (Black) have no reaction or limited reaction to the plant ?

Jul. 09 2010 01:36 PM

is TCH (in pot) a poison?

Jul. 09 2010 01:35 PM
George from Manhattan

I am one of those rare people who seems to be totally impervious to poison ivy. I've been told it's because I am an asthma sufferer, and that people with asthma are known to be immune to poison ivy. Is there any real research that supports that claim?

(Since I have no reaction to poison ivy, I'm the "designated ball retriever" when my golf buddies hit their balls in the woods. So far, I've never had a reaction, although I've had more than a few bee stings!)

Jul. 09 2010 01:35 PM
bruce

I'd like to know if you can immunize yourself against poison ivy by eating little bits, increasing over time. small leaves in the spring, etc.

Jul. 09 2010 01:34 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Sure, cats have their skin protected against poison by fur, but they lick their fur, & anything that gets on the fur ends up on their tongue! That sounds even worse than having it on the skin. Some of what they lick off probably ends up in the stomach too. And they tend to smell things first, so they might get the oil on their nose, which has no fur on it. Maybe poison ivy smells bad to them & they avoid it--that could be why we don't hear much about cats having poison ivy reactions.

Jul. 09 2010 01:34 PM
Mary Royce from Clifton, NJ

Poison ivy that grows near beach areas produces
a white berry which migrating birds feed on. For some reason, they are not bothered by the poison.

Jul. 09 2010 01:34 PM
Connie from nj

I never got a poison ivy reaction till this year, when suddenly I'm getting it like crazy (at least my dermatologist says that's what it looks like). I've done nothing diffferent from previous years. What could make me so sensitive from one year to the next (I'm 52).

Jul. 09 2010 01:30 PM

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