SULPHUR

Last modified on January 5th, 2019

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

      Trituration of the “flowers” (sublimed sulphur). Trituration of precipitated sulphur (milk of sulphur). Tincture made from a saturated solution of sulphur in absolute alcohol constitutes the mother tincture from which attenuations are made.

INTRODUCTION

      Sulphur is an elementary substance of atomic weight approximating 32, which occurs in nature as a yellow, brittle, crystalline solid; it burns with a blue flame in the air with the formation of sulphur dioxide, SO2. It is a constituent of every from of protoplasm.

PATHOGENESIS.

      TAKEN in mass, sulphur is an inert powder and the greater part escapes unchanged with the stools, but some of it forms sulphides, mostly sodium sulphide, in the alkaline fluids of the intestines and these cause irritation of the mucous membrane, with consequent increased peristalsis and mild purgation. In some instances inflammation has been set up, with resultant pain and mucus and bloody evacuations.

some of the sulphides are absorbed and destroyed in the organism with liberation of sulphuretted hydrogen which escapes by the lungs and skin, giving the characteristic odour of rotten eggs to the breath and perspiration; others of the sulphides from sulphates and are excreted in the urine.

Sulphur has been extensively proved in doses varying from the crude substance to the higher attenuations.

PROVINGS

      Sing.- The provings show that it has a deep- seated action on the body generally, but especially on the skin and on mucous membrane where it adjoins the skin at the muco- cutaneous orifices of the body. On all parts of the skin eruptions are produced which are mainly papular, or papulo- vesicular and resemble very much the small elevations caused by the Acarus scabiei. Like them they are often intensely irritating. They occur on the backs of the hands and between the fingers, on the face and scalp, between the folds of the skin at the joints, in the groins and intergluteal folds, and, in less degree, on any other part of the body. The eruptions need not always be papular, patches of erythema may be seen, and also pustules and vesicles, but the general trend is towards the papular form. They itch, sometimes violently, and the itching is allayed by scratching, and gives place to sore pain. There may be much itching of the skin without any eruption being present. Skin symptoms occurred in nearly every prover, and the skin, with its prolongation at the muco-cutaneous outlet, is above all other parts of the body the special side of the action of sulphur.

Eyes.- The conjunctiva, a modification of the epidermis,is affected by sulphur, with the result that the eyelids are reddened,especially at the canthi, and the ocular and palpebral conjunctivae are injected and traversed by dilated vessels, with the accompaniment of burning, itching, smarting, and a feeling as of grit or sand under the lids.

Nose.- The nostrils are sore, have sore pimple on them, and a thin, fluid, acrid discharge renders the upper lip swollen and excoriated. The nose itself is swollen and red, notably at the tip. The lips are dry, red and surrounded by papules and pustules, and aphthae form on the inner surface.

Ears.- The external auditory meatus is inflamed, and bathed with muco-pus, which may excite and eruption on the reddened and swollen auricle.

Orifices.- There is much irritation about the anus, which pouts and discloses piles beneath a reddened and inflamed mucous membrane. The urinary meatus looks red and itches, there may be inflammation and swelling of the prepuce, phimosis with retention of foetid pus, offensive sweat on the scrotum, which is the seat of great irritation, and excoriation between the thighs. Excoriation, troublesome itching and burning sensations and papular eruptions occur about the female genital organs, and violent burning is felt in the vagina. Sulphur reddens and inflames all these orifices and causes them to itch and burn.

The action of sulphur is not limited to the outer coverings of the body, though in them its influence is pre-eminent, it also affects the venous system, especially the portal venous system, and the lymphatic glandular system. In fact, it profoundly influences the whole body, disturbs and alters metabolism, modifies the functions of organs and affects the nervous system. It does this in ways that are not easily traced or defined, it causes changes of a slowly progressing and chronic character, and these hidden disorders usually manifest themselves sooner or later by some kind of eruption on the skin.

THERAPEUTICS.

