Hahnemann’s proving symptoms of homeopathy remedy Rhus from Materia Medica Pura, which Samuel Hahnemann wrote between 1811 to 1821…

(Rhus radicans, also called Rhus toxicodendron)

(From vol. ii, 3rd edit., 1833.)

(The freshly expressed juice, mixed with equal parts of alcohol, and diluted and potentized up to the thirtieth development of power (x), as taught in the preface to pulsatilla.)

Careful consideration and comparison of the symptoms of this remarkable and valuable medicinal substance enable us to perceive a great number of characteristic peculiarities in it.

To mention one only: we observe this curious action (which is found in very few other medicines, and in these never in such a great degree), viz. The severest symptoms and sufferings are excited when the body or the limb is at rest and kept as much as possible without movement. The opposite of this, namely an increase of the symptoms by the movement is much more rarely observed. The other remarkable peculiarities will be easily found in the following list of symptoms of rhus, which are truthfully recorded.

When we attentively examine the symptoms of bryonia, we shall perceive, on the one hand, a strong resemblance to those of rhus, and on the other, remarkable contrasts. How striking is the aggravation of symptoms, almost identical with those observed from rhus during movement of the body in the case of bryonia, and their amelioration by avoiding all movement – exactly the opposite of what rhus does! From the symptoms of these two antagonistic sister remedies we can easily understand how both (each in its place) would prove the most suitable homoeopathic remedies for the disastrous pestilence which desolated the countries that were most exposed to the war that raged from the summer of 1813 inwards. No treatment of this typhus that is based upon interferences derived from ordinary therapeutics, al also no other mode of treatment whatever, could do anything for the worst cases (the slighter cases would in any case have recovered by the power of dear nature, though but only slowly and with difficulty). It was only the employment of the medicines homoeopathically suited to them, viz. rhus, in alteration with bryonia (as briefly described by me in the sixth number of the Allgemeiner Anzeiger der Deutchen in 1814), that could cure all cases of the disease, and which did actually cure them in the hands of careful practitioners; whilst the rest of the medical profession only carried on vain disputations respecting the persumed internal nature of the disease, and whilst so occupied allowed their patients in thousands to be gathered to their fathers. If ever there was a triumph for the only true, the homoeopathic treatment, (Of 183 cases treated by me in Leipzig not one died, which created a great sensation among the Russians, then ruling in Dresdon, but was consigned to oblivion by the medical authorities.) this was one.

The duration of the action of large doses of rhus extends over six weeks, that of small doses is less proportionally to the smallness of the dose. On account of this long duration of action the preliminary homoeopathic aggravation of symptoms is also of longer duration than with most other vegetable drugs; so that in the employment of even the smallest doses we often do not observe the amelioration until after the lapse of twenty-four hours after taking the medicine. Hence, as with every other medicine, so especially in the selection of this one, the homoeopathic rule must be strictly followed. The injurious effects of an erroneous selection are often removable by bryonia, sometimes by sulphur, at other times by camphor or raw coffee, according to the untoward symptoms produced.

After multiplied and repeated experience, I can assert that if we would act with certainty we should never employ homoeopathically the pure undiluted juice, not even in chronic maladies or for patients who are otherwise robust. It should only be used in very high dilution (in accordance with careful trials during many years, the decillionfold dilution). The strongest dose should nover exceed a very minute globule moistened with the thirtieth dilution(X). And it is even preferable to employ a single olfaction of a globule, twenty of which weigh one grain, on account of the mildness of this mode of administration, while its curative efficacy is just as great. The ordinary allopathic practitioner who knows nothing about the administration of vegetable drugs unless in drachms, scruples, or at all events, grains and whole drops, may sneer at this in his ignorance. Pure experience and conscientious, unprejudiced observations can and must be the only judge in such an important matter as the treatment of disease.

Of late years multiplied experience has taught me that rhus is the most efficacious and the specific remedy for the frequently fatal effects of over-lifting, inordinate exertions of the muscles and contusions. One single olfaction of a globule, the size of a mustard seed, moistened with the thirtieth potency effects a magical cure.


