Inspiring Homeopathy

Rhus toxicodendron

victimised forever, old wounds

Juice of the twigs with young leaves.
My first real experience with Rhus toxicodendron started with a very curious and dramatic case in 1991. A 43 year old lady, mother of three children, came to my practice with severe pains in her back, lumbar and sacral region, extending in both hips and the backside of her legs until her ankles. She suffered also from her neck with dullness in her fingers and had the sensation that parts of her back were loose. During three months she got a plaster of Paris jacket and was unable to walk, sit or stand for more then 5 minutes. Her best position was lying on her back, with her legs drawn up on a hard mattress. She was sighing a lot and a deep respiration with vertigo (hyperventilation probably). She was aggravated by cold and wet weather and better by warmth. She trembled, perspired and wept a lot with the pain and after the pain she was very tired. During her childhood she has been severely maltreated by her mother, emotionally and physically with humiliation until she left home at age 17 (when she married). She lost every feeling of dignity, had the sensation of being worthless and wanted to prove later in life that she was able to perform something. Her own daughter was humiliating her also, because her mother was not able to punish her. So things continued and were repeated.
She had nightmares during many years: that she is locked up waking up screaming loudly. During the night she often had palpitations. Furthermore she was a very willful person, fastidious in her work, never late, very respectful of rules, with a great feeling of responsibility. She had lack of self confidence, was cautious, sensitive to injustice, afraid to have an accident, especially in a plane. I considered giving her Cuprum metallicum, but because she left one week later for holidays, I preferred to start the treatment with what I thought to be a less profound remedy, based mainly on her physical problems and prescribed her Rhus toxicodendron 30K, every week. Then deep changes took place. She had pain in her fingers and in her legs with itching on her thighs. She had strange feelings in her head with dizziness and her back was as if torn apart. But she had more energy and had the feeling to be again on her both legs in stead of on one only. I prescribed her then a 200K of Rhus tox what I consider now to be a mistake, wanting to speed up the cure and trying to have still better results. Nowadays I would have continued the remedy as long as it would give her any benefit. On the 200K she started to sleep badly, with overpowering sleep during the day and she entered a depressive state, weeping a lot. She felt forsaken by everybody and a feeling of deep anger came to the surface. Until now there was no real problem, the healing process took a good direction. But then she entered in such a heavy and deep process that she could hardly handle it. She said: “I went literally trough hell. I had gigantic fits of crying, even in the middle of the night. I became very aggressive at trifles with a strong desire to break everything in my house. I felt tremendously tired. My daughter is still difficult, but now I stand no nonsense and I don’t accept to be humiliated any more. I have a strong feeling to regress completely in time. My back is much better and I have almost no palpitations any more.” I suggested her to wait now and to take again her remedy if there was a relapse. This happened ten weeks later and so I continued the treatment and later on with MK and XMK. She had a lot of changes in her physical complaints, but the most impressive was that she gradually remembered everything what happened in her past and worked it out gradually. This was not an easy process, sometimes she was exasperated that it was too much. In the past she used suppression as a way to survive. She not only suppressed her emotions but also the memory of all the horrible things her mother inflicted her. By the action of Rhus toxicodendron in repeated and gradually higher potencies this suppressed energy was activated and the memories as well as the emotions and physical pains emerged one after another. It is not always necessary that the memories of the past come to the surface, most of time these energies can be cured without any consciousness of it.
I will not mention all the old emotions and pains she went through, but only give some examples. When an enormous anger came up she remembered her first menses. She relived that her mother got a fit of anger, pulled off her clothes and sent her naked downstairs before her father and brothers. Later when she regressed to her little childhood re-experiencing severe burning palms she had a clear vision of how her mother in a fit of anger took both her hands and pressed them on the stove burning her palms severely. Finally she relived her birth and the coldness and loneliness she feet after her birth. After this process of remembering and reliving her dramatic childhood she was able to forgive her mother and to feel happiness in her heart. She became aware that it gave her an opportunity to deepen her life and she felt rich.