      The skin eruptions caused by sulphur led Hahnemann to propound his doctrine of psora. He says, in his preface to sulphur, in the “Materia Medica Pura,” “though sulphur has been employed for many centuries, by medical and non-medical persons, in the itch in workers in wool, yet none of them ever observed that the beneficial effects they saw from its use in the eruption of itch were effected by sulphur by similarity of action and homoeopathy.” The workers in wool referred to were evidently the subject of contagion by the Acarus scabiei. Hahnemann knew that the “itch” had its origin in small living insects or mites (vide Haehle’s “Life of Hahnemann,” p. 159, vol,ii), and its contagious character and its curability by sulphur were generally acknowledged. Hahnemann carefully distinguishes between the sensations accompanying the skin eruption produced by sulphur and those caused by the “itch.” and notes that whereas the irritating skin eruptions of the “itch” burn after being scratched, those produced by sulphur are painful and sore after scratching but do not burn. He disclaims the notion that sulphur can produce the ” itch ” and is concerned only to show that sulphur is a simile to whatever causes it. As there are many diseased states of the body which have as one of their manifestations eruptions on the skin somewhat similar in appearance to that caused by the acarus scabiei, it was natural that Hahnemann should think them due to the same cause and should class them all together as the result of the same contagion, which he called psora, the contagion of ” itch.” The term psora thus came to connote in Hahnemann’s mind not only the disease which we know to be a local one due to the acarus, but also a multitude of chronic complaints of a constitutional nature owing their origin to an infection (” miasm”) and displaying disorders of the skin on the ” itch ” type. Psora thus becomes one of the triad which in his view comprised all chronic diseases of an infectious of ” miasmatic” origin, the triad being syphilis, gonorrhoea (sycosis), and psora. Hahnemann found that the presence of one or other of these three infections of a hindrance to the favourable action of the properly selected homoeopathic medicine and that it is necessary to give something to rid the patient of his constitutional taint before the simile will work effectually. This he attempted to do by using medicines, selected according to the homoeopathic law, which he designated antisyphilitic, antisycotic or antipsoric as the case might be. The greatest though not the only antipsoric is sulphur. We now know that Hahnemann was mistaken in classifying scabies with a multitude of other diseases of altogether different nature as arising from one infection, psora, but he was right in ascribing many chronic complaints to a general infection which needed to be antagonized before more localized affections could be cured. It was, of course, too wide a generalization to place all chronic infections not syphilitic or gonorrhoeal under one term, psora. We known that there are many chronic infections, such as tuberculous, vaccinal, typhoid, Bacillus coli, streptococcal, staphylococcal, leprous and others. But Hahnemann’s main theory is a sound one, and in this, as in so many other instances, his ideas were greatly in advance of his time.

It remains true that sulphur is the best remedy for many of the chronic diseases that Hahnemann regarded as the outcome of ” psora” ; it is also a polychrest of the highest order. From the constant employment of sulphur for more then one hundred years there have been evolved some general ideas with regard to the drug, which it is useful to be acquainted with before considering in detail its application to the cure of the various disorders for which it is suitable. (a) It has been observed that sulphur is more likely to be indicated for diseased occurring in persons of a certain constitutional temperament. The sulphur subject is generally spare, with stooping shoulders and an inclination to sit and walk bent forward. he is generally of fair complexion, with sandy or red hair and blue or grey eyes. The face is often delicate-looking, with long, thin eyelashes and bluish veins. The orifices, viz., the eyelids, lips, nostrils and meatus of the ears, are of a bright red colour. The skin looks dirty and is prone to eruptions. The sulphur patient dislikes washing, and complaints are worse from washing and bathing. He cannot stand long, standing tires him and he must sit down. It a child he is emaciated, looks old in the face,has a large abdomen and dry, flabby skin. (b) A marked feature of the drug is the burning character of its sensations. There are burning on the vertex, in the eyes, in the face, burning discharge from the nose, burning pain in the tongue, burning vesicles in the mouth, burning and dryness with the sore throat, burning in the stomach, rectum, anus, urethra and vagina; burning in the chest, rising to the face, between the scapulae (lyc., phos.), of the hands and and feet (puts them out of bed to cool); hot flushed and burning skin of the whole body. (c) Sulphur is recommended to be given when seemingly indicated remedies fail to act; this is on the supposition that there is some hindrance due to the presence of a latent disease, in Hahnemann’s language of ” psora.” Sulphur is not the only remedy, but one amongst many that might be suitable. Symptoms of sulphur should be present to warrant its employment. (d) In the same category is the administration of this remedy in cases that are always relapsing, the patient seems to get well, or nearly well, when the whole trouble starts again. (e) Irregular distribution of the blood, congestion of single parts; determination of blood to the head with cold feet and hot flushes are very common in patients requiring sulphur. (f) A sinking, hungry feeling in the abdomen coming on about 11 a.m. is very characteristic of this drug. (g) The prevalence of skin eruptions, boils and redness and soreness of muco-cutaneous orifices, with their itching relieved by scratching, has already been mentioned. (h) Many complaints requiring sulphur come on at night and from becoming warm in bed. (i) The patients feel best in an even temperature, and are uncomfortable in either heat or cold. (j) The discharges are foul smelling and acrid, burning the parts over which they pass. (k) The sulphur patient has a peculiar diarrhoea, which has been called the “sulphur diarrhoea,” it comes on early in the morning and drives him out or bed.(l) The veins are relaxed and the venous circulation is sluggish (on this account the skin repairs badly and bedsores easily form) or the skin becomes indurated and chronically inflamed from pressure. (m) The sulphur patient emaciates in all parts except the abdomen, which is distended. (n) Standing is a particularly trying position, the patient must continually move about or sit down.

