They get Boston's goats


Urban goat. Photo via the mayor's office.

Boston Magazine reports the Southwest Boston Community Development Corporation is renting goats to chow down on all the poison ivy infesting an urban wilds at the end of West Street in Hyde Park.



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Sherrin Woods

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Hope they bring them to sherrin woods too right up the street. It could use a good goatscape.

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People can eat nettle sprouts early spring and they are highly nutritious as a green.

Goats are a bit more tolerant and also impertinent. They are small and agile and like to leap onto things like picnic tables with bowls full of salad.

My father had Toggenburgs

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Are goats immune to poison

Are goats immune to poison ivy? You'd think a smearing of satanspawn blood to reduce the rash would have been a thing already. Hurry up, science!

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No. Jewelweed as a therapeutic is garbage.

This study demonstrated that an extract of jewelweed was not effective in the treatment of poison ivy/oak allergic contact dermatitis.

Once the oil is chemically bound to your proteins, your immune system is going to go haywire and cause the rash.

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But I use it all the time.

I hike through hell poison ivy messes all the time. It seems to dry or disperse the oil in some way.

So itching duration is limited and spread is stopped.

It does not stop or anesthetize itching. That is an indirect result of the oil breaking up.

It may just because it is something wet though. Soap and water is said to have the same properties as it would break up an oil.

Have you actually ever used it?

It's easy to find and risk is low. I've found it useful for decades.

Maybe it is some placebo effect or magic.

Hell, if it has a comparable function to soap and water but is there in the bush where no soap and water is at hand, that'll work for me as it is very juicy.

My average solo hikes are 4 to 7 miles and when I'm in intensely disturbed terrain there is dense poison ivy.

Squantum Point in Quincy is a good example or the bit of route 9 in Wellesley that Charles River Link uses.

My shoes usually get soaked with the stuff and exposure is around ankles. So I usually get a bunch of impatiens at the nearest seep or stream.

Isn't it cool to solve problems with magic?

I'll let you know when I notice it doesn't work.

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There are conflicting opinions from this SCIENCE!!!

..thing you worship.

That study was from the mid 90s at NIH.

You are aware that a single study outcome isn't a great data point.

Other studies came to different conclusions.

Impatiens contain 2-methoxy-1,4-naphthoquinone, an anti-inflammatory and fungicide naphthoquinone that is an active ingredient in some formulations of Preparation H.[4]

North American impatiens have been used as herbal remedies for the treatment of bee stings, insect bites, and stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) rashes. They are also used after poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) contact to prevent a rash from developing. The efficacy of orange jewelweed (I. capensis) and yellow jewelweed (I. pallida) in preventing poison ivy contact dermatitis has been studied, with conflicting results.[5] A study in 1958 found that Impatiens biflora was an effective alternative to standard treatment for dermatitis caused by contact with sumac,[6] while later studies[7][8][9] found that the species had no antipruritic effects after the rash has developed. Researchers reviewing these contradictions[5] state that potential reason for these conflicts include the method of preparation and timing of application. A 2012 study found that while an extract of orange jewelweed and garden jewelweed (I. balsamina) was not effective in reducing contact dermatitis, a mash of the plants applied topically decreased it.[10]

Now if the 2012 study from Motz, V. A., et al. (2012)... (." The effectiveness of jewelweed, Impatiens capensis, the related cultivar I. balsamina and the component, lawsone in preventing post poison ivy exposure contact dermatitis. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 143(1) 314–18)."...turned out right, then my time honored 'mash of the plants topically applied' hasn't been fully shot down yet.

It is nice to see it has been studied a lot and it's cool when you touch the seed pod and it blows up.

Tell me, what are your thoughts on the role of endogenous partial protein fragments in amplifying the HIV immune collapse by gunking up T4 cells?

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Motz conclusions are equivocating

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Only one of their two preparations showed efficacy. They claim in the discussion that this is likely due to some factor that was in the mash but not the extract. That's troubling, reasoning provided further down. They also accept that soap is better regardless and that there are "soap-like" compounds that might be doing the work (but they don't actually take the time to isolate and prove that? What a lazy study.).

The saponins they mention are water soluble (they're toxic to fish and Native Americans have used them to poison rivers to gather the stunned fish) and should have been derived in the extract. So, to credit them as the likely agent on the off-hand chance that they were in the mash but not the extract seems to just be keeping hope alive. After all, they state from the top that the whole point was to "combat all the studies that say it's ineffective". That's not strong science. You don't do the study to prove your side versus the do it to discover which side is right. That makes their conclusions a bit equivocating. Without seeing the data (no journal access currently), I can't say how strong their "mash efficacy" really was. I'm betting it's likely that a simple majority of the mash users showed easing of symptoms. At which point, are they just wiping the oil off with the plant matter and it has nothing to do with jewelweed being jewelweed?

This is not to say you should stop wiping plants on yourself. Even if it's placebo, there's something to be said for placebo effects too.

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There aren't many other things at hand here that are as 'juicy' as Jewelweed and it's usually close to the various Rhus.

So if it functions as a kind of bush moist towelette, that'll work.

I wonder if the origin use began that way. Some distant human sez...'SHIT... I brushed against that itchy thing.. I wonder if that juicy plant over there will wash it off?"

It was interesting to see the different methods. The NIH thing was your typical white lab coat organic chem/pharma thing while the Ethnobotanists went with a replication of traditional usage.

The 50s study looked like it was an R E Schultes era kind of query. "Folklore ascribes properties to this plant, wonder if anything is there and they find some familiar molecules and that's that."

It gathered dust until the Euell Gibbons era of my kid hood and the popularity of his books has everyone looking at it again.

Finally, the NIH does its thing and so on.

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Unfortunately science knows better

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The active chemical in poison ivy oils binds to proteins on the surface of skin cells. Those chemical-bound proteins then look abnormal to your immune system and fake it into attacking them even though they are your own cells. The result is the rash you get.

If the chemical can't bind to goat cell proteins, there's nothing about wiping their skin or blood on you that's going to somehow keep it from binding to your cells still. The answer will have to come from either training your immune system to be less sensitive or killing its ability to respond when it thinks something is wrong that isn't actually all that wrong. However, the side-effects (like, say, death from a common cold because you shut your immune system down to not itch from poison ivy) aren't likely to be acceptable to most people.

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It does, eventually,

..after lots of trial and error, conflicting outcomes, experiment design flaws and what not.

At least we are in a time where a decent query will lay a string of the above before you and present a chance to sift working consensus from the empirical.

Studies are like roaches, there is never just one.

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Coolest natural weeding I've seen

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There's a guy who has sheep in California that like the weeds that grow among grapevines in the winery fields, but not the grape plants themselves. So he just herds them through the rows and they stuff themselves and learn when to turn to the next row. They eat all the invaders and leave all the cash crop. Pretty damn cool.

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There's also Guinea Fowl for Ticks.

And chicken tractors.

I wonder if someone will invent a menagerie landscaping outfit where you get to a client site and deploy guinea fowl, goats and the chicken tractor, instead of the leaf blower,weed whacker and ride around.

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