Then I was very curious to know what would happen next. We were then two and a half year later. She was able to walk normally as long as she wanted and in the summer she was bicycling in the mountains. She still had some pain, but this was not comparable with the pains she suffered before her homeopathic treatment. She was then on Rhus tox LMK since half a year every 5 to 6 weeks. Then she had very strong feelings and visions that she was burned on a place in England with people around her shouting at her, but she felt very peaceful. When these feelings and visions disappeared her anxiety for fire disappeared almost completely. Formerly she controlled several times if her gas-cooker was closed before leaving home. Then her fear of water was much better after she experienced herself drowning by a hand pushing her under water. Still several other experiences of a far past emerged from her unconscious mind and disappeared again.
Then she went through the layers of Saccharum, Carcinosinum, Lac maternum and Vernix caseosa in three and a half year time. She still continues now her curing process, but her life changed completely. She changed from a victim to an active person taking care of herself and feeling responsible for her life. During this healing process she became more and more connected with the spiritual world and she helps now other persons in their healing process. She is able to see and have contact with her spiritual guides and is a happy and grateful person now.
The experience with this patient and many others after her helped me to discover that this remedy plays an important role in the treatment of the universal layers. In some cases we have to start with this remedy when there is a severe trauma as incest, sexual abuse, torture, imprisonment or any threatening situation. But even then it is sometimes wise to start the homeopathic treatment with Vernix caseosa or Saccharum or another remedy that seems indicated to prepare the patient for this deep activation of old traumas. Anyway it is wise in such dramatic situations to start with low potencies as LM6 to avoid severe aggravations and out of control situations. But in many cases the Rhus tox layer emerges after the resolution of other layers. To enter a Rhus tox layer it is not necessary to have experienced severe traumas in the childhood. The deeper causation of this layer can be situated in past lives. When we are killed in a war, or sexual abused or beaten up to death, etc. and we died in great pain and anxiety with hate and resentment, then these feelings are stored in our unconscious mind and one day we get the opportunity to let everything go and to free ourselves. That doesn’t mean necessarily that we have to regress consciously to past lives as did spontaneously my first Rhus-tox patient. When the Rhus-tox state is experienced often there is a lot of anger coming up in dreams and/or in actual life without the patient knowing that there is any relation with past lives. Therefore it is not always necessary to tell the patient what in your understanding is happening. It is enough to help him trough that experience and to help him to release finally the anger, resentment, hate and suspiciousness. If the patient is open to the understanding of past lives then it can be helpful to explain what happens in your understanding and to lead your patient to a deeper understanding of his reactions and symptoms.
Example 2: This 46 year old man came to me with an enormous lack of self-confidence which was treated successfully with CCC 30K and 200K during almost one year. This made him aware of his non involvement in his family, so he tried to take more his responsibilities. Then he started to complain that he became restless, couldn’t find rest and had difficulties to finish his work what was contrary to his nature. His concentration was bad and when speaking he jumped from one subject to another. He had the impression that he was overwhelmed by too many things. This is a Lac maternum state. I prescribed him Lac maternum 30K every week during ten weeks. Then he announced me that he was in a bad state and that the remedy didn’t have a good effect on him. Let’s see what happened. He still feels hurried and very irritated. In his family there is a lot of aggression among the eldest children of 17 and 18 year and his wife and himself have many difficulties to handle this. My patient is jail keeper and is confronted every day more or less with violence. He thought that he was not aggressive at all, but now he feels a lot of aggression in many situations and is cursing and scolding at his children, saying things like: ‘They should cut off your head or throw you in the river with a heavy stone around your neck, etc.’ Everybody is upset and he feels as if he has not control. After these fits of anger, he closes up completely and is not accessible for anybody and goes outside for a walk. Finally he feels sad: ’How this can happen to me, how I can react like this, what is happening to me. That I have to experience this, it feels like an affliction.’ Then he feels guilty, realizing what he has done to his suns, etc. He wants to be alone, to go away. He feels persecuted by something and he doesn’t know why. He has the feeling that some one is walking behind him to put a stick between his legs. This is clearly not a Lac maternum state, but a Rhus tox state. The Lac maternum opened this layer. So not the homeopathic doctor is deciding what process the patient is going trough but the patient himself. He is opening up himself this process and shows the doctor what has to be treated. When I didn’t understand fully Lac maternum and the place of Rhus tox in the universal layers, I thought that there was some aspect of Lac maternum which had this violence. I saw several patients that after some time of treatment with Lac maternum became very aggressive, with cursing and even blaspheming, reproaching God to be set on earth. But this state was so completely different from the essence of Lac maternum that I couldn’t fit it in the picture and I was also puzzled by a symptom in the provings of Lac humanum by Jacqueline Houghton and Elisabeth Halahan, page 19, prover 04 (30C): ‘Desire to curse and swear recently which is most unusual.’ But this anger has nothing to do with traumas in the past and doesn’t fit with the symptoms of my patient here. The Lac maternum anger is much more an existential anger that is not accompanied with violence like in Rhus tox. So it is important if anger is coming up to differentiate the kind of anger and to see if this belongs to the Lac maternum state or if there is a shift to the Rhus tox. state.
