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Scientific Name(s): Impatiens balsamina L., Impatiens biflora Willd., Impatiens capensis Meerb., Impatiens glandulifera Royle, Impatiens pallida Nutt., Impatiens textori Miq.
Common Name(s): Garden balsam, Impatiens, Jewel balsam weed, Jewel weed, Jewelweed, Spotted snapweed, Touch-me-not, Zhi hin nonxe thionbaba (American Indian [ie, the Omaha])

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Aug 22, 2022.

Clinical Overview


Jewelweed is most commonly known for its use in the topical treatment of poison ivy rash due to its antipruritic properties. Various plant parts have traditionally been used orally to promote blood flow, to relieve postchildbirth and joint pain, to treat bruises and swelling, and as an antidote to fish poisoning. However, there is no clinical information available to support use of jewelweed for any indication.


Crushed jewelweed has been used as a topical salve for poison ivy; however, no specific dose has been determined in clinical trials.


Contraindications have not been identified.


Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking. Traditional use as an emmenagogue suggests the need for caution.


None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Use of Impatiens spp. tea has been reported to cause digestive upset, while consumption of the whole plant induces vomiting and diuresis.


No data.

Scientific Family

  • Balsaminaceae


I. capensis and the closely related I. balsamina are tender, succulent herbs commonly found along wet woodland borders, shaded riverbanks, and roadside ditches, locations where position ivy is also commonly found. These species grow 0.6 to 1.5 m in height; bear either orange to yellow or pink to purple flowers, respectively; and are commonly grown as bedding and house plants.Motz 2012 Jewelweed is sometimes called the "touch-me-not." This name alludes to the presence of a seed capsule made of a soft fleshy tissue that tends to expel its contents if touched or shaken.


Jewelweed has long been recognized as an herbal remedy for the treatment of topical irritation, most notably for the treatment of poison ivy rash. The sap of jewelweed has been used by American Indians, particularly those living in Appalachia, as a prophylactic against poison ivy rash and as a treatment after the eruptions have occurred.Long 1997, Motz 2012, Motz 2015 The Southern Cherokee, Potawatomi, Chippewa, Meskwaki, and Omaha used I. capensis for various forms of pruritic dermatitis, including for the treatment and prevention of poison ivy rash and itch, stings from other plants (eg, stinging nettle), and insect bites.Motz 2012 In Japan, the juice of the corolla from white I. balsamina flowers is painted on the skin as an antipruritic.Ishiguro 1997, Motz 2012, Oku 2002

The aerial parts of Impatiens spp. have been used in Chinese herbal medicine to treat pain and swelling, rheumatism, beriberi, and bruises, and for antimicrobial purposes.Ishiguro 2000, Motz 2015, Oku 2002, Yang 2001 Impatiens seeds have been used to promote blood flow (including in menstruation), for the suppression of postchildbirth pain, as an expectorant, and, in some Asian countries, as an antidote for fish poisoning.Shoji 1994

Commercial products containing jewelweed for prevention of poison ivy are widely available.Motz 2012


Chemical compounds identified in the white petals of I. balsamina include kaempferol, kaempferol 3-glucoside, kaempferol 3-rutinoside, kaempferol 3-rhamnosyldiglucoside, quercetin, quercetin 3-rutinoside, 2-hydroxy 1,4-napthoquinone, and 2-methoxy 1,4-napthoquinone.Ishiguro 1997 Aerial parts of I. balsamina contain phenolics, flavonols, anthocyanin pigments, quinones, and saponins,Yang 2001 as well as the testosterone 5-alpha–reductase inhibitor impatienol.Ishiguro 2000, Oku 2002

Four novel peptides with antimicrobial properties have been isolated from the seeds of I. balsamina,Tailor 1997 in addition to several saponins.Shoji 1994 In the roots, 2-methoxy 1,4-napthoquinone, lawsone (2-hydroxynapthoquinone), spinasterol, scopoletin, methylene 3,3-bilawsone (diphthiocol), and isofraxidin (8-methoxyscopoletin) have been identified, as well as cysteine-rich compounds with antimicrobial and antifungal activities.Motz 2012, Panichayupakaranant 1995 In addition to antimicrobial activity, lawsone has demonstrated antioxidant, immunomodulatory, and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2)–inhibitory actions.Motz 2012

