The Poison Oak Tincture Experiment, Log #1
As a field biologist and a trail worker, there is no escaping poison oak (toxicodendron diversilobum) exposure for me. For what seems like the millionth time now, I find myself covered in insatiably itchy patches of hell. However, this round, instead of complaining about how I want to scratch myself with a potato peeler, I’m finally going to move forward on an attempt to build up an immunity. I’m gonna say… don’t try this at home; it’s an ongoing experiment and until I see how it affects myself, I do not at all recommend it.
My friend has been eating a leaf a day or so for a while. Perhaps I’ll interview his progress on a later installment. Since I am a bit more reactive to it, I’ve decided to go with a tincture. I feel I can dilute this more and can be more gradual and in control of the process.
Day 1: Tincture Preparation
- I went out with a pair of loppers and trimmed a few branches of poison oak. I plan to throw the whole branch in because the urushiol oil (the poisonous crap) is in the stem as well. (And the roots! It’s much more concentrated in the roots. But only silly people like trail workers go breaking up poison oak roots.)
- Once at home with my trimmings, I found a glass jar. (I’ve read use only ceramic or glass because metal may leech other things into a tincture.)
- I threw the trimmings in the jar then poured vodka over it. Any alcohol works, but vodka is often recommended for tinctures, and I just happened to have some lying around. I didn’t choose a particular amount. I just ran out of vodka.
- I’m going to store this in a cool, dark place (aka my food cabinet) for 14 days. (Shaking it twice sometime in that period) But only after thoroughly washing the outside of the jar with Tecnu to avoid further urushiol contamination.
It occurs to me as I finish the prep that I now literally have a jar of poison sitting in my food cabinet. Perhaps I should label this.
There we go!
Stay tuned for the next installment of the Poison Oak Tincture Experiment when I finish the tincture and begin the slow process of immunization!
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