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Difference between Ruta and Rhus tox

Hi everyone,

I've had great difficulty in differentiating Ruta from Rhus tox in treating joint pain? Some of the modalities are very similar and also in the materia medica these 2 remedies seem to have somewhat similar pictures. For instance, I had a patient with hip pain due to trauma to ligaments and analyzing her case led me to Ruta and Rhus with equal relevance!! Kind of confusing...

Can someone help me better understand these 2 remedies and their clinical indications?

Thanks in advance,
  lhesabi on 2010-12-06
This is an internet forum. Assume posts are not from medical professionals.
If the patient is having constipated bowels go for Ruta. If he has peculiar eye symptoms go for Ruta.
If his first movement is very difficult, if he is worse after rest and better by movements go for Rhus Tox.
There are many who alternate these two remedies and get good results.
kadwa 8 years ago

Ruta patient is likely to have a prolapsed rectum....with other symptoms.

Rhus tox patient likely to have cracking of the jaw....with other symptoms.

Punkaj Varma
PANKAJ VARMA 8 years ago

Thanks very much for the reply.

But in terms of the nature of the pain, how else do you differentiate between these 2 remedies beside the agg. or ame. with motion?

lhesabi 8 years ago

I am sorry I missed this post. Differential materia medica is one of my specialities, having taught it to students for many years.

Rhus-tox belongs to the Anacardiaceae family and these plants share some common themes, which are best known in this particuluar remedy.

The main sensation of Rhus-tox (and its family members) is one of being Caught, being Stiff and Tight. It is a feeling of being stuck, like being jammed against something - sort of like a door stop. This causes a feeling of immobility, which provokes a desire to move. The restlessness of this remedy is very marked - there is an aggravation on the first movement which becomes amelioration as they continue to move.

So Rhus-tox injuries feel Stiff, Tight, Hard to move, with a constant desire to move the part (which they may call Stretching it).

Ruta on the other hand belongs to the Rutaceae plant family. The main sensation of this group is Squeezing. There are sensations of Twisting, Breaking, Being crushed, Compressed or Constricted. This creates in Ruta a Numb and Weak feeling. There is a strong desire to stretch like Rhus-tox, but rather than this being an expression of the desire to move, it is a desire to open the part up in the opposite direction (it is being squeezed remember). In fact, Ruta is strongly aggravated by Motion for the most part.

Other words that patients may use to describe their injury pains are Grasped, Wrenched, Clutched, Gripped,Shattered, Sprained. Some of these sensations may be confused with the Cactus family (grasped by a tight band and compressed and released alternatively).
brisbanehomoeopath 8 years ago

The case is one of trauma.

The symptom complex that has arisen due to the trauma needs to be treated.

His problems in other areas like eyes and rectum won't come into picture at this stage.

I agree with David's analysis.

gavinimurthy 8 years ago

Thanks so much Brisbanehomeopath and Murthy. This really helps.

Differentiating between these has been so confusing and these explanations surely help. :)

lhesabi 8 years ago

The guiding symptoms of Rhus Tox and Ruta are comparable.
The time modalities of Nux Vomica and Rhus Tox are comparable.
The motion modalities of Pulsatilla and Rhus Tox are comparable.
Generally other remedies that share common symptoms with Rhus work when rhus fails to work.
Murthy and his worthy friend are much holier than me. Still i am posting my opinion because i know this forum is not owned by 'sole contractors (self proclaimed) of classical homeopathy'.
Again in my humble opinion John Stanton and Sameer demonstrate excellent knowledge of classical homeopathy compared to those who are good at creating scenes and who 'seem to' have some hidden motives.
i also find merit in the opinion of Dr. Niel and Sameer that 'Sensations method' deviates from true classical homeopathy.
kadwa 8 years ago

How could i forget...
The thermal modalities of Calc Carb and Rhus are comparable.

Calc did wonders in many cases where i thought Rhus was indicated.
kadwa 8 years ago

Dear Kadwa,
You are doing a fine job. Each one of us has his own strengths. If some one failed to compliment you...don't let it un-nerve you. Your strengths and self-less efforts are well recognized.
Best wishes,
Punkaj Varma
PANKAJ VARMA 8 years ago

Kadwa why are you having a go at me? Have I done something to offend you?

All symptoms of Rhus-tox and Ruta that I have mentioned are found in the provings and standard materia medicas.

Liana simply asked for the difference between those two remedies, not the difference between any of the others you mentioned. I, in turn, simply answered her.