Mind.- In the mental and moral spheres he is a very selfish person, is entirely wrapped up in himself with no thought of anyone’s wishes than his own; he is ill-humoured, morose, peevish, and quarrelsome; he is idle,has an aversion from all business, left things go, neglects his person, is dirty and dislikes washing and bathing; there is weakness of memory, especially for proper names, confusion of mind and avoidance of conversation; or the patient may be in a melancholy mood, continually dwelling on religious or philosophical subjects, but never putting them to any practical use; the mind may become deluded and the delusions frequently take the form of thinking that everything he possessed is very valuable and beautiful, in which he takes a foolish happiness and pride; a hypochondriacal state may come on with despair of life, which may proceed to impulses to suicide, usually by drowning or jumping out of the window.

The following are mental diseases and states for which sulphur will in many cases be useful. (a) Apathetic states often seen in mental cases, where there is complete loss of interest in cleanliness and appearance. (b) Confusional states, with offensive faeces. (c) Alcoholic toxaemia. (d) Obsessional state; persistent words, phrases, thoughts. (e) Delusions of grandeur; general paralysis of the insane. (f) Melancholia, with delusions of wickedness. (g) Exhaustion psychosis.(h) paranoia (i) Paraphrenia. (j) Self-centredness of many mental diseases. (k) hypochondriasis.

Head.- The sulphur patient is subject to attacks of giddiness from rushing of blood to the head, it is frequent on getting out of bed in the morning, and may be accompanied with nose bleeding, it is worse from stooping, talking and walking in the open air, better from sitting quietly in a warm room; there is a tendency to fall to the left.

Sulphur cures several kinds of headaches, mainly of the congestive sort. They come on after waking in the morning, are aggravated by stooping, jars, light and after eating, and are ameliorated by lying in a warm room in the dark, with the eyes closed and the head high and by warm applications. The face and eyes are red, and the whole head is sensitive. Nausea and vomiting may supervene. These headaches often occur periodically, every week or two weeks, and are apt to come on a Sunday. They may be preceded by zig-zags moving before the eyes. The vomiting is frequently bilious. Another headache is a vertex headache, a sensation of painful pressure, with heat at the top of the head; these headaches are ameliorated by cold air and cold applications. Sulphur is useful when the patient gets up in the morning feeling dizzy, with a red or sallow face, and with a flickering of stars or zig-zags before the eyes, and knowing that these symptoms are premonitions of a headache that will soon come on. The cause is often derangement of the digestion from food or drink taken the previous day. Sulphur is a remedy for purulent eruptions on the scalp, the pus dries into yellow scabs and there is much itching. The hair falls out and there is dandruff. It is useful in tinea capitis.

Eyes.-The diseases of the eyes requiring this remedy are those in which there are much itching, dryness, redness of and burning, made worse by bathing; dimness of vision of varying degree is present. With these symptoms, when the general state of the patient at the same time is indicative to of sulphur, almost any affection of the eyes will be cured by it. Its most frequent employment has been in acute and chronic conjunctivitis, in gouty and rheumatic ophthalmia and in chronic inflammation of the edges of the lids, which are thickened, introverted or extroverted and reddened.

Ears.- Sulphur has been used, rather on general than local indications, for otorrhoea, inflammations of the auricle and deafness caused by repeated catarrh.

Nose.-It is valuable in cases of recurrent nasal catarrh; every time the patient is exposed to a draught or to bad weather he catches cold. The discharges are acrid and excoriate the nostrils and upper lip. There may by much sneezing. The patient is annoyed by a persistent subjective odour as of an old, offensive discharge.

