Materia Medica

A Day in the Life of Rhus Toxicodendron

Rhus Toxicodendron materia medica and complete drug picture of homeopathy remedy Rhus Toxicodendron. Learn all the signs and symptoms of homeopathic Rhus Toxicodendron by Elaine Lewis and Lowanna Hugall.

Here is Rhus Toxicodendron!


The person who needs Rhus tox has a sensitivity that makes him very irritable. With Rhus tox, it’s all about having to move! Anything that causes stagnation within the body such as cold or cold water or ice will aggravate. Ice, for its hard, cold quality and the wetness of frozen water, is what a Rhus tox hates the most, perhaps this is why Rhus tox is easily comforted by anything that is warm and encourages a flow within the organism, including vigorous massage.

The central idea of Rhus tox is stiffness. They become all bound-up and unable to release the inner tightness they feel. This is seen throughout the Rhus tox symptomatology on all three levels–mental, emotional and physical.

Rhus tox’s character is a picture of anxiety and restlessness, they are unable to relax. Rhus tox constantly needs to stretch. They feel the urge to move to loosen up to keep from becoming the image of ice–cold and hard.


Now, with Rhus tox constantly moving they become anxious. The anxiety is from never being able to stay in one place for very long (“Anxiety, House, in“), progressing into a state where they think something bad is going to happen (“Fear, superstitious“, “Ailments from anticipation, foreboding“). These foreboding feelings come from delusions that something terrible is going to happen (“Mind: Anxiety“, “Anxiety, future, about, Delusion: Murdered, will be“); these are examples of the well-known Rhus tox “Restlessness” on the mental plane (“Mind: Thoughts, rush, flow of; Mind: Suspicious“).

The Rhus Tox cycle:

Let’s see if we can find a Rhus tox or two!  Now where are those little Rhus tox people? I can hear them but I just can’t see them, let us see if we can catch up with some of them.

Look way over there! What fun! All those children enjoying themselves at their school athletics carnival. “BANG!” The starting gun fires and they all run off down the track.

They are having a beautiful day, the sun is shining. The children, with all their might, race off down the track, it looks like a day full of racing and getting many ribbons for their achievements. Let’s see if there is a Rhus tox amongst them!

And there he is now!

Our Rhus tox boy has had a monumental day. “The best day ever,” he remarks and he has ribbons to prove it. He got three 1st Prizes , four 2nd Prizes and a 4th Prize. Yes, you’re right he does look over-heated. In fact he says that he’s been getting very hot and even perspiring from all his fine effort. He has really over-exerted himself most of the day and is now looking forward to getting home to rest and have a good night’s sleep.

Twilight finds him still hard at work, however; packing away the equipment and carrying the heavy podium back to the equipment shed. Unfortunately, the temperature has dropped considerably, and twilight is not a good time for Rhus tox anyway as this is when many symptoms of the tensing up start. FASTFORWARD PLEASE!!

Later that night Rhus tox is now home drinking tea. He starts to feel an anxiety within himself rising, no doubt because of night coming on (“Fear, night“), he has an emotional fear setting in and as this begins to happen, he feels more stiff and tight. He explains to his mother that he has a general bound-up sensation everywhere throughout his body. (“Generals: Constriction“)

His mother can see he is emotionally irritable and to touch he is cold, his limbs especially. This cold, tight sensation is making him twist and stretch the muscles to stop the limbs from being so constrictive. (“Generals: Position, change of, ameliorates“) This is frustrating him immensely not to mention his mother having to watch him squirm around the kitchen. He keeps getting in her way so she tells him to go and relax in front of the T.V. She is hoping this will take his mind off his discomfort, but once he goes to watch TV with his older sister, he tries to settle down but he just can’t sit still!  He moves this way and that. The urgency that he must keep on moving and changing position becomes too much for Rhus tox and he groans (“Mind: moaning“) as he becomes more restless, and his sister’s complaints of “Sit down, I can’t see the TV!” irritate him still further (“Mind: Irritability, night“). He wants to sit still but “ggrrrr!”  What an aggravation!

