Jewelweed is popularly used to treat some mild digestive disorders as well as rashes such as those brought on by poison ivy. It has historically been used by the Native Americans and continues to be used as a folk-medicine for its anti-inflammatory properties.
Despite considerable popularity, there is actually very little evidence supporting the benefits of jewelweed for digestion or combating rashes.
That said there are a number of ingredients in the plant that do have anti-inflammatory and fungicidal qualities. The leaves and roots both contain lawsone for instance, which works as an anti-inflammatory and antihistamine. This compound can also be found in the henna plant, which similarly is used to treat skin conditions.
The weed also contains antipruritic compounds which may help to ease itching sensations (1).
Other components include spinasterol and impatienol, which is a 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor and may have some benefits as anti-carcinogens.
Essentially, the main benefits of jewelweed and especially those concerning digestion are mainly based on anecdotal evidence. However, a number of anti-inflammatory components to back up the use for treating rashes caused by poison ivy or stinging nettles when rubbed on the skin.
It’s no superfood and no miracle cure but if you’re out in the woods and your leg is itching, there’s no harm in giving it a try!