Last modified on January 7th, 2019


Homeopathic remedy Carbo Vegetabilis from A Manual of Homeopathic Therapeutics by Edwin A. Neatby, comprising the characteristic symptoms of homeopathic remedies from clinical indications, published in 1927.

      Vegetable charcoal. It is generally made from poplar, beech or birch wood,and raised to the third potency by trituration.


      CHARCOAL has the property of absorbing gases in its interstices,and thus ordinarily contains quantities of oxygen which, when the charcoal is brought into contact with decomposing organic matter, is released, and oxidizes the putrefying mass, while at the same time the charcoal adsorbs the gases that are formed by the oxydizing process. It has no direct action on the microbes of putrefaction, but favours the development of the aerobic organism at the expense of the anaerobic. Charcoal adsorbs, besides gases, proteins, alkaloids, and the colouring matter of plants. It passes through the stomach and intestines unabsorbed and but rarely causes any mechanical irritation.

It will be seen from the above that in its original state carbo vegetabilis has no physiological effect on the organism. To obtain this it is necessary that the crude substance should be triturated according to Hahnemann’s directions. It then becomes medicine of great power.


      In its provings symptoms are developed which come on slowly, last a long time, and express a profound influence on the organism. They are symptoms of decay and putrefaction, of depressed vitality and sluggish circulation. The venous side of the circulation is the part most affected, the veins lose their contractile power and are distended, the capillaries are dilated and engorged with blood, the right side of the heart acts feebly, varicosis occurs in the limbs. With this collection of blood in the venous system the arterial system becomes depleted, the arteries are contracted over their diminished contents and the pulse is small and feeble. The stagnating blood on the venous side of the circulation is deficient in oxygen, and consequently the tissues are insufficiently nourished. Inflammations and ulcerations assume a low grade and tend to break down and become gangrenous. Repair is slow. Burning pains are felt in inflamed parts as well as in veins, capillaries and skin. The deficient arterial circulation causes the patient to feel cold, and the surface is actually cold-icy-cold very often. The hands and feet are cold, especially there is coldness of the knees; the ears, nose and face are cold, a condition of collapse may be present when even the breath is cold, the tongue cold, and the patient is covered with a cold, sweat. There is often internal burning with with external coldness. Oozing of blood takes place from the relaxed veins and engorged capillaries, and there results a passive haemorrhage of dark- coloured blood with little power to form clots. Blood oozes from inflamed surfaces and ulcers, from the lungs, stomach, uterus and bladder.

Mind-Parallel to the sluggish circulation is the sluggish mental condition. The head is confused, thinking is difficult, ideas flow slowly. there is great in difference to everything, to pleasant as well as to unpleasant circumstances, the patient feels benumbed and stupid. Sometimes, however, he is anxious and restless, especially at night, when he is afraid of ghosts. He may become excited, irritable and fearful. Vertigo often occurs associated with flatulence, and is brought on or made worse by drinking alcohol.

The head feels full, turgid and heavy as lead. There may be a rush of blood to the head, possibly with epistaxis. Painful throbbing is felt in the temples and a pressure over the eyes as of the head were bound with a pressure over the eyes as if the head were bound with a pressure over the eyes as of the head were bound with a band, relieved by counter-pressure; fulness and a pressing pain are felt at the vertex. Severe pain occurs at the occiput and at the nape of the neck, or a dull pain at the occiput, which seems to draw back the head so that it cannot be lifted from the pillow. Painful throbbing is felt in the head during inspiration. the scalp is sore and itches. All kinds of headache are made worse by exertion and by moving the head.

The eyes look dull and lustreless. The upper eyelids feel heavy as if a heavy weight is resting upon them, and the margins of the eyelids itch.

Ears-There are transient roaring and ringing in the ears, which feel swollen and sore and as if they are closing up. Discharge takes place from the left ear, and the glands behind the ear are swollen.