We see the dance of the Rhus tox begin. He gets up and moves, he changes position. In doing so he stretches and contorts his ligaments to stop the stiffening and the build-up of toxins in the muscles. The lactic acid builds up and this causes a restlessness that spurs him on. To stop moving now would mean an increase in the toxins, not to mention the irritability.

The pain sensations of Rhus Tox include numbness and prickling (“Generals: Formication“). His legs also feel dead and heavy like wood (“Legs: Wooden, sensation“). After much effort to continuously move about, Rhus Tox begins to tire from all the activity. The dilemma now is that he must rest. The relief he was experiencing from moving about is diminishing as he is now being over-powered by the urge to rest his tired body. Rhus Tox rests!!  This rest causes again a build-up and intense irritability and so he has the urge to move and here the cycle starts again and continues many times.

Mother comes in to see what all the commotion is about and sees her son squirming all over the TV room. She suggests to him to go and have a hot shower. Finally, something that’s going to make Rhus tox feel better!

As he walks out, she asks him to stick out his tongue. As suspected, there is a red area shaped like a triangle on the tip that he says also is painful, but more importantly for us a good conformation that Rhus Tox is needed (“Tongue: Red, tip, triangular“). Mother packs him off to the shower by telling him that she has put on the heating lamp in the bathroom and is warming his towel. Normally they are worse for bathing but that is only if they get cold and today everything is all set up for him to have a nice HOT soothing shower. The shower will help him immensely as the heat will stimulate the flow within the body, easing the discomfort he feels. While he is showering let’s look at why he is suffering. The causations are many. He had a successful day, nothing wrong with that!

However, on top of winning all those races, he might also have won a medal for Over-Exerting, Heavy Lifting, and Going from Hot to Cold rather suddenly. It’s the Rhus Tox Triple Crown! What he needs are some warm clothes, a massage and anything else that will stop the stagnation he feels within his body.

Now let’s look at some other Rhus tox people. Picture Henrietta Housewife;

she’s a Rhus tox too. She doesn’t have a lot of energy and looks somewhat worn out (“Generals: Weariness). Henrietta becomes exhausted easily and quickly (“Generals: Weakness, sudden“). She can only do a little housework and then she needs to rest as her energy quickly depletes on any exertion. The nature of her energy comes in fits and starts; she is helpless in harnessing this erratic energy into a nice steady flow. Instead she must just be content to work on her house chores when she has a burst of energy and work until the energy is depleted and again she becomes exhausted. She has no choice, but must wait to recharge her energy and then is off again trying to clean the entire house before she again is exhausted.

Another factor is that she also has been very irritable, much like Nux vomica. She gets annoyed if anything gets in her way, so the pets need to be extra diligent in these households!


Rhus tox, as said before, has many delusions and so they are better if they are kept active. By keeping active they have less time for reflection over what the future may bring. He or she is very suspicious generally and has a great deal of hostility (“Mind: Reproaches others“). She blames others and this quality has isolated her from society. Her life is a struggle and she starts to have the sensations of drowning in more ways than one. The metabolism slows down and liquid pools in the body. The body’s tissues become oedematous eventually leading the Rhus tox patient into congestive heart failure as their system is overwhelmed. As the body has slowed down and become congested with fluid the mind too degenerates, making the Rhus Tox confused and forgetful (“Mind: Confusion“).

If they live in a cold, wet climate these conditions will come on faster for the suffering Rhus tox. Activity, warmth and dryness are the answer.

That looks like about it; oh! except for a quick look in on Junior. He got out of the hot shower looking a lot calmer. He got his Rhus tox remedy and a massage. He is now resting soundly, but within that brain of his he is still dreaming of exerting himself (“Dreams: Exertion, physical“) which, I’m sure, he will do again tomorrow!