Uses and Pharmacology

Anti-inflammatory activity

Animal data

Limited studies have identified chemical compounds with properties that support traditional uses of jewelweed for articular rheumatism, pain, and swelling. The identification of COX-2–inhibitory napthoquinone salts in I. balsaminaOku 2002 and attenuation of inflammasome activation in mouse models of acute lung injury by an I. textori whole plant extract have been reported.Sun 2015 One study of an I. balsamina extract in a rat model of rheumatoid arthritis noted significantly decreased edema compared with placebo, but the decrease was less than that with the active comparator methylprednisolone.Ih 2016

Antimicrobial activity

In vitro data

Compounds with antibacterial and antifungal activities have been isolated from the aerial parts of I. balsamina,Yang 2001 as well as from the seeds.Patel 1998, Tailor 1997 The potential value of these findings may depend on the plant's ability to resist clinically relevant pathogens, despite the reported traditional use of jewelweed tea for systemic and fungal infections.Yang 2001 In one study, neither antimicrobial nor antifungal activity was evident with saponin-containing extracts (at concentrations of 1 g of I. capensis plant material per gram of saponin-containing extract) when tested against gram-negative or gram-positive bacteria (ie, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Bacillus subtilis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Escherichia coli) or Candida albicans.Motz 2015 A further study reported greater activity of peptide fractions from I. glandulifera against gram-positive carries–causing bacteria than gram-negative bacteria.Miazga-Karska 2017

Blood pressure effects

Animal data

Researchers have evaluated the protective effect of I. balsamina and I. textori flower extracts on severe hypotension resulting from simulated anaphylaxis in mice. The results suggest the presence of a platelet-activating factor antagonist, as well as a compound with weak antihistaminic effects.Ishiguro 1997, Ishiguro 2002, Oku 1999, Ueda 2003


In vitro data

In vitro anticancer activity was investigated in breast, melanoma, and colon cancer cell lines with test solution made from dried I. capensis extract and applied at concentrations of 34, 48, 64, 80, and 100 mcg/mL. Dose-response cytotoxicity was observed in MCF-7 breast cancer cells, with low concentrations producing a 39.8% reduction in cell growth and high concentrations resulting in no growth; the MCF-7 cells appeared shrunken with blebs, typical of cells undergoing apoptosis. Cytostatic activity was documented in colon cancer cells, and no growth inhibition was observed in the melanoma cell line; neither of these latter 2 cell lines exhibited apoptotic characteristics.Motz 2015 Decreased cell viability and increased apoptosis in oral squamous cell carcinoma cells have been demonstrated in an in vitro study evaluating methanol extracts of I. balsamina.Shin 2015 In another in vitro study evaluating antineurodegenerative biflavonoid glycosides from I. balsamina, a neuroprotective effect via enhanced nerve growth factor was suggested, but when evaluated for cytotoxicity against some human tumor cell lines, the compounds were inactive against all cell lines studied.Kim 2017

Cardiostimulant activity

Animal data

A possible positive chronotropic effect was observed with the addition of I. capensis saponin extract to the controlled aqueous "pond water" environment of black worms (Lumbriculus variegatus) at a concentration of 100 mg extracted plant material per milliliter of pond water. Resting heart rate of the 5 black worms increased immediately to 107.5% of resting rate and, within 5 minutes, to 138% of heart rate; no increase in heart rate was seen in the 3 controls.Motz 2015

Poison ivy

Jewelweed extracts, when applied topically, may have a beneficial effect on poison ivy eruptions. Approaches, formulations, and preparations have varied (ie, glycerin or aqueous extracts, whole-plant mashes, juice from aerial parts, sprays, soaps, creams).Motz 2012

Animal data

A study using an ethanol extract of the white petals of I. balsamina suggested 2 different compounds possibly responsible for the antipruritic activity demonstrated in mice.Ishiguro 1997

