THE MINERAL ACIDS, by their caustic action, cause a violent inflammation of the parts which they touch, leading, as when the buccal mucous membrane is the part attacked, to destruction of the epithelium, co-agulation of tissues, ulcers, and even gangrene.
Symptoms vary, therefore, from slight increased redness and raw appearance of cheeks and tongue to the production of blisters and the formation of ulcers and sloughs. Agreeably to such disturbances the neighbouring glands are affected, notably those which empty into the mouth; and there is also decided systemic prostration.
But the several ACIDS vary in their intensity of action and in their respective characteristic effects. Muriatic and Sulphuric Acid cause deep ulcers; Nitric Acid, ulcers with hard, everted edges, paining as from splinters sticking.
All these cause inflammatory swelling of the tongue; but Muriatic Acid seems, more than the others, to cause a hardening of the tongue, with or without deep bluish ulcers. Hence Hahnemann employed it in Cancer.
All increase and alter the saliva; Nitric Acid most intensely developing a ropy, fetid ptyalism; Sulphuric Acid a saltish saliva, with much frothy mucus in the mouth; Phosphoric Acid, a frothy, sour saliva.
The MINERAL ACIDS, however, have another, and, to the Homoeopathician, a very important effect. I refer to the debility which they induce. In small doses they are termed tonic. They stimulate digestion, except, perhaps Sulphuric Acid which precipitates albumen in an insoluble from (Ringer) But soon they induce true characteristic debility. This debility is not simply that of functional weakness, it is more like that which arises from impoverished blood, from severe and malignant disease, from mal-nutrition. And it is here we find the grandest use of the ACIDS.
So far as mouth symptoms are concerned, this debility is manifested in one of two ways, either the tongue is red, raw- looking, dry and smooth; or it is pale, flabby, and denuded of epithelium. In either form aphthae may be present, though they are more common with the first form. Let us see if we can discriminate between the ACIDS in these classes of symptoms.
PHOSPHORIC ACID. offers a tongue with a central red streak, widening as it approaches the tip. But in this ACID anaemia is more pronounced than inflammation; pale smooth tongue, coated with a sticky mucus. If, as is claimed by Galloway, lemon juice contains Phosphoric Acid, we can expect the letter to do good in Scurvy. In addition to symptoms named, it has swelling of the gums; they bleed when touched, etc.
NITRIC ACID. has an especial affinity for the junctions of mucous membrane and skin; it attacks margins or borders. Hence we find as valuable accompaniments of stomacace, aphthae, etc., sores in the corners of the mouth, and vesicles and sores on the margin of the mouth.
It buccal symptoms are very closely allied to those of Mercury, and therefore it excels the other acids as an antidote to mercurialization, and as a remedy in Secondary and Tertiary Syphilis.
MURIATIC ACID is of inestimable value in debility, traceable to atony of the stomach, with prolonged refusal of food, or with persistent vomiting of what is taken. There seems to be no reaction. The muscles are utterly exhausted, and the vitality is so low that the sphincters relax, permitting defection with each attempt at urination. The mouth is full of fetid, bluish-white aphthae, with here and there deep, dark ulcers.
SULPHURIC ACID is scarcely second in what we may term “gastric debility”. All substance is at once vomited, though brandy diluted is retained for a time. The patient, if old enough and conscious, complains of a general tremor. This may be purely subjective, or it may be also objective.
The aphthae are whitish and also yellowish. This last color is, I think, worthy of especial note, since we know how characteristic are yellow, slimy stools in this remedy; and since, moreover, Dr. R.M. Smith has confirmed the use of the drug in Diphtheria, when the membrane is of a marked lemon yellow color, hanging in strings from the posterior nares.
This remedy, resembles Kali Bichromicum, but is distinguished by the tough fibrinous quality of the secretions of the latter.
While these several acids agree in the kind of diseased effects produced, we see that they differ so essentially as to render their indiscriminate use unscientific.