On Getting Over Poison Ivy [or, Mind Over Plant Matter] - Christine Kane

poison3.jpgYou’re either in the Poison Ivy Club or you’re not. You either get it, or you don’t.

My husband has never gotten poison ivy. (How is this possible?)

I, on the other hand, have had it anywhere you can see skin on my body. (And even where you can’t.)

If you’re in the Poison Ivy Club, then you can out-story my stories. And I can out-story your stories.

In the Poison Ivy Club, our mantra is “You think that’s bad? Well, there was one time when…” Get us together at a party, and it can turn X-rated in seconds. A veritable plant porn phone sex demo. Our voices get almost throaty as we share our, “up my”, “in my”, “between my”, and “all over my” erotica. These circles invariably start when one poor sot shows up at said party with poison ivy, say, on his neck. Someone in the club will examine it and exclaim, “Aw, that’s nothing! You shouldda seen me last summer when it went up my…”

But that’s not what today’s post is about.

Today, I’m here to tell you that I haven’t gotten poison ivy in over two years. I’m here to describe the last three times I was exposed to it. And I’m here to withdraw my membership from the Poison Ivy Club.

Take it. Leave it. Apply it to your own life. Or write a smartass comment. (Colin, that’d be you.)

Three times ago:

It was one of those times. One of the bad ones.

I had been weeding in my garden. It appeared on the insides of my forearms. By evening, it had moved to my stomach. Then to my thighs. Being a devotee of alternative medicine, I tried every external and internal natural remedy out there: homeopathics, Chinese herbs from my acupuncturist, jewel weed, detoxifying teas, flower remedies, and sitting in bath water filled with random flecks of organic flotsam.


Then I moved onto the hard stuff: Caladryl and Soft Scrub.

It got worse.

After 10 days, I could no longer move, and I had a friend’s upcoming wedding to attend.

I called my Ob-Gyn. (She and my dentist are the only medical doctors I’ve got.) I showed up at her office in tears. My thighs looked like science fiction. It made her wince. She set me up with Prednisone, which promptly disappeared the poison ivy, and gave me a high like I had never before experienced. I stayed up most of the night in a productivity binge that would’ve made stand up and cheer, all the while marveling at the wonders of prescription drugs.

I made the wedding, and I also crashed and burned when the prescription ran out. Over the course of the next year, I caught every flu, virus, and cold meme that came around the bend. Prednisone wipes out your immune system. This is why I resisted taking it. I don’t deny its power to cure symptoms, but I vowed I wouldn’t take it again.

Two times ago:

It was about to be one of those times.

There it was. In its usual starting place on the insides of my forearms, with patches in all the other usual spots.

I had been consciously shifting my old patterns of thinking and my usual emotional set points for about a year. (Think Wayne Dyer on Prednisone.) I saw the Poison Ivy as a challenge to show what was happening inside my head, not just on my body.

There were three parts to the subsequent lesson I learned:

Part 1 – I grabbed my well-worn copy of Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life. (In the back, there’s a list of illnesses, and her interpretation of the thought patterns that cause them.)

This book has always been a great starting place. If I sense Louise is onto something, I use it as a way to go deeper into my own patterns for the cause. Her Probable Cause for Poison Ivy is “Feeling defenseless and open to attack.” Her suggestion for the New Thought Pattern is: “I am powerful, safe, and secure. All is well.”

That felt somewhat right, but it didn’t go deep enough. I definitely had trust issues with the changes in my life. I was transforming old thoughts. I was having major issues with an employee. And I was exhausted from touring.

Part 2 – My friend Christy is a medical intuitive and an energy healer. She volunteered to come over.

When she first sat down with me, she said, “Hmmm. Is it possible that you’ve got some anger?” That began a major shift. Yea, I had anger. I was furious at my employee. I felt under attack. And I was angry at myself for my inaction. I expressed my frustrations, and I let Christy work on me for about an hour.

Part 3 – That night I was on the sofa considering Louise Hay’s affirmations.

I repeated various affirmations and listened to my body respond to each one. Finally, I recognized that I needed to trust myself and this process and let go of the fear that I’d have to take Prednisone again. The fear, on top of the anger, was making my symptoms worse.

So, I created what has now become my very favorite healing affirmation:

“My body knows exactly what to do.”