Clinical data

The results of a small clinical trial suggest an aqueous extract of jewelweed stem was ineffective in reducing the erythema, vesicles, and edema associated with poison ivy, but the subjects did report decreased pruritus.Long 1997 An experimental controlled study seeking to validate ethnopharmacological use of jewelweed for prevention of poison ivy dermatitis as well as to determine whether lawsone concentration correlated with jewelweed preparation efficacy enrolled 40 volunteers 18 to 65 years of age across 6 US locations. Both I. capensis and I. balsamina were studied. Preparations varied and included fresh, frozen, and dried material prepared as a mash of whole plants and plant parts (harvested at different times during the growth season), cold aqueous infusions, soap preparations, ethanol extracts, olive oil extracts, neutral decoctions, and a basic decoction. The comparators included distilled water administered as a single wash and double wash, a lawsone solution equivalent to the I. capensis infusion, and Dawn dishwashing liquid. Lawsone concentration was highest in the fresh aqueous extract and fresh mash of I. balsamina from the mid-season harvest (744 to 750 mcg/g of plant material) and lowest in the olive oil extract and ethanol extract of dried material. Approximately half of the participants developed poison ivy dermatitis following exposure to urushiol, with a median rash development score of 10 on a scale of 0 to 14. On day 7, 11 of 12 patients (91.67%) exhibited reduced rash in the areas treated with either of the Impatiens spp. compared with the control (water). The rash score averaged 6.7 for the Impatiens spp. extracts, which was not significantly different from the control (9.3); however, both Impatiens mashes resulted in significantly lower rash scores (4.7) compared with control. All 3 soap products (Impatiens soaps and Dawn) provided improved mean rash scores of 3.1 (a 67% reduction in rash), irrespective of the lawsone concentration. The lawsone solution produced a rash score of 7, appearing to play no role on its own in preventing rash development. The efficacy of the soaps and the mashes is likely associated with the water content washing away the urushiol, with the plant material serving as an abrasive, which supports earlier findings with commercial soaps (ie, Dial, Technu, Goop Hand Cleaner) that produced a 62.7% reduction in rashes.Motz 2012 An additional study using the same methodology in 23 volunteers investigated the role of saponins (the major constituent of soap) in contributing to the efficacy of jewelweed for prevention of poison ivy dermatitis. In patients exhibiting severe rash response, the greatest rash score reductions were from the soaps and a double-strength extract (P<0.05) compared with fresh mash, plant strength extracts, and control. In patients with mild rash, the soaps with and without addition of jewelweed extract provided a reduction of 48% and 46%, respectively, and the jewelweed mash exhibited a 33% reduction compared with control (P<0.05 for all). These data indicate that the detergent action of the soaps was effective in reducing rash development, likely due to emulsification of the urushiol oil.Motz 2015

Testosterone 5-alpha–reductase inhibitory activity

In vitro data

One investigation showed that an I. balsamina plant extract and the isolated compound impatienol markedly inhibit testosterone 5-alpha–reductase activity, supporting potential folk medicine use in the treatment of male pattern baldnessIshiguro 2000; however, further studies are needed before conclusions can be drawn.


Crushed jewelweed has been used as a topical salve for poison ivy. No specific dosing information is available.

Pregnancy / Lactation

Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking. Considering traditional use as an emmenagogue,Shoji 1994 use in pregnancy should be avoided until further evidence is available.


None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Research reveals little information regarding adverse reactions with the topical use of jewelweed. Use of Impatiens spp. tea has been reported to cause digestive upset, while consumption of the whole plant induces vomiting and diuresis.Motz 2012


There are no published reports of toxicity associated with the topical use of jewelweed extracts. The safety of internal ingestion is not well-defined.

Index Terms

  • Impatienol



This information relates to an herbal, vitamin, mineral or other dietary supplement. This product has not been reviewed by the FDA to determine whether it is safe or effective and is not subject to the quality standards and safety information collection standards that are applicable to most prescription drugs. This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this product. This information does not endorse this product as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this product. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this product. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You should talk with your health care provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this product.

This product may adversely interact with certain health and medical conditions, other prescription and over-the-counter drugs, foods, or other dietary supplements. This product may be unsafe when used before surgery or other medical procedures. It is important to fully inform your doctor about the herbal, vitamins, mineral or any other supplements you are taking before any kind of surgery or medical procedure. With the exception of certain products that are generally recognized as safe in normal quantities, including use of folic acid and prenatal vitamins during pregnancy, this product has not been sufficiently studied to determine whether it is safe to use during pregnancy or nursing or by persons younger than 2 years of age.

