Sulphur | Materia Medica by Carrol Dunham
Dr. Dunham (1828-1877) graduated from Columbia University with Honours in 1847. In 1850 he received M.D. degree at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of New York.
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We use the sublimed Sulphur (flores sulphuris), triturated with sugar of milk, and then prepared in dilutions, IN MODO HAHNEMANNI; or else a tincture prepared with alcohol. It is an ancient remedy, first mentioned as employed to purge the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Ulysses used it to purify his palace by fumigation, after his terrible slaughter of the suitors who infested it.
(And perhaps the modern Ulysses may be able in like manner to purify the White House of the office-seekers and parasites who haunt it.)
Hippocrates and Pliny mention it. Pliny praises it in lumbago, and in lichen and prurigo of the face. And he says it cures cough with purulent expectoration and dyspnoea. Dioscorides speaks of its power to cure cutaneous eruptions, and especially itch.
Modern allopathic writers hold it in very moderate esteem. They ascribe to it first an exciting, but ultimately a depressing action ; the peculiarity of exciting diaphoresis, and of producing semi-fluid stools ; also, according to Giaccomini, brownish spots on the skin, and various ephemeral cutaneous eruptions. Its virtues as a specific for scabies they consider to depend upon its power to kill the acarus scabiei.
Hahnemann’s extensive proving, published in the fifth volume of his chronic diseases, has been singularly confirmed by an elaborate proving made by the Austrian Homeopathic Society, under the leadership of Dr. Wurmb, and published in 1857.
We proceed at once to the
SENSORIUM. Vertigo. This is most apt to occur in the morning, and is often accompanied by nose-bleed, although sometimes, like many other Sulphur symptoms, it occurs in the evening or at night when the patient is in bed. It is produced or aggravated by stooping and by walking in the open air, and by looking upon objects in rapid motion.
Much confusion and bewilderment of the sensorium. The memory is weakened.
HEAD. Headaches are not of an acute character. Sulphur unquestionably produces congestion of the head, and the headaches correspond to this condition. The pains are:
Heaviness, making every motion irksome, not only walking and stooping, but even motion of the head when sitting and lying. Pressing generally in the forehead and over the eyes; sometimes general, as if the head were encircled by an iron hoop ; generally worse at night. Mercurius has a similar symptom.
The headache is often attended by nausea. The hair falls out. The forehead is covered with acne.
EYES. The lids swell, the margins are inflamed, are thickened and sore. They burn, are worse after washing. This aggravation after washing is characteristic of Sulphur.
In the eye, heat or a biting burning, as from Ammonia. Moderate photophobia. The conjunctiva is reddened. Vision is perverted; there are sparks before the eyes and a red wheel appears to encircle the candle flame. White or dark spots float before the eyes, and objects are not seen distinctly.
EARS. Tearing pains in the ears. Stitches which likewise involve the parotid gland. Ringing, hissing and swashing noises in the ears. Transient deafness. Sometimes connected with the heavy headache there is over-sensibility of the auditory nerve.
MOUTH. The gums swell; sometimes bleed. The teeth seem too long and loose, and pain in biting. Similar to Carbo vegetabilis and Lycopodium. Burning pain in the tongue, and burning vesicles upon it. Sometimes it is covered with an aphthous deposit. The tongue and mouth are coated with saltish mucus. There is dryness with thirst. (Unlike Pulsatilla.)
THROAT. Burning, sensation of swelling, and constriction of the fauces.
TASTE. Sweetish or flat, sometimes bitter, which is relieved by eating.
APPETITE. Impaired. Aversion to meat and bread. Great and continued thirst.
GASTRIC SYMPTOMS. Oppression after eating. Flatulence, lassitude, eructations putrid or sour, or tasting of the food. Waterbrash is a common symptom. Nausea and sometimes vomiting.
STOMACH. Sulphur produces (and cures) a kind of stomach cramp ; severe, griping pain in the epigastrium, with tenderness of the stomach and liver.
ABDOMEN. Pressure, stitches, in the upper part and sides of the abdomen ; the stitches are aggravated by deep inspiration, by walking, and are conjoined with a sensation of burning.
In the region of the liver stitches from within outward. Feeling of tension and pressure in hepatic region and throughout the abdomen, with great depression of spirits. Burning in the abdomen worse by motion. Sensation in the abdomen of soreness or of internal rawness ; worse on motion and deep inspiration, as well as at night.
Sensation of pressure downward and outward in region of the abdominal ring, with soreness and bruised sensation, not suffering the pressure of the hand.
Pressure in the hypogastrium and pubic region.
STOOL. Before the stool, aching in the abdomen and intestines.
During the stool, nausea, heavy headache, painful pressure in the rectum.
