Materia Medica

Pyrarara, the Fish Who Complements Sulphur!


Iman Navab presents a discussion of Pyrarara, a remedy made from a fish of the Amazon. A case of Leprosy is used to illustrate.

The chances are that a majority of homeopaths today are not prescribing Pyrarara (Phractocephalus hemioliopterus) as a homeopathic medicine anymore as it became a rare or a forgotten remedy. This fish was recognized and classified in the year 1801. It is only found in the fresh waters of the Amazon and South America, and it has several other similar species that are generally known as red-tail catfish. However the true type of the Pyrarara is found in Brazil. The local people do not eat this fish because it has black meat.

In homeopathy, the fat of this fish is used as the starting material to make a medicine used for a variety of skin conditions. It has been observed that Pyrarara, as a remedy, complements the medicinal action of Sulphur in skin disorders.   According to a publication of Boericke & Tafel (1915), a homeopathic physician in New York, Dr. Frederiok Dearboni stated that when he visited Rio, he asked his homeopath friends if they knew of any new remedies, and Pyrarara was introduced to him. Dr. Dearboni wrote , “Pyrarara appealed to me because of its manifest dermal indications and because I was able to procure, through the endeavors of Dr. Theodore Gomes, a small supply of the extract, and by the courtesy of Dr. Marques de Oliveira, a genuine clinical record. Before proceeding to the recital of the clinical case, it might be well to mention that the use of Pyrarara is not limited to the treatment of Lepra, but has been used to relieve a number of dermatoses. The exact diagnoses of these conditions were hard to determine, but their descriptions would lead me to think of the tuberculides, the syphilides, sclerodenna, vitiligo, chloasma; elephantiasis, varicosed vessels and the attendant dermatitis, gangosa, and the varieties of gangrene. I received some positive assurances as regards its use in varicosities. Pyrarara is not listed in any group of Brazilian or South American remedies that I can discover and has not been scientifically proven, but I hope the following translation of Dr. Oliveira’s notes may be of interest.”:


“The lard of the Pyrarara, a fish of the Amazon river, was brought from Acre by Major Carpenter of the Engineers, who offered it as a curiosity to Mr. Liberato dos Santos. The Major said that he had heard from the inhabitants of the Amazon valley that the lard has the property of changing the color of the pigments of parrots fed upon it, and that a person abusing the use of the fish, as a food, would develop Lepra or symptoms similar to that disease. After a talk with Mr. dos Santos, he gave me some of the lard for homeopathic experimentation on people affected with lepra. The following is the result: Maria Theresa, 36 years old, has suffered from lepra since she was 19 years old. The first appearance of the disease was on the extremities of her fingers and on her face after suppression of menstruation. She was treated by Dr. Gabizo for three years without any result and by many other doctors, using various medicines but still no result was attained. The disease had reached the highest state of development; her anatomic structure had become deformed and her facial changes took away from her the appearance of a human being. Her body was covered with nodules and ulcers in constant suppuration; her ears were inflamed and deformed; her nose was ulcerated and corroded; her lips were ulcerated; her throat was so affected that her voice was completely lost; her arms looked like a piece of raw flesh; and the phalanges of all her fingers were destroyed. Certain areas of the skin were anesthetic and there was a general coppery discoloration.”

“It was at this period that she came to me. I proposed experimenting upon her with the new medicine, which she reluctantly accepted after many days of insisting. In June of 1905, we began our treatment; at first using the 3rd decimal trituration with a dose of three tablets every three hours, applying externally Vaseline with calendula. The first month there was no apparent dermal improvement, but her appetite increased. I then began to use the 5th decimal potency and during the first two weeks there was a great transformation. Through the open lesions came a discharge of a whitish color tinted with blood and very thick. Her appetite became very good and digestion regular, but she became prostrated and suffered from neuralgic pains in the head, face, and feet. During the month of August the inflammation of the lips was disappearing and the wounds of the lips healing. She was very cheerful with the result. At the beginning of September the ulcers had ceased suppurating and her general state was very good. As the menstrual periods came, she felt great pain in the ovarian regions, so Pulsatilla 30th was given to her and the menses appeared, although very weak. I then gave Pyrarara in the 30th potency for a few days and she continued to improve. The nodules diminished in size and the ulcers became almost dry. About this time Aurum met. 5th potency and afterward Apia mel. 5th potency and Cuprum met 5th potency were used as the symptoms called for. On the following month the menses came freely. In November I returned to the use of Pyrarara 30th potency. The healing of the wounds continued and only three ulcers were to be found on the whole body, one on the forearm, one on the foot, and one on the middle finger. The tumefaction gradually disappeared, except on the ears. General condition was very good. By the 25th of December one could hardly detect her sickness. The intense redness of her face was gone; the forehead was white, the natural color having returned; the lips, mouth and throat were normal; while the ears were still affected, the nodules had disappeared; the body was free from ulcers and nodules; the forearm completely well. Only one ulcer on the middle finger was to be found. She could move the deformed fingers, but the sense of touch was not complete. This medication has been tried since on different people with splendid results, but lack of persistency has prevented complete cures. On other patients the Pyrarara has been used, employing the centesimal scale of potencies.”

By analyzing this old case, we can detect that an anti-miasmatic treatment plan would help, and perhaps Pyrarara is a beneficial medicine as an intercurrent remedy. However it would be great to use this remedy more in current clinical cases, so we can learn more from Pyrarara!

Source: New, Old and Forgotten Remedies by Dr. Edward Pollock Anshutz – Philadelphia: Boericke & Tafel, 1917.

About the author

Iman Navab

Iman Navab is a certified classical Homeopath and doctor of alternative medicine from Canada. He is the President of the Applied Research in Homeopathy Foundation of Canada ( He is the author of 'Miasma of Cancer', and is a historian of Homeopathy. Iman teaches History and Philosophy of Homeopathy at the Canadian College of Holistic Health. Navab gives lectures and seminars to raise awareness about the rich history of Homeopathy.


  • I certainly hadn’t heard of this remedy before Iman! Thank you for your interesting, enlightening description of it and a fantastic case. Definitely worth considering for skin conditions, where sulphur has failed to work.


  • Thanks for that Iman

    I am from Brazil and I enjoyed reading this article so much. Next time I am over in Brazil I will enquire about Pyrarara.



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