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Imunity to poison ivy
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Dave    Posted 08-20-2003 at 20:37:14       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Can one build up imunity to poison ivy? If so, how does
one go about doing it? I believe that if I continually
expose myself to it, I could eventually build up imunity
to poison ivy. I feel like imersing myself in the poison
ivy bushes and rubbing it over my body. Or should I go
slow, a little at a time? Will that help me build an
imunity? I do have a high treshold for pain or
discomfort. Thanks

Jimbob    Posted 08-22-2003 at 17:32:57       [Reply]  [No Email]
Dangerous! Stay away. Some persons have immunity to poison sumac.

Richard G. Hash    Posted 08-21-2003 at 13:44:47       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I would think you would have to be pretty much a fool to eat poison ivy on the hope that it would give you immunity. Maybe it would work, or maybe you would end up eating applesauce for two weeks after getting corticosteriod injections.

The chemical in poison ivy that causes trouble is urushiol. It binds with the proteins in your skin within an hour or two of exposure. A better bet would be to try using the FDA approved "blocker" cream, it's quaternium-18 bentonite - you apply it like a suntan lotion BEFORE exposure, and it prevents or vastly reduces reactions in about 80%
of the population who are already allergic (roughly 10-15% of US population gets no
reaction). Sold over the counter as "IvyBlock", or you can also find some womens cosmetic lotions with the same ingredient for 1/10th the price (though they often have funky colors, like green, and you look like the Incredible Hulk instead, DAMHIKT).

The previously available injections/pills shouldn't be available anymore (in the US), the FDA told the manufactuers to "prove the effectiveness" sometime in the 90's, and none of them could (I noted with interest the link someone gave to some homeopathic site had some 'pills' with unknown ingredients).

What has worked really well for me is plain old isopropyl alcohol, it's a solvent for urushiol, and if you wipe yourself off with a wet rag of it within some reasonable time of contact, it gets it off your skin. It's fairly tenacious, so plain soap often doesn't work well. I've read not to use hot water to wash with, since it opens your skin pores as you are trying to scrub it off.

There are lots of stories of people who were "immune" who ended up losing it, or vice versa. I wouldn't press your luck.

How very technical...    Posted 08-22-2003 at 04:25:01       [Reply]  [No Email]
However you may want to revisit that site and then actually read it...Try clicking on 'More Information' and see what you get...Poison Ivy Pills have never been pulled from the US market...

Just because the FDA 'approves' something does not mean that it is the best thing on the planet...When the FDA starts researching the benefits of Jewel Weed and Sweetfern for poison ivy treatment, I just might care what they say...

Acquired Immunity to allergens is a recognized fact...Usually through subcutaneous or oral pathways...

Suggesting corticosteroids is an after-the-fact treatment...Preventive creams only work if you 'expect' to be exposed and does nothing for accidental exposure...

Washing with plain soap and water immediately after exposure works fine, but I prefer Lye Soap...

Salmoneye, Who Can Get Techy Too

Richard G. Hash    Posted 08-25-2003 at 05:42:36       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I'm not knocking non-FDA approved products - don't get me wrong. Earlier in 1900's, people bathed in horse urine as a cure for poison ivy, I'm sure there are people who would still try it.

Lye soap can be pretty tough on the skin, you might want to try rubbing alcohol, it works really well (as long as you don't wait too long, in which case all the scrubbing the world isn't going to help you).

IMO, the best cure for "accidental exposure" is prevention and a keen eye for detection.

Since you are a tech type, you might find the references in useful. It's an interesting read.

The "Dr. Poison Ivy" of the Western Hemisphere is considered to be Dr. William L. Epstein at the University of California, San Francisco Medical School, Dermatology Department. I don't know if he's online or not, but he used to be pretty good at answering questions.

Kat in NJ    Posted 08-21-2003 at 07:19:51       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Dave, the late naturalist Euell Gibbons wrote in one of his books (I think Stalking the Good Life?) that he had built up an immunity to poison ivy through eating the leaves. He would start by eating one miniscule one the first day they leafed out and then continue every day until the leaves were mature. I have the book home and will check tonight & repost!


Swamphandy    Posted 08-21-2003 at 06:48:42       [Reply]  [No Email]
There is a story a couple counties north of here of a man that was immune to it. He would bring in a few leaves to the local tavern and show off that he could eat it with no effects. One evening he was in showing off as usual and he had a reaction and died.

Poison Ivy is an alergic reaction. Perhaps one could boost immunity like any other alergy, by taking extremely small doses in shots or ingestion. But I would say the pills sound like the best idea.

Good luck,


VADAVE    Posted 08-21-2003 at 06:45:32       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I'll be 60 this year and just earlier years here I sit with the remments of poison. I agree with earlier posts I think it just gets worse.
What I have found to reduces the effects is to wash with straight bleach which I do if I even think I have been into it. Think the clorine cuts the oil.

I've gone the other way    Posted 08-21-2003 at 05:36:33       [Reply]  [No Email]
When I was a kid to young adult I was immune to the stuff. Sometime in my 30s I discovered I was no longer immune and now am fairly sensitive.

