Rhus toxicodendron is a homeopathic remedy. It’s also known as poison ivy. Other
names include Toxicodendron pubescens and Toxicodendron radicans.
Poison ivy may seem like an
unlikely remedy. But it’s used to
treat several conditions, including:
- restless leg syndrome
- viral infections
This remedy has mostly been studied for its
effectiveness as a treatment for arthritis pain. But research shows its
effectiveness is still unclear.
What is homeopathy?
Homeopathy is a philosophy developed over 200
years ago in Germany. It features two key beliefs:
- like cures like: Homeopathy suggests that
you can cure someone by giving them a substance that reproduces the symptoms
- law of minimum dose: The substance given should
be diluted as much as possible.
According to the National
Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), the use of homeopathic remedies is increasing in the United
States. Five million adults and 1 million children were using them in 2013.
What does Rhus
R. toxicodendron is most commonly used to relieve arthritis symptoms. And it can
be given to people of any age. Proponents say that it’s most effective when
used during an arthritis flare-up that doesn’t respond well to applying cold
How is Rhus
R. toxicodendron doesn’t require a prescription. It’s available over-the-counter
in pill, capsule, liquid, ointment, and gel forms.
Consult your doctor and homeopath before
trying this treatment. Your doctor can tell you if there are any reasons why
you shouldn’t take it. Your homeopath can help you find the best way to use it and
the right amount to use.
What are the risks of Rhus
The U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
doesn’t evaluate over-the-counter homeopathic medications for safety. So they
don’t offer an official list of side effects.
There’s anecdotal evidence that people who
are highly sensitive to R. toxicodendron could
develop a rash and swelling in the lower extremities. However, this has not
been confirmed or supported by the FDA.
Is there evidence that Rhus toxicodendron is effective?
The evidence is mixed regarding the
effectiveness of R. toxicodendron as a
treatment for arthritis. One study assessed a group of rats with arthritis who were given several
dilutions of it.
The researchers found that R. toxicodendron protected rats from inflammatory
lesions, weight changes, and joint changes due to arthritis and pain.
R. toxicodendron has not proven as useful in trials on humans. The NYU Langone
Medical Center conducted two studies on humans.
The first study compared R. toxicodendron against the anti-inflammatory drug
fenoprofen, which is known as an effective arthritis treatment. Fenoprofen
proved more effective at relieving arthritis pain. R.
toxicodendron did no better than a placebo.
The second study compared a homeopathic gel containing R.
toxicodendron to a gel made from another anti-inflammatory drug
The research showed the two treatments were
equally effective. But it should be noted that piroxicam in gel form had never
been studied as a treatment for arthritis pain. So it’s possible that piroxicam
gel and R. toxicodendron are equally
Every person will have a unique response to
homeopathic medicines. Practitioners are usually reluctant to set a specific
timeframe for relief of symptoms.
The goal is for acute symptoms to resolve
within a few days. Chronic symptoms, like arthritis pain, should begin to
improve quickly. Symptoms will continue to improve over three to four weeks if
the treatment is effective.
Homeopathy can be an effective way to treat
conditions in some people, but it isn’t for everyone. Each person will respond
to R. toxicodendron treatments
Some people need to take the homeopathic
remedy only once or twice. Others with chronic pain may need to take it on a
Be sure to check with your doctor or
homeopath before using or taking a product that contains R. toxicodendron.