No XIV – Phosphorus

Phosphorus patient is much excited. This excitement is manifested in gaiety and levity, in diminished sleep without consequent suffering; in restlessness and dreamful sleep, in entire sleeplessness, even in delirium. …

Phosphorus acts directly upon the blood-life, modifying it in a remarkable manner, producing a tendency to decomposition, and causing ecchymosis, haemorrhage and depositions in the parenchymatous organs. The pus of which it induces the formation is intermediate between true pus and sanies. Phosphorus induces, in particular, a violent erethistic condition of the whole vital process, acting first, upon the nervous system, then by a reflex action upon the vascular and the remaining system, and causing in its subsequent action, apathy, torpor, and paralytic conditions.

1. Vascular System. Erethism is distinctly marked. Sometimes it is general; sometimes partial, affecting especially the head and chest; chills predominate, but excessive heat is often induced, and these sensations alternate quickly with each other. Sensations resulting from a partial erethistic condition in the head and chest accompany almost all other symptoms. Throbbing of the vessels of the head (also Belladonna). The general temperature is much elevated. Thirst may be increased or absent. Sweat is much increased.

2. Nervous System. Much excited. This excitement is manifested in gaiety and levity, in diminished sleep without consequent suffering; in restlessness and dreamful sleep, in entire sleeplessness, even in delirium. The fantasy is exalted. In the further action of Phosphorous apathy is induced; the mental activity and ability are diminished; trembling and jerking of the muscles are frequent, especially of the muscles of the head, face and neck.

3. Nutrition. Impaired as shown by the earthy complexion, with the peculiar yellow tint, recognized in the Phosphorous degeneration. The turgor vitalis is at first increased, then depressed, emaciation resulting. The Secretions are in general diminished, even to dryness. (Sweat and urine are (mechanically?) increased).

4. Skin. Phosphorous has little affinity for the skin. It induces the formation of papules and of ulcers, especially on the points of transition between the mucous membranes and the skin, and in the hollows of the joints (this is very characteristics). Ecchymoses.

5. Eyes. Irritation, swelling, the conjunctiva is reddened, and the cornea is rendered opaque; the globe of the eye enlarges, and vesicles form in and around the eyes; in consequence, sensations as of clouds and sparks before the eyes are induced, with a sensation as of sand in the eye, and twitching of the eyelids.

6. Ears. Dryness.

7. Nose. Dryness, ulceration, sticking, efflorescence around the nose.

8. Mouth. Dryness, furred tongue, vesicles, aphthae, difficult deglutition (because of the dryness). The pharynx is irritated and inflamed.

9. Digestion. Disturbed, as is shown by loss of appetite, disgust, nausea, scanty vomiting, acrid eructations.

10. Excretions. Sensation of heat through the whole intestinal track, even to burning, relieved by Coffee. Various pains. Great development of gas (meteorismus tympanitis). Stools are scanty, of a pappy nature, green, also gray, thin and frequent. Sometimes they are difficult and painful, attended by tenesmus and burning in the anus.

11. Respiratory Organs. A Specific Action. Phosphorous induces great dryness, roughness, hoarseness, laborious cough, with a scanty, tenacious, muco-purulent and bloody expectoration. The respiration is accelerated, with a feeling of constriction, heat, congestion and sticking pain.

12. Genito-Urinary Organs. Inflammation of the kidneys (?). Diminution or increase of the urine; burning in the urethra, or involuntary micturition.

The sexual instinct is increased, showing itself in priapism, nymphomania, pollution, powerless coitus, etc. Menstruation is too early and too copious.

13. Bones. Phosphorus exerts a specific action, especially on the jaw- bones, inducing inflammation and suppuration, with a simultaneous formation of callus.


Phosphorus is indicated as well in acute as in chronic cases, rather in acute diseases. In all conditions of nervous and vascular irritation with debility, hence in erethistic conditions it stands before all other remedies. In the diseases in which it is applicable, the transition is always easy to torpor; there is always a dyscrasia, approaching in character the Typhoid dyscrasia.

Special Application. 1. In typhus. The Phosphorous pathogenesis is a perfect picture of erethistic typhus (cerebral and abdominal). It is to be compared with Arsenicum, which produces collapse, decubitus, and colliquative diarrhoea, and is thereby distinguished from Phosphorus, which has no diarrhoea.

In pneumo-typhus, where the diagnosis hesitates between tuberculosis and typhus. In all cases in which inflammation takes on a nervous character, e.g., dysentery, pyaemia, acute catarrh, with nervous symptoms.

2. To information of mucous membranes Phosphorus has a peculiar affinity, with a scanty muco-purulent secretion. Hence, in ophthalmia with general vascular excitement; in pneumonia tuberculosis (frequent in Phosphorous factories), in gastritis, enteritis, nephritis, and haematuria, with dark, scanty, turbid urine.

3. Osteitis and necrosis, especially of maxillary bones.

4. Rheumatism. In bone diseases depending on rheumatism. In diseases assuming a chronic form.

1. Day-blindness; photophobia, with spots and sparks before the eyes. Otitis, with deafness after nervous fevers. Polypus nasi. Dental caries.

2. Priapism, impotence; amenorrhoea.

Carroll Dunham
Dr. Carroll Dunham M.D. (1828-1877)
Dr. Dunham 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. While in Dublin, he received a dissecting wound that nearly killed him, but with the aid of homoeopathy he cured himself with Lachesis. He visited various homoeopathic hospitals in Europe and then went to Munster where he stayed with Dr. Boenninghausen and studied the methods of that great master. His works include 'Lectures on Materia Medica' and 'Homoeopathy - Science of Therapeutics'.