Face.- Comedones and acne of the face call for sulphur, both internally and externally. It has been remedial in facial erysipelas of the slowly advancing variety, without blisters, commencing in the right ear and spreading forwards over the cheek. Dry, papular eruptions and rough patches are amenable to

it.

Digestion.- The tongue characteristic of sulphur is coated white with red tip and edges, it burns, and the whole mouth burns and is sore, painful nodules come on the edge of the tongue, the teeth decay and become loose. Sulphur is a useful medicine for the aphthae and sore mouth o nursing infants, and for the similar condition in the mother during lactation.

It is valuable for chronic sore throats, whether there is ulceration present or not. The tonsils, especially the right, are enlarged and the whole throat is of a dusky, purplish colour. There are dryness, burning and dysphagia. It has been used locally, by insufflation, for diphtheria.

The sulphur patient has a very variable appetite, be is either ravenously hungry or has an aversion from all food. He is often thirsty and drinks much but eats little. he craves sweets and alcoholic liquors, both of which disagree with him. Almost all food causes indigestion, oppression of the chest, nausea, a feeling of weight in the stomach, sometimes pyrosis and vomiting, or acid and bitter eructations, which taste of rotten eggs. The abdomen is distended. There is often a weak, faint hungry sensation in the stomach some hours after food, notably at about eleven in the morning; the patient cannot go long without food, which nevertheless causes fresh discomfort.

Sulphur is a remedy for congestion of the liver and for gall-stones. The liver feels large and hard and is tender, with dull aching. Jaundice of varying depth occurs, symptoms are renewed by every fresh cold and by bathing. ” Bilious vomiting ” and ” bilious headaches ” may be features of the liver affection.

In the abdomen there are great distention and soreness; gripings, as if the intestines were strung in knots, and other pains occur, chiefly at night, and are caused or made worse by eating sugar or sweetened food: they are mostly on the left side and are relieved by bending forwards. There is pressure downwards towards the anus, and diarrhoea may come on, especially in the early hours of the morning; it is considerable urgency, compelling the patient to leave his bed to pass a thin, usually small, acrid, offensive stool, which causes the anus to smart and burn. Foetid flatus frequently escapes. Sulphur is the principal remedy for this early morning diarrhoea (aloes,nat,sulph.,bry., rumex). It is useful for dysentery when the stool is of bloody much, passed with constant straining (merc.).

The more usual action of sulphur on the bowels is to cause constipation, with frequent and often ineffectual effort to evacuate, chiefly at night. The stools are insufficient and hard, like black balls; prolapsus ani often occurs with the stool and there is tenesmus after wards. Sulphur is a most useful remedy for chronic constipation with this kind of stool and unsuccessful urging. It is also valuable for haemorrhoids when they protrude, bleed slightly, are very painfulness itch immoderately. There is much burning at the anus, as well as itching, and the parts are swollen and covered with red blood-vessels. It is also indicated for colic, palpitation, backache and congestions to the lungs brought on by suppression of haemorrhoids.

Sexual.- Sulphur is an intercurrent remedy for gonorrhoea when there are redness, burning and itching of the urethral orifice; the urine causes burning pain during and after micturition. The male genital organs are weakened, they hang down relaxed and there is much foul smelling perspiration on the scrotum and between the thighs.

It is a good medicine for amenorrhoea, dysmenorrhoea, menorrhagia and metrorrhagia, if chosen because the general symptoms indicate it and not merely on account of the local trouble. It is, with sepia and lachesis, one of the three most frequently employed remedies for the flushings of the menopause. Burning in the vagina, so bad that the patient can hardly keep still, is a valuable indication for sulphur when taken in conjunction with other symptoms. “Troublesome itching in the genitals with pimples all round,” suggests it for pruritus pudendi. It has been successfully used in recurring haemorrhage from the uterus after abortion and even for mild puerperal septicaemia, when the general symptoms of sulphur are present.

