Homeopathy Papers Materia Medica

Elaine and Mati Sort Out Arsenicum and Phosphorus

A very insightful look into the remedy pictures of Arsenicum and Phosphorus in homeopathy.

Mati, now that I know, thanks to your book, that Phosphorus can turn into the “evil queen” from “Snow White” if you stop being a constant source of affirmation to her, I am now having trouble distinguishing between Arsenicum and Phosphorus.

Mati Fuller

Mati Fuller


Hi again, Elaine!


  Elaine Lewis

It’s good to be back here at the Hpathy.com ezine, appearing as a guest once again!  As for your question, I have had problems in the past distinguishing between Phosphorus and Arsenicum too, because in their negative states, they do have many things in common.

But there are a few distinguishing factors:

First of all, Phosphorus is way better liked than Arsenicum.  Phosphorus is very good at making friends (even though they are superficial ones), while Arsenicum often says things like, “I don’t know if people really like me.”  Phosphorus would never say that!

Phosphorus always gets others to give them money and pay their bills when they get in financial trouble.  They often live like royalty, even though they are often very bad with money, and they can’t really afford the kind of lifestyle they lead.  Arsenicums, however, are much better with money!  They always have enough money to pay their bills, and, surprisingly, people often give them money even when they don’t need it.  They just have a way of attracting money from everywhere with hardly any effort!

Phosphorus demands love from people – everybody in her life has to constantly
prove to her that they love her by doing whatever she wants them to do for her.  She’s so charming that people will generally do it!

Arsenicums don’t bother asking for love.  They know they can’t make anyone love them, so they are always more focused on what they are going to achieve in the form of money and wealth instead. And they are experts at making the other person financially dependent on them so they can’t leave! Charm is not the strong suit of Arsenicum – power is!

Mati, I have a client whom we’ll call “Joe”, whose wife is the reason we’re having this discussion.  I can most likely cure Joe with homeopathy and changes in diet, but, Joe’s wife is behaving rather strangely to say the least!  She doesn’t seem to care if Joe lives or dies and I suspect a rather large life insurance policy as the reason!  She has total control over Joe’s every move.  She got him by stealing him away from his then-new wife and baby 25 years ago through the use of bribery (buying him fancy new suits, etc.) and making up a story about the baby not being his!  That’s right, she said the real father was a truck driver who regularly blew into town; and then, when apparently that approach failed, she marched into his home and hauled his belongings out!  Now, my question is, who fits this scenario better, Phosphorus or Arsenicum?  Who would follow her husband everywhere and watch him like a hawk?  Who would try to emasculate him so he wouldn’t be able to have an affair?  Who would take all his money so he wouldn’t have any resources?  Who would take charge of every aspect of his life?  Who would not allow him to have any friends?  Who would keep tabs on his cell phone and delete contacts she didn’t like?  Who would thrive on the flattery she gets from people?  (“Oh Mrs. X, God bless you, you’re so good with Joe!  He’s so lucky to have you!  Where would he be without you?  You take such good care of him!”)  Who would surround herself with flatterers and sycophants?

I would say definitely Arsenicum.  Phosphorus wouldn’t have bought him a suit with her own money – she would have made him buy HER a suit!

Phosphorus would have seduced him in the bedroom instead of taking his clothes out of there and P.S., Phosphorus doesn’t take care of anyone but herself!  So nobody would ever tell Phosphorus, “Thanks for taking care of so-and-so.”

And, wanting to be 100% in control?  Arsenicum!

Arsenicum is out to impress others, while Phosphorus is more interested in making friends.

Wait Mati, aren’t Phosphoruses “doormats” in the beginning until they’ve won you over?

True.  Remember, Phosphorus only begs and becomes a door-mat when they are trying to get you in the door.  Once you are in, all the begging energy has to be paid back to her, with interest!

Oh my God!  Is it like, “Look what you made me do!!!”?


I remember a Phosphorus client we’ll call “Jane”, she was constantly taking care of (being a doormat to) people who didn’t deserve to be taken care of—her boyfriends (who were usually mistreating her), her boyfriends’ aunts or mothers, who then wouldn’t give her the proper appreciation for all that she did; but her own mother?  No!  No time or inclination there.

