Drug regimen builds immunity to poison ivy

WICHITA, Kansas – Every summer, many Kansans are plagued with poison ivy, causing a painful, itchy rash, but few realize there’s a way to become almost immune to it.

A drug regimen that starts in the winter months can desensitize your body by the next summer.

Alan Marlow used to have poison ivy almost constantly. as an avid hunter, he couldn’t avoid it in the woods and became increasingly sensitive.

“I would barely be able to get rid of it before I would get it again,” said Marlow. “I would get steroid packs and shots. I was on steroids the whole time, it seems like.”

His doctor sent him to a compounding pharmacy that makes a special solution from Rhus Tox.

“Rhus Tox is the extract from the poison ivy plant, and what we do, we dilute it down so there’s barely any in the solution, but what it will do is help the patient become desensitized to the plant,” said pharmacist Andi Rhodes.

Marlow holds the liquid under his tongue for 30 seconds before swallowing it. He takes it on the first day of each month for several months, starting in the winter.

“We like them to start early in the year after there’s been a freeze so the poison ivy plant isn’t active,” said Rhodes.

By the summertime when it is growing, Marlow’s allergic reaction is almost gone.

“When I would get around it, I was very aware and I would watch. Now if I get a breakout, I might get a little spot, and it doesn’t even last a week,” said Marlow.

Some patients even become immune to poison ivy; yet Rhus Tox solution is not widely known because most pharmacies don’t carry it, only compounding pharmacies.

Pharmacists say Rhus Tox is safe for kids and the elderly, but talk to your doctor first.

To find out more about poison ivy and other poisonous plants, click here.

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