There is no need to personally attack me over such a trivial issue. No need for a personal attack at all. What is your hidden motive I wonder?

My presence on this forum seems to be very threatening to a number of people it seems.

How odd that 'classical' has become an insult. I don't actually call myself Classical because the meaning has been lost - in part because the use it is put to by untrained homoeopaths. Partly because many who call themselves Classical do not practice according to the Organon. I prefer to just say Professional since I am registered to practice in my country, and discuss my methods with each patient so they can decide if they wish to put themselves in my care.

Really, can we not have a discussion about homoeopathy without the derision and snide comments?

One cannot be truly humble when cloaking one's words in sarcasm and criticism.
brisbanehomoeopath 8 years ago

This is an portion of an article from David Little's website. I stumbled upon it looking for something about E.A. Farrington's philosophy of prescribing. It is quite interesting.


'There is much discussion about the three kingdoms of nature in contemporary Homoeopathy. Who was the first homoeopath to speak in terms of the mineral, plant and animal worlds? The answer is Samuel Hahnemann in The Chronic Diseases.

As a rule it was developed from their pure symptoms, that most of the earths, alkalis and acids, as well as the neutral salts composed of them, together with several of the metals, cannot be dispensed with in curing the almost innumerable symptoms of Psora. The similarity in nature of the leading antipsoric, sulphur, to phosphorus and other combustible substances from the vegetable and mineral kingdoms led to the use of the latter, and some animal substances naturally followed them by analogy, in agreement with experience.

The Chronic Diseases Their Peculiar Nature and Their Homœopathic Cure; S. Hahnemann (Theoretical Part), The Medicines, page 244.

In the above quote Hahnemann discusses the elements of the periodic table and explains how it is possible to use “analogy in agreement with experience” to uncover related properties in the plant and animal remedies. This established a system in which the symptoms of the remedies of the three kingdoms and their families can be compared. This method was taken up by Professor E. A. Farrington M.D. in his lectures at Hahnemann Medical College, which was founded by Hering.

“We are now ready to begin our study of the various drugs composing the Homoeopathic Materia Medica. For this purpose I have arranged the remedies in three grand divisions, according to the kingdom of nature from which they are derived.”

A Clinical Materia Medica, E. A. Farrington, Lecture I. page 14.

Hering so was impressed with Farrington’s knowledge of remedies that he said, “When I am gone Farrington must finish my materia medica”. It has been noted from an early period that each of the three kingdoms has its characteristic symptoms. In his lectures Dr. Farrington offers insights into the remedies of the animal world including the theme of “violence and intensity”. The great teacher wrote:

You will find, too, that these animal poisons are apt to affect the mind, especially the emotions. They arouse the lowest qualities in human nature, and produce a condition which is truly shocking. Some of them arouse the filthiest lust, the most intense anger, and passions of a kindred nature.
A Clinical Materia Medica, E. A. Farrington, Lecture I1, Animal Kingdom, page 25.

In Homoeopathy and Minerals Jan Scholten develops a series of themes for the elements of the periodic table that use the method of group analysis in a creative manner. For example, Jan’s essences for the Magnesium group are Pacifism; Aggression; Fear of loss; and Pain. His essences for the Muriaticums are Self pity; Care and Nurturing; Mother; Attention; and Self-awareness. By combining the essences found in Magnesium with Muriaticum, Jan has postulated the following essential themes of Magnesium Muriaticum: Aggression leads to the loss of care from the mother; aggression is necessary to forcefully ask for care. Other combinations might include aggression to get attention or any combination of the main components. These themes are based on a synthesis of the characteristics found in the two elements that lead to a more developed picture of the composite remedy.

In Homoeopathy and the Elements Scholten further expands on his method by introducing a series of themes related to the evolution of the 7 horizontal periods and 18 vertical groups of the periodic table. By using this method of group analysis and the synthetic approach he has assigned certain symptoms to proven and unproven remedies. For a more complete understanding of Jan’s methods please refer to the original publications.

The use of the synthetic prescription is not new to Homoeopathy. For example, Dr. Clarke said, “Bar-i. has been used empirically, especially in cases of glandular enlargement and new growths, on indications suggested by its two elements”. Clarke was showing that if one has a decent understanding of Baryta and Iodium it may be possible to prescribe the remedy, Baryta Iodata. Hering offered a similar opinion about the use of remedies like Calcarea Arsenicosa. Other hints are found scattered throughout out homoeopathic literature. Nevertheless, some have questioned the very origins of this method. Where did the idea of synthetic prescribing originate?