The following old-school sources supplied symptoms:

ALDERSON. in Samml. br. Abh. f. prakt. Aerzte, xvii. Annalen der Heilkunde. 1811.

DOSSIE. Institutes of Experimental Chymistry, 1759.

DUDLEY. In Dufresnoy.

DUFRESNOY, Ueber den wurzelenden Sumach, halle, 1801.

DU ROY, Harbkesche Baumzucht, ii.

FONTANA, in Edinb. Medorrhinum Comment, ii.

GLEDITSCH, in Beshcaft. D. Berlin Naturf., iv.

LAVINI, in Orfila, i.

MONTI. JOs., in Actea Instit. Bonon. Se. et. Art. iii.

NASSE, in the Preface to Dufrresnoy.

SHERARD, in Dufresnoy.

SYBEL, in Medic. Annalen, 1811.

VAN MONS, in Dufresnoy.

WICHMANN, Ideen zur Diagnostik, i.

ZADIG, in Hufeland’s Journ., v.

In the 1st edit. Rhus has 743 symptoms, in the 2nd 936, and in this last edit. 975.]

On getting up out of bed, she is as if intoxicated and thinks she will fall down.

Her head is so much affected that she cannot stand well, cannot keep herself upright.

Violent vertigo on lying down with fear that he will die (aft. 10 h.).

Vertigo: all went round with her; worst when walking and standing. Also (but less) when sitting, but not at all when lying. (Comp. 309.)

5. When walking reeling, unsteady and staggering in the body, without being giddy in the head.

When walking in the open air sensation of something turning about in the head, and yet no vertigo.

Vertigo. [ALDERSON, (Symptoms observed in patients). In Samml. br. Abh. f. prakt. Aerzte, xvii, i.]

Very severe vertigo. [ZADIG, (Effects in a patient.) in Hufel, Journ., v, iii, 194.]

Vertigo, as if he were held up high, while sitting. [Fz.]

10. Absence of thought when walking, after a meal (aft. 28 h.). [Fz.]

Reeling and staggering when walking, without vertigo.[Rkt.]

He always staggers to the right when walking. [Fz.]

Emptiness in the head without decided pain. [Stf.]

Vertigo and stupid feeling in the head. [Fr.H-n.]

15. Dizzy in the head. [Stf.]

Weakness in the head; when she turned her head she lost consciousness; when she stooped she felt as if she could not rise up again. [Hbg.]

Vertigo. [Hb. Ts. From Hufel. Journ., (Collection of observations of effects of handling the plant.) Bd. lxi. Heft. 4, p. 28, in the reine Arzneimittellehre of Hartlaub and trinks, bd. iii.]

When sitting, stupid in the head as if intoxicated, giddy with tendency to fall forwards and backwards. (Comp. 309.)

When walking, giddy as if she would fall forwards. (Comp. 309.)

20. In the morning on rising quite dizzy; he can hardly keep on his legs.

The head is dull and stupid.

A stupefied state, a weakness in the head.

Confusion of the head (immediately). [Fz.]

Confusion of the whole head (aft. ½ h.). [Ln.]

25. Confusion of the head and disinclination for literary work. [Rkt.]

He is relaxed, thinking is difficult, and speaking distasteful, or quite repugnant to him. [Stf.]

Relaxation of the mind for several days, he could not collect his thoughts and was almost stupid. (From moistening the fingers with a strong tincture of rhus.) [Stf.]

Very slow flow of ideas. [Stf.]

Forgetfulness; he cannot remember what quite recently. [Stf.]

30. The memory is very obtuse; he remembers with difficulty even the most familiar things and names, and again they are sometimes distinctly and clearly remembered, when he has no febrile chill. [Fz.]

Weakness of memory.

Absence of thoughts; he seems to be thoughtful, and yet has a deficiency of ideas.

When walking, is dizzy as if he did not see persons who were before hie eyes.

When she has walked, or when she stoops, she feels a whirling, not otherwise.

