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The poison oak or poison ivy (Rhus radicans), so abundant in the damp eastern forests, is feared as much by Indians as by whites. When obliged to approach it or work in its vicinity, the Cherokee strives to conciliate it by addressing it as "My friend" (hi'gïnaliï). If poisoned by it, he rubs upon the affected part the beaten flesh of a crawfish.
Poison ivy and oak are restless plants that spread over countrysides. They do not simply stay in one place but cover increasingly more and more territory, either trailing along the ground or climbing up trees or other plants. People who need Rhus tox are similarly restless, always on the go, both during waking hours and while tossing and turning during sleep. The poison ivy or poison oak vine climbs on various trees or other plants for better exposure to the sun, but unlike some vines that strangle its prey, it may slightly stunt the other's growth, but it won't kill it. Likewise, people who need Rhus tox may suffer from various symptoms, but rarely will they have symptoms that will lead to death.
Although this plant is (im)famous for causing irritating skin rashes in most humans who make contact with it, other ani- mals do not have a similar sensitivity. Horses, mules, and goats eat the plant, and birds feast on its berries.
A pecularity of this plant is that the active agent that causes skin irritation, toxicodendric acid, increases in potency at night, during damp or cloudy weather, and in June and July. Some of these unique characteristics are mimicked in those people who need homeopathic doses of this plant: their symptoms are noticeably worse at night and in cold, damp weather. One can thus wonder if it should also be indicated more often during June and July (it is not listed in Kent's Repertory under "worse in summer"). Rhododendron , which is so similar to Rhus tox , is listed in Synthetic Repertory under Worse in Summer.