Saturday, August 11, 2012

It may look nice...but it doesn't feel so nice

Toxicodendron diversilobum, western poison oak or Pacific poison oak (syn. Rhus diversiloba) is in the Anacardiaceae family (the sumac family) and is a plant best known for its ability to cause allergic rashes after contact. Western poison oak is found only on the Pacific Coast of the United States and of Canada.
It is extremely common in that region, where it is the predominant species of the genus; the closely related Atlantic poison oak (T. pubescens) occurs on the Atlantic Coast.

Western poison oak is extremely variable in growth habit and leaf appearance. It grows as a dense shrub in open sunlight, a tree with an 8–20 cm (3.1–7.9 in) trunk under conditions with ample sunlight, very wet winter/spring and dry summer, or as a climbing vine in shaded areas. Like poison-ivy, it reproduces by creeping rootstocks or by seeds. The leaves are divided into three (rarely 5, 7, or 9) leaflets, 3.5 to 10 centimetres (1.4 to 3.9 in) long, with scalloped, toothed, or lobed edges — generally resembling the leaves of a true oak, though the western poison oak leaves will tend to be more glossy. Leaves are typically bronze when first unfolding, bright green in the spring, yellow-green to reddish in the summer, and bright red or pink in the fall. White flowers form in the spring and, if fertilized, develop into greenish-white or tan berries. T. diversilobum is winter deciduous, so that after cold weather sets in, the stems are leafless and bear only the occasional cluster of berries. Without leaves, poison oak stems may sometimes be identified by occasional black marks where its milky sap may have oozed and dried.
Botanist John Howell observed Toxicodendron diversilobum's toxicity obscures its merits. "In spring, the ivory flowers bloom on the sunny hill or in sheltered glade, in summer its fine green leaves contrast refreshingly with dried and tawny grassland, in autumn its colors flame more brilliantly than in any other native, but one great fault, its poisonous juice, nullifies its every other virtue and renders this beautiful shrub the most disparaged of all within our region."
If one is unsure of whether one has encountered poison oak or not, an old adage states, "Leaves of three, leave them be."

The conventional treatment of poison ivy is wet dressing with Domeboro to relieve the itching and inflammation, and oral Prednisone given over seven to 10 days to suppress the systemic response.

Dr. Robert F. DeMaria of Drugless Healthcare Solutions prescribes calcium lactate and L-lysine to improve calcium absorption as a preventive measure. In order to clear up the rash and edema associated with poison ivy, DeMaria and other holistic health practitioners prescribe Antronex and Drenamin from Standard Process Labs rather than antihistamines and cortisones or corticosteroids.

Thomas Cowan, MD, author of The Fourfold Path to Healing, prescribes calcium in the form of calcium lactate (1500 mg) once a day, or an intravenous preparation made from calcium carbonate (oyster shell) and Cortex Quercus (oak bark).

Understanding the Calcium Connection

Cowan explains, “The role of calcium in the treatment of this or any other rash is that nature often uses calcium to encapsulate living things such as trees (bark) and oysters (shell). Throughout nature, calcium as a salt forms borders or boundaries.” When infected with poison ivy, skin cell boundaries become blurry, indistinct, oozy and swollen. These calcium preparations restore a healthy border.

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