ARSENICUM ALBUM symptoms of the homeopathy remedy from Plain Talks on Materia Medica with Comparisons by W.I. Pierce. What ARSENICUM ALBUM can be used for? Indications and personality of ARSENICUM ALBUM…



      This remedy is “one of the oldest of Hahnemann’s provings, but published in the Fragmenta, not in the first volume of his Materia Medica. The reasons for this omission he gives in 1816, in the second volume. The ignorant, maltreated, easily frightened, people, seeing the great effect of small doses, cried him out a `poison doctor’ (Hering).

Hahnemann has, naturally, a good deal to say concerning the old school physicians who “evidently vie with one another who shall prescribe the largest possible doses of these drugs.

“But if the homoeopathic medical art employ the same drugs, not at random, like the ordinary method, but after careful investigation, only in suitable cases and in the smallest possible doses, it is denounced as a practice of poisoning.

” If Homoeopathy now make a fuller explanation-if she condemn (as from conviction she must) the monstrous doses of these drugs employed in ordinary practice-and, if she, relying on careful trials, insist that very much less of them should be given for a dose, then see the adherents of the ordinary school who denounce the homoeopathic healing as a system of poisoning,

see how they laugh aloud at that they call childishness, and declare themselves convinced (convinced without trial?) that such a small quantity can do nothing at all, and can have no effect whatever is, indeed, just the same as nothing” (Mat. Medorrhinum Pura).

Hahnemann also says: “But when I have finished with the wiseacre, who, never consulting experience, ridicules the small dose of homoeopathy as a nonentity, as utterly powerless, I hear on the other side the hypocritical stickler for caution still inveigh against the danger of the small doses used in homoeopathic practice, without a shadow of proof for his reckless assertion.

“A few words here for such persons” (Mat. Medorrhinum Pura).

The “few words” are too many for quotation and you are referred to his Mat. Medorrhinum Pura for them.

Hahnemann advised the 30th dilution of Arsenicum, made from the 3rd trituration.


      Dunham after nothing the effects in acute poisoning by the drug, which reads like a review of its characteristic symptoms, says: “A summary review of the effects of Arsenic leads us of conclude:

“1. From the fact that, after death from poisoning by it, it is found in almost every tissue and secretion of the body, that it is universally diffused throughout the body and acts upon every part.

“2. From the fact that its action and diffusion are uniform, however it be introduced into the body, whether through the skin or by the alimentary canal, that its action is specific and not local.

“3. From its effects in chronic poisonings, producing anaemia, exhaustion, emaciation, etc., that it acts upon the blood composition, as well as directly on the tissues and on the nervous system.”

Arsenicum is a tissue remedy, with a wide range of action and an especially affinity for the skin and mucous membranes.

It is a remedy with pronounced characteristics, making it one that is easily kept in mind, for one or more of these characteristic symptoms are found every time the remedy is prescribed.


There is a tendency to “periodic complaints,” says Hering, “return of complains when the year come round.” In all conditions calling for the remedy there is apt to be an aggravation after midnight; ” the pain and uneasiness return at regular hours as in fever and ague,” reads one symptom and Allen tells us that Arsenicum “produces well-marked intermittent fever, with incomplete resolution.” IRRITABILITY.

The physical body is in a constant state of irritability.

If you have a cold in the head there is much tickling and irritation in the nose, with inclination to sneeze, but repeated sneezing affords no relief as the irritation is as great afterwards as it was before.

The stomach is irritable in gastric conditions, and will reject any food or water that is sent down to comfort it, and if there is any itching of the skin you must keep your hands off, as scratching will only make bad, worse.


You will recall that in Aconite this fear of death is a feeling that one is seriously sick and the doctor and his remedies are anxiously looked for. In Arsenicum, on the other hand, the patient feels that his trouble is incurable, that he is going to die and that no medicine can help him.


“Arsenic exhausts the vital power of certain organs or systems or of the entire organism, produces symptoms of impeded activity in the functions; indeed, in some cases, positive paralysis.

