How to Make a Manzanita Plant Ointment for Naturally Treating Poison Ivy Rash

Posted on: 28 April 2016

When warm weather appears each year, many people venture into the wild outdoors and enjoy a variety of activities; hiking, fishing, boating, and camping are just a few of the many pastimes that engage millions of Americans. Unfortunately, along with the fun comes a formidable opponent that can take away the joy and make affected individuals miserable for days or weeks at a time: a rash-inducing, toxic oil called urushiol that is contained in poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac. The good news is that there is an effective, natural treatment that can provide those suffering from itchy and painful rashes with quick relief and help speed up the healing process, as well. Below is how you can use the manzanita plant as an ally in the fight against the poison plants of summer:

What is the manzanita plant?

Manzanita plants are woody shrubs that grow native to the western United States. They are evergreen and produce berries that are both ornamental and edible. In addition, the distinctive red bark of manzanita plants helps identify the plant and provides an incentive for homeowners looking for an attractive landscaping option.

However, besides the good looks of manzanita plants, there are powerful healing chemicals just beneath their exteriors. These substances are versatile and can be extracted from the bark, stems, and leaves to provide healing for urushiol-based dermatitis. You can create a topical compound from the leaves that will help make the irritating rash disappear.

How to make and apply a topical ointment using manzanita

The most direct way to treat urushiol-based rashes is to use some manzanita as an ointment for irritated, infected skin. Though aloe and calamine are a couple of time-tested treatment options and can also be applied to temporarily relieve symptoms, the powerful anti-inflammatory and astringent chemicals contained in manzanita will lessen skin swelling and itching. That is why one highly effective means of treating a reaction to urushiol is to grind the plant material and make a healing balm.

To create the ointment, begin by washing approximately two cups of fresh manzanita leaves under cold, running water for several seconds to remove any potentially irritating substances. Next, place the washed leaves inside a clean blender container and add one cup of distilled water to the container. Cover the container and pulse the blender motor to grind the leaves and mix the leafy pulp with the distilled water. Continue to pulse the blender until you have created a uniform, soupy mixture.

Next, pour the blended mixture into a small sauce pan and heat it to boiling; immediately lower the heat until the mixture is simmering. Allow the manzanita and water to simmer until it forms a somewhat-thick balm about the consistency of oatmeal. At that point, remove the manzanilla ointment from the stove top and allow it to cool slightly. Scoop out the ointment using a spoon and store it inside a clean, glass jar with a lid. It is best to apply the ointment warm, so be sure to make the ointment immediately before application or warm it in a microwave oven.

Before applying the manzanita ointment, take a hot shower to open the skin pores and force the urushiol and histamines inside your skin toward the surface. Don't scald yourself, but keep in mind the hotter the water is, the more effective the treatment will be. Next, to apply the manzanita ointment, use your finger to dab it generously onto the affected area of your skin. It's impossible to make the layer too thick, so be sure to cover all the irritated skin completely. Next, wrap a gauze bandage over the top of the balm to compress it into the rashy area and tape the bandage down to prevent it from slipping. Keep the bandage in place for a couple of hours or more, then remove it after this time. You can make more manzanita ointment as needed, and it can be applied multiple times to use its soothing and healing properties. 

For further help with rashes from poison plants, look for primary care physicians in your area.