My patient reacted nicely on Rhus tox and went through all the potencies with much benefit. His anger and violence disappeared completely.
Example 3: Another nice example of the Rhus tox state appearing after Lac maternum is this 34 year old lady. I saw her very infrequently. Six months before I prescribed her Lac maternum 30K every two weeks and since about two months she became very anxious only in the evening as soon as it starts to become dark and during the night in bed. She is fantasizing that the police will come to arrest her because someone has hidden drugs in her hotel room. She looks under her bed and in her suitcases to be sure that there are no drugs hidden. She is afraid to be put in jail and is suspicious to everybody. She is unable to read a newspaper or to watch TV; all that misery in the world makes her anxious. She has also a tremendous fear to travel with a plane. She feels constantly threatened, but in the morning all her anxieties are gone and she is wondering that she could be so stupid to think all these things. But on the other hand the Lac maternum helps her a lot, she feels strong and able to stand things that she doesn’t want. But her anxiety indicates clearly a Rhus tox state and I prescribe her Rhus toxicodendron 30K every week. The results are not spectacular, but slowly by slowly with the 30K, 200K and MK her anxieties disappear completely.
Example 4: This case is interesting because this 42 years old lady can feel so clearly what happens under the influence of Rhus tox and helps us to understand better this remedy. She got Saccharum officinale during 5 months and started to complain that she was so afraid for the outer world, being very suspicious and criticizing other people a lot. She had a tendency to destroy everything. She also had problems with money; she felt a strong resistance to earn her own life and to have a regular job. She wanted to be free. She felt very vulnerable. Under influence of Rhus toxicodendron 200K and later on MK she feels much better and her suspiciousness disappears completely. She feels more connected with the outer world. But on the XMK every 4 weeks her deeper problem is becoming to the surface. The first 3 months she is still in a marvelous state of happiness and balance. But then some days after the next dose of XMK she has the feeling to be locked up in her own house, her own street, feeling a enormous anger and hate. She has a strong tendency to take her belongings and to leave everything behind her. She has the impression to be locked up, that she is shouting, but nobody can hear her and there is no escape. This state lasts for 2 weeks after every Rhus toxicodendron XMK and then she is again in balance. With this experience she becomes aware that already during her whole life she feels locked up and is not really able to engage in a durable relationship or have a stable regular job, trying unconsciously to escape all the time from her imprisonment and to feel free.
Differential Diagnosis with Staphysagria
Here we have to talk also about Staphysagria. This remedy is currently known as a great remedy for suppressed anger and often given routinely. Staphysagria has suppressed anger with indignation and is in general a nice person. He never will have this kind of thoughts as had my patient in example 3. Rhus toxicodendron has also suppressed anger, because of a situation where he was powerless and had to undergo all the afflictions that people imposed on him, like sexual abuse, rape, imprisonment, torture, etc. The causation is severe trauma with impossibility to defend himself or to escape. That why we see so often the desire to escape in Rhus toxicodendron and the need to walk outside to feel better. Staphysagria is a weak type that has suppressed his anger because he accepts his situation of suppression easily. He feels weak before authorities and he cannot confront anybody and stand up for his own rights. He avoids conflicts and is not able to defend himself. He is a too sensitive person and when his anger comes out it is harmless; it is just shouting and he can even lose his voice or just imagine insults and tremble without expressing his anger. But be careful when Rhus toxicodendron expresses his anger. He can break down the whole house, break chairs, windows, whatever comes on his way. He can also have fantasies of killing, of destroying things, of harming people and he can be full of hate, what is a keynote for Rhus tox. He is not ready to forgive and has a deep seated feeling of being a victim. If both remedies are well understood it must be possible to differentiate them, I think.