MERCURY AND ITS HOMOEOPATHIC USE


From Hahnemann, who for his time had superior chemical knowledge : Mercurius solubilis which we may consider the prototype of all quicksilver preparations. In its proving picture it does not differ materially from metallic Hg. From their combinations the following preparations have accentuation of certain Hg. function. But the basis of their therapeutic action is always decided by its quicksilver.


(From Hippokrates. Translated for The Pacific Coast Journal of Homoeopathy by S. W. Staads.).

WE can connect to what all physicians in their student days learned about quicksilver. In the treatment of syphilis a stomatitis of distinct character is common, unless great care is exercised. Three distinguished marks are characteristic for this Mercury stomatitis : much swelling of the mucous membrane, foul breath and salivation, which symptoms are the warning signals when using the orthodox course of Mercury inunction. No other remedy has these symptoms so pronounced.

The gums are spongy, swollen and bleed easily. There may be pyorrhoea and loosening of teeth. The tongue is also swollen and shows the imprint of the teeth. The mucous membranes are less red, more livid in this condition; the ulcers have a gray base. The tonsils are much swollen, and have a gray, ulcerating coating. In this condition of the mouth and throat it is no wonder that there is an intense, foul odour, which fills the entire room, and is caused by the decomposition of mucus and saliva.

To this is added another typical symptom: constant desire to s wallow in spite of resulting stitching pains. We meet the same tenesmus in Belladonna in which it is, at least partly, caused by the dryness of the mucous membrane aside from the swelling. Contrary to the Belladonna dryness, Mercurius has salivation. Also in other organs there is tenesmus and pointing to the choice of this remedy, viz. urethra and rectum.

When in a diarrhoea there is constant tenesmus not relieved by evacuations, so that patients hardly get away from the toilet, then Mercurius promises a sure cure of the intestinal catarrh. The cause of this tenesmus in the swelling of the mucous membrane. Even if a tumour of the rectum should cause this tenesmus, Stiegele saw relief from this aggravating symptom through Mercury, thus proving the pathological-functional action of quick-silver. A cure of the tumour, of course, is not to be expected by the use of Mercury.

Mercurius solubilis (Mercuramidonitrat NH 2 Hg 3 NO 2) can be considered the prototype of the Mercury preparations in use, and in its remedy picture,it hardly differs from the metallic quick- silver. When the acrid secretions and the spreading of the ulcerating processes become most prominent, which also increases the tenesmus, then Mercurius sublimatus is often preferred. The necrotic action is the basis of its remedial action.

In Mercurius cases we also may expect a chilly and feverish condition; Hahnemann mentions a “Mercurial fever”. The perspirations are peculiar in that they do not relieve, but rather aggravate the patients condition. Therefore, it would be contrary to good practice to make such a patient perspire, and he will soon tell us that he does not like to perspire for it makes him so weak.

These perspirations are usually of bad odour and stain the linen yellow. Furthermore, Mercury has distinct nocturnal aggravations of many symptoms, including the perspirations. If we meet such perspirations we may confidently give Mercury and it will reward the effort, no matter what the disease is diphtheria, bronchitis or arthritis.

All diseased mucous membranes under Mercurius are characterized by swelling and acrid secretions, which later may become bland and muco-purulent. Such secretions are very copious. Therefore, as to the eye, we find acrid lachrymation with spastic lid closure and ulceration; the nose is swollen, and the nostrils are sore with copious watery acrid or muco-purulent secretions.

In infectious urethral processes we again find, aside from swelling and acridity also the painful urging to urinate with the sensation of “not getting done”. In gonorrhoea of the urethra, vagina or rectum Mercurius can be of great benefit. It must also be used when the inguinal glands or testicles are involved. Mercurius iodatus rubber has a very good reputation in the treatment of acute involvement of the adnexa from gonorrhoea or other infection.

Mercurius is also indicated in threatening suppuration of glands or cellular tissue. No other remedy has this quick inflammatory infiltration accompanied by swelling and redness and threatening suppuration, not even Belladonna nor Hepar. The severe swelling from bee sting is edematous, hence of a different kind. Mercury is also a valuable remedy in acutely swollen glands of the neck, and may prevent suppuration. These swollen lymph glands are not especially painful, while Belladonna and Hepar are very sensitive.

A modality which separates Mercurius from other similar remedies is : intolerance to heat, hence such a patient should not have hot applications which he dislikes and they do not do him any good. To be sure, he also dislikes cold which aggravates his condition. This is illustrated by the fact that though Mercury can in many cases overcome the pain in periodontitis, if it is indicated, the patient will state that he cannot stand hot foods in the mouth, nor cold drinks, both cause pain.

In such cases Mercury will help in a few minutes. In the treatment of cellulitis one would not give Mercury if hot applications are not tolerated : here Hepar or Belladonna are indicated.

The proving picture of Mercurius resembles the syphilis complex so much, that pathological-anatomical comparisons find no difference. This has often led to severe differences between physicians in the unsuccessful treatment of syphilis with quicksilver, the one group claiming a quicksilver poisoning, while the other claims an insufficient dose. Theoretically both are possible. But such controversy can only exist when Mercury is considered a specific for lues.