“This asthenic condition characterizes the entire symptomatology of Arsenic” (Dunham).

“The Arsenic condition tends deathward,” says Farrington, and it is indicated in states of profound prostration, rapid exhaustion or even collapse (34); great restlessness (160) is the usual accompaniment, and with this tossing about, we find every movement followed by exhaustion.


Thirst is another characteristic of the remedy; the patients

do not drink much at a time, a sip is usually enough, but they want it frequently; little but often. This, is not so much a condition of true thirst as it is a need for something to relieve the great dryness or burning that they have in their mouth (140), pharynx or stomach (178); this the sips of water will do momentarily, but they must be taken frequently as the burning soon returns.


The pains and discharges calling for Arsenicum are burning or excoriating and it is immaterial whether the patient is describing a gastric condition or an external ulcer, he will refer to the pains as burning.


Another characteristic of the remedy is the relief experienced from warmth (10); better from the stove, is the way the symptom frequently reads.

In addition to these characteristics-



Anguish and fear of death.

Prostration and restlessness,


Burning pains.

Relief form heat-the Arsenicum patient in chronic conditions is weak, run-down and emaciated, with white and dry skin and of a general cachectic appearance, associated with a tendency to dropsical effusions (63).

Mentally, we find melancholia, with tendency to commit suicide (183), in insanity they may try to mutilate themselves, restlessness (160), with constant change of place, wringing of hands and talking of the incurability of their complaint, with aggravation the last part of the night. Nearly all the mental disorders calling for the remedy are characterized by extreme anxiety, fear of being alone (80), fear of death (81), yet despair of life, and restlessness (160).

Arsenicum has a neuralgic headache, that is usually worse at night, with pains, that are likened by Hering to thrusts of hot wire, and with tendency to periodical return.

In the eyes, in all external inflammations, we find extreme painfulness, burning pains (73), hot and excoriating lachrymation, swelling of the lids (79), often closing the eyes, and great photophobia. In ciliary neuralgia it is of value, when we have fine, burning pains and relief from heat.

It is of importance in retinitis haemorrhagica (77), especially when dependent upon disease of the kidney.

In the ears think of it for otorrhoea, with thin, excoriating, fetid discharge (63).

Arsenicum is frequently indicated in profuse, fluent coryza (37) or hay-fever (88),”as a rule, there is no stoppage” of the nose (Allen), although we may find “stoppage of nose, alternating with fluent coryza” (Hering) (40).

A symptom that I would accept with much reserve as it was not development in the proving, but from poisoning from arsenical wall-paper, is that the discharge is less in the open air. The discharge is thin, watery, burning and acrid (37), and excoriates the upper lip; along with this there is sneezing and Farrington says, “this sneezing in the Arsenic case is not joke.” It is not a good, old fashioned, hearty sneeze that satisfies you and leads you to listen for the word gesundheit, but it a paroxysm of sneezing and by the time you are enabled to take a long breath you find that the irritation to sneeze is as great, if not greater, than when you began.

We have in Arsenicum an extreme sensitiveness to smell, they cannot even bear the smell of food (171).

The face is pale and puffy in anaemia, gastro-intestinal troubles and even in fever; in chronic conditions it is pinched, sunken and cold, perhaps with cold sweat (185).

In facial neuralgia (79) and in toothache (187) the pains are apt to be worse after midnight and are burning in character; but for all that, they are relieved by heat, and the favorite place for the Arsenicum patient is near the stove, as they feel so much better from its warmth. With the toothache the teeth feel too long (187).

The gums are unhealthy and bleed easily (84), but the general cachexia of the patient and the concomitant symptoms must help you in the selection, as this is but one of several remedies where the gums bleed easily.

Willard Ide Pierce
Willard Ide Pierce, author of Plain Talks on Materia Medica (1911) and Repertory of Cough, Better and Worse (1907). Dr. Willard Ide Pierce was a Director and Professor of Clinical Medicine at Kent's post-graduate school in Philadelphia.