As soon as I said it softly to myself that night, the pain went away. It was almost like a salve being put on the patches. I could feel the rash begin to shrink. The more I said it, the more I felt at peace. In about two days, the poison ivy had reduced to dry patches of scratchiness here and there. And I didn’t get it again that summer.

Last time:

I was picking blackberries with my husband two summers ago. We were standing in thick weeds and tall grasses. I was completely taken by the beauty of the blackberries when I looked around me to discover that I was standing in a giant hill of poison ivy. It was blowing against my legs and my arms. It seemed to be grabbing for me. I felt the panic seize my throat. I shouted at my husband. And he calmly said, “Decide now that you aren’t going to get it.”

I stood still. I stood in the patch and I silently told myself, “My body knows exactly what to do.”

I believe the stories of the Yogis who drink arsenic and don’t get poisoned. And I don’t think Yogis alone have that power. I called on that power for myself. And I simply got clear that I wasn’t going to allow the illusion of poison ivy to dominate the power of my own mind.

I stepped calmly out of the patch. Throughout the night, the panicky voices would show up with their torches pounding at my door. “Be scared!” they would shout. “The poison ivy is coming!” I simply asked them to go away. I gently escorted them out of my head, as I quietly repeated, “My body knows exactly what to do.”

Since then, I have hiked through the stuff. I’ve watched my dog walk through it. (And I hug her many times a day.) I’ve weeded tons of times. And I haven’t had even the tiniest patch on my skin. I know there’s a chance that I simply haven’t been exposed again. I promise to keep you posted if I ever get it.

But really, I know that something inside me simply changed. Something inside me “got it.” I don’t feel vulnerable to it anymore.

The biggest take-away is this: I know what it feels like to set an intention and not be bowled over by external elements – be they thoughts, people, or plant life. I can’t do it with everything in my life, but I’ve now experienced that power with several things. This is one of them.

Next on the list — Mosquitoes!

  • ChickiePam

    I am a charter member of the PI club. However, it’s been much better the past few years. I’ve used Chines Medicine – acupuncture and herbs – as well as making friends with the PI. It’s worked for me.

    My Rinnie has been given a diagnosis and we were just talking about how sad she feels that she can’t hang out with her friends this summer (not a good thing for a teenager!) because she is in the midst of the healing process. She’s spent her summer so far in doctor’s office and the hospital. She was hurting and feeling itchy. We were stretched out across her bed talking. I just came back to the computer to finish up reading your blog and shut things down for the night, so I just went back and shared with her your “My body knows exactly what to do”. Perfect. Thank you. The perfect thing always comes to us. This was one of those well timed moments.

  • John

    Made me weep.

  • Michelle

    I am not a part of the PI club. I only got it once in my life and that was in a sweat logdge. Someone else in the lodge had entered to clear their PI and I didn’t know it and he ended up giving it to the rest of us. Go figure.

    However, what worked for me was Colloidal Silver. I put it in a little spray bottle and just kept spraying it as oftern as needed and in a few days it was all gone. 🙂

  • Jannie Sue

    With mosquitoes if you can keep from scratching for the first 3 minutes you’re home-free.

  • pati

    Hi all,

    When I neared the bottom of your story, I was holding my breath. Thank you for sharing your positive post, Christine.


  • Mindful Mimi

    Never had poison ivy but I feel with you having had many skin allergies and the likes. I do agree that the body does know what to do. When I run I get this tired feeling in the legs when I think it gets too hard. But I switch my mind (and my wanting to stop thoughts) off for just a while and suddenly the body is taking over and just runs and it becomes fun even.
    Now mosquitoes is a different alley alltogether 🙂 I attract them unless someone with more ‘sugary’ blood (i.e. my husband) is with me. So while travelling I stick as close as possible to him. I suggest you find a sugary blood person too 🙂

  • Christine Kane

    m – i do indeed! (and I’d recommend cutting out any “hot” foods or heat inducing food too!)

  • m

    hey do you think this will work for stress induced excema on feet ?!


  • Rhiannon

    Great, and since this post I’ve really started noticing the mosquito bite on my foot. I’ve also learned how to spell mosquito.

  • Rhiannon

    It just occurred to me that the mosquito battle to out story your story might be similar to the poison ivy battle.