Respiration.-It is a remedy of wide usefulness in respiratory affections, especially in the second stage of inflammation of the lungs, after aconite or bryonia has controlled the initial symptoms and exudation is taking place;; it may abort the whole process. It is equally of advantage in later stages when hepatization has occurred, as it promotes absorption of inflammatory products and so clears the lung. It is a valuable aid in the bronchitis and broncho-pneumonia which so frequently complicate whooping cough and measles, favouring restoration of the respiratory organs to their normal condition. Laryngitis, bronchitis, pleurisy and pneumonia are all subject to its influence, and its administration will often check an incipient tuberculosis. The general symptoms of the drug will be the chief guide, but certain leading symptoms referable to the respiratory system help to confirm the choice of the drug. Such symptoms are “oppression of the chest with a sense of heaviness,” “feels suffocated, wants doors and windows open, especially at night,” “sense of weakness in the chest when talking,” stitches and shootings through the left upper chest towards the back and into the left scapula, worse from lying on the back, from motion and from “deep breathing,” “burning in the chest, rising to the face,” “great orgasm of blood to the chest, with burning in the hands.”

Back.-Sulphur is a principal remedy for lumbago. The pain is worse when the patient straightens himself up from stooping or sitting, so that he stands and walks bent and leans forward in his chair.

Sleep.-Chronic sleeplessness is often relieved by sulphur, when sleep is prevented by orgasms of blood which make the patient restless, the feet burn so that he wants to put them out of bed, he goes to sleep but wakes up frequently in a nightmare and finds himself lying on his back. Dreams are of many kinds but are mostly of anxious, frightful or horrible character, sometimes with a presentiment concerning future events.

Fever, &c.-The fever of sulphur is not a definite rise of temperature as measured by the thermometer, but consists of surgings of heat to various parts of the body, to the head, face hands, feet; it is often associated with coldness or chilliness of other parts. The sweats are also mostly local or partial, though they may become general. The perspiration in the axillae is offensive. Sweat, after waking in the morning, is a symptom strongly indicative of sulphur. Speaking generally it is a medicine for conditions where heat and burning, and aggravation from heat, are conspicuous, but it has many states in which cold predominates.

The hair is dry and falls off, corns are easily induced, and are painful on pressure, skin eruptions occur on all parts of the body, and are accompanied with itching, formication and burning, the folds of the skin are sore, washing aggravates the itching and burning, scratching relieves the itching, but causes soreness. Sulphur is useful for boils, as well as for all kinds of skin eruptions.

It is unnecessary to add more regarding the therapeutic applications of sulphur than to say that it is a most useful remedy in any disease whatsoever and wherever situated, provided the general symptoms of the drug correspond to those of the patient. It is “the chronic” of aconite and follows it well in acute diseases.

LEADING INDICATIONS.

      (1) Burning sensations in any part of the body or all over.

(2) Heat on the vertex, with cold feet.

(3) Hot, burning feet in bed.

(4) Aggravation of symptoms from warmth of bed.

(5) Discharges and evacuations cause burning as they pass through the orifices.

(6) Congestions, with burning of single parts.

(7) Itching skin eruptions. Boils.

(8) Redness and vascular engorgement of muco-cutaneous orifices.

(9) Complaints arising from suppressed eruptions and discharges.

(10) Cramps in calves and soles at night.

(11) Time aggravations: midnight and after, midday, 11 a.m.

(12) Sinking, hungry sensation at 11 a.m.

(13) Drinks much, eats little; or ravenous appetite. Constipation with hard knotty stools.

(14) Desires sweets and alcohol, which disagree.

(15) Early morning diarrhoea, driving out of bed.

(16) Foul odour from the body.

(17) Sweat in the morning after waking.

(18) Persons who are depressed and dwell much on religious and philosophical speculations.

(19) Dislike to washing and bathing and aggravation of complaints from it.

(20) Flushes to head, starting from chest.

(21) Frequent weak, faint spells.

(22) Desire for cold air and open windows (respiratory symptoms).

(23) Complaints that are constantly relapsing.

(24) Cannot stand long.

(25) Persons subject to venous and portal congestions.

(26) Persons with fair or red hair, thin, stooping.

AGGRAVATION:

      From touch, pressure, standing, stooping, rising, ascending, talking, 11 a.m., 12 noon, 12 midnight, after midnight, morning, draught of air, warmth, sun (headache), washing, cold, damp weather, cold food and drink, before a storm, after sleep, milk, sweets and alcohol, after eating, before, during and after menses (headache and leucorrhoea), looking down, raising the arms.

AMELIORATION:

      From lying on the right side, motion (pains in head, hips, knees, haemorrhoids), open air (respiratory affections), cold water (head and eyes), warm food.

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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