Homeopathy Papers Materia Medica

Quicksilver: The Unfolded Facts

Bhaskar Sarkar
Written by Bhaskar Sarkar

Dr. Bhaskar Sarkar discusses some of the many aspects of Mercurius.

 ABSTRACT: Mercurius is one of the most useful remedies in homoeopathy without which we could not progress in our practice. In this article I have tried to encompass all aspects of it to create a full picture.

KEY WORDS: Quicksilver; history; poisoning; Doctorine of signatures; human thermometer; clinical condition; guiding symptoms; repertorial approach; Hahnemannian uses; conclusion.

INTRODUCTION:

Hahnemann ranked mercury (first) for Syphilis, as he did Sulphur for Psora and Thuja for Sycosis. It is the king of anti-syphilitic remedies. But he also warned that mercury is no more a panacea for the syphilis than Sulphur for Psora or Thuja for Sycosis, otherwise there would be no truth in similia similibus. It is one of the more extensively proven and widely used remedies in the Materia Medica.

The pathogenesis of mercury is found in the proving of Merc. vivus and Merc.sol., two different preparations, but not different enough to make any distinctions in practice as stated by  Dr. Kent. Even Clarke supports this fact in his dictionary by saying – “no pains have been taken to keep distinct Merc. sol and Merc. vivus and I do not find it practicable to attempt to separate them.”[12]

Mercurius is one of the “drugs of frequent use.” which we could ill do without. It finds its place, accordingly, in every little pocket case of a dozen domestic remedies: and no physician would sally forth on his rounds without “Merc” in his portable armory. It has its unique position in the treatment of alike the lightest and most serious diseases. [29]

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HISTORY, ANCIENT MYTHS AND USES: [17]

It is commonly known as quicksilver and was formerly named hydrargyrum.

The ancient Romans named the metal Mercury because of the quick movements of Mercury droplets on a smooth surface reminded them of the cunning and resourceful God Mercury.

The planet Mercury probably received its name because it moves so quickly across the sky and is elusive to observe. In Greek mythology Mercury was personified as Hermes – the messenger of the Gods who often led men astray. He was quick to act on an idea and ready for mischief.

In the middle Ages a Mercurial ointment termed unguentum saracenicum was widely used in the treatment of skin diseases like scabies and leprosy. When syphilis made its entrance into 16th century Europe it was soon claimed that the sores could only be washed away with “quicksilver”.

Mercury was prescribed for so many illnesses that doctors became known as “Quicks” (because they were prescribers of Quicksilver). From this the word “Quack” is derived. Mercury therapy persisted until well into the 20th century, until the hazards of mercury toxicity became better understood.

MERCURY POISONING[17][27]

Highly toxic, mercury is most poisonous when inhaled but dangerous amounts can be ingested and absorbed through the skin over time. Our homeopathic knowledge of Mercury comes partly from the proving’s carried out by Hahnemann and others and also from the extensive toxicological knowledge that has been built up over the centuries. The symptom picture gained is similar to many common diseases and Mercury is thus a frequently prescribed homoeopathic medicine. Now see the some common effects of the poisoning as mentioned below:

  • There is excessive salivation
  • Muscular tremors.
  • There is a metallic taste in the mouth,
  • Abdominal pain with vomiting and bloody diarrhoea.
  • There are respiratory symptoms and kidney damage, emotional instability with irritability, lack of confidence.
  • Insomnia, loss of memory, slow reflexes.
  • In recent times, workers in the hat making industry were poisoned by mercury because it was used to convert animal fur into felt. Poisoning known as “mad hatter’s disease” (nervous­ness, tremor and personality changes.)
  • Pink disease or acrodynia is another disease caused by mercury poisoning
  • The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in the United States has admitted that children have been ex­posed to unsafe levels of mercury through vaccines containing thimerosal, a preservative which is 50 per cent ethyl mercury.
  • In dentistry the amalgam used commonly today in fillings is made from equal parts of mercury and an alloy containing silver, copper and tin.
  • Minimata disease is produced due to eating of fish poisoned by mercury.

PHYSICAL PROPERTIES [17] [24]

In order to understand Mercurius the patient, one must understand the element Mercurius.

  • Brilliant silver white metal
  • At ordinary temperature it is liquid. (Only metal) but when temperature is reduced it take solid form.
  • It is a heavy, grayish black powder of slightly acrid, metallic taste.
  • Insoluble in water, alcohol, or ether.
  • Mercury is the heaviest of all known liquids weighing nearly 14 times as much as an equal volume of water. Stone, iron and even lead can float on its sur­face
  • Compared to other metals, it is a poor conductor of heat, but a fair conductor of electricity.
  • Freezing point is of -38.83 °C and a boiling point of 73 °C both the lowest of any metal.
  • It is always restless, but when it is quite still you can see yourself in it better than in a mirror. If you twirl it around in a bowl, it continues to twirl for almost half an hour.” He also says of it, “It gives itself over to other metals” but otherwise “adheres to nothing in its surroundings.”

