Ayurveda 101: A Lepa Remedy For Poison Oak

Lately, I have been getting a series of Ayurvedic remedy requests for poison oak.  Oddly enough, they all seem to be coming from pregnant mamas or women who are planning to be pregnant. But when I provide my favorite poison oak relief recipe with turmeric, I am presented with nerves and anxiety.  Is it safe for a pregnant woman to use turmeric?

The Story With Pregnant Mamas Using Turmeric

First, it’s important to understand that turmeric is highly detoxifying and cleansing. Which is why it is commonly used in various Ayurvedic detox remedies. Now when it comes to pregnancy and breastfeeding, a soon-to-be mother is not usually advised to take detoxifying herbs and spices internally in a ‘medicinal capacity’ as it can cause her to release toxins right into the baby’s bloodstream or into her breast milk (if you are planning to become pregnant any time soon then wait for at least a couple of months following any kind of detox program).

By ‘medicinal capacity,’ I mean several capsules-ful or several spoonfuls.  A pinch of turmeric in your cooking is not going to harm you. Same goes for other detoxifying herbs like manjishtha (a heaven-sent blood purifier).

Secondly, while taking detoxifying herbs and spices internally might be a bad idea, external application is not a problem. So, I recommend the use of a lepa (pronounced lay-puh) or medicinal plaster. A lepa can be somewhat messy to work with but it is a great way to draw out toxins in the skin. Here is my favorite recipe that offers advice on how to deal with poison oak using an Ayurvedic lepa.

Poison Oak Relief Lepa

What You Need

  • 1 Tbsp ground turmeric*
  • 1 Tbsp ground neem*
  • 1 Tbsp ground manjishta*
  • 3 Tbsp fuller’s earth or any mud

* Using fresh herbs is always preferable.  But if you cannot find fresh herbs, then go for dried, powdered herbs instead. If you can only find them in capsule form, then open up the capsules and measure the powdered herbs into a spoon.

What To Do

  • Mix the herbs and fuller’s earth  together with water into a smooth paste.
  • Apply the paste onto the affected area and let it ‘dry’ into your skin.
  • When it is mostly dry, remove the excess.
  • Avoid washing the herbs off. Your skin might be a little stained. Don’t worry, the stain will go away.
  • Apply neem oil after (watch out, it’s awfully smelly).

Shopping Resources

You can buy  neem and turmeric at Indian grocery stores and natural food shops everywhere.  Manjishtha is a little harder to find. Here are a couple of online shops:

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