If I were told that I could limit my home remedy kit to only five remedies, I would be sure that Rhus toxicodendron Homeopathic First Aid Remedy (or Rhus tox) were one of the five. I prescribe this remedy to more clients than any other. This is a constitutional remedy, an acute remedy and a trauma remedy of vast usefulness. Rhus tox may complete the cure itself, or need to be followed by other constitutional remedies once the trauma or acute layer has been addressed.
In Sankaran’s system of miasms it falls into the typhoid miasm. People needing remedies from this miasm have a feeling that they are in a crisis situation, and need to make a great effort to pull out of it. I would like to present a few snapshot pictures of clients I have had who responded beautifully to the remedy, so that you can develop a picture of your own of the usefulness of this remedy and its therapeutic range.
Client 1. This is a woman in her forties who recently had surgery to remove a ganglion cyst. The surgeon also removed a tiny pain nerve in her wrist and now she fears that she may have complex regional pain syndrome. Her symptoms are pain in the right arm that she describes as an icy hot/burning sensation in the elbow that starts there and moves down into the fingers. “I warm my hand up and then it reaches a point where it can go the other extreme and gets very hot. I have had sharp pains. I can’t move my hand back and forth.”
She experiences tight, sharp, caught, pulling, and bruising sensations in the arm. “There is a tightness to the hand, like I want to stretch it, but I am not able to. When I slightly start to move it there is a feeling of pressure and pulling at the incision point like it is caught there. If I to try to extend it further I can feel the pulling going on. The wrist is swollen. I also have joint pains in the knees and the ankles. Everything is better when I work out.
“I am worried, anxious and scared. I am regretting having the surgery. I am worried about the future. It is creating, fear, stress and anger. My adrenals have gone into overdrive due to the stress and anxiety.
“I am afraid that I will be incapacitated in some way and not be able to take care of my son. I fear that I will lose my job and not be able to support us.”
Analysis: This case demonstrates so many Rhus tox features: the fear of losing her job, the anxiety about her future, the feeling that she is in crisis and the fear that she will not be able to pull out of it (all typhoid miasm features and Rhus tox is a typhoid miasm remedy). The sensations she has are all Rhus tox sensations, particularly the pulling, the tightness, the tension, the caught feeling and the aggravation on first motion. The amelioration from exercise is also a big Rhus tox symptom.
Client 2. This is a 51-year-old tall, powerful, athletic looking woman. This is how she describes herself: “I am very energetic, high driven, intentional. I have done too much activity. I would work out three to four hours a day, power lifting. The intensity with which I ran my life, I was told, is what probably did me in.
“I have had tremendous stress over the last three years. My mom died three years ago. She was accompanying my dad in the ambulance to the hospital and she died of a heart attack on the way. My father died ten weeks later at the age of 90. My ex-husband whom I had been married to for 27 years died six months before that and I managed his whole estate. He died of alcoholism.
“I remarried and moved into a new home at that period of time. I stayed strong mentally through all of that. I managed three deaths in six months time single handedly. Tons of stress was put into my body.
Here is her description of her physical symptoms:
“My hips becomes stiff when I sit for more than 30 minutes. I have left hip pain that radiates down the outside of my leg toward the knee. My quads become numb when lying flat or standing. My sacroiliac joint aches.”
This is how she describes the pain: “It feels like a burning sensation that runs down the outside of my thigh. I can’t walk more than three blocks without stopping. I develop a very significant limp after the third block. The pain is basically a burning sensation. I think it is the tendons that are irritated.
“When I get up out of this chair you will see it. I will be very stiff getting out of the chair. I have to think about how to walk. Going into motion after having been stationary is difficult. I am not good for the first five or six steps. Once I get going I am okay for 150 steps consecutively. I can’t stand. That’s when I start getting a lot of pain in my hips. If I go far enough and long enough my right SI joint will get numb too. The stiffness after sitting and the stiffness in the joints feels like it is an internal thing.”
I asked her to describe stiffness: “Long before I complained about these issues, going back to when I was in dance class, I complained about being a frozen turkey. The joints just didn’t want to give. There was no ease. They were tough and resistant, not loose. They needed to be thawed out.
“When I stand up and try to walk I have to force it. It doesn’t flow. I have to make it happen. If it is really bad, I have to tap my foot for a moment to say you are going to have to start working now.
“With any extending position, such as laying down or standing up, my right side will go numb. In yoga twists I feel very constricted. It feels like I shouldn’t do a yoga twist to the left with the right leg. I don’t want to do damage, dancing on injuries and ignoring pain.
“Gripping is another important word. I feel that I am gripping in my hip joints. I am not sure how to let go. My joints can’t relax. My body’s neutral state is tense. I have to make a very conscious effort to relax.
