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.

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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