More about jewelweed topical

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Ih H, Kusharyanti I, Iwo MI. Antiarthritic activity of pacar air (Impatiens balsamina Linn.) herb extract in animal model of rheumatoid arthritis - an autoimmune disease. Intl J PharmTech Res. 2016;9:131-137.
Impatiens capensis Meerb. USDA, NRCS. 2020. The PLANTS Database (, 22 July 2020). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.
Ishiguro K, Fukumoto H. A practical and speedy screening method for murine anaphylaxis: on the antianaphylactic effect of Impatiens balsamina L. Phytother Res. 1997;11:48-50.
Ishiguro K, Ohira Y, Oku H. Preventive effects of Impatiens balsamina on the hen egg-white lysozyme (HEL)-induced decrease in blood flow. Biol Pharm Bull. 2002;25(4):505-508.11995933
Ishiguro K, Oku H. Antipruritic effect of flavonol and 1,4-naphthoquinone derivatives from Impatiens balsamina L. Phytother Res. 1997;11:343-347.
Ishiguro K, Oku H, Kato T. Testosterone 5alpha-reductase inhibitor bisnaphthoquinone derivative from Impatiens balsamina. Phytother Res. 2000;14(1):54-56.10641051
Kim CS, Bae M, Oh J, et al. Anti-neurodegenerative biflavonoid glycosides from Impatiens balsamina. J Nat Prod. 2017;80(2):471-478. doi:10.1021/acs.jnatprod.6b0098128165740
Long D, Ballentine NH, Marks JG Jr. Treatment of poison ivy/oak allergic contact dermatitis with an extract of jewelweed. Am J Contact Dermat. 1997;8(3):150-153.9249283
Miazga-Karska M, Szewczyk K, Klimek K, Ginalska G. In vitro activity of peptide fractions from Impatiens glandulifera against caries causing bacteria. Acta Pol Pharm. 2017;74:710-714.29624278
Motz VA, Bowers CP, Kneubehl AR, Lendrum EC, Young LM, Kinder DH. Efficacy of the saponin component of Impatiens capensis Meerb. in preventing urushiol-induced contact dermatitis. J Ethnopharmacol. 2015;162:163-167. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2014.12.02425543019
Motz VA, Bowers CP, Young LM, Kinder DH. The effectiveness of jewelweed, Impatiens capensis, the related cultivar I. balsamina and the component, lawsone in preventing post poison ivy exposure contact dermatitis. J Ethnopharmacol. 2012;143(1):314-318. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2012.06.03822766473
Oku H, Ishiguro K. Cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitory 1,4-naphthoquinones from Impatiens balsamina L. Biol Pharm Bull. 2002;25:658-660.12033510
Oku H, Ishiguro K. Screening method for PAF antagonist substances: on the phenolic compounds from Impatients balsamina L. Phytother Res. 1999;13:521-525.10479766
Panichayupakaranant P, Noguchi H, De-Eknamkul W, Sankawa U. Naphthoquinones and coumarins from Impatiens balsamina root cultures. Phytochemistry. 1995;40:1141-1143.
Patel SU, Osborn R, Rees S, Thornton JM. Structural studies of Impatiens balsamina antimicrobial protein (Ib-AMP1). Biochemistry. 1998;37:983-990.9454588
Shin JA, Ryu MH, Kwon KH, Choi B, Cho SD. Down-regulation of Akt by methanol extracts of Impatiens balsamina L. promotes apoptosis in human oral squamous cell carcinoma cell lines. J Oral Pathol Med. 2015;44(6):420-428. doi:10.1111/jop.1224825212570
Shoji N, Umeyama A, Yoshikawa K, Nagai M, Arihara S. Baccharane glycosides from seeds of Impatiens balsamina. Phytochemistry. 1994;37:1437-1441.7765763
Sun X, Shim DW, Han JW, et al. Anti-inflammatory effect of Impatiens textori Miq. extract via inhibition of NLRP3 inflammasome activation in in vitro and in vivo experimental models. J Ethnopharmacol. 2015;170:81-87. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2015.05.00125975512
Tailor RH, Acland DP, Attenborough S, et al. A novel family of small cysteine-rich antimicrobial peptides from seed of Impatiens balsamina is derived from a single precursor protein. J Biol Chem. 1997;272:24480-24487.9305910
Ueda Y, Oku H, Iinuma M, Ishiguro K. Effects on blood pressure decrease in response to PAF of Impatiens textori MIQ. Biol Pharm Bull. 2003;26(10):1505-1507.14519965
Yang X, Summerhurst DK, Koval SF, Ficker C, Smith ML, Bernards MA. Isolation of an antimicrobial compound from Impatiens balsamina L. using bioassay-guided fractionation. Phytother Res. 2001;15:676-680.11746859

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