Pam McQuistin runs a unique program called “Plants and Pilates” at Keystone State Park in Derry, Pennsylvania. In addition to the physical fitness regimen, program participants learn about different medicinal and edible wild plants in their environment. One of the plants on her list is the jewelweed or touch-me-not plant. The juice is medicinal, she says, accessed by breaking open the stem. From there, jewelweed juice can be used to diminish the itch from poison ivy, boiled down into an extract that treats bee stings, or used as an anti-fungal to treat athlete’s foot.
What Is The Jewelweed Plant?
The jewelweed is sometimes called the touch-me-not (for its seed pods, which explode when touched), lady’s earrings (for its ornamental flower), silverweed (for its appearance underwater), and waterweed (for its affinity of growing near water). It’s part of the impatiens family, which includes more than 500 different plants. Spotted and pale jewelweed species grow native in North America — everywhere east of the Rockies, north to Saskatchewan, south to Georgia, and in the Pacific Northwest. It can also be found in Asia and North Africa. Jewelweed likes shady, moist areas — near stream beds, in particular. The flowers are orange with red spots or yellow and spotless. The stems are translucent and succulent. The plant can grow up to five feet tall. The juice is best harvested in the spring, as the stems have become opaque and thin by late summer, says MotherEarthLiving.com.
What Are Its Medicinal Uses?
Jewelweed can be used for…
- Poison Ivy relief – Native Americans from the Potawatomi and Appalachian tribes believed that drinking mature jewelweed tea in July or August would protect them from poison ivy the following year. They also used jewelweed to treat sores and itchy rashes. We now know there are some risks to ingesting jewelweed — such as diarrhea and vomiting — so it’s best used as a salve or topical treatment. Even the National Park Service recognizes this plant as a poison ivy treatment.
- Antifungal medication – A compound found within jewelweed juice — 2 methyl naphthoquinone — is said to have antifungal properties that can treat athlete’s foot, ringworm and dandruff. Glycosides are another antifungal agent found within the plant. However, there is no medical literature to verify the effectiveness of this treatment compared to other prescribed or natural remedies for athlete’s foot. confirming its use as a treatment for athlete’s foot, ringworm, and dandruff.
Should You Use Jewelweed For Athlete’s Foot Treatment?
In the absence of scientific studies to support the thesis that jewelweed can be used as a natural remedy for athlete’s foot, you’d be taking a gamble trying to use jewelweed juice to treat your athlete’s foot. Since the itching and burning is often intolerable, you may find it hard to wait for a cure in the meantime. Even the home remedies for athlete’s foot that work can take much longer to be effective. Your best bet is to buy an over-the-counter cream like Lamisil, Tinactin or Lotrimin, which should clear up your infection within a few weeks. Also, be sure to thoroughly cleanse your shoes, socks and nail clipping tools to avoid re-contamination.