I think that just echoes what most have said, that you generally get more sensitive with exposure, not less.

tom a

rhudson    Posted 08-21-2003 at 05:21:03       [Reply]  [Send Email]
listened to a pbs radio show a couple weeks ago on this. the oil that is in ivy or oak gets on the skin and after about 20 minutes is absorbed into the skin. its too late at that point to do anything about it. its in you. then its a matter of if your personel imune system is "turned on to the oil" some people's system are not (so far, i one of them). that does not mean that someday that it wouldn't be. usually if your system reacts to the oils, it will always react to the oils (you will not get imunity after repeated exposures)infact usually you get more sensitive to exposure. the only thing that would stop the reaction is shutting down the imune system and of course you don't want to do that. everything else that they mentioned was for the discomfort but nothing to make it go away. they did mention that people that did not react to ivy\oak sometimes had more problems than people that did react (they tended not to fight the big c as well)

Ludwig - nope    Posted 08-21-2003 at 05:16:19       [Reply]  [No Email]
Usually with something that you have an allergic reaction to each succesive reaction is worse than the previous. Over time this can actually get dangerous. If you try something like this not only will you not build up an immunity you'll probably weaken any immunity you have.

RayP(MI)    Posted 08-21-2003 at 04:37:08       [Reply]  [No Email]
Most experts will tell you that you can't build up immunity. When I was a kid, I had a bad case - haven't had any problem since. Don't know if I'm immune now, or just very lucky. I don't go around avoiding it, but I don't go around rolling in it either! DO NOT RECOMMEND THAT YOU TRY TO GET IMMUNITY BY EXPOSURE. TALK TO A VERY QUALIFIED DERMATOLOGIST. Not something you want to try on your own.

There are pills...    Posted 08-21-2003 at 04:01:50       [Reply]  [No Email]
They have been available for a looonnnggggg time...

They do work, but you have to be dilligent and take them early in the year...


Les    Posted 08-21-2003 at 02:50:11       [Reply]  [No Email]
Some get it, some don't. Some get it BAD. Some get it just a little. I fall into the last group, lucky me.

Wm.    Posted 08-21-2003 at 02:28:59       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I will soon be 62 years of age, and I have had poison ivy AT LEAST once per year, for the past 55 years, and I AM NOT immune to it. If anything, it affects me more every year. The best solution I have found, is to be very careful and stay away from it.

Tony in Bama    Posted 08-20-2003 at 21:14:59       [Reply]  [No Email]
This ought to be good. Well, "good" is probably a poor choice, but it promises to be entertaining. Let us know how it turns out!

BTW, I've been unintentionally conducting a similar experiment for about 44 years, and I'm still waiting for the big day when I'm immune...

Suzy Q    Posted 08-20-2003 at 22:33:55       [Reply]  [No Email]
gentlemen, Isnt there a serum avalible to
take. I know that for Poison Oak there is
one, and it does work.

Ask your doctor. He would know.

STEVEN H    Posted 08-20-2003 at 20:54:51       [Reply]  [No Email]
what you get from posin ivy is a allergic reaction. some lucky folks are not allergic to it at all. some need only see it to get it. no iminity that i know of, but like all allergies you can out grow it, or have a lesser effect of it.

Jailkeeper    Posted 08-20-2003 at 21:23:49       [Reply]  [No Email]
I'm one of the lucky ones!!! I can look at it, touch it, roll naked in it, and maybe even eat or smoke it and not get it!!!!! My kids on the other hand....well, they aren't so lucky. They can look at me after I've been in the woods and they break out in the rash.

I don't think anyone could build up a tolerance to it. If you are that allergic to it, there are shots available to lessen the effects.

C Kulig    Posted 08-21-2003 at 05:14:55       [Reply]  [No Email]
"I can look at it, touch it, roll naked in it, and maybe even eat or smoke it and not get it!!!!!"

Not a pretty picture! LOL

Suzy Q    Posted 08-20-2003 at 22:36:09       [Reply]  [No Email]
Dear Jailkeeper... hahahahha it is not
your being there, but the spores you have
on your clothing etc..that provide the element
to your kids.

Poison Oak and Nettles do the same here in

LH    Posted 08-20-2003 at 20:45:35       [Reply]  [No Email]
Im not reccomending this and it carries a major disclaimer, but old indian lore said if you eat a leaf of poison ivy you will be immune to the usual effects. Of course it may kill you outright i have no idea

screaminghollow    Posted 08-21-2003 at 06:20:46       [Reply]  [No Email]
When I was very young and fairly gullible, (like 6 or 8 yrs old.) I heard that indian braves would search out the young shoots of poison ivy in spring and eat one or two of the leaves. I did it and I've been fairly immune to the stuff all my life. I can pull it out with my bare hands and only get a little dot or two. BUT, I might have been immune all along, regardless of eating the stuff as a child. Maybe being born immune kept me from death when I did eat some. Don't know. Now I don't go rolling in it, my wife and kids all get it bad and if I've been in it, I make sure that I carefully launder my own clothes, so the Mrs.. and others don't accidentally contact the stuff.
I have also heard that if you drink goats milk from nanies that have been grazing on poison ivy, you will develope an immunity. Whether there's any truth to it, again who knows? I know two guys who swear by the goat's milk immunity. One keeps his own dairy goats and grazes her purposely on poison ivy.

Did that...    Posted 08-21-2003 at 03:58:47       [Reply]  [No Email]
On a dare in the 70's...(stoopid what you will do in front of girls during puberty)...

Ate about half a leaf...Never got any blisters around my mouth, but about two weeks later the systemic infection manifested all over the right side of my face for about 3 weeks...

The good side was that I never got infected again for 20 years...

However, now all I have to do is walk past it and I get it...

Time to do it again I think ;-)


Tony in Bama    Posted 08-20-2003 at 21:19:09       [Reply]  [No Email]
I don't know about that, but I can tell you from experience (my MIL's) that breathing smoke from firewood that contained poison ivy vines is a bad, bad, bad idea. }8^D

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