35. An absence of thoughts, as from vertigo before the eyes, often, as it were, a disappearance of all objects.

Absence of thoughts; e.g. when he wished to write 12, he put down the 1, but could not remember the 2; when he had paper in his hands he must make an effort to remember what it was held in his hands.

Headache as if stupefied, and buzzing in the head.

Confusion of the head (immediately).

The head is confused and as if intoxicated, in the morning (aft. 12 h.).

40. Giddy headache, involving the whole head; when writing his thoughts and memory left him, and he could not remember.

The head is full and heavy, with sensation, on stooping, as if the brain fell forwards. [Fz.]

On shaking the head sensation as if the brain were loose and fell against the skull. [Fz.]

Pain transversely across the forehead. (With S. 7 and 294.) [ALDERSON, l. c.]

Headache in the occiput, which goes off on bending the head backwards. [fz.]

45. When moving the arms energetically, pressive pain in the forehead as with a blunt point (aft. 25 h.). [Fz.]

Pressure and drawing on the left side of the hairy scalp. [fz.]

Confusion of the head, aching in the right temple, and close above and behind the right orbit a downwards pressure as from a weight.

Aching in the temples.

50. Headache, as if the eyes were pressed out of the head, with yawning and chilliness, without thirst.

When he stoops, he feels as if he could not rise up again; something hinders him in the nape; he feels when stooping as if a quantity of blood shot into his brain.

There is always something heavy in the head, and on stooping it feels as if a weight fell forwards into the forehead and drew the head down, whilst the face becomes hot.

A forward-pressing pain behind the left eye.

Head so heavy that she must hold it straight up in order to relieve the weight that pressed forwards in the forehead.

55. Heavy and dull in the head, when he turns his eyes; the eyeballs themselves are painful.

In the temples a heaviness as if there were a painful downward pressure there.

Headache, as if the brain were pressed together from both temples.

After heat, only internally, in the head alone, with dry lips and thirst, violent headache, as if the forehead would be pressed asunder, with an extraordinary weight in it, especially when she comes out of the open air into the room, or on awaking out of the midday sleep; but as soon as she lies down in bed in the evening, the headache goes away.

A burning pressure on the right temporal bone.

60. A pressure radiating upwards in the right temple in the evening in bed, worst when at rest; in order to relieve it he must either sit up, or get out of bed.

A real tearing to and fro in the head, worse when stooping, in the evening from 5 o’clock inwards until he went to bed.

Tearing pain in the right temple(aft. ½ h.). [Mch.]

Simple tearing transversely over the hairy scalp, externally. [Fz.]

Headache, drawing in the occiput and temples, with aching in the eyes, it is so bad that it drives him out of bed quite early(4.30 o’clock)

65. (Headache as from deranged stomach.)

Tearing and pressive pain in the head.

On waking from sleep, when he opens his eyes, he quickly gets a violent headache, at first in the forehead behind the eyes, as if the brain were lacerated, as after drinking too much brandy, aggravated by moving the eyes; then n the occiput, as if the cerebellum were bruised; in the temples there occurs an out-pressing.

(Headache in the left side and in the occiput, as if sore, extending into the teeth.)

When she goes up hill, sensation of rushing into the head, she feels every step in it.

70. Sometimes a splashing in the whole brain.

A running and crawling over the forehead and nose when sitting upright, which goes off on stooping. [Fz.]

When walking a swaying in the brain.

Stitches outwards in the head.

Fine beating in the right side of the head.

75. Burning in the head and fine beating or pecking pain in it.

A burning pain sometimes in the occiput, sometimes in the forehead.

A burning creeping sensation in the forehead.

He feels the pulse at the back of the head.

Some very fine violent stitches inwards in the right temple.

80. Her head feels too full and heavy (with tinnitus aurium), at the same time sometimes stitches out at the left temple.

A weight at the top of the head, after walking.

A single stitch of four minutes duration above the eye, from within outwards, while eating; the nausea and fulness heat rose up from within.

Headache: single jerks in the occiput, in the afternoon.

Soon after eating a tearing painful to the touch sometimes the drawing pain involves the whole head.