The face looks ;pale, hippocratic, with pointed nose and cold sweat, in cases in which there is collapse. At other times the face is purple and dusky, and any stimulating food or drink will cause it to flush. The maxillary bones are sore, the upper lip quivers, is swollen, and is the seat of jerking pains. Small, watery blisters form on the lips. Epistaxis is frequent, and there is constant irritation to sneeze, with crawlings and ticklings in the nose.

Digestion.-The teeth rapidly decay and the gums bleed and recede from the teeth, chewing is painful and there are tearing pains in the molars. The tongue has a dark brown or heavy white coating, vesicles round its edges smart and burn, there is increase of saliva or alternate dryness and salivation. Thirst is not relieved by drinking water, the taste is bitter or acid. Thick, yellow mucus collects in the throat and the posterior nares; the throat feels constricted so that swallowing food is difficult, and swallowing, coughing and blowing the nose cause pain in the posterior nares as if they were sore. Appetite is wanting, the patient is averse from meat, fat things and milk, and longs for coffee, acids, sweet and salt things (graphites has aversion from salt and sweets). Almost any kind of food causes distress in the stomach, flatus accumulates and the patient is always belching rancid or empty eructations or sour waterbrash. Belching relieves the stomach distress and also other symptoms, such as headache and rheumatic pains. Burning and griping occur in the stomach, and the epigastric region is very sensitive. The gastric symptoms are aggravated by wine, coffee, too much milk or butter, fats in general, fish, especially if tainted, ice-water, and flatulent vegetables. Haematemesis from the stomach sometimes occurs, and then the patient is collapsed with thready, intermittent pulse, cool breath, and cold surface. Flatus is apt to collect under the short ribs, and pressing, pinching pains are felt in the region of the spleen. The abdomen is bloated, sore and hard, and there is flatulent colic, made worse by the least food, and relieve4d by passing flatus up or down. The flatus passed is hot, moist and offensive, and an acrid, corrosive moisture escapes from the rectum. The stools are loose rather than constipated, and may be foetid, watery, and bloody, and passed with burning and tenesmus. When dysenteric the stools are terribly offensive and cadaverous smelling, sometimes involuntary, and they are enveloped by filaments of yellow mucus. The parts round the anus are excoriated, and there is protrusion of blue haemorrhoids which burn, are offensive, and may suppurate.

The urine is generally dark and scanty with a thick, white sediment, but it may be profuse and colourless. Heavy, painful pressure is felt in the bladder, with a frequent urging to urinate, which gives but scanty result.

Sexual.-In the male the genitals hang down relaxed; semen and prostatic fluid escape easily and, maybe, involuntarily. In women there are dragging down and a feeling of weight in the hypogastrium, the menses are too early and too profuse and are preceded by sharp pains in the uterine region. In association with this is a nervous, fidgety sensation in the thigh. The menstrual blood is acrid, pale and thin or thick. An excoriating leucorrhoea precedes and follows menstruation and is worse from moving about. Varicosis, and red sore, aphthous ulcerations on the pudenda are common. When there is menorrhagia there is burning pain across the sacrum and the haemorrhage is passive. Labour pains are week and cease because of uterine atony. The patient is very debilitated during nursing, and lumps form in the mammae, with burning pains and induration of the axillary glands.

Respiratory System.-The larynx feels raw and there is hoarseness with a deep, rough voice, which fails altogether if exerted, and is worse in the evening and in damp evening air. There is aphonia in the morning. The trachea feels dry and swollen, breathing is difficult and rattling, the patient wants to be fanned. Burning, as from glowing coals, is felt in the chest and a sensation of weakness and great fatigue (stan.). Cough is in hard spells, at times, dry. at the times with purulent, slimy, tenacious, offensive sputum that tastes sour or salt (lyc., phos., sep.). Cough is excited by tickling in the larynx, or by irritation as from sulphur fumes, and may be accompanied by vomiting. With paroxysms of violent cough there may be haemoptysis.

Circulation.-The pulse is thread-like, weak, intermittent; the face and limbs are cold and covered with cold sweat, and there is cyanosis from stagnation of blood in the capillaries. There may be palpitation. Pulsation is felt over the whole body and flushes of heat mount upwards and end in a sweat. The limbs feel bruised, are numb and cold, easily go to sleep when lain upon; drawing, paralytic pains are common, and the legs, above the ankles especially, may be the seat of indolent varicose ulcers with burning pains. A gangrenous condition may be present.

