Immunity through Mithridatism to poison ivy

So I'm very much an outdoorsman and currently have poison ivy spreading on my hand, arm, armpit, stomach. I know it's an allergic reaction to urushol (I think I spelt it right) which causes the rash and every other fun thing that goes with it.

I've read on some not so trustworthy sites that eating small amount regularly will give you immunity by the end of the year (yea real helpful for the summer) but will go away if you stop "taking" it. Basicly that means you would need your own personal vine to grow and harvest. Another thought I had but couldn't find any info about was making it into a tea or adding the oil to a drink in very small amounts to introduce it to your system. As a note unless you can roll around in the plant and not get it you are allergic to it and even if you are not right now that can change in the future. so don't roll around in it.

This is something that tends to happen with individuals who work with venomous snakes. They get bitten so much they start becoming immune to it (there is one man that is immune to one of the most venomous snakes). Is this able to be carried over to this application?

Also as a final not many animals are able to eat and touch the plant because they are not allergic and cannot be. Animals like this are dogs, deer, horses. Can we use that to mod ourselves to be immune and what kind of equipment would one need to test it (not saying human test) or even see it? Also I'm not rubbing poison ivy on myself without proof.


  • American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology's Annual Scientific Meeting, Philadelphia, Nov. 9-15, 2006. News release, American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology

    How do I access that?
  • try scihub. some russian guy put every scientific paper online for free. Always a good place to start. if it's not there lemme know and I can try and grab it from my school
  • I was born with immunity to poison ivy but was always told that if I start interacting with it too much I will develop the standard allergic reaction. I've never been willing to test the theory.

    I know that with other allergies (animal dander in particular), allergists can give small amounts frequently over the course of a year or so to induce immunity. I also know they will not attempt this procedure for food allergies, as the reactions tend to be more violent and deadly.
  • Ok I'll look at that I found the site but no paper:

    It talks about the study but nothing more.
  • @tekniklr I actually saw something on people now being treated with food allergies by doing that. I guess it's in extremely small amounts because of how dangerous it can be.
  • I'm note sure about the general success rate, but on twitter there's an #icanhaspdf thing where people will post an acapdemic paper they're locked out from and if someone has access, they will share it

    Worth trying it out?
  • I can't say whether you'll have any luck here, or whether it's safe at all (I personally haven't used it yet), but the site mentioned in this thread (LINK) might be of use.

    As for immunity to poison ivy, the process you're referring to is Mithridatism, right?
  • edited March 2016
    @thegreyknight yes that is what I mean by immunity. I've been reading a paper I found using @chironex site suggestion and it appears to work from it but continually needs to be taken in order to keep it up (doses).

    @birdmachine if I have less success looking for information I'll definitely look at that.

    The other thought I had was why are some animals truly able to not be affected by it like deer? My thought is it has to do with the fact that they actually prefer to eat it but I have no idea how to prove or disprove that.

    Here's the paper I'm looking at currently. It doesn't give any real specifics on how what they dilute with that I could see. I'm also rusty with papers.
  • Another paper that gives more specific detail on dilution of it.

    Will it make a difference between injection vs sublingual in the amount you use to dilute or does it all have to be readjusted for the different method?

  • Treating poison ivy is easier in the summer. What you need are some touch-me-not plants. Boil it in some water and use the tea to treat the itch. Was reading about it when I was researching survival techniques and wilderness medicine. Generally a cool plant as the seed pods are spring loaded and explode when you touch them. But also useful supposedly. 
  • Yes there are a few good plants jewelweed is another I believe. Pine pitch also will help dry it out. The touch me not isn't too popular and jewelweed is almost just as hard to find in my area.
  • Can you buy it maybe?
  • Probably but I was hoping to try out the sublingual to build a tolerance up rather then treat what shows up after the fact.
  • I have a pretty interesting story from Western Oregon. The area is covered in Poison Oak which has the same exact compounds as Poison Ivy... A friend of an immediate friend was hospitalized after building up a tolerance. She started with small doses sublingually as you indicated... after a few months of gradually upping the dose she skipped a few days and picked back up with the high dose. The reaction was immediate and almost killed her. Frankly, I'd never recommend eating it. Genetically however natural resistances might be added to people sometime in the future. 
  • edited March 2016
    Was she taking it every day up until that restart? I know it slowly would ware off. I'd be curious to know how she determined how much to take.

  • Yes daily, it might have even been twice a day towards the end, I'll have to ask a few folks to track the person down~ I'll get back to you with details. I think the immunity wore off way faster than was anticipated.

    In my experience you can build up tolerances but you can also get really wrecked if you've been exposed before. The first time I was exposed it took two weeks for my rashes to show up and they were pretty bad.
    I worked a few field seasons (doing outdoor reasearchy crap) and I had really really strong reactions at the beginning of the season... Like, debilitating because my body had been exposed previously. But after practically swimming in it for a few months the reactions became small and barely noticeable (either that or I got way more paranoid and better at avoiding it~ the potency of the plants can vary regionally and seasonally as well~)

  • Your absolutely right about the potency by region. The higher the CO2 in the area the better that plant grows. I absolutely hate the stuff. My personal reactions have been getting worse every time I get it. When I was younger I could roll around for days in it now if I even catch a hint that the plant is around I go the other way (obviously i didn't this time)..

    I really appreciate that if you did find that out I would love to start taking it before I really take to the outdoors this spring / summer/ fall.
  • @cassox how did you determine dose amounts for the eye drops?
  • The ce6 eyedrops? There was previous literature that we calculated back from. I'm confused what that has to do with the poison ivy tho....
  • It doesn't directly. I was trying to figure out the reasoning for how the amount was determined to try and figure out how much I was going to use. I made the decision that I will end up putting droplets of a diluted amount on my arm to see how much of a reaction I have on my skin. I am just waiting for the plants to start growing leaves so I can find it easier.
  • How are you planning on establishing the concentration of your solution? I also recommend buying some special soap designed to neutralize the oil, before you actually try it.

    Also, where you planning on steeping the leaves in water, alcohol, or oil?
  • I am going to use a food processor to break up the leaves in water. Then once I have just the liquid(filter out the solids) freeze it till the water is frozen but oils are not and just scrape/ pour off the oil.

    If there is a flaw in this please let me know.

    The part I'm struggling with right now is what to dilute it in that is ok to put into my mouth. I was thinking maybe an olive oil or some other type of oil that it will mix into.

    For keeping it off me I'm going to have on disposable gloves, and not even touch the leaves when I'm taking them I'm thinking a pair of long tongs like what I use for feeding reptiles. I may even get some sleeves that I can just toss after.

    After I finish harvesting it I'll wash with alcohol to remove any possible oils that got on my arms and hands.
  • Start with... man I don't even know, a freakishly low amount. Dig up some journal papers about the minimum amount of extract that causes a reaction. There has to be something. Then half that. 

    For your extraction, could you get yourself a soxhlet? Thats really the way to go for your extraction setup. There are a few on Amazon for under a hundred.
  • Now I have another thing on my wish list; that would be perfect for pulling capsacin out of peppers.
  • Haha @electricfeel I didn't even think about that.

    I had been jumping around papers and saving a bunch that could have any relevance to finding an amount. The only thing that seems to be constant is using a diluted amount externally on like an arm and seeing the reaction and keep testing until you find one that has the least severe while still having one.
    As much as I hate that approach I can't find anything better(aside from eating the leaves in small amounts.)
    I'll have to take a look at the soxhlet.
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