85. A painful crawling in the head like scratching with a needle, a fine prickly scratching.

After a walk in the open air, headache like formication.

In the afternoon a formication on a spot of the occiput, as if an abscess would form there.

A formication on the scalp (aft. 72 h.).

Headache as if externally, drawing as it were, the skin together, just as though she were pulled by the hair, and yet the head is not painful to the touch.

90. Hairy scalp very painful when touched and when the hair is stroked backwards.

The head is painful externally when touched and when the hair is stroked backwards.

The head is painful externally when touched, like a boil.

Eroding itching on the hairy scalp, the forehead, the face and round about the mouth, where miliary papules appear.

Towards evening, in the muscles of the nape, pain as if the parts were asleep, and as if the head had been held too long on an upright position.

Paleness of the face. [Fr.H-n.]

95. Appearance of illness, sunken features, blue rings round the eyes (aft. 18 h.). [Stf.]

Sharp-pointed nose, for three days. [Fr.H-n.]

The face is distorted and drawn away; the left side is as if shortened by contraction, the right as if lengthened (aft. 22 h.). [Stf.]

Redness and sweat of the face, without thirst (aft. 1 h.). [Fr.H-n.]

Desquamation of the skin of the face. [Fr.H-n.]

100. Great swelling of the face; the head is twice as big; a kind of phlegmonous pustular erysipelas, which compels him to keep his bed for four weeks. (From the emanations of the plant and from plucking it.) [VAN MONS, in Dufresnoy, (Observations – The French original has been consulted.) Ueber den wurzelenden Sumach, Halle, 1801.]

Erysipelatous swelling of the face and neck. (From the emenations of the plant). [Annalen der Heilkunde, (Not accessible) 1811, April.]

Great swelling of the head, face and eyelids, so that he could not open them for more than twenty-four hours. [DUFRESNOY, l. c.]

Great swelling of the face. [DU ROY, (Not accessible).harbkesche baumzucht, ii, p. 309.]

Swelling of the face, especially of the eyelids and lobes of the ears. [FONTANA, From handling the leaves.) in Edinb. Medorrhinum Comment., iim II.]

105. Swelling of the face in some persons. [DUDLEY, (Observations.) in Dufresnoy, l. c.]

Violent burning on the swollen face, eyelids and earlobes. [FONTANA, l. c.]

Intolerable itching on the swollen face, eyelids and earlobes. [FONTANA, l. c.]

Swelling of the head, neck and chest, as far as the navel. [Hbg.]

Stiffness and swelling of the face. [Hb. Ts.]

110. Face and hands so swollen, that he could not open the eyes for eight days, and his face had not a human form. [Hb. Ts.]

Fine scalp on the face (the 11th d.). [Hb. Ts.]

Redness and sweat of the face without thirst (aft. 1 h.). (Reopetition of 98, except the name of the authority.)

Swelling of the lips and nose, then pale swelling of the face; the third day the facial swelling increased, with burning pain, the eyelids closed by swelling, the eyes watering; the fourth and fifth days the face was studded with vesicles full of yellow water, which burst and let out a little water; the swelling of the face lasted eight days, that under the chin longer; t desquamated like bran. (From wetting the hands with the juice.) [Annalen der heilkunde, l. c.]

Drawing and tearing in the superciliary region, and in the cheek bones. [Rkt.]

115. Inflammation of the eyelids. [DIFRESNOY, l. c.]

A smarting itching in the right upper eyelid (which goes off after some rubbing.) [Fz.]

Twitching sensation in the left upper eyelid (aft. 48 h.). [Fr.H-n.]

A sensation, made up of twitching and contraction, in the right lower eyelid. [Fz.]

The right upper eyelid seems to be swollen and presses, this goes off in the open air (aft. 26 h.). [Fz.]

120. The eyelids are dry and become always closed, as if by sleepiness, in the evening. [Fz.]

Quivering of eyelids and dry feeling in them, during a febrile chill. [Fz.]

Itching in the right outer canthus (aft. 27 h.). [Fz.] (The numbers from this onwards do not correspond with these in the original, several errors of enumeration occurring in Hahnemann’s list, and S. 115 being repeated at this place.)