Cold sweat occurs on the limbs, which between the toes is excoriating. The cervical glands are swollen and painful, especially those near the nape, and tearing and drawing pains are felt in the neck and down the back; in the hollow of the back they are very severe and cause the patient to be unable to sit. A sore pain is located beneath the coccyx.

Skin.-Besides the burning ulcers the principal skin lesions are a fine, moist rash, with burning at spots where there is no eruption, and purple, congested areas of the parts lain upon, in exhausting diseases.

A peculiarity about the fever is that the patient wants to drink cold water during the chill (compare ignatia), but when the hot stage comes on thirst ceases. Sometimes the chill is one- sided. There is easy sweating, especially about the head and face. Exhausting night and morning sweats are noticeable in hectic fever.


      Charcoal is used internally in bulk in the form of powder or lozenges, in doses of one or two drachms, to remove flatulence by its power of absorption of gases, and also in cases of poisoning by alkaloids or other vegetable poisons to delay their absorption into the blood. Externally it is employed as a deodorant in cases with foul-smelling secretions from ulcers, cancerous sores, &c., and for this purpose is added to poultices or used dry in bags of fine cloth or muslin.

CARBO VEGETABILIS is a remedy whose dynamic action covers the same ground as its chemical action but goes far beyond it.

Digestion.-Thus it is one of the principal remedies for flatulent dyspepsia, due to the fermentation on food that has stayed long in an atonic stomach, the eructations being foul and acid, the stomach painfully distended, with the frequent concomitance of a diarrhoea of foetid, slimy, dark yellow or brown stools. This form of dyspepsia is brought on by dissipation, or indulgence in rich foods, especially fatty foods and wine; milk always causes flatulence. This drug antidotes the effects of putrid meats or fish, rancid fat, salt or salt meats; it heals inflamed, bleeding gums from the abuse of mercury. It is useful in chronic ulceration of the stomach and as a palliative in malignant disease of that organ.

Fevers.-Carbo vegetabilis is one of the first medicines to be considered in cases of sepsis, in low forms of fever, such as typhoid fever, yellow fever, cholera, puerperal fever and gangrene. In these states it is indicated by putridity of the discharges, haemorrhages, sunken features, sallow complexion, and cold and blue surfaces- a condition of more or less collapse.

It is also indicated in diseases when there is a lack of reaction (opium), in low states of the vital powers where the venous systems is at the same time engorged; thus it is useful for children whose vitality is lowered after any exhausting disease, such as one of the exanthemata or cholera infantum, who are anaemic from the same cause; also for abscesses that have a slow reaction and offensive discharges, for ulcers with putrid, thin, blood-stained discharges, especially if they are implanted on varicose veins; for offensive otorrhoea left behind after measles or scarlet fever and for debility ensuing on nursing.

Carbo vegetabilis is indicated for haemorrhage of a passive character where dark-coloured blood oozes away continually, such haemorrhages as occur from uterine atony in connection with abortion, confinement, or menstruation; the blood in these cases may be putrid, coming in small clots and mixed with a considerable amount of fluid. Or there may be passive haemorrhage from ulcers or operation wounds, from the lungs in advanced cases of phthisis, from the gums in scurvy, and into the skin in purpura. In all these cases carbo vegetabilis is likely to be required. It is frequently called for in epistaxis, especially if recurrent, and in persons who have been overtaxed or have had a long debilitating disease, or are advanced in years.