My client has been on this remedy for six months as of the writing of this chapter. Rhus tox has helped her significantly on many levels. She has now resumed her walks in the forest, though is still not quite able to walk as far as she used to, but she is gradually getting there.
Analysis: This case contains a gold-mine of information about guiding symptoms to the remedy.
Here is a list of the Rhus tox modalities in this client’s case that helped guide me to the remedy:
1) Aggravation from overexertion like Ruta and Arnica.
2) Stiffness in the joints.
3) Aggravation on initial movement, such as getting up from a chair after having been seated for a while.
4) Aggravation from sitting.
5) Gripping or clutching pains.
6) Twisting pains like Ruta
7) History of being married to an alcoholic.
8) She has a feeling that she is in a state of crisis, and is putting every effort into getting out of it.
Rhus tox modalities: In addition to the above modalities listed for my client, Rhus tox has many other modalities that help guide to this remedy. In Rhus tox, (perhaps more than in most remedies), it is the modalities that really guide one to use this remedy. Modalities are what make the person feel better or worse. I am including other characteristic symptoms of the remedy in this list.
9) Internal restlessness, or restlessness of the affected part is a strong indication for Rhus tox. The patient must frequently change positions.
10) The patient may have a feeling of apprehension or fear at night. They can feel threatened and on guard.
11) The Rhus tox patient is typically a chilly patient and is aggravated by cold and damp weather and from getting wet.
12) The aggravation times for Rhus tox are typically nighttime and morning.
13) Rhus tox patients tend to be stiff and are ameliorated by exercise and stretching.
14) A desire for milk and a red triangular tip on the tongue are other guiding symptoms to this remedy.
Here are some conditions where Rhus tox is often indicated:
1) Sprains. Think of Rhus tox for sprains where the Rhus tox modalities are present. Please see the section on sprains in the Arnica chapter.
2) Back, shoulder, neck, and hip injuries with the Rhus tox modalities, and where the injured area seizes up. Think of Rhus tox for back injuries from over lifting. I had a call to take Rhus tox a year ago when I sustained a serious back injury when my son jumped on my legs when I was doing the yoga pose where you have your legs straight up in the air. The force of his weight knocked me back and I injured my upper back. The muscles immediately seized up and I felt stuck, tight, and tense in the upper back. I had lost all range of motion. I took a 200C dose of the remedy and received several massages. All of this helped and I recovered within two days.
3) Any chronic health condition with the Rhus tox modalities.
4) Acute conditions, and respiratory ailments with the Rhus tox modalities.
5) Poison oak or poison ivy. Rhus tox is derived from poison ivy.
Taking Rhus tox in potency antidotes the effects of poison oak or poison ivy, because the potentized remedy will antidote the effects of the crude remedy from which it is derived. This is why Apis mellifica, a remedy that comes from bees, can antidote the effects of bee stings. There are many other remedies listed for this condition, so please consult your homeopath to find out which remedy is best for you.
6) Skin conditions, such as eczema, psoriasis, herpetic eruptions
and rashes where the Rhus tox modalities are present in the case. I recently had a call to treat a man with psoriatic arthritis with Rhus tox. His arthritic joint condition, which presented with Rhus tox modalities is what brought me to this remedy for him.
7) Arthritic and rheumatic conditions with the Rhus tox modalities.
8) Sciatica with the Rhus tox modalities.
9) Plantar fasciitis or heel pain with the Rhus tox modalities.
10) Think of Rhus tox for a person who is suffering from chronic
effects of car accidents, back injuries or other trauma, where the Rhus tox sensations and modalities are present.
Rhus tox is such a vast remedy, and what I am presenting here does not do justice to it. I could devote a volume to this one remedy alone. One of the most insightful writers about this remedy is Rajan Sankaran. In his book, “The Soul of Remedies,” he talks about the situation that often pushes people into a Rhus tox state. The situation is a child or a spouse of a person who is an alcoholic or abusive in some way. The child or spouse feels unsafe in their own home. They feel threatened by the person they live with and feel that they can harm them even while they are lying in their own bed. I have seen this to be true of many of the people to whom I have prescribed this remedy. This remedy should be thought of for people married to alcoholics.
The remedy falls into the typhoid miasm. The basic feeling here is that they are at risk of losing their position of comfort, be it their home, job security or their health. With the current economic situation where people are indeed losing their jobs and homes, I am observing that this and the other typhoid miasm remedies are called for quite often.
I have decided not to make a cream from Rhus tox, because of what it is derived from, poison ivy, and my concern that it can potentially cause skin rashes. Nonetheless I decided to include it in the book, because it is called for so frequently in first aid situations. If you are an experienced homeopath, you can use this remedy in the higher potencies, but if you are just beginning to learn about homeopathy, please use it in the lower potencies, like 6C, 12C or 30C.