About the author

Elaine Lewis

Elaine Lewis, D.Hom., C.Hom.
Elaine is a passionate homeopath, helping people offline as well as online. Contact her at [email protected]
Elaine is a graduate of Robin Murphy's Hahnemann Academy of North America and author of many articles on homeopathy including her monthly feature in the Hpathy ezine, "The Quiz". Visit her website at: and

About the author

Lowanna Hugall

Lowanna Hugall


  • Now, the interesting thing about Rhus Tox is the stiff personality as well as the stiff body, and that was what we always thought about Rhus Tox, but as it turns out, this is a later stage. You know, how we always thought they were stiff emotionally and they couldn’t give easily? That is a later stage of Rhus Tox. Actually at the beginning, Rhus Tox people are distinctly cheerful and outgoing. The mind is very active. They are joking, wisecracking and sort of a wry sense of humor, reactive. They can be irritable and they can be low patience with a low tolerance threshold, in other words they are cheerful and happy, everything is going along fine, but just some little thing overwhelms them, and then they can get irritable. They get irritable at the beginning; eventually they will be overwhelmed. Not like Calcarea, in a different way. The next stage is when we see the internal restlessness. It goes from reactive, cheerful, sort of lively and then the liveliness gets carried up an octave to a type of restlessness. Like the nerves are standing on edge. The whole system gets stirred up inside and they get hurried and then finally even to a state of an agitated sort of feeling. Remember we always used to make this differentiation — with restlessness, Rhus Tox is because of physical and Arsenicum is because of mental. Well, there is not a clear differentiation there. Rhus Tox gets extremely restless on a mental level. They are also very restless on a physical level earlier, but the mind can get very restless and they can skip around from one subject to the next. You can get it confused with Lachesis, but it doesn’t have the intensity behind it, it is different. If you look under “timidity” Rhus Tox is listed capitals. They are bashful people. You know how George always says if you are sitting with the Rhus Tox patient, you have to watch out of the corner of your eye. If I’m Rhus Tox, when you start lookinq down to write, I’ll look like this and then when you look up, I will be back like this. There is bashfulness. They don’t want to show. They hide the stress and so forth. Now, that same timidity gets carried along with this restless mind, and it produces something that you may confuse with Lachesis, but it looks quite different in the way that they speak. They will come in in a sort of agitated state and they want to tell you some symptoms and yet they are constantly looking at you because they have an active mind. They are looking at you to observe whether or not you are paying attention, how you are evaluating it, whether you are getting bored with this, so they sit there and they will say, “Ok, I just want to tell you this one thing. ” “You know sometimes I get this stiffness in my wrist. ” Then they see you are not interested in the wrist and they say, “Well, sometimes also my stomach isn’t good. Sometimes it gets a burning there and I, oh, but just let me tell you this, because I know you are busy, but I just want to go on with this one point. ” Like that. Very sensitive, restless, bashful, this kind of thing mixed up all together. If you are not listening, they will change the subject and tell you another symptom. And they stop and they stop and they are rushed and they are timid. It’s all mixed up in this kind of. It gives you that kind of impression of skipping around in the mind and that the mind goes five different points at once. On the other hand, they can go in these deeper stages where they become withheld and they don’t express their feelings, or they are too stiff to respond even though they want attention and affection, they are too stiff to respond. That is when they become miserable and discouraged and that is, where you could sort of confuse it with the Calcarea overwhelmed. They will say something else that may remind you of Calcarea which is that life is a struggle and they may even contemplate suicide even though it is not a truly suicidal remedy. Finally, when the stiffness goes to a deeper plane, which is the mental plane is when we get the fixed ideas and the superstitions and the ritualistic behavior. They like affection and caring, but they can’t give it back. They become withheld. They can’t respond.

  • I am very confused by this article. Is Rhus tox a medicine, a treatment of sorts or is it a state of being. Is Rhus toxicodendron a person??? Was this a tongue in cheek?? I am trying to look up homeopathic treatment for restless leg syndrome and came across this and now am even more confused. Is this supposed to be understandable for the average joe or this written in some type of doctorate language tha tthe average joe would not understand?? Maybe needs to be classified or filed somewhere els on a website..possibly??

    • Lori, sorry I’m getting back to you in an untimely fashion! You’re probably gone now; but, to your question, is Rhus tox a person? Yes, and you’ve seen these people, Lori! They can’t be still! If they try to sit still, they stiffen up and MUST move, they are much better for motion, worse for being still. They are better for anything that helps with movement–such as warmth and massage–and worse for influences that would slow one down, such as anything cold–cold weather, cold applications, cold bathing, etc. You may see this presentation best in athletes. If you give them the remedy Rhus tox 30C, they will finally be able to relax and settle down.

