IT WORKED, I'M IMMUNE TO POISON OAK!!!

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limpingcrab

Trad climber
the middle of CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Mar 20, 2014 - 01:09am PT
Disclaimer, don't do what I do. If you do you will probably die and it will be your fault

I've been severely allergic to poison oak ever since my first small rash when I was ten. I've had to go to the hospital four times for it. The most recent was from wearing a backpack that I touched with gloves that had poison oak on them.

Credit: limpingcrab

After that I got desperate and started doing research. It turns out many native americans were not allergic to PO, while the ones that were would make tea from the roots or eat small leaves in the spring to get resistant. Against my wife's wishes I started eating one leaf per week a year ago and quickly noticed an effect.

I used to break out all over and it would last a minimum of two weeks. After a few doses I started only getting little rashes and they would be gone in 4 or 5 days. The last time I got it was a quarter sized spot on my hand at Balchfest. If you were there you would appreciate that that's nothing compared to what a severely allergic person would have expected on that "trail."

I started eating it again a few weeks ago and this past weekend on a hike I kicked a few PO leaves/limbs with my ankles as an experiment.

IT'S BEEN FOUR DAYS AND THERE'S NOTHING!!!

Credit: limpingcrab

I roll small pieces in bread, wet it, then compress it into a pill so I have no contact with the oil. One of the first times, I ate a large leaf and got a rash at the "exit," so start small.

This is one of the greatest moments of my life. Caving, climbing, fishing, hiking and canyoneering will never be the same!

Disclaimer again. This is a story about myself, not advice. YUR GONNA DIE

Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Mar 20, 2014 - 01:13am PT
Do you buy those leaves at one of those 'clinics'?
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
Mar 20, 2014 - 01:14am PT
If one leaf was good wouldn't a salad work better. Maybe put some ranch on it.
Raafie

Big Wall climber
Portland, OR
Mar 20, 2014 - 01:15am PT
Man. . . I'm no doctor, but that seems totally sketchy.

As great as it would be to have immunity, no way!
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
Mar 20, 2014 - 01:19am PT
Ranch is like lotion. It will be ok.
Edge

Trad climber
Boulder, CO
Mar 20, 2014 - 01:24am PT
So how many slices of bread do you think it will take to cover a pair of handcuffs?
johnboy

Trad climber
Can't get here from there
Mar 20, 2014 - 01:26am PT
I used to be allergic to cactii and learned the indians ate peyote.

I started eating peyote, but now I can't remember if it was poison ivy or poison oak
that I was also allergic to.
Wayno

Big Wall climber
Seattle, WA
Mar 20, 2014 - 01:45am PT
When I lived in Cali and used to romp around in the Santa Cruz Mountains PO was a fact of life. I would react fairly normally and two weeks was not uncommon. I did notice that an immunity could be built up fairly easily. I did it by just rubbing it on small patches and prevent spreading. Over a season one could almost be immune. I lost my immunity once after not being exposed for several years. Now that I live in Seattle for the last 20 years, I bet I would get it again.

I heard similar stuff about the natives. You are still brave.
Lorenzo

Trad climber
Oregon
Mar 20, 2014 - 01:49am PT
Yur still gonna die
bhilden

Trad climber
Mountain View, CA/Boulder, CO
Mar 20, 2014 - 01:55am PT
I am reminded of a line from Seinfeld. When asked about his hatred of broccoli, Newman replied, "It's a vile weed!"
Dr.Sprock

Boulder climber
I'm James Brown, Bi-atch!
Mar 20, 2014 - 01:57am PT
Ohlone Indians used to eat the leaves,

you can still get the pills which worked for me back in 68,

http://www.remedysource.com/store/poison_ivy_pills.php
RyanD

climber
Squamish
Mar 20, 2014 - 02:00am PT


Ranch is like lotion. It will be ok.

Lmfao


Gorgeous George

Trad climber
Los Angeles, California
Mar 20, 2014 - 02:12am PT
i once ate marijuana leaves to make myself immune, but it didn't work. Oh well.
phylp

Trad climber
Millbrae, CA
Mar 20, 2014 - 02:16am PT
That was an amazingly brave experiment. Some might say foolish, some might say crazy, I say "inspired"!

