Last modified on January 8th, 2019

A.C. Cowperthwaite

Symptoms of the homeopathic medicine RHUS TOXICODENDRON from A Text Book of Materia Medica and Therapeutics by A.C. Cowperthwaite. Find all the symptoms of RHUS TOXICODENDRON

      Synonym. Rhus Humile. Natural order. Anacardiaceae. Common names. Poison Oak. Poison Ivy. Habitat. A shrub growing in fields, woods and along fences all over North America. Preparation. Tincture from the fresh leaves. General Analysis Acts prominently upon the organs of animal life, upon the mucous membranes, the lymphatic glands, the skin, the muscular tissues, and the tissue which compose the joints. The primary condition produced is on of irritation, and this may proceed to inflammation, or, if it stops short of that, produces serous discharges, in the form of evacuations or oedema. This condition of irritation affects most prominently the skin. “Even contact of the leaves of the plant, or proximity to them, produces an eruption, varying in intensity, from the slightest erythema to the gravest form of vesicular erysipelas.” The action of Rhus upon the mucous membranes resembles that which it has upon the external skin, simulating eczematous and vesicular eruptions; it acts most powerfully upon the conjunctiva, though affecting other mucous surfaces to a greater or less degree. In the sero-fibrous tissues the characteristic primary irritation develops a rheumatoid inflammation of the joints and muscles, affecting particularly the fascia, tendons, sheaths of nerves, ligaments and fibrous tissues. The lymphatic glands throughout the body become enlarged and inflamed. The cellular tissues become infiltrated with a serous exudation, and the functions of nutrition are depressed and impaired. On the organs of animal life Rhus acts secondarily, producing dullness of the senses, and a condition of the cerebral system closely resembling that present in low types of fever. The chief characteristic of Rhus is the prominent aggravation of its symptoms during repose, and amelioration by mo Especially useful in arthritic and rheumatic pains in various parts, aggravated before a storm, or in cold, damp, rough weather. Chronic rheumatism of small joints (Actea. sp., Caulophyllum, Ledum). Rheumatoid arthritis. According to Allen, Rhododendron is useful in threatening glaucoma, always worse at the approach of a storm, better after the storm broke, patient strongly rheumatic. Muscular asthenopia, with darting pains through the eye, worse before a storm. Ciliary neuralgia. Otalgia. Facial neuralgia and neuralgic toothache, with characteristic aggravation. Diarrhoea in damp, cold weather; from fruit. Catarrh of the bladder. Hydrocele. A valuable remedy in orchitis (see symptoms). Induration of testicles.


Rhus is especially useful in rheumatism and rheumatoid affections in general with the characteristic modality of the drug- worse on beginning to move, better from continued motion. Rheumatism worse during cold, wet weather and from northeasterly winds; from getting wet, especially when over-heated; from working in the water; from living in damp houses; from checked perspiration. Not ordinarily useful in acute inflammatory muscular rheumatism with high fever, etc., but more in chronic forms, or in acute attacks occurring in rheumatic subjects, from causes above named, but without much fever. A valuable remedy for sprains, and for soreness of muscles and tendons from over- lifting, or reaching high up with the arms. Rheumatic paralysis, and rheumatoid neuritis, with great stiffness and numbness of this parts involved, with characteristic modalities, and when brought on by causes above named. Rhus often becomes a valuable remedy in cellulitis after pus has formed, especially when the parts look dark-red, erysipelatous, and other Rhus symptoms. Boils. Carbuncles. Abscesses. One of our most valuable remedies in skin diseases, the vesicular character of the eruption always predominating, with much burning and itching. Acne rosacea. Urticaria. Erythema, with tendency to vesicular formations and oedema. Eczema (see symptoms). The chief remedy in vesicular erysipelas, especially of the scalp, face or genitals. Phlegmonous erysipelas. Suppuration of inflamed glands. Valuable in adynamic forms of scarlet fever, with characteristic restlessness, typhoid tendency, eruption irregular and dark-red, sometimes vesicular, swelling of cellular tissues and oedema, enlargement and threatening suppuration of the parotid or cervical glands. Purpura haemorrhagica. Variola, pustules turn black, diarrhoea, dark, bloody stools, restlessness, typhoid symptoms. Oedema is a prominent feature in the action of Rhus, reminding us of Apis, from which it is readily differentiated. An invaluable and very frequently used remedy in typhoid fever, and in low, typhoid states in general occurring in the course of other diseases, such as diphtheria, peritonitis, typhlitis, enteritis, pneumonia, dysentery, puerperal diseases, etc. Mild delirium, stupefaction, restlessness; red, dry and cracked tongue; sordes; epistaxis; diarrhoea, yellowish-brown, offensive stools, etc. Useful in many affections of the eyes, especially when characterized by oedematous swelling of the lids and surrounding parts, and when aggravated by cold air or in wet weather. Only second to Apis in orbital cellulitis. Purulent ophthalmia, worse at night, intense photophobia. Conjunctivitis. Iritis, especially rheumatic. Glaucoma. Paralysis of the upper lids from exposure to cold, especially cold, damp winds. Inflammation of middle or external ear. Otalgia, with pulsation of the ear at night. Parotitis, especially after suppuration. Nasal catarrh in rheumatic subjects, worse from cold, wet weather. Facial neuralgia, from cold or wet, numbness and stiffness, cramp-like pains. Sometimes indicated in sore throat. Haemorrhoids. Fissures in anus. Diarrhoea or dysentery from getting wet, stools of dark-brown or bloody mucus, tearing pains down thighs during stool, etc. Rheumatic cystitis. Paralysis of the bladder. Oxaluria. Useful in various affections of the genital organs, some of which have already been outlined in pathogenesis. Uterine displacements.


Ovarian cysts. Membranous dysmenorrhoea, worse in wet weather and from getting wet. Abortion impending from straining or over- exertion. Lochia vitiated and offensive; lasting too long or often returning. Milk leg; also metritis, with typhoid symptoms. Laryngitis, with hoarseness, scraping and rawness, worse in wet weather. Bronchitis. Typhoid pneumonia. Haemoptysis. Hypertrophy of the heart from over-exertion, such as wood-chopping, etc., also from rheumatism. Rheumatism of the heart. Organic diseases of the heart, with painful lameness and numbness of the left arm (Aconite, Kalmia). Lumbago, with characteristic modalities. Sciatica. Locomotor ataxia. Sometimes useful in intermittent and other forms of malarial fever with characteristic Rhus symptoms.

About the author

A.C. Cowperthwaite

A.C. Cowperthwaite

A.C. (Allen Corson) Cowperthwaite 1848-1926.
ALLEN CORSON COWPERTHWAITE was born at Cape May, New Jersey, May 3, 1848, son of Joseph C. and Deborah (Godfrey) Cowperthwaite. He attended medical lectures at the University of Iowa in 1867-1868, and was graduated from the Hahnemann Medical College of Philadelphia in 1869. He practiced his profession first in Illinois, and then in Nebraska. In 1877 he became Dean and Professor of Materia Medica in the recently organized Homeopathic Department of the State University of Iowa, holding the position till 1892. In 1884 he accepted the chair of Materia Medica, Pharmacology, and Clinical Medicine in the Homeopathic Medical College of the University of Michigan. He removed to Chicago in 1892, and became Professor of Materia Medica and Therapeutics in the Chicago Homeopathic Medical College. From 1901 he also served as president of that College. He is the author of various works, notably "Insanity in its Medico-Legal Relations" (1876), "A Textbook of Materia Medica and Therapeutics" (1880), of "Gynecology" (1888), and of "The Practice of Medicine " (1901).

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