Manzanita Leaves – May’s Wild Remedy

The Living Wild Project

When the sun finally emerges and I start to take my first wildflower walks of spring, I encounter the nemesis of every lover of the outdoors…poison oak. Here is the remedy I make each year, based on plants used traditionally for skin rashes. Manzanita leaves are the primary ingredient and they work as an astringent to dry up the oils of the poison oak.

Poison Oak Away

Use equal parts of the following plants, depending on what is available. I typically make this with just the Manzanita leaves, since they are abundant year round.

Manzanita leaves, Ceanothus flowers, Bay leaves, Mugwort leaves, Oak bark, Yerba Santa leaves

– Place leaves and bark in a quart mason jar.
– Pour boiling water over the plants and let steep for approximately 30 minutes to overnight.
– Strain into an empty spray bottle and add a tablespoon of vinegar to preserve or keep refrigerate.

Spray directly on the skin as soon as possible. Reapply every few hours. Best used during the first stages of poison oak, not for broken and bubbly skin.

Tip: Ideally, prepare before you have an outbreak and keep ready to use as soon as you return from a walk in the woods.

(Check at Kitkitdizzi in Nevada City, if you don’t have time to make it on your own.)

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