Phosphorus often has a difficult relationship with her mom.  She doesn’t feel loved in the family, that is why she compensates by making a family of friends instead.  So, no, I’m sure she wasn’t interested in helping her mom.

In fact, her family members were constantly “picking up” after her, doing damage control, paying her bills, her health insurance, dental bills, etc.

Totally Phosphorus!  They are so used to someone else picking up the tab that they don’t even bother taking care of such things for themselves.

She just wouldn’t care, she’d leave a chaotic situation in her wake everywhere she went.

This is another area where Phosphorus differs from Arsenicum.  Arsenicum would NEVER leave chaos anywhere, but Phosphorus isn’t very focused that way.  They are scatterbrains, or butterflies, getting distracted in all directions at once, and thinking that they are very busy and important, even though they are not really getting anything done.

As you know, the phosphorus charm… People would forgive her or wonder how they ever could have been mad at her, and then she’d leave, walk away nonchalantly, leaving her family to realize they had been had again!  So, no, this couldn’t be Arsenicum.  You might say Arsenicum is focused like a laser on having her needs met while Phosphorus is all over the place and I would guess often winds up the loser while Arsenicum never loses.

Arsenicum’s only focus is on keeping herself safe.  No detail ever escapes Arsenicum!  They see everything, they hear everything, they notice everything, and unfortunately, they also remember every word that is said.  Horribly annoying people.  Having to be RIGHT is the core issue of Arsenicum’s personality.  In fact, they believe they are here to prove that they are right, and everyone else is wrong if they don’t agree with her.
They can win any argument, because arguing has become their compensation to prevent the original story from happening again.

In the original story, they weren’t heard, so in every lifetime thereafter, they leave the people in their lives no choice but to hear them.

So, let me recap: Both Phosphorus and Arsenicum are afraid to be alone.  They both need a support group to feel secure.  They both need flattery, positive “mirrors”.  Everyone has to be their mirror and the mirror has to say, “You’re the best!”


Now, how to recruit this support group?  Everyone wants to be Phosphorus’ friend because Phosphorus appears to be so friendly and loving!


Arsenicum does not have the nature to attract people so has to resort to bribery and deceit to draw a support group because no one really WANTS to be their friend.

Yes.  Let’s face it – Arsenicum thinks about himself, which isn’t really attractive to anyone else.  But, Arsenicum always has money, and money is power.  You can use it to bribe people, you can use it to intimidate people, and you can use it to create dependence.  Arsenicum is a master at this, so if you look at their relationships, they are most likely dysfunctional and codependent in nature.

Oh, that is so true!

Arsenicums usually pay for a lot of stuff, and their mate is most likely trapped financially.

Say no more, say no more!  You got it!

So, they create a support group for themselves by waving money around, and wielding power. Phosphorus would rather flip her hair and flirt with her eye lashes.  It is a totally different power.

Remember, even though two remedies can have the same core issues, they will have different ways to compensate for this.  That is why, it isn’t just enough to look at the core issue in the remedies – you have to also consider the way they compensate, because the core issue + the compensation is what creates the whole picture.  The core issue is what happened in the past, and the compensation is what they are doing here and now to prevent the core issue from ever happening again.

So well-stated!  What makes phosphorus turn on you, though, once you become her friend?  Why don’t they just continue being their sweet selves to be assured of the continuation of the friendship?

Ah yes!  It is because they need constant reassurance and proof of your undying devotion.  You can be a saint, doing everything you can possibly think of to please Phosphorus, but if you say no to her even once, she will never forgive you because it triggers their core issue of not really being loved by anyone.  If you feel unloved inside, you’ll take any little sign of lack of love the wrong way.

Oh!  So they shoot themselves in the foot!  They ruin the relationship!

Well, of course, they ruin their own relationships!  Remember, we always attract or create the situations we are here to learn about.  Phosphorus is here to learn to love herself and stop demanding her friends to be servants, so everyone in her life will eventually leave her so she can have the opportunity to learn.  And, yes, she creates it!

Similarly, Arsenicums also create their stories.  They always trust the wrong people, and they always end up being lied to, cheated, mugged and betrayed.  How else are they going to tie up the old karma that happened in the first place?  They have to get opportunity after opportunity to learn, and eventually break the pattern.