To-day we know that such patients react unequally to Mercury, Salvarsan or Bismuth. There is no specific for syphilis, nor for any other disease. Nor can it be held that it is possible to disinfect the organism. In his pre- homoeopathic time Hahnemann took the view, that one disease was overcome by the other. This artificial remedy sickness he called Mercurial fever. Later this view was incorporated in his Homoeopathy, and he never had to recant. He always saw the essential in the assistance of the organism, and this was to be stimulated by proper medication.

Another similarity of quicksilver action we find in dysentery. A difference in the anatomic-pathologic picture is impossible also here, as Virchow has clearly shown. The inflammatory process in the colonic mucous membrane to the rectum is also found in Mercury, even a diphtheritic coating. The result is : stools of blood, pus, mucus, as also constant tenesmus, “cannot get done”.

These changes in the colon take place not only when Mercury is given by mouth, but also when administered parenterally, which proves that the agent finds its way to the rectal mucosa according to the law of organotrophy. Hungo Schulz points out that it is wrong to say : Quick-silver shows its action on those mucous membranes through which it is expelled, because if it is expelled, it must be re-absorbed in order to act. Therefore, we must accept the fruitful explanation offered by organotrophy.

Quicksilver has great affinity for Chlor, which explains some of its chef actions. The disinfectioning power of the sublimate originate from the fact that Hg12 is changed to Hg.CI. and Chlor is set free. In the presence of Chlor, Calomel (Hg.CI) again combines with a Chlor atom, thus again forming sublimate. That is why salt is added to sublimate for disinfection.

In the living organism there is also the possibility of such Chlor activity, for it is present in the body fluids. A similar change may also be supposed regarding oxygen, for it also similarly combines and splits. One is tempted to compare the action of action Chlor (as it appears to us in the Chlor fumes) with the quicksilver action, and to consider the power of the latter to destroy mucous membranes as a Chlor action.

Hg. has an intimate affinity for the Sulphur of albumen. By the absorption of Hg. it binds itself to the albumens, and is there deposited. Through splitting of this process of binding, it always again unfolds its action.

Mercury acts on all real glands : sudorific, mucous, salivary, gastro-intestinal pancreatic, lymph, etc. The liver deserves special mention, it enlarges, and under the stimulus of quicksilver it increases or diminishes its specific function : becoming abundant from mild stimuli, and scarce from strong stimuli. This reasoning belongs to the basis of remedy therapy. If the irritation from quicksilver differs in some respects from other agents, this can only be caused by mercury stimulating certain functions, while other agents affect other functions, or cell groups.

Furthermore, the picture is principally influenced by other tissues being also affected which were passed over by different agents. Therefore,it can be of essential significance if the blood vessels undergo changes which cause increased or decreased blood supply. Or a different note enters because the interstitial connective tissue is also drawn into the process. Both, i.e. the increased blood supply and the activating of the interstitial connective tissue, must be supposed in quicksilver intoxication.

Due to the differences in cell groups and the differing action on them by medicines, we get the diversity of symptoms groups, which in Homoeopathy are found in the pictures of the provings. Often we do not know to which cell group or cell action certain symptoms are due. Future investigation has much to clarify here. Until then we must be satisfied with comparisons of remedy and natural sickness without knowing the connecting link.

Externally there is a very important similarity between quicksilver and syphilis in the proliferative character of the processes, which in syphilis tend to swelling of glands and gummata. Similarly we find it in its remedy: quicksilver. Glandular swellings, as mentioned, are its special domain. The swollen and inflamed tonsils prove no exception. There is no remedy like Mercury, that will so quickly remedy swollen tonsils remaining after angina. Here are selected especially Mercurius iodatus ruber and flavus. But if there is a chronic enlargement, then, after some weeks we have to consider the Calcium and Barium salts, which then must be given for a longer time.

From this we can surely suppose that quicksilver is especially valuable in exudative diathesis. Here we must not only think of catarrh of mucous membranes and enlarged lymph glands, but also of the skin. Simple erythema, moist eczemas to pemphigus-like manifestations are amenable to its action. It embraces a large field, and it acts best the more the eruption is of an exudative character: moist and vesicular. Herpes zoster also yields well. In impetigo contagiosa it is to be compared with the Ammonia salts (Antimonium crudum and tartaricum). It has been reliably used in otitis media, conjunctivitis, and corneal ulcers when the mucous membranes are much inflamed, causing severe photophobia, and when a muco-purulent condition is present.

Corneal ulcers and iritis also are under its influence. In otitis media it is not only used to prevent ulceration, but also spreading to the mastoid cells. It may sound presumptive, but must not be concealed, that homoeopathic physicians for many years never had to resort to surgery for suppuration coming from middle-ear infection, when using Mercury preparations and a few remedies like Belladonna, Apis, Capsicum, etc. Anybody can verify this by trying it. For Mercury symptoms accompany inflammation and much swelling of the tonsils. One who masters the suggested remedies can treat otitis media with equanimity.

