(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.