I was told that eating Bay area goat yogurt would give you a immunity, because they eat a lot of poison oak. I did eat a lot of goat yogurt at one time but I would never have put that theory to the test.
Willoughby

Social climber
Truckee, CA
Mar 20, 2014 - 03:19am PT
I believe you, but I'm going to want a double-blind study published in the Lancet before I try that method. That just sounds like the quickest way to have a horrific systemic reaction. Either that or smoking it. I'll pass for now.
Wayno

Big Wall climber
Seattle, WA
Mar 20, 2014 - 03:29am PT
It is not really that far of a stretch. I have been using Nettles a lot recently. I already eat them but I have been using the stinging qualities to relieve pain and inflammation in arthritic and gouty joints and have had very positive results.
NutAgain!

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
Mar 20, 2014 - 04:03am PT
If there was ever a thread designed for the response "yer gunna die" this is it.
dfinnecy

Social climber
'stralia
Mar 20, 2014 - 07:39am PT
Previously:
http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=1870723

I think we're onto something,..
clinker

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, California
Mar 20, 2014 - 08:53am PT
Waste of time , unless you have goat DNA.
couchmaster

climber
pdx
Mar 20, 2014 - 08:54am PT
After seeing this tip in a Euell Gibbons book (I think) I tried it. I've done this many times since the first time. I would take a small young leaf in the spring, roll it up tight with my fingers, and swallow it with water: trying not to chew. There was no reaction to eating it. I still would get it during the year, but there seemed to be some slight immunity that wasn't there previously. (**cough*placebo*cough**) Enough in fact, that I would repeat it for many years.

Now I try and stay out of it, and if that fails, use Zanfel or the Walgreens equivalent.
speelyei

Trad climber
Mohave County Arizona
Mar 20, 2014 - 09:36am PT
Working as a Powerline tree trimmer in Oregon, I have spent a good part of my life covered in Poison Oak. I've had cases so bad I have to get steroid shots and take steroid pills that caused horrible nightmares for weeks. My reaction to poison oak, ivy, and sumac is so strong that I would be terrified to eat some.

I've always thought about trying it... Instead, I moved to Arizona.
Hardman Knott

Gym climber
Muir Woods National Monument, Mill Valley, Ca
Mar 20, 2014 - 09:40am PT
Now I try and stay out of it, and if that fails, use Zanfel or the Walgreens equivalent.

As I've pointed out before, Zanfel is ludicrously expensive; there are MUCH cheaper alternatives...

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=1470677&msg=1780967#msg1780967
MisterE

climber
Mar 20, 2014 - 09:40am PT
I've always thought about trying it... Instead, I moved to Arizona.

^^Stay away from Oak Creek Canyon in Sedona, then...

Very brave Limpingcrab, very brave...
speelyei

Trad climber
Mohave County Arizona
Mar 20, 2014 - 09:55am PT
Funny you should mention that Mr E, I just went to Sedona for the first time a couple days ago!
bob

climber
Mar 20, 2014 - 10:13am PT
I was told to do this once for my horrible reactions to all of the poison oak type stuff. I'm like Speelyei where my reactions have been so f-in bad in the past that I just couldn't bring myself to eating it, though I know people that do and it has worked for them.

What worked for me has been eating honey regularly from my friend's bee hives. His bees load up heavy on poison oak. Heavy!! The honey is awesome.

Anyhow, the first summer I spent at his farm working (2008) I wound up with 3 weeks of agony rolling around the bush with sweaty pores. I was worked.

Since then, as I said before, I have been eating that honey regularly and I haven't had a bad outbreak since. I'm a skeptic in general, but I should have by all means have had HORRIBLE cases of poison oak since then and they either didn't show or were minimal to the point of little bumps being gone in a day or two.

DIdn't royalty and such used to take arsenic and other poisons in small doses slowly increasing the doses to avoid getting their asses poisoned by everyone who hates them, or some such people/persons?

Nice work Limping!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bob J.
Captain...or Skully

climber
Mar 20, 2014 - 10:42am PT
I don't get a reaction to poison oak. Never have. Born lucky, maybe?
Edge

Trad climber
Boulder, CO
Mar 20, 2014 - 10:53am PT
When Chuck Nortis brushes up against poison oak, the vines break out in muscles.
Elcapinyoazz

Social climber
Joshua Tree
Mar 20, 2014 - 10:54am PT
Considering what habaneros do to the old bunghole, you're a brave man indeed. Glad it worked for you.