On the left lower eyelid towards its inner canthus a red hard swelling, like a stye, with aching pain, for six days (aft. 48 h.). [Fr.H-n.]

Sensation of swelling in the right inner canthus. [Fz.]

125. Smarting as from an acrid acid in the right eye. [Fz.]

Weakness of vision: objets seem pale. (From wetting the fingers wit a strong tincture of rhus tox.)

She seems to have a veil before the eyes, she cannot see well.

When he turns the eye, to when it is pressed, the eyeball is painful, he can hardly move it.

Aching in the eye as if dust were in it.

130. Aching pain in the eyes.

Great swelling of the eyelids (4th d.). [Hb.Ts.]

The eyes closed on account of great swelling, and they became inflamed (4th d.). [Hb.Ts.]

Pain in the eyes. [Hb.Ts.]

Periodical cutting in the eyes; he has difficulty in opening the eyelids in the morning. [Sr.]

135. Aching in the eye on straining the sight.

Aching as from inflammation in the left eye, which is red in the inner canthus, and in the evening is sealed up with eye gum.

Pressive and contractive pain in the eyes, in the evening.

Burning aching sensation in the eye from evening till morning; it goes off in the morning after getting up.

In the morning the white of the eye is red, with burning aching in it; the eyes seem to be protruded.

140. The eyes are red and stuck together with matter in the morning.

Her eyes are stuck together with muco-pus in the morning.

Inflammation of the eyes.

Blear eyes full of water.

In the evening weeping of the eyes; with burning pain.

145. A smarting in the eyes; in the morning they are sealed up with eye gum.

Smarting on the inner surface of the lower eyelids (aft. 2 h.).

The eyelids in cold air as if sore from salt smarting tears.

Dry sensation of the eyelids, especially in the inner canthus.

In the evening (about 8 o’clock) a heaviness and stiffness in the eyelids, like paralysis, as if it were difficult for him to move the eyelids.

150. Stitches below the eye.

On the inner side of the orbit, in the bone towards the nose, bruised pain.

An aching with fine pricking no the zygoma.

An aching on the frontal bone, which constantly increases and then suddenly ceases. [Fz.]

A dull drawing on the left side of the forehead, through the left cheek, down the jaw, through the muscles and teeth, as if toothache would ensue. [Ln.]

155. Fine painful tearing behind the left ear. [Hbg.]

Ringing in the right ear when walking (aft. 1.1/2 h.). [Mch.]

Two violent cracks in the left ear at short intervals, as if the membrana tympani burst, when lying whilst going to sleep in the midday siesta, so that he started up trembling each time, but then soon went to sleep again (aft. 4 h.). [Mch.]

Painful beating at night in the inner ear.


160. A sudden drawing pain in the ears, as if a thread were drawn through. [Sr.]

Before the right ear sensation as if something were blown in or lay before it.

(Roaring in the ear.)

Squeaking before the ears, like young mice.

(An itching creeping in the ears, of something alive were in them; she must bore in them with finger.)

165. Swelling of the nose, ears, and neck. [Hb.Ts.]

Epistaxis frequently, almost only when stooping.

Epistaxis at night (aft. 4 h.).

Epistaxis. [Hbg.]

Feeling of hardness and swelling under the nose, going off when touched. [Fz.]

170. Tension under the right nostril. [Fz.]

The tip of the nose is red, and painful when touched, as if it would fester (aft. 8 d.). [Fz.]

Samuel Hahnemann
Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843) was the founder of Homoeopathy. He is called the Father of Experimental Pharmacology because he was the first physician to prepare medicines in a specialized way; proving them on healthy human beings, to determine how the medicines acted to cure diseases.

Hahnemann's three major publications chart the development of homeopathy. In the Organon of Medicine, we see the fundamentals laid out. Materia Medica Pura records the exact symptoms of the remedy provings. In his book, The Chronic Diseases, Their Peculiar Nature and Their Homoeopathic Cure, he showed us how natural diseases become chronic in nature when suppressed by improper treatment.

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