The earliest recorded experiment of a synthetic prescription was in 1843 when Samuel Hahnemann gave Robert Everest (Casebook DF-14, page 13) Cinnabaris (Red Sulfide of Mercury) based on the combined symptoms of Mercury and Sulphur found in two rubrics in Boenninghausen’s repertory. This is a clear example of keeping one’s eyes open for the possible combination of elements while analyzing the symptoms of the patient in our reference works. This means that the synthetic method has been with Homœopathy since the beginning!

Dr. Rajan Sankaran is well known for his contributions to Homoeopathy which includes the central disturbance, core delusions, compensation, dream interpretation, etc. His more recent offerings include Insight into Plants, Volumes I and II and The Vital Sensation. His latest works introduce a new approach to the patient’s main complaint that focuses on the “vital sensation”, which is present in the symptoms of the body as well as the mind. Through the generalization of each plant family he presents what he believes to be the important sensations found throughout the entire family. At the same time, he notes which miasm is the most similar to each species found in the family in accordance with his sequence of ten miasms running from the acute to the syphilitic.

On this basis Sankaran has developed a grid of botanical medicines that is similar to the system Scholten developed for the mineral remedies. This schematic presents the vital sensations of the families and the miasms of each individual plant in a manner that is easy for cross reference. By matching the vital sensation with the corresponding miasm one may locate a plant remedy for the patient. Dr. Sankaran is now applying his new method of case taking to the mineral, plant and animal kingdom.

The methods of Scholten and Sankaran are considered by many to be the cutting edge of contemporary Homoeopathy. Nevertheless, is the new “systems approach” being used by some in such a one sided manner that it is overturning the cardinal principles of our healing art? Are unproven remedies being used in a way that lacks the consistency of the classical standard? Has the inductive reasoning of the Organon been replaced by methods that are based mostly on speculation? Hahnemann felt that the study of the natural kingdoms could provide hints about the potential use of homoeopathic remedies but he opined that provings and symptoms brought out on patients under treatment were essential to the method. In Essays on a New Principle Hahnemann wrote.

I am far from denying, however, the many important hints the natural system may afford to the philosophical student of the materia medica and to him who feels it his duty to discover new medicinal agents; but these hints can only help to confirm and serve as a commentary to facts already known, or in the case of untried plants they may give rise to hypothetical conjectures, which are, however, far from approaching even to probability.

The Lesser Writings of Samuel Hahnemann; S. Hahnemann (Dudgeon Edition), Essay on a New Principle for ascertaining the Curative Powers of Drugs, page 257.

Drs. Scholten and Sankaran are very experienced classical homoeopaths but their experimental methods are being taken up by students and practitioners new to the art. This method is being used by persons that have not yet mastered the traditional methods in a reasonable manner. They do not understand how to use the repertory or materia medica properly. They depend mostly on flow charts of essences rather than rubrics of our reference works. Others think they have found a short cut to the “highest method” and don’t really need to use the repertory. Some of these persons cannot even recognize a simple Calcarea or Arsenicum case standing right in front of them yet they are trying to use unproven and lesser known remedies by a simple two dimensional grid on paper.

Many practitioners do not have the background to understand when these experimental methods are leading in the wrong direction. In some cases the use of these new methods has become a fad or fashion, which is the antithesis of the term “classical”. When the use of the systems approach is supported by the classic methods of the repertory and materia medica the outcome may add very valuable insights. When these new methods replace the traditional techniques they lack the stability and consistency of the classical practice. The truth is that a well constructed systems approach is based on the generalizations of the symptoms approach and is not a separate system. The symptom and system approach should be used together in a balanced and practical fashion.'
brisbanehomoeopath 8 years ago

Dear Punkaj

Whatever compliments i recieve i simply pass on to people like you, Murthy, Rishi and others whose posts help innumerable people like me understand homeopathy. i don't deserve any recognition.
If someone fails in delivering relief to his patient he should re-read the Materia Medica 100 times instead of taking recourse to non-proven methods like Sensations method.
My personal identity is known to none here, so there is no question of taking anything personally.
i used strong words to express my dis-pleasure at Sensations method and not due to not getting any recognition.
This website enjoys widest participation because here members are not given differential status like some other website.
i am happy that you are in good health now.

Best Regards.
kadwa 8 years ago

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