Like Skully, I've been lucky that way. In 40 years of running around the woods, I've had a single quarter sized rash once (ivy). Been into Balch Camp, many times to Arch Rock, top of Roadside Attraction where I was neck deep swimming through it...no issues at all. Knock wood and all that.
kaholatingtong

Trad climber
Nevada City
Mar 20, 2014 - 10:56am PT
interesting. i have heard the trick about the Honey before too, and was curious. fortunately, i seem to be naturally very resistant. not resistant enough however to survive last weekend unscathed, but enough that i think the last time i had it more than a dot or two was over 20 years ago, and I tend to spend some time around the stuff.
ydpl8s

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
Mar 20, 2014 - 10:56am PT
I am one of those that if I even get downwind from someone that's been near it in the last week I break out.

Skully, I worked with someone like you once, he actually made a pillow out of poison oak when he was sleeping outside in his bag and we were in a trailer. He also used to stare for hours at the sun and was a self confessed Satanist, really, one of the weirdest guys I ever met.
julton

climber
Mar 20, 2014 - 12:30pm PT
this past weekend on a hike I kicked a few PO leaves/limbs with my ankles as an experiment

That's not a convincing test. There's no way to know if you'd have reacted to that before. If you're willing to eat it why not man up and do a real test, one involving a paste of freshly pulped leaves and genitalia?
all in jim

climber
Mar 20, 2014 - 12:40pm PT
^^^

haha! I had a gf who was at one time immune til she accidentally used some leaves as tp!

She was very sensitive to it after that.

I'd really like to try eating it. I've even rolled some up in bread before but I'm too chicken.
labrat

Trad climber
Auburn, CA
Mar 20, 2014 - 01:28pm PT
My reaction during the last couple of weeks leaves ;-) me as a chicken as well. No way I'll eat it!
Willoughby

Social climber
Truckee, CA
Mar 20, 2014 - 01:33pm PT
Yeah, my ex-wife was one of those "never had a reaction" types. Until she did. I wouldn't push my luck.
Moof

Big Wall climber
Orygun
Mar 20, 2014 - 01:34pm PT
Impressive. The version I had heard was to start very very small, just a little piece of a leaf at first, then work up to a leaf sized dose. If I had easy access to a supply I might give it a shot, as I break out just from looking at the stuff.
alina

Trad climber
CA
Mar 20, 2014 - 01:41pm PT
This reminded me of an article I read a while ago about treating allergies in very severely allergic kids:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/10/magazine/can-a-radical-new-treatment-save-children-with-severe-allergies.html?pagewanted=all

The strategy to get rid of the allergy is to start by feeding the kids very tiny, tiny doses and then gradually increase the dose. This has to be done over a long period of time.

 <br/>
Allergen doses, which are given daily in gradually increased amount...

Allergen doses, which are given daily in gradually increased amounts to build the patient's resistance. -- NYTimes
Credit: alina


This means we should start by eating tiny bits of leaves now and escalate the amount to get ready for the summer and PO season.
limpingcrab

Trad climber
the middle of CA
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 20, 2014 - 01:46pm PT
Bingo! ^^^^
Snowmassguy

Trad climber
Calirado
Mar 20, 2014 - 02:03pm PT
I live in such fear of PO that I am pretty good at avoiding it. Last time I had an outbreak, it was from a buddys' rope. Apparently he dragged it through a patch a day or so before. After leading a nice multipitch climb with his rope, I was able to successfully coat most of my legs and arms with PO oil.... Good times.

Limpingcrab, it will be interesting how long your immunity/resistance to the devils weed lasts.

limpingcrab

Trad climber
the middle of CA
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 20, 2014 - 02:14pm PT
Limpingcrab, it will be interesting how long your immunity/resistance to the devils weed lasts.

I plan on eating it every once in a while forever so hopefully it lasts.

I feel your pain, I was living in fear too. Or I should say I FELT your pain :)
Gilroy

Social climber
Bolderado
Mar 20, 2014 - 02:16pm PT
Waste of time , unless you have goat DNA.

Hmmmmmmm, I may qualify.

Coming from the South I determined empirically I had little reaction to PI but got hauled up short when I went to Yos and met the PO. Drastically different experience.

