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Hermes once separated two
serpents entwined in mortal combat to bring about peace. These
serpents were later included in the medical Caduceus as a sign
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Homeopathics - Rhus-tox - Level 2
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Rhus toxicodendron is the homeopathy remedy commonly known as
poison ivy. This plant from the Anacardiaceae family grows in fields
and wooded areas in North America. The plant is commonly identified
by its pointy leaves that grow in threes.
There are two
varieties of this plant. Poison ivy is a twining vine with a thick
stem that branches out into slender stems. Poison oak is a shrub
that reaches a height of 4 ft (1.2 m). The plant is also known as
mercury vine or poison vine.
A main constituent of the plant
is toxicodendric acid, a volatile substance that is most potent
after dusk, in damp or cloudy weather, or in June and July. This oil
is poisonous when it comes in contact with the skin. Symptoms of
poisoning include an itchy red rash that forms blisters, fever, loss
of appetite, nausea, headache, delirium, swollen glands, and oral
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The medicinal use of poison ivy was discovered by accident. A
French physician in the late eighteenth century discovered that a
patient's chronic rash had been cured as a result of accidental
poison ivy exposure. The doctor then went on to use the leaves and
stalk of the plant in the treatment of skin disease, paralysis, and
Use Rhus toxicodendron (Rhus tox.) is a remedy
frequently indicated for conditions that are accompanied by fever,
swollen glands, inflammation of mucous membranes and/or muscles,
skin conditions, and restlessness. Homeopaths prescribe Rhus tox.
for a number of complaints including poison ivy, chicken pox, back
pain, colds, herpes, hives, flu, mumps, measles, sore throat, nerve
pain, muscle strains and sprains, dermatitis, arthritis, bursitis,
carpal tunnel, rheumatism, and fevers. Ailments arise from
overexertion, a change in weather, cold/damp weather, or from
getting wet or chilled.
A portrait of the typical Rhus tox.
patient is as follows. The patient has a red face, swollen glands,
and dry lips. He may have muscle cramps or joint pains that are
pressing, shooting, and sore. Because of his pains he is not
comfortable unless he is moving. The patient may be hungry without
having an appetite or have a dry mouth even though he is very
thirsty. Drinking cold beverages may trigger nausea and vomiting and
may cause pain in the stomach. Other symptoms include a gnawing pain
in the stomach with a full and heavy feeling, a swollen liver that
is painful when pressed, bladder weakness, inflammation of the
glands of the abdomen and groin, and paralysis or numbing of limbs
due to exposure to the cold.
The complaints are left-sided or
move from the left side to right side. The patient's tongue is
red-tipped, and he has a metallic taste in his mouth. He often has a
violent thirst, but has difficulty swallowing solids. He dislikes
the cold and is sensitive to dampness. He craves oysters, milk, and
sweets and may have an aversion to meat. He is restless, anxious,
confused, absent-minded, depressed, irritable, tearful,
apprehensive, and often wants to be left alone.
ailments are generally worse in the morning and at night
(particularly after midnight), while lying down, from physical
exertion, from a change in weather, during wet weather, in open air,
from touch, and from cold food or drinks. Symptoms are relieved by
motion or a change in position, warmth, perspiration, or drinking
Indications Rhus tox. is one of the major
homeopathic remedies for mumps with hard swollen glands, fever, and
a white or yellow coated tongue with a red tip. The left side will
swell first or be worse on the left side. The glands are painful to
the touch. Symptoms are better from heat and worse from
cold. Rhus tox. is one of the best remedies indicated in chronic
or acute rheumatic or arthritic conditions. Sharp, aching pains are
present in the bones. The joints are stiff and lame and the muscles,
ligaments, and tendons feel sore and bruised. The pains are worse
with movement, but are eased with gentle exercise. In acute
arthritis, the joints are smooth and shiny with little redness.
There is numbness or tingling in the affected part. In chronic
arthritis conditions there is less swelling, but much stiffness of
the joints. The pains may cause the patient to get up at night,
causing sleeplessness. The symptoms are worse during damp weather,
during fever, at night, or while chilled; continued movement and
warmth makes them better.
