What Is Rhus Tox?

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Rhus tox, also known as Rhus toxicodendron, is a homeopathic remedy that is derived from poison ivy. Its botanical name is Toxicodendron pubescens. Like all homeopathic remedies, it is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and has limited evidence to support its benefits. However, that does not mean it is not useful in certain treatments.

This article will discuss what Rhus tox is used for, its side effects, and its effectiveness in treating certain conditions.

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What Is Rhus Tox Used For?

Homeopathy was conceived in Germany 200 years ago. It sources remedies from plants, minerals, and animals. Rhus tox is used as an anti-inflammatory to treat certain conditions.

A 2016 study reports that Rhus tox can be used for skin irritations and arthritis pain.

Arthritis Pain

Arthritis is a chronic condition that affects 58.5 million people in the United States. Conventional medicine is generally used to treat arthritis symptoms, but some people turn to homeopathic remedies if traditional therapy is not effective or has too many side effects.

The research on Rhus tox's effectiveness in treating arthritis is mixed.

A 2012 study supported its use. This study on rats showed that homeopathic dilutions of Rhus tox decreased arthritis lesions, improved pain thresholds, reduced inflammatory markers, and improved body weight.

An older study from 2000, which involved human participants, evaluated the use of a homeopathic gel to treat osteoarthritis. The homeopathic gel contained Rhus tox, Symphytum officinale (comfrey), and Ledum palustre (marsh-tea). Compared to the use of a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) gel called piroxicam, the homeopathic gel was similarly effective, but this could have been a placebo effect.

Since this homeopathic gel contained multiple ingredients, there is no clear support for Rhus tox as an effective component.

Poison Ivy Dermatitis Prevention

A rash caused by poison ivy is itchy and painful. Avoidance of the plant is the best way to prevent poison ivy dermatitis. However, homeopathic treatment with Rhus tox could be an option when that is not possible.

A study done by a homeopathic healthcare provider found that treatment with homeopathic poison ivy (HPI) successfully prevented or minimized poison ivy dermatitis. The study found greater success when HPI was given one month before poison ivy exposure. It also found that the participants seemed to have protection for about one month after they stopped taking HPI.

It's important to note that this wasn't a randomized control study, which is the gold standard in research.

Possible Side Effects

As a homeopathic remedy, Rhus tox is not regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Therefore it is up to healthcare providers to be aware of side effects to avoid misprescribing.

Any homeopathic remedy has the potential for an allergic reaction, adverse side effects, or negative interactions with other medications. Speak with a healthcare provider before starting Rhus tox or any homeopathic remedy.

Is Rhus Tox Effective?

Rhus tox may be an effective treatment for poison ivy prevention and arthritis pain. There are studies that support its use. However, there are not many studies, and some of them do not use human participants.

Sources and What to Look For

Rhus tox is sold as an over-the-counter (OTC) homeopathic remedy. It is sold in pill, liquid drop, or gel form.

Homeopathic remedies are highly diluted forms of the source. They are typically considered to be safe alternatives to allopathic medicine (regarded as traditional medicine) but are not regulated by the FDA. Since they are not regulated, there is no guarantee that the homeopathic remedy is actually what is described.

Also studies have shown that a majority of supplement labels may not contain everything included in the supplement, including toxins.


Rhus tox is a homeopathic remedy that comes from the poison ivy plant. It has been used to treat arthritis pain and prevent poison ivy rashes. As a homeopathic remedy, there are no listed side effects. There is research to support its use, but the results are mixed. Homeopathic remedies are not as tightly regulated by the FDA. Therefore, their ingredients and claims cannot be supported.

A Word From Verywell

Homeopathic remedies like Rhus tox have not been well researched. However, this does not mean they are not effective. More research needs to be completed to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of Rhus tox. Talk to your healthcare provider before taking Rhus tox or any other homeopathic remedy, as it may interact with other medications or conditions.

7 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Patil CR, Salunkhe PS, Gaushal MH, Gadekar AR, Agrawal AM, Surana SJ. Immunomodulatory activity of Toxicodendron pubescens in experimental modelsHomeopathy. 2009;98(3):154-159. doi:10.1016/j.homp.2009.02.011

  2. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Homeopathy: what you need to know.

  3. Lee KJ, Yeo MG. Homeopathic Rhus toxicodendron has dual effects on the inflammatory response in the mouse preosteoblastic cell line MC3T3-e1Homeopathy. 2016;105(1):42-47. doi:10.1016/j.homp.2015.09.004

  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Arthritis.

  5. Patel DR, Ansari IA, Kachchhi YN, et al. Toxicodendron pubescens retains its anti-arthritic efficacy at 1M, 10M and CM homeopathic dilutionsHomeopathy. 2012;101(3):165-170. doi:10.1016/j.homp.2012.02.007

  6. van Haselen RA, Fisher PAG. A randomized controlled trial comparing topical piroxicam gel with a homeopathic gel in osteoarthritis of the kneeRheumatology. 2000;39(7):714-719. doi:10.1093/rheumatology/39.7.714

  7. Signore RJ. Prevention of poison ivy dermatitis with oral homeopathic Rhus toxicodendronDermatology Online Journal. 2017;23(1). doi:10.5070/D3231033686

By Patty Weasler, RN, BSN
Patty is a registered nurse with over a decade of experience in pediatric critical care. Her passion is writing health and wellness content that anyone can understand and use.