ARSENICUM signs and symptoms from the Characteristic Materia Medica by William Burt of the homeopathic medicine ARSENICUM …


Through the ganglionic nervous system, Arsenicum acts upon almost every organ and tissue in the body. No remedy so soon annihilates the life of the ganglionic system. Its action, upon the cerebro-spinal system is only sympathetic, the great centre of action frequently reaches over, so to speak, the organic nervous system into the animal, affecting it profoundly.

Through the organic nervous system, it especially affects the alimentary canal,–whose organic functions are stricken down and destroyed from the inmost recesses of vitality. Its action somewhat resembles that which Aconite has upon the infinitesimal ramifications of the great sympathetic throughout all the arterial capillary vessels. Arsenic affects same capillary vessels, but more powerfully, and its action is more lasting.

The mucous membrane is affected throughout its whole length; but more especially the mouth, throat, stomach, duodenum and rectum.

Its action upon, the intestinal tract is so similar to that of cholera, that in all epidemic of cholera no man could tell the difference. the innumerable follicles of the immense intestinal tract are completely paralysed, and the watery elements of the blood exude through the relaxed tissues, in immense quantities, but, if the poison taken is large enough, this paralysis goes on to inflammation.

and destructive ulceration of the most malignant kind; the mucous membrane becomes dry, or exudes a thin, ichorous discharge, with violent vomiting, diarrhoea, dysentery, ulceration of the stomach and intestines, gangrene of the anus, aphthae of the buccal mucous membrane, violent thirst, with low prostrating fever, and death.

Upon the serous membranes, it produces sub-acute inflammation, with speedy and copious serous effusions, affecting most frequently the pleura, but not so powerfully the arachnoid and peritoneum.

Upon the skin, it has a profound action, producing almost every form of cutaneous irritation, from simple erythema to malignant erysipelas, pustular inflammation, and gangrene. But the most common form is the squamous and vesicular.

It also affects powerfully the salivary glands, liver and kidneys.

Through the organic nervous system, it has a powerful haematic action.The poison acts directly on the red corpuscles, diminishing their power of taking up the oxygen supplied to them in the lungs; and the carbonaceous compounds, thus unconsumed, deposit themselves in the form of fat. If this direct action in the corpuscles be granted, many of the phenomena of arsenical poisoning become explicable. No wonder that the blood is black and non-coagulable, resembling that of malignant fever and cholera; that petechial effusions frequently occur and the chronic poisoning takes the form of a profound cachexia (arterial stagnation).

The convulsions, paralysis, anaesthesia, neuralgia, melancholy, anxiety, anguish, irritability, great restlessness and softening of the brain, appear only through sympathy with the complete distraction of the functions of the organic nervous system.


Rapid and great prostration, with sinking of the vital forces.

Burning pain, the parts burn like fire.

Pains worse during rest; relieved by motion.

All the symptoms worse at night, particularly after midnight.

Great anguish, extreme restlessness, and fear of death.

Great thirst for cold water, drinks very often, but takes but little at a time.

Very weak and prostrated, has a clear countenance, frail look, and has a great desire for acids.N. MARTIN, M.D.

Great loss of flesh.

Wants to be in a warm room.

Cannot lie down for fear of suffocation; highest degree of dyspnoea.

Adapted to lymphatic nervous temperaments; sad and irritable; to dropsical and choleraic diseases, malarial fevers, especially if they have been abused by taking large doses of Quinine.

Mental Symptoms.-Great anguish; fear of death; desponds of being cured, with great restlessness and exhaustion.

Head.-Periodical headaches.

Constant severe headache, with vomiting when raising up the head; softening of the brain; with constant vertigo, accompanied with severe vomiting and anguish.

Acts especially upon the scalp, dry scaly eruption.

Cadaverous face, nose pointed, eyes sunken.

White, waxy, pale face, with great debility.

Nasal catarrh, discharges fluent and acrid.

Digestive Organs.-Constantly licking the dry, cracked lips, with great burning heat of the whole body.

Tongue dry brown, or black.-RAUE.

Gangrenous aphthae, which burns like fire.

Violent burning pains in the stomach.

The stomach does not seem to assimilate cold water; it is wanted but cannot drink it.-RAUE.

Stomach disordered after eating ice-cream of fruit.

Nausea and vomiting from drinking ice water.

Nightly vomiting with much anguish and restlessness.

Violent vomiting of ingesta, serous liquids, with flakes, also brown or black substances, with violent burning pains in the stomach and watery diarrhoea, accompanied with cramps of the abdominal muscles and extremities.-RAUE.

Sensation as if a stone was in the stomach.

Diarrhoea of a cadaverous smell, scenting the whole atmosphere of the room.-RAUE.

Diarrhoea is renewed after eating or drinking.

Great innervation after stool, the anus burns like fire.- HEMPEL.

Acrid burning, corroding discharges, often extremely offensive.

Painful lienteria.

Intense burning sensation like coals of fire in the abdomen.

Inflamed varices.

Tabes mesenterica, last stages.

Burning high colored urine.

Generative Organs of Women.-Leucorrhoea, thick, yellow, corroding the parts which are touched.

Scirrhus uteri.

Thin corrosive leucorrhoea, with great debility.

Catamenia too early and too profuse.

Respiratory Organs.-Voice hoarse, from debility.

Asthma, with constriction of the chest and anguish, aggravated by motion, worse evenings.

Skin.-General anasarca, with white waxy paleness of the face and great debility.

Eruptions disappear suddenly, with rapid prostration.

Arsenicum has many characteristic skin symptoms, which will well repay investigation.

Irritation of the interior ganglia, those whose affection is so often mistaken for spinal irritation, which develops itself in that raised burning itching eruption, popularly called hives or nettle rash.-J.H.P. FROST, M.D.

Bran-like, dry scaly eruptions with itching and burning; the latter increased by scratching and followed by bleeding.

Phagedenic ulcerations, constantly extending in breadth.

Generalities.-Sensation as if warm air was streaming up the spine into the head.

Neuralgia; the pains are burning, with agony and great restlessness; often intermittent; worse during rest, and at night; relieved by exercise.

Chronic inflammation of serous membranes with copious serous effusion.

Intermittent fevers, especially if abused by large doses of Quinine and of long duration. Chill and heat predominate; no sweat.

Poisoning from decayed or morbid matter, by inoculation, inhalation or swallowing-H.

William Burt
William H. Burt, MD
Characteristic materia medica Published 1873
Physiological materia medica, containing all that is known of the physiological action of our remedies; together with their characteristic indications and pharmacology. Published 1881