USES [17]

It has many uses including in thermometers, barometers, street lighting and signs, and electrical apparatus, in pesticides, dental preparations, paints, batteries and mirrors.

DOCTRINE OF SIGNATURES:

It can be compared to the physical state of the Mercury. If you break a thermometer, you discover that mercury seems to exist in a state somewhere between a liquid and a solid. It flows like a liquid, yet it tends to retain its own shape to some extent like a solid. If you try to pick up it with fingers, it seems to escape from you; it does not allow itself to be gasped like a solid, and it will not also stick like a liquid. In its physical state Mercurius is erratic in function, just as it is unstable and inefficient in its pathological state. [32]

SYNONYMS – Hydrargyrum, Quicksilver, Metallic mercury, Black oxide of Mercury, Mercurius solubilis Hahnemanni.

Scholten writes that its name, Hydrargyrum (watery silver, or quicksilver), describes its tendency to scatter away in all directions.

PROVER – It was introduced by Hahnemann and proved upon himself, also others like Hering, Gross, Fr. Hahnemann, Hartmann, etc. [14]

PROVING  – It first appeared in 1st edition Materia Medica Pura containing 342 symptoms, in 2nd edition- 1424 symptoms, 3rd edition – 1450 symptoms.

In homoeopathy, both metal and black oxide of mercury have been proved.      The former is called Mercurius vivus and the latter Mercurius solubilis of Hahnemann. [14]

Hering said that “the symptoms of the solubilis, obtained by regular proving, and the effects of the vivus, gathered from toxicological reports carefully sifted and clinically verified, are sufficiently similar to be placed under one arrangement”; though where possible, he places an “s” or a “v” to show to which especially the symptom belongs: and Clarke in his dictionary follows Hering. While Allen’s Encyclopedia gives Dictionary follows Hering. While Allen’s Encyclopedia gives symptoms under each preparation separately. [30]

SOURCES – mineral kingdom.

FORMULA – 2(NH2Hg2)NO3, H2O {12th group of periodic table} [20]

PREPARATION prepared by the process of trituration under class VII (old method). Triturated in glass mortar and pestle. [20]

SPHERE OF ACTION:

“Every tissue of the body is more or less affected by this powerful drug; it transforms healthy cells into decrepit, inflamed, and necrotic wrecks; decomposes the blood, producing a profound anemia.” – Boericke [4]

Mercury affects the whole system penetrating every organ and tissues but selects more particularly the following 16 tissues for its special center of action. [8]

  • Lymphatic glandular system
  • Salivary gland
  • Pancreas
  • Liver
  • Kidney
  • Mucous membrane(intestinal)
  • Intestinal canal
  • Mucous membrane(air passages)
  • Eyes
  • Serous membrane
  • Periosteum
  • Bone
  • Blood
  • Skin
  • Sexual organ
  • Cerebrospinal-system

APPEARANCE: A patient of light haired complexion with lax skin and lax muscle. [16]   Steady emaciation with trembling and great restlessness – can’t find peace in any position.  This condition is seen in old mercury takers and in syphilitics who have been mercurialized. [18]

Clarke says: “Mercurius is a great solvent: it dissolves metals out of their ores and it dissolves living tissues, inducing excessive emaciation.

TEMPERAMENT – nervous and sometime melancholic[16]

DIATHESIS scrofulous

RELATION TO HEAT AND COLD – sensitive to heat and cold [24]

AILMENTS: mortification, from insult, from egotism, from bad effects of sugar, insects stings, vapors of arsenic and copper, suppressed foot sweat, suppressed gonorrhea and or syphilis.[1][16]

MIND: Instability [32]

There is lack of reactive power coupled with an instability or insufficiency of function. A healthy person has a defense mechanism, a reactivity which enables them to create a stable, efficient equilibrium upon exposure to both physical and mental stimuli in environment. But in Mercurius this reactive power is weakened, so he becomes unstable and wavering in functions. The lack of defensive power results in sensitiveness to everything. He is < by everything- heat, cold, outdoor, wet weather, change of weather warmth of bed, sweats, various foods, etc.

About the author

Bhaskar Sarkar

Bhaskar Sarkar

Dr. Bhaskar Sarkar has completed his MD(hom.) course from the National Institute of Homoeopathy which is an autonomous body under the Ministry of AYUSH, Govt. of India. He presently has his own practice in Malda, West Bengal.

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