    Reading Emily’s post above, where she talked about the number of mosquitoes in Minnesota, I immediately got defensive and thought, “You have obviously never been to eastern North Carolina. Our mosquitoes are bigger and badder than your mosquitoes, they carry away small dogs and children, and they drink beer and smoke cigarettes, THAT’S how bad our mosquitoes are.”

  • Emily

    I love this!
    I grew up in Minnesota where the joke is that mosquitos are the “unofficial state bird,” they used to drive me crazy. Then I got tired of not enjoying the beautiful summer nights at the lake because they were biting or because we’d go inside to get away from them. I decided at some point that I wasn’t going to let them ruin my summers and decided that they just wouldn’t bother me anymore. And they don’t. I work outside a day or two a week in a damp, wooded area that mosquitos just love. My co-workers hate me because as they spray on clouds of bug-spray and still get eaten alive, I haven’t used bug-spray in 10 years and am not bothered a bit. (I must say, I do get a sick sort of enjoyment out of that!)

    Last week when I was out working, I got off the path a ways and walked through a huge patch of poison ivy. At first I was like, oh shit. (I used to break out from it all the time as a kid). But, since I was at work doing something I couldn’t walk away from, there was nothing I could do and I said to myself that my body would decide whether or not I reacted to it and I just had to let it go. I’d completely forgotten about it until I read this!

  • Amylia Grace

    I just finished eating a banana, which is funny because I have been plagued by mosquitoes. Even if that’s not true, it’s now in my mind so we’ll see if I can ward them off.

    I have never gotten poison ivy and don’t really know what it looks like so I never worry about getting it, but I did get malaria from a mosquito in India so I have a special dislike for the little buggers.

  • Pat K.

    Another mantra you can use is “divine balance in the body.”

  • Sue

    It was so funny…read this today then came home and my nephew who watches my kids had a wicked red rash on his neck. I asked him what it was from and he, of course, said poison ivy. I just stood there looking at him for a minute! He will be looking this up later at home!! Thanks!

  • djuro

    Throughout the reading of your post, I have been silently, in the backstage of my head applying your Poison Ivy experience affirmations to my chronic mosquito-magnetism. I’m so excited to hear what you have to say about that!

    p.s. do you think this can be also be applied to chronic cheeks-and-every-other-skin-part-that-gets-a-compliment-or-look redness?

    Thank you for another round of laughs!

  • Diane

    Yep that’s right Christine, don’t eat too many bananas. It just occurred to me maybe that is why monkeys move around so much! 🙂

  • seventh sister

    Let us know when you find a way not to attract mosquitos. BTW don’t eat bananas.

  • Lainie

    Thank you for a post with perfect timing . . . I’ve seen the re-emergence of yellow jackets around my front door and stairway after getting stung three times last year with a very bad reaction. I’ve been in a state of fear every time I leave or enter my front door. I will take your suggestions to heart. Thank you.

  • Christine Kane

    andrea – there’s a native american theory that poison ivy grows in woods that have been harmed (construction, clear-cutting, etc) by humans. it’s nature’s “band-aid.” i like this theory. It makes perfect sense to me. and when i hike in un-touched forests (like in the smoky mountains), i’ve never seen poison ivy. and i think it might be an american plant. so, no need to let it enter your “mentalite.” 🙂 Thanks for linking to me!

  • Andrea

    I don’t know if this grows here in Europe but I have never been aware of it, is that perhaps why it never bothered my body, cause I simply ignored it? I’m glad you have got “over” it:)
    I’m linking your blog into my favourite bloglist, your words are wise, funny and uplifting:)
    Have a great day
    greetings from Paris

  • Colin

    Having matched wits with sundry indigeneous flora myself..and lost..I can sympathize with your plight against toxicodendron radicans. I too had a lesson in prepositions with a particularly nasty case some years ago. I might even draw some parallels between the family Anacardiaceae and my own family..remorseless, oily, pernicious, and to be avoided. Congratulations on your victory!

  • Christine Kane

    bananas??? I’ve never heard of that Diane! But I do like Derek’s approach here too. There’s a great scene in Eat, Pray, Love where she’s meditating with mosquitoes all around her.

    thanks for the thoughts everyone!