After the stool, sensation of soreness and weakness in the intestines; general lassitude; pressing pain in the rectum and at the anus.
Sulphur constipates, with frequent ineffectual tenesmus, both before and after stool, and constant pressing, even at night, followed by aching and sticking pain in the rectum and anus, often very severe and distressing. It appears, then, that, instead of inaction of the lower bowel, we have congestion, irritation of the muscular fiber and irregular, inharmonious action, resulting in tenesmus, and likewise hyperaesthesia.
Sulphur has a yellow or whitish mucus or watery diarrhoea, painless, almost involuntary, compelling one to rise early in the morning, and containing undigested food. Similar to Aloes, Bryonia and Podophyllum. Moreover, it produces a diarrhoea consisting of mucus streaked with blood, and preceded by colic, and attended by tenesmus and pain (like dysentery). It is characteristic that the blood is in thread-like streaks. Thus, it appears that whether the mucous membrane of the rectum and colon discharge bloody mucus or be unnaturally dry (whether there be constipation or the so-called diarrhoea), the inharmonious muscular action, irritation and hyperaesthesia are the same. The character of the evacuation does not afford a basis for division of symptoms into primary and secondary, and for a law of dose resting upon it.
There is also constipation, which, however, is always attended by fullness, heat or itching at the anus and in the lower part of the rectum, whereas the constipation of Veratrum and Opium is simple inaction of the rectum, without concomitant symptoms.
In the rectum, burning and throbbing, with moist haemorrhoids; itching and soreness.
URINARY ORGANS. The secretion is increased in quantity; evacuation frequent at night. The desire comes suddenly, and is imperative; if not gratified, the urine passes involuntarily; the stream is forcible.
This resembles Aloes.
Hepar sulphuris has the opposite, which is highly characteristic of that drug, and often an indication for it in affections of other organs of the body, E. G., the stream of urine is slow to start, and very feeble and sluggish, falling in a right line rather than describing an arc.
The act of micturition is often preceded by cutting pains in the hypogastrium.
At the end, and after the act, cutting in the urethra. Also burning, tearing and biting in the urethra during the act.
SEXUAL ORGANS. MALE. Inflammation of the orifice of the urethra and of the prepuce, which is thickened and red, and burns. In the testes, stitches and tension ; sexual desire is increased.
FEMALE. Menstruation appears to come too soon, and to be increased in quantity. It is preceded by various pains and symptoms, E. G., dry, evening cough, colic, toothache, and accompanied by abdominal cramps.
This, however, is not the only action. Menstruation is likewise delayed or suspended, and this symptom, if accompanied by the night restlessness, constipation and other symptoms characteristic of Sulphur, affords a very valuable indication in practice.
I have often found Sulphur successful where menstruation was suppressed, whether by cold during a previous period, or by unknown causes, and where Pulsatilla had been given without effect. Indeed, I think it more frequently indicated in amenorrhoea than Pulsatilla.
Concomitants of menstruation are nose-bleed, rush of blood to the head, and pressure in the epigastrium.
Leucorrhoea which follows menstruation is yellow and acrid and thick.
RESPIRATORY ORGANS. NASAL MEMBRANE. Sneezing and violent coryza, alternately fluent and dry. The dryness predominating, with a troublesome obstruction of the nostrils, relieved temporarily by the occasional discharge of masses of thick mucus.
THROAT. Rawness in the fauces, with hoarseness amounting at times to aphonia; at the same time there is much mucus in the bronchi, and this moving, with the respiration, produces a disposition to cough.
COUGH. In general it is dry; occurs at night as well as by day. It is provoked by irritation in the region of the ensiform cartilage.
It produces soreness and shocks in the epigastrium and in the hypochondria. Besides this dry cough, there is a loose cough, provoked by the movement of mucus in the air-tubes, the sputa being thick, yellow and sometimes sweetish. The cough is often forcible, causing headache and gagging.
DYSPNOEA. Considerable, especially at night; comes on suddenly on turning on the left side, relieved by sitting up. Lassitude and great heaviness in the chest.
Like the congestions and orgasms of the blood in the head, are the corresponding affections of the chest. They occur at night, and are aggravated by motion, and accompanied by heat and burning in the chest. The chest is sore externally.
BACK. Lassitude, heaviness, soreness; the pains in the lumbar region are worse on walking, and especially on rising from a seat, than when sitting or lying. In the lumbar region, a peculiar stiffness and a sudden loss of power on attempting to move, have led to the successful use of Sulphur in certain forms of lumbago.
Rhus toxicodendron and Petroleum have similar symptoms. Ruta and Staphysagria are indicated in a lumbago which is worse in the morning, before rising, and better after rising. That of Staphysagria compels the patients to get up at an unreasonably early hour.
