Can you eat poison ivy?

In this article, I will answer the question “Can you eat poison ivy?” and explain the consequences if you do.

No, you must not eat poison ivy. Poison ivy produces a substance called urushiol, which is capable of causing irritation and itching of the skin.

You should avoid eating this plant as in some cases it can be very dangerous for your health.

What is poison ivy and its dangers?

Poison ivy is a plant native to North America, mainly in The United States. It can grow anywhere, and it grows either as a 1.2m bush, a small plant in the ground only 10-25cm or as a vine. These vines even have branches on their sides that can be mistaken for common tree branches.

Poison ivy produces an irritating substance, called urushiol, which is capable of producing an allergy on the skin, causing symptoms such as itching, rashes and intense and annoying redness.

What happens is that not all people are allergic to urushiol quickly. Some develop over time, and that’s the risk. When you first touch urushiol, the body will signal the immune system to recognize that substance as an irritant, which will cause a natural defense response to urushiol when exposure occurs again.

Upon contacting the substance again, the immune system uses this response triggering symptoms, such as a rash on the itchy skin. Because of this, some people believe they are immune to urushiol when they first come into contact. Urushiol is able to stick to the skin in a short time, and stays there.

Allergy symptoms are not immediate, and may take 24-72 hours to manifest in the place where there was contact with the plant. The symptoms are most intense within a week, but can last up to three weeks.

If the plant is burned and the smoke inhaled, the rash can appear on the lining of the lungs, which causes a lot of pain, leading to fatal breathing difficulties. If you eat poison ivy, your digestive system can be severely affected, which in some cases causes death.

How can I protect myself from poison ivy?

It is important to wear long-sleeved clothing, long pants, shoes and gloves when hiking or in a more wooded area to protect yourself during your walk. It is also recommended to use a lotion of bentoquatam, as this substance is able to protect the skin, creating a barrier against urushiol.

It is also important to know how to identify poison ivy. You can easily find pictures of this plant on the internet: it has three, five or seven characteristic leaves with smooth, shiny edges, and a light green hue.

And what should I do if I come in contact with poison ivy?

You must not despair. It is necessary that you wash the place immediately with warm water and soap. If there is no water in the area, apply alcohol or wet wipes to the affected area, leaving the area free to breathe, clean and dry. Also clean all your clothes and objects that came in contact with the plant.

If symptoms start to appear and you feel uncomfortable or with more severe symptoms such as fever, shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, do not hesitate to seek medical attention. Home remedies can help relieve itching, but only a professional will recommend the best treatment. Symptoms are not contagious.

Is it true that eating poison ivy boosts immunity?

No, this is just a myth. You cannot develop immunity by eating poison ivy, quite the opposite. Eating this plant will harm your immune system, as the urushiol will trigger an inflammatory reaction, which can cause death.

To develop good immunity, instead of eating poison ivy or any other dangerous plant, follow these tips:

  • Always keep up to date with your country’s vaccine calendar
  • Have a healthy diet. Vitamins and minerals are the nutrients needed to strengthen your health. Eating fruits, vegetables, vegetables, cereals, meats and eggs in balance will give you what your body needs to stay strong
  • Exercise regularly! Physical activity is essential to prevent diseases, improve your circulation, de-stress and take care of your mental health
  • Drink water! It seems simple, but many people are not used to drinking water often. Water is essential for the entire human body, hydrating organs and regulating metabolism
  • Try to sleep well! Sleep is a fundamental part of your day. This is the time when your body will relax and get some rest. Don’t give up a good night’s sleep to keep your mood throughout the day.


In this article, I answered the question “Can you eat pizza with diverticulitis?” and I gave information about poison ivy, how urushiol allergy occurs, what to do if you come in contact with this plant, and how to strengthen your immune system.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions on this subject.


Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.