Rhus Toxicodendron

Rhus Toxicodendron (Toxicodendron rhamnoides) is a plant native to Europe. It was first described in 1822 by German botanist Carl Linnaeus. It has been used medicinally ever since. There are many different varieties of Rhus Toxicodendron, but they all have one thing in common: They contain the same active ingredient – tetrodotoxin or TTT for short. TTT is a naturally occurring toxin that causes symptoms similar to those caused by poison ivy, poison oak, snake venom and other poisonous plants.

The plant itself is not dangerous unless ingested. However, it can cause severe allergic reactions if inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

If swallowed, the toxins can enter the bloodstream where they may affect your nervous system causing convulsions and death within hours.

How is Rhus Toxicodendron Used?

Homeopathic preparations containing Rhus Toxicodendron are often prescribed to relieve pain, fever, coughs and colds. These medicines are usually made from the dried leaves of the plant. Some people use them to treat allergies and asthma. Other uses include treating arthritis, depression, headaches and migraines.

The plant is also used in herbal medicine. The leaves may be used to make a tea or ointment.

There are also some health products on the market that contain purified forms of the toxin. They are often sold as anti-static pills for people with hair loss, skin and other ailments thought to be caused by “static electricity”. They are applied to the scalp to deliver the toxin.

Who Makes These Medicines?

Rhus toxicodendron is found in many over-the-counter and prescription medicines as well as health food store products. It is marketed under different names including:

Rhus toxicodendron

Rhus tox

Poison oak

Poison sumac



Irritant poison (irritating poison)

Inactive plant material (IPM)

What are the Possible Side-Effects of Rhus toxicodendron Medicines?

Sources & references used in this article:

In vivo study of the anti-inflammatory effect of Rhus toxicodendron by AL Dos Santos, FF Perazzo, LGV Cardoso… – Homeopathy, 2007 – Elsevier

Clinical and immunologic features of systemic contact dermatitis from ingestion of Rhus (Toxicodendron) by SH Oh, CR Haw, MH Lee – Contact Dermatitis, 2003 – Wiley Online Library

Rhus (toxicodendron) dermatitis by TL Tanner – Primary Care: Clinics in Office Practice, 2000 – primarycare.theclinics.com