Background: Toxicodendron pubescens is a botanical name of Rhus toxicodendron (Rhus tox). This plant is widely used in its homeopathically diluted form in the treatment of inflammatory and edematous conditions. In this study, various dilutions of Rhus tox including its crude form have been evaluated for their effects on immune response in the in vivo and in vitro experimental models.
Methods: Rhus tox in the form of mother tincture, 6cH, 30cH, 200cH and 1000cH dilutions was tested through in vivo models including sheep red blood cells (SRBCs) induced cellular and humoral immune response in C57/BL6 mice. The effects of Rhus tox dilutions were also evaluated in vitro on the functions of human polymorphonuclear (PMN) cells such as phagocytosis and intracellular killing of Candida albicans, chemotaxis, and reduction of nitroblue tetrazolium (NBT) dye.
Results: Rhus tox was found to intensify SRBCs induced antibody titer and delayed type hypersensitivity response in mice. Even higher dilutions such as 200cH and 1000cH were found to affect the immune response; however, the crude form, mother tincture, 6cH and 30cH dilutions revealed more potent effects than the 200cH and 1000cH dilutions. In in vitro assays, all the dilutions exerted stimulation of phagocytosis, candidacidal activity and chemotaxis of human PMN cells. The NBT dye reduction assay revealed that oxidative processes in the PMN cells are accelerated in the presence of Rhus tox. This study shows that Rhus tox possesses immunostimulatory activity in its crude form as well as in homeopathically diluted forms. These effects appeared to be concentration dependent as higher dilutions had less potent effects.