Inflammations and conditions of the
skin are common, and the patient may suffer from large blisters,
hives, eczema, moist eruptions, or abscesses. Both men and women may
have an eczematous rash in the genital area. Conditions of chicken
pox, poison ivy, or poison oak are accompanied by red, itchy skin
and inflamed blisters that are filled with an oozy pus or a clear
fluid. Inflamed blisters are also common with herpes outbreaks. Cold
sores appear on the lips. Hives may occur as a result of fever or
getting wet. Hives are accompanied by a burning, itching rash that
is worse from scratching or from cold conditions.
headache typical of Rhus tox. is centered in the back of the head.
The headache is of a pulsating nature with a buzzing in the ears.
The head muscles are sore and the pains are sharp and stitching. The
pain is improved by keeping the head warm. Walking around also
improves the headache.
Inflammation of the eyes occurs as a
result of exposure to cold conditions, damp weather, and through
suppressing perspiration. The patient is sensitive to light and has
sore, swollen, itchy, watery eyes. The lids are often glued
together. Stitching pains in the eyes are made worse from moving the
eyes. Restlessness and fever usually accompany these eye
Flu is accompanied by bone, joint, and leg pains.
The patient has a fever, and suffers from sneezing and
A sore throat may be accompanied by a hoarse
voice that is caused by talking or singing too much. The throat is
dry and is worse from swallowing or cold drinks. It is made better
from continued use.
The cough typical of Rhus tox. is an
irritating, tickling cough that is better from hot drinks and worse
from the cold. The cough is often brought on by swimming in cold
Rhus tox. is used to treat many kinds of fevers when
all the symptoms match. The fever is of a dry and burning nature. A
profuse sweat may occur at the slightest exertion. The patient may
feel better from sweating but get chilled, which aggravates his
symptoms. The fever is often on one side of the body. During typhoid
fever, the abdomen is distended and painful.
A backache that
is centered in the lower back or small of the back is made better
from lying on a hard surface or from movement or heat. The back
feels weak and tired. Caused by damp weather or injury, the ache is
aggravated by wet weather or movement.
Nerve pain or sciatica
may be present. It is ameliorated with movement or heat and made
worse by lying on the painful side, bathing in cold water, or being
exposed to the cold.
Preparations The leaves and stalk
of the plant are gathered when the poison is the most potent,
generally at night. They are then pounded to a pulp and mixed with
alcohol. The mixture is then strained and diluted.
is available at health food and drug stores in various potencies in
the form of tinctures, tablets, and pellets.
Precautions If symptoms do not
improve after the recommended time period, consult your homeopath or
healthcare practitioner. Do not exceed the recommended
Effects The only side effects are individual
aggravations that may occur with homeopathic
remedies. Interactions When taking any homeopathic remedy, do
not use peppermint products, coffee, or alcohol. These products may
cause the remedy to be ineffective.
Resources Books Cummings, M.D.,
Stephen, and Dana Ullman, M.P.H. Everybody's Guide to Homeopathic
Medicines. New York, NY: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, 1997. Kent,
James Tyler. Lectures on Materia Medica. Delhi, India: B. Jain
Kingdom:n Plant Latin Name: Rhus
toxicodendron Common Name: Poison Ivy
Homeopahtic: Rhus-tox to Acknowledgements
Remedy Headers Brought to you by: Decachords
by Gladstone Clarke
1. Adapted to the rheumatic
. Great sadness and apprehension with
Inclination to weep ; < at night, in the house > out of
. Sub-acute and chronic rheumatism
and rheumatoid affections with the characteristic modalities ; pains
as if the bones were scraped with a knife ; also paralytic weakness
with numbness and heaviness especially lower limbs.
< rest, < on beginning to move, > continued
motion ; temp. > change of
position ; pains return if movement continues to point of
. Muscle or tendon strains, stiffness or
soreness especially from over lifting or overreaching ; < on
. Adynamic fevers with mild delirium
and stupefaction yet regular and persistent restlessness (from
physical causes) ; red, dry, cracked, coated tongue, triangular red tip ;
sordes ; stools loose, yellowish-brown, offensive, or bloody,
frothy, sometimes involuntary during sleep, with great
. All secretions and excretions acrid
. Complaints chiefly
. Acute skin diseases ;
eczematous eruptions, surface raw, excoriated ; thick-crusts oozing and
offensive ; much burning and itching ; rubbing increases the
eruption. Erysipelas, vesicular, phlegmonous ; parts dark red ;
especially of scalp, face and genitals.
. Modalities ; < cold
especially cold, wet weather, cold
winds ; getting wet especially after
overheating, ; before storms ; after midnight ; during and after rest.