  • Derek

    The eerie thing was as I read the recount of the “last time” all I could think of is how I’ve applied similar techniques to mosquitoes. Granted I don’t think mosquito bites come close to being as debilitating as poison ivy can be, but I’ve had a similar experience.

    It goes back to a time when I was young I remember putting bug spray on and handing the bottle to my dad who said he didn’t need it because they don’t bother him. The next time we were in a situation where I might have put on bug repellent, I decided to take the same attitude, they don’t bother me.

    And they didn’t.

    That isn’t to say I don’t use repellent from time to time in certain situations, but I’ve been amazed at how effective it is. Even when my mental exercise isn’t as strong and I do get bit, returning back to the mental state where “mosquitoes don’t bother me” causes to bites to not itch any more.

  • Danny

    I am always itching… to read good, positive stuff, that is. 😉 I am one of those who has never experienced the symptoms of poison ivy. I attribute that to the fact that I simply never have believed that it affects me.

    On the other hand, there are things in my life that seem to have a huge effect, and I need to make the decision not to allow those things power over me.

    Thanks for the reminder!

  • connie

    The power of affirmation never ceases to amaze me! I feel so much better when I use affirmations instead of aspirin!

  • Diane

    Your story brought back a memory. When I was a little girl, during the summer we spent lots of time at my grandparent’s cabin on Lake Eufaula. We especially enjoyed the fresh blackberries my grandpa picked! He would get covered with poison ivy but it didn’t itch or bother him because he kept his focus on the delicious blackberries. He always said it was worth it! Isn’t the power of the mind is so amazing?

    By the way, if mosquitos tend to be attracted to you don’t eat bananas.

  • Kim

    I’ve always viewed my body as a great healing machine and it has always been a great healing machine. And I’ve always had doctors who have supported me in my view and not told me that, no matter what my experiences have been in the past, my body won’t heal that fast from whatever it is that I’m needing healing from this time.

    Now I need to figure out how to make my body a great non-breaking machine so it doesn’t need to be a great healing machine. But that would require coordination and stuff. LOL

  • Bea

    Mosquitoes: I used to “attract” mosquitoes as a kid. When there was a mosquito in the room, you could be sure it would bite me, several times. Then I moved to Tahiti when I was 10 years old. For the first six months I was *covered* in mosquito bites, I scratched like mad, they got infected, it was pretty bad. But after the first year or so, no more bites. Since then: the mosquitoes in the room usually bite somebody else. And when I have a bite, it goes away pretty quickly.

    I used to believe that I had been bitten so much that it had immunized me. I don’t know if that’s true. Maybe just the thought that I was immunized kept me from feeling the bites.

  • Jenny

    I didn’t even know I was looking for ‘You Can Heal Your Life’ until I clicked on the link started reviewing it. I ordered it immediately. Thank you, Christine.

  • Mark


    I really enjoyed reading that Christine.

    Your husband’s quote was perfect, your quote is perfect. Thanks.

    (Ocean salt water always cured my poison ivy. Fond memories of trudging to the beach at sunrise, feeling like I was on fire, and swimming to relieve the itch.)

  • Jer

    I have a friend whose dad is affected by poison ivy worse than anybody i’ve ever seen. We’re talking nightmarish skin issues, but he seems to do a pretty good job avoiding it. So, it’s good to hear you seem to be free and clear of it.

    Oh, and as for mosquitoes, I made up a joke about them, and it goes something like this:
    Q: What do you call a mosquito on wheels?
    A: A roller-skeeter!

    there you go, feel free to use it to amuse your friends and family…

  • Irene

    Amazing! I use Louise Hay Little Blue Book. I do not have a membership to Poison Ivy however I think mine is to colds. This morning you made me think again how powerful our bodies are to heal oneself. So with permission I will use “my body knows exactly what to do”. Thank you for the insight Christine.

  • Mags | Woo-Woo Wisdom

    That’s fantastic, Christine – I think we should have a party to celebrate the infinite wisdom of our bodies and the power of our minds!

    I also use a version of “my body knows exactly what to do”, and I find that I hardly get sick any more. When I do, I use a combination of Louise Hay’s and Caroline Myss’ work (plus my own intuition) to get clear on the energetic source of the problem and to release it.

  • wolfgang

    The part with the panicky voices pounding at the door and shouting “Be scared!”, that made my entire week. We are all sailing on the same waters.