No VII – Rhus-t

Last modified on March 28th, 2016

No VII – Rhus-t


Rhus acts primarily on the vegetative system, affecting especially the functions of resorption and secretion. All other symptoms are reflex from these effects.

1. Its primary action is excitation (irritation).

2. It has especial relations to the membranes; and especially to the mucous membranes and external skin, producing irritation and even inflammation.


1. Vascular System. Irritation, even to fever. The pulse is hard, full, and frequent, and the heart impulse strong; but the peripheral vascular system is more particularly affected, and sometimes this alone. Hence the external heat exceeds the internal; both, however, are abnormally increased; thirst is very great. Vascular torpor is only a secondary condition, and is, hence, no indication for Rhus.

2. Nervous System. Secondarily affected. In case of moderate vascular irritation, the nervous system is excited; in case of very great vascular irritation, it is depressed. Hence, in the former case, great mental excitement, anxiety, irritation, sleeplessness, or restless sleep with anxious dreams; and, in the latter case, sinking of the powers, weakness even to syncope, trembling, and convulsive jerkings.

3. Cerebral System. Specifically affected. Symptoms of incipient typhus: headache, diminished mental activity, uncertainty of movement, roaring in the ears, long apparent pondering before answering a question. These cerebral symptoms are present in every case of Rhus intoxication, and are hence characteristic. Hence the applicability of Rhus in typhus.

4. Nutrition. Depressed, but not in a very marked degree.

5. Secretions. 1. In the higher grades of excitement, all the secretions are diminished in quantity and thickened. 2. In the lower grades of excitement, they are increased in quantity and thickened, or else they becomes serous. 3. The Rhus irritation, unless it proceed to inflammation, is always accompanied by serous discharges, in the form of evacuations or of oedema.


1. Skin. Especially affected. Even 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. Vesicular formations are characteristic of Rhus.

2. Mucous Membranes. 1. Aphthae, swelling of the tongue; oedema and swelling of tonsils, and vesicular angina; phimosis and paraphimosis, vesicular formations on the whole penis, scrotum, and perineum, with oedematous swelling of the neighbouring parts. This Rhus oedema is everywhere hot. 2. Dryness of the mucous membranes, and, in consequence, difficult deglutition, tickling in the larynx, dry tongue, hoarseness, dry and painful cough, burning in the chest, burning pain in the stomach, nausea, repugnance to stimulating food, as flesh, wine, etc. (1 1These conditions of the mucous membrane depend on the different degrees of irritation induced by different grades of intoxication. Vide supra, Secretions, 1 and 2. C.D.

Intestinal Canal. Tardy action. Tenesmus; painful evacuation of dry, friable faeces, often light-colored; also, but less frequently, from the tendency to serous depositions, thin serous stools. (See note.).

Urine. Diminished; evacuation painful; tenesmus, with burning; emission by drops; also, involuntary evacuation. Urine turbid and scanty, with copious white sediment; also, increased in quantity and pale. (See note). Region of the bladder, sensitive.

Sexual System. Excited; a condition of erethism.

3. Serous Membranes. Secretion diminished; dryness, cracking in the joints; feeling of roughness and stiffness; sticking pains.

4. Sero-fibrous Tissues. Secretion diminished; sensation of stiffness in the sheaths of the muscles, causing pain and difficulty of motion.

5. Osseous System. Periosteum is attacked; boring and deep sticking pains in the malar and maxillary bones.

Characteristic. Aggravation during repose; amelioration by motion; action often confined to one side, more frequently the left side.


General. 1. To acute and sub-acute cases; less frequently to chronic. 2. In affections of the membranes, especially if accompanied by an evident dyscrasia, and attended by nervous phenomena. 3. In affections resulting from exposure to rain while perspiring. (Boenninghausen.)

Special. I. Vesicular Cutaneous Diseases of all Varieties. Erythema and erysipelas bullosum; scarlatina miliaris; miliaria; carbuncle; and, generally, all cutaneous eruptions that tend to gangrene. Herpes acutus; crusta lactea; hydrargyrosis; variola, with highly developed oedema and great cutaneous irritation; acute pemphigus; oedema after acute eruptions, with redness, heat and fever; acute oedema per se (Morbus Brightii?).

II. Sero-fibrous Membranes. Acute and sub-acute rheumatism affecting the joints and muscles, characterized by considerable swelling, redness, heat of the joint, pain diminished by motion, increased by repose, with miliaria and pustules around the joint; rheumatism of the fascia lata.

III. Rheumatic Odontalgia. Tearing, boring pain over the whole chin; swelling, redness of the gums; erysipelatous swelling of the cheeks and region of the lower jaw, even to the eyes and forehead.

IV. Mucous Membranes. Acute catarrhs and inflammations; laryngitis, bronchitis, gastritis, enteritis, etc., of mild degree, attended by nervous phenomena.

1. Conjunctivitis, with oedema, vesicles and pustules; great pain, dryness, photophobia; gluing together of the eyelids; pain on opening the eyelids, especially in scrofulous subjects.

2. Otitis and pharyngitis.

3. Inflammation of prepuce and scrotum, with vesicles and oedema.

4. Mucous diarrhoea, with great tenesmus; first stage of dysentery, scanty, frequent and painful stool.

V. Typhus and other Maladies, with Nervous Phenomena. In the lower grade of typhus, in the first stage, everything indicates Rhus; predominant excitement; constipation, or frequent serous, greenish-yellow stools, especially if attended by miliary eruption.

1. Miliaria puerperalis; purpura haemorrhagia febrilis.

2. Catarrhal fever, when the nervous system is especially involved.

3. Puerperal fever in the lower grades; peritoneal irritation without exudation, rather of a rheumatic character; exudation scanty, and not plastic.

4. Pleuritis of the same character as peritonitis nervous phenomena accompanying.

5. Pneumonia; difficult, thick, tenacious expectoration, with slow and tedious resolution (Pneumonia notha).

6. Heart diseases, especially of the pericardium, attended by nervous phenomena.

7. Lumbago; paralysis in lumbar region. (1 1Among the records of his large veterinary experience, Boenninghausen has many cases noted of paralysis of the lumbar muscles in cows, after calving, cured by Rhus, followed by Nux vomica.- C.D.)

8. Intermittent fever. Nervous symptoms predominate. During the paroxysm a rheumatic condition comes on. Thirst and heat are very great. During the sweat, miliaria make their appearance.

9. All diseases bearing a resemblance to rheumatism, which, however, one hesitates whether or not to pronounce typhus.

About the author

Carroll Dunham

Carroll Dunham

Dr. Carroll Dunham M.D. (1828-1877)
Dr. Dunham graduated from Columbia University with Honours in 1847. In 1850 he received M.D. degree at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of New York. While in Dublin, he received a dissecting wound that nearly killed him, but with the aid of homoeopathy he cured himself with Lachesis. He visited various homoeopathic hospitals in Europe and then went to Munster where he stayed with Dr. Boenninghausen and studied the methods of that great master. His works include 'Lectures on Materia Medica' and 'Homoeopathy - Science of Therapeutics'.

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