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Learning from Poisonous Plants

Originally published in Species Link, The Journal of Interspecies Telepathic Communication, Issue 64, Autumn 2006, column, “THE WATERING HOLE” Featuring readers’ discussion of topics from recent Species Link issues

I am a caretaker for a colony of seventeen feral cats and seven indoor/outdoor cats. An abundance of poison ivy grows on my property and the cats lie on these plants. I got a severe rash last year on the inside of my calves and on my neck. One of my indoor/outdoor cats, Nutberger, who likes to walk between my legs to get me to pick her up and hold her over my shoulder, gave me the poison ivy rash. I had to go through two courses of steroids, one course of antibiotics, and two tubes of Zanfel (skin wash that binds with urushiol, the oil in poison ivy that causes the itch) to get relief last summer. I gave Nutberger a bath to get the oil off her. This year I got it on my forearm and used the Zanfel right away and that kept it under control.

I know you can talk to plants as well as animals, but a plant can’t uproot and move somewhere else as a solution. Perhaps the cats could lie somewhere else but poison ivy is all around their feeding station. Some “experts” say to use the poison, Roundup, but since the cats lie on the poison ivy and lick their fur, I don’t want to use it for fear it will make them sick. In addition, Roundup will kill any vegetation and there is a tree right there. I don’t necessarily want to kill the poison ivy but I don’t want to be badly affected by its oil. Do you have any ideas?
Jean Evans

poison ivy plant three leaves
Dealing with the Rash
Penelope Smith
I have experienced getting poison oak rash (same rash as from poison ivy/sumac) from contacting my cats or dogs who have rubbed against the plant. I found that if I paid attention to the first signs of tingling and slight itching when I first contacted the poison oak oils, I could wash the urushiol off with Tecnu (product designed for this use) or even Dr. Bronner’s castile soap, (other soaps are also known to work). Then the allergic reaction did not progress or was much milder. It could take a number of washings if I didn’t catch it right after contact, but still this method would work to prevent a serious rash.

Once the rash got to the bump, blister, or swelling stage, it was harder or impossible to eradicate with surface washing methods. The oil then could circulate around the bloodstream and the rash sometimes would pop up in other places. I also found that I could stop the histamine itching reaction of an established rash for up to eight hours by showering the affected area with as hot water as I could bear. The itching would first increase, and after a short time, the hot water would cause the histamine to flush out of the cells and the itching would stop. The relief was enormous. Then I would apply aloe vera, which helped to soothe, dry up, and heal the rash irritation. These methods sometimes shortened the rash healing time to a few days or I could much more tolerably go through the period of up to three weeks that it took for the rash to heal completely.

I was not always so fortunate to be sensitive to the first signs. I experienced one excruciating bout with poison oak rash when one of my cats had a good dose of urushiol on her fur and slept next to my face all night. Unfortunately, I breathed the oils in through my nose and mouth. In the morning, I awoke with a sore throat that worsened until the only sound I could make was a rasping cough. My throat had swollen and some of the oil had gotten into my lungs. I had a rash all over my face and in areas that I had touched with my hands after touching my cat. I managed to weather the attack without going to the doctor.

My former husband, Michel, had such severe reactions to poison oak that his face would swell up like a prizefighter, nearly closing his eyes, and he would experience severe depression, requiring the use of medications to manage the pain. Once I, too, experienced severe swelling and blistering in many places of my body with the itching and pain unrelieved by my usual methods and had to take steroids. I understand your desperation.

After I got through enough of the allergic symptoms so that my attention was available, I would communicate with the poison oak plant and find out how the contact and reaction related to my life. This helped on the emotional and spiritual level but did not handle the physical condition.

Over the twenty-two years of living in heavy poison oak territory, I became less prone to major irritations. It helped that my cats and dogs no longer wandered through the woods as much when they got older. I also minimized touching the cats and dogs when I could feel the poison oak “vibration” on their fur and washed my hands thoroughly and often.

For more information about the plants and what people have used to handle urushiol rash, visit

Deterring Cat Contact
Shirley Merrill
Young Living Essential Oils may have oil that you can spray on the poison ivy plant that may either lower the level of poison or at least encourage the cats to move to a different location because of the smell.

Plant Companions that Help
Georgina Cyr
Poison ivy, oak, or stinging nettles usually have plantain, (Plantago major), yellow dock (Rumex crispus), or jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) growing near them. The plant Devas (nature spirits) have provided these complimentary plants to encourage us to learn about our green friends and how to work with them.

The plantain or jewelweed will take the stinging away and relieve the rash while you are on site. You can rub a handful of plantain or yellow dock leaves (or cut the stem of jewelweed) together until they are “juicy” and put them on the rash or stinging area of the skin and keep applying it to the skin until the stinging is gone. What works even better is to chew the leaves until they are mushy and apply the mashed leaves to the skin. Plantain and yellow dock are edible so it is safe to chew them, although they are usually fairly stringy and tough.

