Rhus tox is short for Rhus toxicodendron, which is another name for the North American plant Toxicodendron radicans — better known as poison ivy. The oil in the plant's leaves is poisonous and typically will cause a person's skin to become irritated or itchy when touched, although some people are immune to these effects. Despite this common reaction, the oil is used to make a homeopathic remedy known as Rhus tox. This remedy is used to treat various ailments, such as back pain and stiffness, arthritis, tendinitis and certain illnesses that cause overall soreness or itching.
Homeopathic remedies typically use an extremely diluted form of the ingredients that caused the initial reaction or similar effects. In this form, proponents of homeopathic medicine say the remedies can cure conditions that the original substance would have caused or other similar conditions. The potency of a homeopathic remedy, usually represented by a number and a letter, reflects how diluted it is.
Treatment of Stiffness
Given that poison ivy can cause stiffness, homeopathic Rhus tox traditionally is used to relieve stiffness of various types, especially in the back and neck. Many people find it useful for treating rheumatism and arthritis, and it has been said to be good for tendinitis. Some people claim that it works when used in combination with Arnica montana, which is another homeopathic remedy that is used for a variety of aches and pains.
Proponents of homeopathic remedies say they also can be useful for particular types of people or states of mind. Rhus tox is thought to be particularly beneficial for people who are to some extent inflexible in both mind and body. It has also been used to treat people with depressive feelings.
Some people use the treatment for treat colds, eczema, sensitive scalp, burns and itches. It also is thought to be effective when used to treat conditions such as dizziness, high body temperatures and menstrual difficulties. These conditions might seem to be unrelated, but all may be related to restlessness, aches, pains, and itchiness.
Dosages and Potency
Rhus tox can be taken in a variety of ways and in different potencies. Some people are more sensitive to it, and one dose may resolve their condition. For others, the remedy needs to be taken for a longer period of time and perhaps several times each day. Some people carry it with them and take it whenever they feel the need, particularly for chronic conditions such as arthritis. As with all homeopathic remedies, no harm usually occurs if an extra dose is taken, because there is an extremely small amount of the poison ivy oil in the diluted remedy.
In most countries, Rhus tox can easily be purchased at any pharmacy or store that stocks homeopathic medicines. Different potencies usually are available. Many people who use this remedy say that stronger versions should be taken only under the guidance of a qualified homeopath.