      • Rhus tox is just a remedy, not a person! I would not hesitate to give Rhus tox if the physical symptoms (LSCM) point to it completely regardless of whether he is mentally stiff or not.

        • Seems like some part of this conversation were accidentally deleted by me.
          @ Drofart – In his article, ‘on the value of characteristic symptoms’, Boenningheusen does mention of mental symptoms as important, but ONLY if they are a departure from the normal state during the state of health. Stiffness in the nature of an individual is a behaviourial pattern which probably has always been a part of him. We can’t even talk of it as disposition. Maybe, if you can share the soft copy, i might be able to explain better. I am feeling a lil too lazy to quite from the book and explain.

      • Although Rhus tox. is NOT a person–the symptoms can represent a TYPE of person that has certain conditions and symtoms that this homeopathic remedy can cure.
        The article is written in a way that represents the way a person may act if he needs the homeopathic remedy RHUS TOX.
        Homeopathy uses infinitesimal doses of substances to stimulate the body towards the cure of a disease or condition.
        Some of the substances used in homeopathy are herbs, flowers, poisons, venoms, and minerals. The remedies are produced in a way that even the most poisonous substances are rendered harmless and curative.

    • Imo, this seems to be more of a consitutional description. A chronic rather than acute picture. Also, I thnk if a mild condition of restlessness and/or stiffness hasn’t been resolved, it may express as other Rhus Tox symptoms.

  • nice articles – further clarifications/followup would be good for Lori’s query and other remedies in the series such as Aconite, Arnica, etc

  • I liked the way this article was constructed. It has some humour and I could recognise myself having just been prescribed Rhus Tox. It was more meaningful than a list of symptoms,it tells the story.

  • Thank you, first of all for the clarity. I am a Rhus Tox textbook case. This type runs in my family. The patterns are evident. Question is the learned or is one wired or prodisposed to this “typing”? Thank you once again!

  • wow.
    i was given rhus tox today to help w/ an acute thing going on
    but i have to say
    this describes me SO much.

    the acute thing was stiffness
    but the feeling of RELIEF i have from taking this remedy just this morning
    is AMAZINg. i love homeopathy.
    i love how subtle it is.

    i have felt irritable for so freakin’ long.
    so long that i’ve forgotten to even talk about it being a problem
    and the feeling i have tonight
    is that the cloud of irritability has lifted
    and i feel cheerful
    in a way that feels true
    and reminds me of what i really am

    grateful for the homeopath who had the wisdom to give me this
    and for the acute thing that came up in my body that called for this remedy
    curious how it will move through me as the week progresses. woo hoo!

    • Hopefully, the homeopath also told you to stop taking the remedy if you are strikingly better! And to resume only if there’s the start of a relapse. You can cause an aggravation by continuing to take a remedy long after it’s no longer needed.

  • This was great. I am studying for the CHC and wanted more insight on Rhus-T. This did a great job.

  • Very good article,I my self a rhus tox person but it is difficult to decide the exact potency and duration of treatment,if anyone can guide me

    • In the absence of any further information, I would just take a single dose of 200C. If it works but relapses at a later date, you can then repeat it.

  • Bravo! I like how you describe the Rhus Tox.
    In my personal experience (ladies 35 and 55 years old) they are communicative in a hurried way. Stingy. They may decide that homeopathic consultation should not cost more than $50 and will never change their mind. They need you make a quick miracle for them. Both had problems with skin behind ears (flakes) and dry scalp.

  • So great to find a remedy that fits. Recently I’ve had symptoms that needed Rhus Tox- Very painful shoulder pain that would be excruciating at night and very slow to loosen in the day with temporary relief in the evenings. I tried to let it heal naturally but after 2 weeks eventually tried Rhus tox and within two days was back to normal. Then recently I have had intense hives on my foot, hands and wrists. I know it is stress as being a Rhus Tox type I am not coping with a huge surge of commitments, finding no space to relax as nights are restless and anxiety keeps me going even though I should stop. Will try taking 30c for a day or two but wonder whether I should up the dose as this seems to be more of a constitutional situation, seeing as my symptoms are fitting the same picture. Any advice welcome Elaine.

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