EXTREMITIES. Lassitude, heaviness, burning. Induration of the axillary and inguinal glands; swelling of the hands and feet, with heat and tingling; soreness, tension in the muscles, and especially in the aponeuroses, and inability to move them. The pains are worse at night. The skin of the extremities, especially of the hands, presents a vesicular eruption, which discharges a yellowish water, and itches, being very sore when scratched. The skin chaps, and cracks at the joints. Ulceration at the sides and roots of the nails. Itching pustular eruption upon the elbow joints and backs of the hands.
In the case of Sulphur has been made the first and only successful generalization in the way of indication for treatment based on pathological anatomy. It was made by Dr. Wurmb, of Vienna, in his studies of pneumonia (1852).
Speaking of Sulphur in pneumonia, he says:
If the pneumonia be not complicated with other diseases, then generally there comes a period when the febrile storm subsides; the pains, the dyspnoea, etc., cease. In short, the patient feels himself greatly relieved so soon as the infiltration has become complete. At this period Art can have no other problem than to support Nature while she, for the sake of removing the exudation, increases the activity of the processes of absorption ; or, on the other hand, to oppose Nature, in case she shows a disposition to get rid of the pneumonic infiltration by a purulent degeneration.
Now, in our view, no remedy yet proved corresponds so well to these indications as Sulphur; none compares with it in point of certainty and celerity of action.
Sulphur penetrates the entire organism even in its finest and most recondite portions. It increases the activity of vegetative life generally, and of the processes of secretion and absorption in particular. It accelerates the interchange of elements and makes it more pervading; in a word, it fulfills all the demands upon which the removal of an abnormal product is conditional. Upon these grounds we apply Sulphur to the removal of pneumonic infiltration, of serous exudations, and of old as well as recent deposits in the skin, the parenchyma, the joints and the bones.
This masterly generalization is justified by the results of practice. It is a mode of seeking indications that is warranted by the facts, that provings on the healthy—the only absolutely certain source of indications for treating the sick—can never furnish us analogues of the exudations and infiltrations referred to by Wurmb. We must in such cases fall back on generalizations based jointly on pathology and pathogenesy.
This generalization will give us an explanation of the beneficial action of Sulphur in the second stage of exudative inflammation throughout the body; as in meningitis, ophthalmia, otitis, peritonitis, hsemorrhoidal tumors, pleuritis, pneumonia, periostitis, ostitis, adenitis, pericarditis.
But the generalization does not exhaust the subject of the applications of Sulphur. In puerperal peritonitis, at the very commencement of the disease, Sulphur is, I think, our most efficient remedy.
Even here there is an analogy to the second stage of an idiopathic inflammation. For it may be considered that the storm of invasion was exhausted by the labor of which the peritonitis is a sort of a sequel. And perhaps this view accounts in some measure for the asthenic character of this disease from the outset.
The skin diseases for which Sulphur is appropriate are papular, vesicular, or pustular eruptions, with the peculiar sensations already described.
As regards itch—scabies—if we restrict the term to the vesicular affections caused by the acarus, we must doubt the power of Sulphur to cure it specifically. If we use the term as Hahnemann and his contemporaries used it, to embrace impetigo, tinea, etc., Sulphur is one of our most efficient remedies.
Sulphur cures an unhealthy state of the skin in which it cracks, and in which slight scratches ulcerate and are slow to heal.
The kind of lumbago caused by Sulphur has been described.
In the second stage of acute articular rheumatism, where deposits are to be removed and where the feet in particular are affected, it is of great service.
In certain forms of paraplegia of children it often effects a cure.
Never prescribe this or any other drug without carefully comparing the symptoms of the case with those of the drug. GENERAL VIEWS. The limbs go to sleep easily ; sensation of lassitude, weariness and soreness in the limbs and bone pains, as if the flesh were off the bones.
Prickling and itching of the skin, at night in bed. Old scars and spots begin again to itch; soreness but not burning.
A scabious, eczematous eruption like cow-pox.
Jerking spasms of individual limbs and attacks like epilepsy, preceded by a feeling in the arms and back as if a mouse ran up them.
Ebullitions of blood, the veins of the hands swollen and burning, and from this restlessness throughout the body. Cannot sit in one posture ; must stretch out the hands, limbs and toes.
Sleepiness by day; in the afternoons; recurring after meals.
Late sleeping in the morning, not refreshed on waking. Sleepy in the evening, but cannot go to sleep for a long time; and during the night, wakeful, with excitement and restless tossing, and pressure of blood to head and chest. Wakes in affright. Lively and anxious dreams. Many symptoms come at night; burning in mouth, with thirst; nightmare; pains in hip joint; cramps in calves.
FEVER. Mixed. Cold predominates.
HEAT. Partial, and in the head and chest.
Excited, hasty, going from one subject to another; depressed and despondent.