Rhus. Rhus toxicodendron.
Synonyms—Toxicodendron radicans, Rhus Radicans, Poison Oak, Poison Ivy.
- Toxicodendric Acid, fixed oil wax, tannin, mucilage.
- Specific rhus tox. Dose from one-twentieth to two minims.
- (Since Specific Rhus Tox is no longer manufactured, and a simple leaf tincture still retains the Poison-Ivy allergens, this remedy may now a bit of a moot point—too bad. For years I have been reluctant to try it - MM)
In the preparation of the specific rhus, the freshly gathered mature leaves are used. It is at first green in color, afterward light-brown or yellowish. It is volatile, and irritating to many. From two to ten drops in four ounces of water is the usual administration. A tincture of rhus is prepared, but it varies according to its manufacture and the quality of the drug used, and is not reliable. Dose, from one-tenth to two minims.
Physiological Action—Most persons are poisoned by handling the poison oak and the several poisonous varieties of rhus—Rhus toxicodendron or radicans, Rhus venenata and Rhus pumilium. It causes an erysipelatous inflammation of the skin, the swelling sometimes being so excessive as to obliterate the features, or the body may become so greatly swollen that the person is unable to move. Internally in poisonous doses of the berries it causes drowsiness, stupor, vomiting, convulsions, delirium, dilated pupils, hurried respiration, pulse at first full and strong, finally small, frequent, feeble. Poisoning by an infusion of the root causes a vesicular eruption, burning, in the throat and esophagus, dry, hoarse cough, nervous twitching and wandering of the mind, constriction of the temples, chilliness, nausea, thirst, debility, faintness and convulsions.
It relieves cerebral engorgement by increasing arterial pressure. In minute doses it acts as a cerebral sedative to the overworked and irritable brain and improves its tone and functional activity. It acts somewhat similarly to strychnine in that it produces increased functional activity of terminal nerve filaments and is beneficial in some forms of paralysis.
Specific Symptomatology—In inflammatory fevers with sharp hard pulse; acute inflammation involving the skin, with bright circumscribed redness, extreme soreness or sharp burning pain; extreme redness of local parts inflamed, with great local heat and sharp pain; sharp supra-orbital pain, especially of the left orbit; burning in the eyes with flushed face; inflammation with constitutional impairment, evidenced by a sharp red tongue and deep red mucous membranes. The tongue has a pointed tip upon which the papillae are elongated and pointed; In subacute or in chronic disease also with the above specific evidences, it is demanded.
The differential diagnostic points between rhus and bryonia, are that rhus is the remedy when the patient suffers, most when warm and at rest, or when the distress is aggravated by heat, while bryonia is indicated when the distress is increased by motion. One prominent homeopathic writer is authority for the statement that it has direct influence upon the tendons, sheaths of the nerves and fasciae, hence its influence in rheumatism. Restlessness seems to be a leading indication for rhus, as a specific agent. Whether it be a meningeal irritation or "rheumatism," the patient shows this same symptom. In many respects in its indications rhus is the opposite of belladonna.
Therapy—The indications for this remedy are present in acute erysipelas to a marked degree, especially in erysipelas of the head and face, or that involving loose cellular tissue. If it be given in the first stages of this disease the symptoms abate rapidly. If typhoid symptoms be present in erysipelas it is an excellent agent, its influence being marked upon typhoid conditions. It is useful in typhoid fever and in typhoid conditions complicating acute inflammations. It seems to exercise the influence of a special sedative in these cases when aconite and veratrum are contraindicated. Sordes with dry red tongue and dry mucous membranes, flushed face, bright restless eyes, with tympanites, all demand rhus. It soothes the cerebral irritation of typhoid; inducing rest and quiet, and controls delirium. It has antiseptic properties also which antagonize the disease processes within the blood. It prevents disintegration of the red blood corpuscles, and increases the vital powers.
In scarlet fever, measles and smallpox the indications for this agent are often conspicuous, and it will be found of first importance, especially if there be great injection of the conjunctiva, swelling of the palpebrae, extreme lachrymation and photophobia. In the latter stages of these diseases when the skin is livid, the tongue red, or red and glazed, with. offensive breath, and offensive discharges, and with failing vitality, it is demanded.
In acute inflammatory rheumatism the indications for rhus are conspicuous. The agent is often of first importance in this disease. It may be alternated with aconite or other suggested remedy for the fever, or if there be deep muscular soreness, with cimicifuga. Its value in all forms of rheumatism is great, and cannot be explained on the basis of its physiological action, as the homeopathists obtain excellent results from very minute doses. It is given in chronic rheumatism and to relieve the results of rheumatic inflammation.
In persistent dry, tickling bronchial coughs rhus is a good remedy, whether they be acute or chronic. It is combined with or alternated with bryonia or aconite in capillary bronchitis with those characteristic coughs.
Dr. Hurd claims that when Lagrippe first made its appearance, the first two cases had a guiding symptom that caused him to give full doses of rhus tox. The patient would seize the head with both hands and groan as if he were in agony. This peculiar frontal headache was relieved within an hour by this remedy, establishing a line of investigation for its use.
The use of this remedy in small doses, internally, frequently repeated with rhus poisoning, has long been advised. The experience of the editor has confirmed the belief that it is of benefit.
When gastric or intestinal disorders in children induce cerebral engorgement with great restlessness and flushed face, the specific tongue, mouth and mucous membrane indications being present, rhus is the remedy. These cerebral symptoms may be induced by any inflammatory disease, and successfully cured with rhus. In adults they are found in prolonged adynamic fevers, and often are a serious complication. Rhus will meet other prominent indications often while correcting the brain phenomena.
It has an antispasmodic influence, preventing spasms when induced by cerebral engorgement, or irritation which is of reflex origin or caused by gastric or intestinal irritation, the characteristic indications for the remedy being present. Webster says he values it more highly than gelsemium or lobelia in infantile convulsions, if its indications are present.
In gastro-intestinal disturbances accompanying the inflammatory conditions over which rhus has an especial influence, this agent is a direct sedative. It arrests nervous and reflex vomiting promptly, and vomiting from any cause when the tongue is pointed with reddened tip and edges. The so-called "strawberry tip" directly suggests rhus. In acute abdominal pain, in cholera morbus, with extreme vomiting and spasmodic pain, this agent is valuable.
In local inflammations, induration and swelling tending to suppuration, as of boils, felons and carbuncle, the indications point to this remedy, and given internally its influence is often excellent. In ulcerations with red areas and red edges, in scrofulous indurations and ulcerations, it is useful. In eczematous and erythematous conditions it is of value. It is of service in parotitis and in inflammation of the sub-maxillary glands.
This agent must be used continually, and the prescriber must familiarize himself with all its side influences before he can fully appreciate its great value.
In pruritus of the vulva or other localities where there is erythema, with redness, persistent in some cases, especially with blonde children with eczematous tendencies, or children of a scrofulous diathesis, this agent is most prompt and valuable.
There is a form of eczema, usually acute in character with the inflammatory evidences of burning, redness, itching, and perhaps swelling, that rhus will quickly cure. The homeopathist advises it for these in the second decimal dilution, five drops every two hours.
In any skin disease where there is violent itching, circumscribed redness, burning, swelling, pain and vesication, especially if fever be present, the condition more or less acute as above mentioned in erysipelas or other skin disorders, this remedy is prescribed with success.
The American Materia Medica, Therapeutics and Pharmacognosy, 1919, was written by Finley Ellingwood, M.D.
It was scanned by Michael Moore for the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine.