The fresh leaves of Rhus toxicodendron.—U.S.
Preparation.—A tincture of the fresh leaves.
Dose.—From the fraction of a drop to one drop; usually we add gtt v. to x. to water ℥iv., of which a teaspoonful may be given every hour.
Specific Indications.—A small pulse with sharp stroke. Frontal headache, especially pain low over the eyes, or in the right eye and orbit. Red papillae on upper surface of the tip of the tongue. Burning sensations. Bright flushing of the surface. Burning of the urinary or genital passages.
Therapeutic Action.—In poisonous dose, the action of Rhus is that of an intense topical irritant, with vertigo, confusion of the senses, difficult deglutition and speech, inability to command the voluntary muscles, a slow, small, irregular pulse, sense of constriction of chest and epigastrium, faintness, drowsiness, and sometimes convulsions.
Some persons are exceedingly sensitive to the poison of Rhus not only when they come in contact with it, but even when they come near it, the exhalations from the plant seeming to poison them. The topical poisoning is indicated by heat, burning pain, redness and intumescence, and by the eruption of vesicles, which will sometimes become yellow pustules. Sometimes these symptoms are very severe, and continue for days, and in rare cases the poisoning seems to become chronic, the eruption appearing from time to time for months.
Notwithstanding, a recent authority, in describing this remedy, says: "On the whole, the medicinal virtues of this plant are too uncertain to inspire confidence." I will recommend it as one of the most certain and valuable remedies in our materia medica. We see it from a different standpoint. He, from the regular side, prescribes at names, and gives large doses. I prescribe for special indications, and give small doses for direct effect.
It really makes no difference what the disease may be called, or where it is located, if the indications as given present, Rhus will be found a valuable remedy. It exerts a direct influence in lessening the frequency of the pulse, and giving a normal circulation. The "pulse is small, frequent and sharp," elements of an imperfect flow of blood, and a condition impairing all the functions of life. Under the influence of this remedy the pulse softens, is slower, and the blood moves freely in its course.
We administer Rhus in the treatment of fevers and inflammations, associating it, in the majority of cases, with Aconite.
In the acute diseases of childhood, the indication for Rhus comes frequently in the marked excitement of the nervous system. The child starts in its sleep, has a shrill cry (cry encephaliquq) and is more than usually restless. Here the remedy exerts a speedy and most kindly influence. In other cases of fever and inflammation, its selection is by the indications from pulse, tongue, or sensation of burning.
In the eruptive fevers it finds an important place, being frequently demanded by the symptoms named. It slows the pulse, lessens the temperature, and promotes a normal appearance of the eruption.
It is a certain remedy in erysipelas, when the part shows bright redness, and the burning pain is marked. Possibly it will be indicated in full one-third of the cases we meet, tincture of muriate of iron and Veratrum meeting the indications in the other cases.
In the treatment of acute and chronic diseases of the skin, it is indicated by the redness, burning, and a vesicular eruption, similar to that produced by Rhus poisoning.
The American Eclectic Materia Medica and Therapeutics, 1898, was written by John M. Scudder, M.D.