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Coyote Brush… Relief from Poison Oak Itch

It is no mystery, suffering from a poison oak rash can be a horrible experience. So much so, sometimes the victim needs medical intervention. But, is their an alternative to the itching?

Poison Oak and Poison Ivy causes contact dermatitis in many individuals, and oddly doesn’t affect others, such as myself. As an example, I once took some poison oak and purposely rubbed it on the inside of my forearm, hoping to elicit a reaction from the urushiol. The purpose for that is I had a Wilderness First Aid course I was teaching in a week and I wanted to show the students what a poison oak rash looked like. Alas, it did not work. I had zero reaction. Honestly, having dealt with victims of poison oak, I truly am grateful I have quite the tolerance to it… I digress.

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Often times, however, the itch relief is at one’s finger tips. Notice I said  itch relief and not cure, that is because to truly cure time must pass. Not scratching, however, will aid the curing process, because one decreases the chances of scratching so hard that it creates a more serious injury. Not scratching will also decrease the likelihood that you will accidentally spread the urushiol to other areas of the body you touch… Poison oak doesn’t spread on its own. You spread it when you touch the affected part of the body then touch another part of your body without really cleaning your hands good… I digress, once again.

Coyote Brush or Baccharis pilularis, for you botanist, has a long history in Chumash medicine as an itch relief remedy for contact dermatitis. Though some reach for the jewelweed, or even mugwort, in the chaparral, coyote bush is extremely prolific, though unassuming. So much so, in fact, that sometimes coyote brush can dominate the landscape. But, how does it work? Let’s read a first hand account of someone who’s used it.


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While recently exploring one of the local canyons in the San Rafael Hills, I waded through a rather large patch of Poison Oak.  It’s not that I hadn’t noticed that it was there… I hike through Poison Oak regularly.  Of course, I’d developed the uncomfortable rash a few times as a kid while exploring the local hills, but through continued exposure I’ve developed a pretty good immunity to it. That fact did not spare me, however, from developing an uncomfortable rash along the inner part of my right forearm a few days after my exposure.  I ignored it for a day or two, but it became increasingly bothersome.  I decided that this would be an excellent opportunity to test out the #1 Chumash Medicine remedy for reliving a Poison Oak rash – a leaf decoction of Coyote Brush. One of my favorite books, Healing with Medicinal Plants of the West, identifies Coyote Brush (Baccharis pilularis) as being the primary plant that the Chumash used to treat Poison Oak rash, and fortunately I just happened to have an abundance of it growing in my native plant garden at my house. For the rest of the article, visit http://arroyosage.blogspot.com/2013/03/coyote-brush-for-poison-oak-rash.html ________________ Aside from the above article, I just also finished attending a five day primitive skills event, where one of the ladies in attendance also swore to the efficacy of coyote brush. In her case, she made a tea bath of the plant and completely immersed herself in it. She said she immediately felt the effects of the relief from itching and also just a general soothing sensation. There you have it, another tool for that tool box in your brain. I hope you find it useful and hope it works for you.