No bueno por caca!
wivanoff

Trad climber
CT
Mar 20, 2014 - 02:33pm PT
I knew about the local honey thing - at least for Spring/Fall allergies.

Since all of those plants have the same allergen (Urushiol) does that mean you are also immune to poison ivy and poison sumac?
limpingcrab

Trad climber
the middle of CA
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 20, 2014 - 02:43pm PT
I assume so? We don't have ivy or sumac around here so I can't test that
julton

climber
Mar 20, 2014 - 02:58pm PT
You haven't tested poison oak yet!

Urushiol is a mixture of compounds which varies depending on the plant species.
otisdog

Big Wall climber
Sierra Madre & McGee Creek, Ca.
Mar 20, 2014 - 03:27pm PT
There used to be a medication called 'Neoxyn', or something similar. It was 94% hydrogen peroxide, and came with popsickle sticks. You poured it onto the blisters and scratched with the sticks, breaking the blisters - then you poured more on the exposed oils. Worked well, and was nice to be able to scratch your itch, too. After I ran out, I tried using just the hydrogen peroxide, and it was equally effective.
alleyehave

Trad climber
San Diego, CA
Mar 20, 2014 - 04:58pm PT
The f*#k did I just read?
eKat

Trad climber
Less than a second shy of 49 minutes
Mar 20, 2014 - 05:32pm PT
I read everything I could get my hands on about doing a home immune project. This was WAY before the internet, so my searching was limited to town libraries. Nonetheless, one of the things that came out of this exhaustive search was that people who are taking the immune potion can have psychosomatic reactions to it. So. . . when I dosed a friend, I didn't tell him I was doing it. I just put tender, young leaves in his beer. Every single day. Started with little pieces and worked up to about 5 times the original dose. About a month into it, we were out working on firewood, right smack dab in the middle of lots and lots of PO. We'd been out there for days. About day 7 he exclaimed, "CHECK IT OUT, I DIDN'T GET POISON OAK THIS YEAR!"

Whew!

So. . . I broke down and told him what I'd been doing. I told him that if he'd'a taken the chop during the dose, I'd'a acted like I knew nothing.

HA!

Nonetheless, it worked.

You used to be able to buy some stuff called "Immune Oak" from pharmacies. There was a series of little vials with increasing volumes of this yellow oily stuff and you took them over a 2 week period. We were too poor and couldn't afford it. That's when I came up with the beer idea.

You need to re-dose every season.

In the meantime, if you are exposed to the heinous shizzle, wash everywhere with Fels Naptha soap.

photo not found
Missing photo ID#349727

You can take a bar of that stuff and grate it into a bowl of water, let it soften, then whisk it into a liquid, or run it through a food processor or blender to make it easier to wash with.

IT WORKS.

:-)

Brandon-

climber
The Granite State.
Mar 20, 2014 - 05:35pm PT
You're so sneaky, Kath.
eKat

Trad climber
Less than a second shy of 49 minutes
Mar 20, 2014 - 06:11pm PT
I am a very bad woman!

:-)
limpingcrab

Trad climber
the middle of CA
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 20, 2014 - 06:30pm PT
Ha! eKat that is awesome!

I figured even if it was a placebo effect I'd still be happy, as long as there was an effect. Sometimes after eating it I start imagining I itch everywhere. I should set up a sneaky dosing plan...

Edit: thanks for the info too!
T Hocking

Trad climber
Redding, Ca
Mar 20, 2014 - 06:35pm PT
So following that logic,


Locker must be immune to fumes by now.
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Mar 20, 2014 - 06:41pm PT
T Hocking, yer logic is based on the premise that Locker started out lightly.
This I doubt.
eKat

Trad climber
Less than a second shy of 49 minutes
Mar 20, 2014 - 07:32pm PT
Right on, LC. . . I hope it works all season for you.

Back when I did that sneaky dose, we were living on a piece of property that had massive amounts of PO. It grew, in vine form, up 20 feet into the forest and back down to the ground where it re-rooted itself. . . over and over and over.

I would dress up, completely covered, with long sleeves duct taped to gloves and socks duct taped to pants and I'd rip that stuff out.

DOOD. . . it was heinous.

I'm pleased to report that there isn't a single leaf of the shizzle up here at my place in Montana.