Respiratory Diseases.-Carbo vegetabilis is useful in respiratory affections where there is a hacking cough which is dry, although rattling can be heard under the sternum. Perhaps after prolonged coughing a quantity of purulent, slimy, offensive sputum is raised. The cough distresses the patient exceedingly, it causes painful stitches through the head, the chest feels sore and weak. The drug is valuable in chronic laryngeal catarrh of old people, with rawness and soreness of the larynx and hoarseness worse in the evening and from using the voice, in chronic bronchitis of old people when there is burning in the chest, strangulation on coughing and when the cough is relieved by warmth-and in the last stage of pneumonia when there are marked dyspnoea, cold breath, great general coldness and a tendency to collapse. In all respiratory complaints requiring carbo vegetabilis the patient feels he cannot get enough air, he wants windows wide open and desires someone to fan him. It is recommended by Kent in the early stage of whooping-cough when no other remedy is plainly indicated and when there is vomiting and the cough causes a sore pain in the chest and pain in the “base of the brain.” The attacks of asthma, for which it is useful, wake the patient in the night, come on during every spell of warm, damp weather and are accompanied by occipital headache and the wish to be famed.

The carbo vegetabilis patient is the subject of chronic catarrhs which, if forcibly checked, cause congestions of other parts, ex. gr., if a chronic nasal discharge is checked by the patient getting chilled a violent headache is the result; it is most often occipital but may be of the whole head; it is worse from pressure, so that the patient cannot bear his hat on, yet at the same time the head is very sensitive to cold, and he wishes it to be warmly wrapped up (sil.).

Genito-urinary.-In women carbo vegetabilis is indicated in parturition when the patient comes to it weakened by severe illness or debilitated by loss of fluids. The pains cease or are weak. It is useful for lumps in the breast with indurated axillary glands (chronic mastitis) and in chronic of the bladder in cold people.

Circulation.-Carbo vegetabilis is a good remedy when the heart is failing from fatty degeneration, and where there is want of compensation, with dyspnoea, cold sweat and general coldness, a dusky, purplish countenance easily flushed by taking alcohol, and with a desire to be fanned. It is useful in functional disorders of the heart due to flatulence, and flatulence is a common accompaniment of asthma and cardiac affections for which carbo vegetabilis is suitable.

It has been recommended in the metastases of mumps. Carbo vegetabilis antidotes the pathogenetic effects of cinchona, lachesis and mercurius.


      1) Desire to be fanned rapidly (stomach and respiratory complaints).

2) Burning internally, cold externally; burning characterizes many of the carbo vegetabilis pains.

3) Surface cold; dusty, blue nails, dilated capillaries and veins, cold sweat. Numbness of parts lain on.

4) Haemorrhages, passive oozing of dark thin blood.

5) States of collapse, surgical shock.

6) Flatulent dyspepsia, flatulence (mostly in the stomach), worse on lying down.

7) Septic conditions, putrid discharges.

8) Conditions where there is lack of reaction.

9) Low states of vitality with venous engorgement.

10) Cases where disease seems to have taken hold of the system by reason of the depressing influence of some prior illness.

11) Old people.

12) Children, after exhausting diseases.

13) Ailments from abuse of quinine, especially from suppression of chill and fever.

14) Fever: tertian type, beginning 9 to 10 a.m. Thirst in cold stage, none in hot.


      From eating cold air from a warm room (cough); from hot, damp air (hoarseness and asthma); evening, warmth (headache and stomach symptoms); brandy and wine, butter, pork, rich food, abuse of quinine and mercury; morning on waking (mental) ; pressure of hat (headache).


      From eructations, warm covering (headache), being fanned.

About the author

Edwin Awdas Neatby

Edwin Awdas Neatby 1858 – 1933 MD was an orthodox physician who converted to homeopathy to become a physician at the London Homeopathic Hospital, Consulting Physician at the Buchanan Homeopathic Hospital St. Leonard’s on Sea, Consulting Surgeon at the Leaf Hospital Eastbourne, President of the British Homeopathic Society.

Edwin Awdas Neatby founded the Missionary School of Homeopathy and the London Homeopathic Hospital in 1903, and run by the British Homeopathic Association. He died in East Grinstead, Sussex, on the 1st December 1933. Edwin Awdas Neatby wrote The place of operation in the treatment of uterine fibroids, Modern developments in medicine, Pleural effusions in children, Manual of Homoeo Therapeutics,

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