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.

Arsenicum is of value in many troubles of the tongue, such as neuralgia (192), canker sores (140) and epithelioma (192), all with burning pain (140). In fevers the tongue is dry, red, brown or black (192), and smooth as if varnished. In gastric conditions, it is often raw and fissured, looking like piece of raw feet.

It is a remedy to be thought of for ulceration of the mouth and for gangrenous sore mouth in children (141). There seems to be no prevailing taste; the following are to be found at various time-sweets, sour, bitter, putrid and metallic (186).

While Arsenicum is seldom called for in diphtheria in the early stage, it is indicated later with the extreme prostration as a marked feature.

In the oesophagus it is to be thought of in inflammation, with burning pain and spasmodic stricture on swallowing food.

Many gastric conditions, cancer (178), ulcer (181), chronic catarrh (178) and the nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (153), call for Arsenicum, all with the characteristic indications of extreme prostration, great soreness and burning pain (178), the thirst for sips of cold water and the great irritability that causes the stomach to reject everything, even the swallow of water that is taken to relieve the burning. The whole inner portion of the stomach seems raw. It is to be thought of in gastralgia brought on by the slightest food or drink, and in gastritis due to ice-cream, if eaten too quickly, or to too much ice-water (177).

In the many catarrhal and inflammatory condition of the abdomen, for which this remedy is useful, the same characteristic symptoms will be found, including the burning pains and great sensitiveness to touch (12), the extreme prostration, general coldness and tendency to collapse (34) and the relief form external heat.

By this times, s it has been repeated so often, if I should ask you to give the indications for Arsenicum in haemorrhoids (86), you would reply in the words of the Handbook, “burning like fire, better from eat.”

In the diarrhoea calling for Arsenicum the stools are dark, scanty, watery of bloody, burning (61) and putrid (59), with aggravation from eating (7) or drinking (57) and after midnight. The movements are preceded by violent burning pains in the intestines, they are excoriating and burning (61), may be accompanied by vomiting and cold sweat (185) and are followed by great exhaustion (58). Thirst and restlessness are constant features.

In children suffering from marasmus (129) it is of great value, with the emaciation, prostration, irritable stomach and bowels and the other characteristic symptoms of the remedy.

It is to be thought of in cystitis, with scanty urine and burning micturition (194).

Arsenicum has become, with many, a routine remedy in chronic interstitial nephritis and the results are no more satisfactory here than with any routine remedy anywhere; but it is indicated in interstitial (124) and croupous nephritis (124), with weak heart, oedematous extremities and dropsy (63), very irritable stomach and bowels, the characteristic thirst, scanty, hot and albuminous urine. While the urine is usually scanty in all diseases calling for the remedy, it may be suppressed in cholera (200) and in general dropsy (200).

Menstruation is apt to be too early and too profuse (135), especially in the anaemic (15) who cannot stand the loss of blood, and followed by exhaustion (138).

It is also to be thought of in amenorrhoea (134), with profuse, excoriating leucorrhoea instead of menses (126). The leucorrhoea of Arsenicum, which is apt to be associated with anaemia, is excoriating (126), burning (126) and offensive (126).

The right ovary is the one mostly affected (147) and the pains are burning as from fire, with aggravation after midnight.

Arsenicum is of great value in diseased condition of the uterus, including inflammations, ulcerations (204), cancer (202), and haemorrhages, with lancinating, burning pains.

In laryngeal and pulmonary conditions, especially if chronic and the patient begins to show the strain and drain on the system, Arsenicum is frequently of value. A few of the many conditions where it is of use laryngeal catarrh and phthisis (150), broncho-pneumonia (151), phthisis (149), emphysema (66) with great dyspnoea and dyspnoea from oedema of the lungs (29), and asthma (19), all with aggravation after midnight and from cold air (21).

The cough is worse after midnight (40) and from cold air (40) and Arsenicum is one of the remedies where the cough is caused by a sensation as if he had inhaled sulphur fumes (43).

The expectorations scanty and the cough is worse when lying on the back (42).

It is of great value for the cachexia which is the precursor to chronic disease of the lungs (149) and while this state will be especially spoken of under our next remedy Arsenicum iod., we want to remember Arsenicum in those cases in which a general anaemic condition (15) makes us fear for the patient’s future and where there is easy exhaustion, a disinclination for the open air (5) and a general desire to hug the fire.

The heart under Arsenicum is weak and tremulous (109), with palpitation upon the slightest provocation (111, after stool, from motion or any exertion (111), and with aggravation after midnight. It is to be thought of in the irritable heart of tea- drinkers, a and tobacco-smokers (114), in dropsy about the heart (109), as well as in general dropsy (63), with weak heart.

We have already spoken of the restlessness of Arsenicum, mental and physical restlessness (160); one of Hahnemann’s symptoms covering the latter condition, reads; “Uneasiness in the lower limbs, he cannot lie still in the night, and had to change the position of his feet all the time or to walk about (10), to get relief” (Allen’s Encyclop). It is a remedy to be thought of in sciatica, coming on or worse at night with burning pains (164) relieved by heat.

On the skin it is indicated when there is a dry, scaly condition, as in eczema of the squamous type and in psoriasis (158).

There is intense itching in Arsenicum, and burning after scratching (122), so that the patient must refrain from scratching as the itching is easier to bear form than the burning. The itching is worse from cold and better from heat. It is for dandruff (53), the whole scalp dry and scaly.

In fevers of various kinds, Arsenicum is of great value; remittent, intermittent, typhoid (1930 and typhus (193) fevers; in blood poisoning, hectic and yellow fevers and in haemorrhagic measles; in all these conditions, with tendency to disorganization of blood and other tissues, along with the general restlessness, irritability, thirst, etc., of the remedy.

In intermittent fever the general indication would be the in-equality of the three stages. There is a short chill, long fever (121) nd short sweat, or the chill and sweat, either or both, may be suppressed, but the fever is prolonged.

The paroxysm may come on at almost any hour, but the usual time for it to begin 12-2 A.M., or 1-2 P.M. and it is apt to anticipate. The chill is short, and they hug the fire for relief or want to be wrapped up warmly, there is no thirst during the chill.

The fever is long lasting (121), is hot and burning, and accompanied by restlessness, prostration, thirst and irritability of the stomach.

The sweat is very variable and is often absent and there is

always great exhaustion and prostration after the paroxysm is over.

I use Arsenicum 6th.

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.