HOW COOL IS THAT!
PAUL SOUZA

Trad climber
Central Valley, CA
Mar 20, 2014 - 07:41pm PT
I grew up severely reactive to honey bee stings to the point I could die. I went through 5 years of systematic desensitization. I would go to an allergist every week and sometimes every other week where I would receive an injection of diluted bee venom, would have to wait an hour, check me over, and then I'd be on my way. On one occasion they gave me a shot of epinephrine to get it out of my system.

I haven't been stung in over 20 years, so I have no idea how effective it was.
julton

climber
Mar 20, 2014 - 08:41pm PT
There are different mechanisms that result in allergies and bee stings are due to a particular type of antibody response whereas poison oak elicits a response by immune cells. So even though desensitization works for bee stings it doesn't necessarily mean it will work for poison oak.

So does it work? I've looked into this before and read conflicting things. There have been some studies with both positive and negative results. Supposedly you have to keep eating it periodically to maintain the protection. I'm skeptical and not willing to be a guinea pig.

If you're really immune you should be able to roll in the stuff, not just kick a branch. If all it does is reduce your sensitivity by some amount it will be hard to prove that since the amount you are exposed to at any time is invisible. And sensitivity has an age component as well.
MH2

climber
Mar 20, 2014 - 09:20pm PT
Get the leaves coated in chocolate.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/peanut-allergy-in-children-reduced-in-experiment-1.2515982
julton

climber
Mar 20, 2014 - 10:23pm PT
Peanut allergy is also an IgE response like bee sting, isn't it? We need an immunologist to post here. It's just too easy to find people on the internet to say that something worked but harder to actually show it.

But a little chocolate wouldn't hurt. There's a compound in chocolate (I forget what it's called) that binds to the same receptor in human brains that THC binds to.
clinker

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, California
Mar 20, 2014 - 10:37pm PT
What happened to the guy eKat thought needed subliminal sex therapy?
Sioux Juan

Big Wall climber
Costa mesa
Mar 20, 2014 - 11:17pm PT
YOU ARE GONNA DIE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! KEEP US POSTED !!!!
eKat

Trad climber
Less than a second shy of 49 minutes
Mar 20, 2014 - 11:19pm PT

What happened to the guy eKat thought needed subliminal sex therapy?

What happened to the WHO that needed WHAT?

:-)
limpingcrab

Trad climber
the middle of CA
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 21, 2014 - 12:07am PT
I admit kicking a branch isn't exactly scientific proof, but for how sensitive I was I consider it pretty solid evidence.

I don't have the guts to really go for it, but maybe in a few more months I'll make a PO slip-n-slide or something for the skeptics.
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
Mar 21, 2014 - 01:35am PT
I got two used wild country flex stem cams, two old sets of tele skis(with no bindings), some pieces of static rope, and some new socks for anyone that posts YouTube video of them eating a salad. I'll even pay shipping if it is a big salad. Who knows, if you put some pan seared tuna and wasabi on there you could sell it as medicinal for $50 a plate.
dfinnecy

Social climber
'stralia
Mar 21, 2014 - 05:06am PT
This reminded me of an article I read a while ago about treating allergies in very severely allergic kids:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/10/magazine/can-a-radical-new-treatment-save-children-with-severe-allergies.html?pagewanted=all

The strategy to get rid of the allergy is to start by feeding the kids very tiny, tiny doses and then gradually increase the dose. This has to be done over a long period of time.

WRT the peanut desensitization it should be noted that one isn't something to try on your own, results may include death (like climbing), so get a doctor to help. And don't go spiking your allergic buddies' beer!
jonnyrig

Trad climber
formerly known as hillrat
Mar 21, 2014 - 11:13am PT
I don't much like poison oak, or rather it doesn't much like me. Keeps me away from some places I'd otherwise really like to go. I'm not willing to start eating the stuff though... I'd rather just avoid it.

Hope that immunity is real for you, and that you're able to maintain it.
OR

Trad climber
Mar 21, 2014 - 11:45am PT
Mr Way would turn a 5 min approach into an hour to avoid the stuff.
Alexey

climber
San Jose, CA
Mar 25, 2014 - 03:57pm PT
Daniel, when you told me last November at Balch camp that you are doing immunization from poison oak by eating it, I took it as you are joking 100%.
wow, I still can not fully believe that you are serious, but looks like it works..
congratulations...
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