I carry a small vial of lavender oil around my neck all summer, as lavender oil is quicker and easier to apply than plantain and it works faster and better. You simply put a few drops of the lavender oil directly on the area that is stinging. It is also useful for wasp or bee stings, any type of rash, or even chicken pox or measles. This can help for the immediate physical situation.

I believe
people should also learn about the reason why they attracted this experience. Often animals will bring attention to the importance of using a plant for a person’s health. I have done consultations in which animals were trying to get their humans to see that there are reasons to connect with certain plants for the plants’ spiritual properties or to use the plants for their health. For example, the properties of stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) are extremely beneficial. Nettles can assist in circulation and other health challenges and contain many minerals.

In this instance of poison ivy contact,
your cats may have wanted you to learn about the properties of poison ivy to become aware of physical challenges within your own body. Many plants can be used homeopathically, using properties that stimulate the body to fight against the same symptoms the plants create. I do not recommend using herbs internally unless you have experience or training to understand the properties of the “toxic” herbs. Poison ivy is considered toxic and not medicinal. Historically, experienced medicine men and other healers used poison ivy to help with paralysis and liver disorders and, ironically enough, skin disorders.

I suggest you look at the physical properties of poison ivy and relate the information that the plant Devas have brought your way to your particular situation.

Need for Detoxification
Emerald DuCoeur
My illuminating experience with the poison ivy family started during Penelope’s Advanced Course, the Deepening, at Kripalu Center. For years during the summer and fall, I had never been without poison ivy rash somewhere on my body. I asked poison ivy for help in understanding the ongoing ill effects I was experiencing from urushiol (the oil that causes the rash). I received the answer that poison ivy, oak, and sumac existed to detoxify the land. Wherever there was poison ivy, there was a need for a detoxifying transformation. It felt exactly right to me. I also asked for help in remembering to wash off any urushiol that I might have contacted. After that clear and simple exchange, I immediately had a deep respect and appreciation for this family of plants. I continue to thank them for their work. I rarely have had the rash. When I do get a rash, I pay attention where and when it occurs, as it signifies a need for detoxification and release for me.

Where I live now, there is quite a bit of poison ivy (looking quite lovely) on our tiny property in front of the house. I feel that it is a protection from the ill effects of a graveyard less than a block away. When we had the poison ivy removed due to the request of stressed neighbors, I checked to see if the plants were all right and if I needed to put out some other protective intention. I was shown that the root system was still intact (we did not use pesticides) and continued to do caring work beautifully and efficiently.

Advice from a Nature Spirit
Ronni Ann Hall, fairy/animal communicator, and Potamis, dwarf and fairy representative

To respond to the reader’s question on plant pests, I turned to my fairy guides who are experts on the subject of nature. I work with one particular fairy guide, Potamis, who is knowledgeable and naturally, very down-to-earth. His answers to the question surprised me. Here is the lesson he gave me regarding poisonous plants:

What makes a plant poisonous is wrong usage. Some plants are not for eating or for bearing fruit, but for other uses such as protection and balance in the environment. Poison ivy is caustic to some plants and people. It grows easily where more balance is needed. To right the imbalance, more of the plant must grow in that area. Can you see that? Nature is “naturally” self-balancing. You will find in this woman’s area that something was wrong with the soil in the past that needed clearing out. Poison ivy will clear out strongly what is not needed. It is a “caustic” balancing plant. It pushes out toxins with its own toxins.

It does not affect the cats, only this woman. Why? This is an interesting question. More like chicken and egg, what came first? The need or the woman? The greater question is, “What needed to be cleared out so strongly?” The woman is fighting why this plant came to her hand-delivered by her cat. She needs to recognize the message, not kill the messenger. Look to the afflicted areas on her body for the message. You cannot kill the plant. It has a greater purpose balancing the area.

We can suggest two things to help. Naturally occurring orange oil will counteract the oils of the plant. Wear it on you or spray the cats to repel the oil.

The other idea is to plant a fast-growing wildflower that takes over a garden and grows in this woman’s area. It should be white or yellow. You will be guided to the right flower. The flower will lessen the job of clearing and less poison ivy will be needed. I suggest that you talk to the gnomes in the area to help you.

Potamis also reminded me that in my fairy research I was guided to make an essence from an oleander flower. Oleander is quite poisonous and I was directed how to make the essence safely. Oleander is a wonderful essence for pushing out what has intruded upon you, whether it is a head cold, a person’s unwanted energy, or a thought.
It seems all poisonous plants have the job of pushing out inner toxins from yourself or from the environment.

Note: On spraying orange oil on cats to counteract poison ivy. This can be toxic/dangerous to cats, especially if they lick some off while grooming. More info about this at Pet Poison Helpline

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