And Nat-mur., to use another example, is always picking men who are either emotionally unavailable, or not really interested in real commitment.  She creates this by picking the wrong guy, time and time again.  But she does it for a reason; she also needs to learn to love herself.  So, the person she picks isn’t really wrong for her at all, since he is the one who will push all her buttons and teach her what she came in to learn about.  But, we basically all do this, and UNDERSTANDING is the only solution!  We must know the patterns and issues that go with our constitutional remedies, and any kind of therapy should be based on this!  So, perhaps, in some kind of utopian future, homeopaths would work hand in hand with psychotherapists – we could figure out the remedy, and they could help people break their patterns.  (Don’t you love the Carcinosin idealism?)

It does sound ideal….

Phosphorus has very high expectations of their friends, and nobody likes it if you demand love from them constantly.  People can feel Phosphorus’ expectations and, naturally, they pull back.  And, that’s it!  Phosphorus is so sensitive, she knows it the minute you pull back, and as soon as she feels unloved, she declares WAR on you!!!  What she doesn’t understand is that she is the one who created this.  She expects too much from her friends.  Nobody can stand the pressure of always having to please someone and constantly showing how much they love that person by hugs, snuggles, presents, flowers, surprise dinners, and so on.  Eventually, people just get tired of all the effort they keep having to put out.  If Phosphorus could understand this, and learn to give herself the love she expects from everyone else, she would probably have a lot more luck in her relationships.  She is great at making friends, and getting boyfriends to want to be with her, but maintaining relationships with anyone is definitely not her strong suit.

So, just being sweet and charming would have served her much better, only then she would end up becoming a Pulsatilla instead.  This is actually how you can distinguish between Pulsatilla and Phosphorus – they are both sweet, loving and know how to get others to care for them, but Pulsatilla
is friendly because she is HOPING that someone will give her love back, and Phosphorus DEMANDS to be loved in return.  Big difference!  Hoping for love is way more effective than demanding it!  So, Pulsatilla usually has much better luck in relationships than Phosphorus.

However, doesn’t Pulsatilla have an annoying, manipulative, pouting quality that they turn on if they think they’re not getting the constant attention they think they’re entitled to?

Yes, absolutely, but way more discrete and charming than Phosphorus.  Instead of getting in your face, they may go into the kitchen and slam some cabinet doors.  Or they may whine, complain and cry.  But they won’t turn into an evil queen if they don’t get what they want.  A Phosphorus scorned is downright dangerous!  Pulsatilla would never act like that.  They just become more clingy and whiny until you give in.  Basically, they both want the same thing, but the methods they use are different.

What about the Phosphorus male?

I think it is pretty much the same.  Slick looking dude, incredibly popular, can get anyone he wishes into bed at any time.  But, is this good relationship material?  No way.  Any woman with self respect will most likely run the other way if she can get over the gorgeous packaging.  You are dealing with pure temptation and no depth.  Definitely not my type.

Mati, already a question has come pouring in!  It’s from hpathy team member Gina Tyler.

Gina Gina

Here’s what she has to say:

Hi Elaine and Mati, I don’t agree with the statement, “Phosphorus doesn’t take care of anyone but themselves, so nobody would ever tell a phosphorus, ‘Thanks for taking care of so and so.’”  This is one aspect i dont see with Phos, in fact just the opposite.  A Phosphorus will go out of his way to help friends/family (anyone) without thinking twice, without thinking of themselves first, and demanding nothing in return.

Gina, thanks for the question.  They do help people and bend over backwards until you officially become “friends” and then everything changes and you’ll find yourself paying them back in many different ways because they expect it.  And if you refuse or say no, only then is when you’ll see the demanding side of Phosphorus.  Up until that point, they are both charming and helpful, but what I am referring to is what happens if the deeper core issues are challenged or triggered.  I am not talking about the “normal” Phosphorus personality that you are referring to.

Mati, I also don’t agree that Phosphorus has a difficult relationship with her mom.

I’ll add mom or dad, then, Gina.  The whole need to make lots of friends, that Phosphorus is so well known for, is a compensation for not feeling loved in the family.  Therefore, her friends become her family.

Another point i don’t agree with – Maintaining relationships and friends – some Phosphorus people I have been friends with for 30+yrs (that’s long term don’t you think?)