Homoeopathy claims to have efficacious remedies for diphtheria. They are principally the Mercuries, but not they alone. The serum treatment does not constitute an active performance by the organism, but us only supplying the antitoxins according the modern authorities. Since serum sickness is not an infrequent, damaging concomitant, the serum therapy for diphtheria is a disputed subject.

We do not have to decide it here. But we say here, that serum treatment does not exclude the use of homoeopathic remedies. And when the opponents of Homoeopathy, full of moral indignation because homoeopaths do not reach for the serum syringe, attack us, it appears to us just as unintelligible that they disdain the use of our remedies, especially since it is well known, that in dangerous septic cases the efficacy of serum is very questionable.

In the treatment of diphtheria Mercurius cyanatus has been used for many years, because it has tendency to cause membranes, due to its cyan components. If the glands of the neck are prominently enlarged, Mercurius iodatus ruber is preferred. But it cannot be stated often enough, that these remedies are not specific. No two cases of diphtheria are alike, and the really indicated remedy can only be found by studying the materia medica.

The knowledge of quicksilver poisoning is common property of medical science. Its use in homoeotherapy depends not only upon the morphological changes, but also upon function-pathological disturbances, which facilitates differentiation between related remedies. A piece of art in the sketch is incomplete until it is carefully developed by the artist, and only that gives it the soul. Something similar we have in the homoeopathic remedy pictures as contrasted with the toxicological pictures of poisoning. Therefore, we shall now mention a few symptoms which are of special value for the homoeopathist, but very little considered in the toxicology.

Leading Mercury Symptoms. Prominent in the nocturnal aggravation and from warmth of bed. Neither pronounced heat nor cold are tolerated; wet-cold weather aggravates.

Halitosis from inflamed mucous membranes; salivation. Perspiration of unpleasant odour and sticky; it does not relieve the general condition, but often aggravates.

All secretions are acrid and of bad odour, later becoming muco- purulent and mild.

Severe swelling of inflamed parts.

Preparations. From Hahnemann, who for his time had superior chemical knowledge : Mercurius solubilis which we may consider the prototype of all quicksilver preparations. In its proving picture it does not differ materially from metallic Hg. From their combinations the following preparations have accentuation of certain Hg. function. But the basis of their therapeutic action is always decided by its quicksilver.

Mercurius corrosivus (Hg.CI2). By its external action it already shows its sharper character, of which we make use in quickly spreading phagdenic ulcers, e.g. in Diphtheria, Dysentery, Appendicitis. Its connection with the kidneys is also direct (Nephritis). The character and leading symptoms do not differ from Mercurius solubilis, only its tenesmus is more pronounced.

Mercurius cyanatus (Hg.CN2) is valuable in diphtheria, because the cyan-components in the toxicological experiments favoured the necrosis of mucous membranes. Septic conditions and toxic character as well as cyanosis in diphtheria indicate this remedy especially. But here Mercurius corrosivus and ruber have also proved valuable. At any rate, it must not be considered a specificum in diphtheria, because it not always being indicated, will disappoint in many cases.

Mercurius iodatus ruber (Hg.I2) is a really valuable remedy in angina and diphtheria. Also when frequent attacks of angina leave the tonsils enlarged, with or without swollen neck glands, catarrh of throat and nose; this remedy given daily three times in the 4x potency for several weeks, will reduce the swellings materially. Calcarea iodata or phosphorica, Baryta carbonica and Iodium, as well as Silicea and Magnesia follow well to complete a cure. In acute adnexa inflammation and pelvic peritonitis it proves valuable again and again.

Mercurius iodatus ruber is supposed to act especially on the left tonsil, while the similar Mercurius iodatus flavus (Hg.2Ie) has more affinity for the right tonsil. (Compare Lycopodium.).

Mercurius dulcis Being a milder preparation it acts more on the deeper metabolic processes. In the 2x potency it is used in catarrh of the duodenum with icterus and gall bladder affections.

Mercurius chrom. oxydul combines the actions of quicksilver and chromium. It causes deep destruction, ulcers look as if punched out and hence is needed in such syphilitic processes in low triturations (2x and 3x).

Mercurius sulphatus ruber (Cinnabaris Hg.S) is valuable in catarrh of sinuses of a subacute or chronic character. It re- establishes the dried up secretions, thus overcoming the headaches, and its continued use can complete a cure. (Compare Kali bichromicum.) Also in old lues with broad condylomas and fiery-red ulcers it has proved valuable.

Aethiops antimonialis and mercurialis are prescribed in scrofulous patients for ophthalmia, otorrhoea, eruptions on a scrofulous or syphilitic basis.

Dose. The potency used mostly may be the 4x to 6x. In processes with severe swelling of lymph glands the 3x is also prescribed. In luetic processes one can go down to the 2x.

If a threatening suppuration is to be aborted, e.g. the beginning of a tonsillar abscess, the higher potencies must be chosen, never below the 12x, because the lower potencies “ripen” and the higher attenuations often cause a resorption. Also in otitis media this should be remembered, as the experience of many homoeopathic physicians proves.

Julius Metzger