Keeping all ex-lovers/husbands close to them is actually also typical for Phosphorus.  They have this odd ability to create relationships where there is always some kind of energetic debt going on.  They bend over backwards and do whatever they can to help/guide/be extra nice to their new mate, but as
time goes by, things change, and their mate has to start proving to Phosphorus how much Phosphorus is loved, and how much he appreciates everything that Phosphorus has done for him in the past.  It becomes this odd kind of energetic debt where the mate is always in the process of paying Phosphorus back,” and even after they split up, he still feels like he owes Phosphorus in some way.

I remember one Phosphorus girl who was suffering from terminal cancer.  At the time of her exit, she had 5 ex-boyfriends waiting on her hand and foot!  And when I asked one of the exes why he was going out of his way to take care of her, he answered that “it would just be awesome if she could realize, before she goes, that I actually was a really decent guy!”  She had rejected him, and he was still trying to prove himself to her!  And, this is the essence of Phosphorus – they constantly need proof from their friends how much they are loved, but because they don’t love themselves, no amount of proof can ever be enough.  But, I don’t consider this kind of relationship a healthy kind of connection or intimacy, even though it may be long term.

Gina, it’s worth noting that apparently others have noticed these unexpected traits in Phosphorus as well.  In our interview this month, Deva Khalsa, DVM says the following about Phosphorus cats:

“But the Pulsatillas cling and can get easily rebuffed.  The Phosphorus demands and if they do not get their due admiration and affection, they demand more.”

Let’s hold up Mati’s book–the best book on Materia Medica I’ve ever read!

Beyond The Veil of Delusions. 

Come back soon Mati!

I will!

P.S.  Just a heads-up, everybody.  Mati has changed the cover of her book since this article was published.  It now looks like this; look for it on Amazon:

Beyond the Veil of Delusions: Understanding Relationships Through Homeopathy

About the author

Elaine Lewis

Elaine Lewis, D.Hom., C.Hom.
Elaine is a passionate homeopath, helping people offline as well as online. Contact her at [email protected]
Elaine is a graduate of Robin Murphy's Hahnemann Academy of North America and author of many articles on homeopathy including her monthly feature in the Hpathy ezine, "The Quiz". Visit her website at:
https://elainelewis.hpathy.com/ and TheSilhouettes.org

About the author

Mati Fuller

Mati H. Fuller, DIHom (Pract) was born and raised in Bergen, Norway and came to the United States in 1985. She lives and practices in Colorado and is author of "Beyond the Veil of Delusions, Understanding Relationships Through Homeopathy." [email protected] http://www.homeopathyonline.biz


  • What a delightful way to have the finer details of the essence of Ars a, Phos and Puls delineated. Yes, I never thought of Phos as vengeful if scorned. But I have actually experienced a red hot anger after taking the remedy and being slighted in some way. At the time I wondered – as this was not how I would normally have felt. Thank You very much. Johanna

  • Excellent investigation and description. Phpsphorus person is lean and tall,but what if such person is obese and tall? Will it be equally effective on him?

  • That’s a good question. Obesity is now common in many parts of the world due to the preponderance of “convenience food” with fewer and fewer people cooking from scratch. Because of this, I don’t think you can any longer look at an overweight person and say, “He can’t be phosphorus.” I think that if you suspect phosphorus, and the patient is tall and thin, that makes for a good confirmation; but, I don’t think you can rule phosphorus OUT because of overweight if everything else in the case is pointing to it.

    Also, let’s remember that there are phosphorus pathologies and phosphorus acutes and emergencies that do not require a constitutional picture for its use! Think of the person with a nosebleed of bright red blood, or the person with an electric shock or a person with diabetes thirsty for ice cold drinks–do these people need to be constitutional phosphoruses to benefit from the remedy? No, all these patients need phosphorus, whether tall or short, fat or thin.

  • Thank you very much for this article spotting the light in a different approach about Phosphorous and Arsenicum. Is there a link with Thuja?

  • You can type Thuja in the search window and see what you come up with. Mati hasn’t yet written a Thuja article, though.

  • Hi Mati And Elaine, Well done-
    I love all your articles on constitutional types Mati-OK-(yes It’s Me the Gina from the article) happy to add my two cents to this article,Its from these sort of imput of practicioners that we collectively understand these typologies- Thanks Mati for your replies.

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