Hahnemann’s proving symptoms of homeopathy remedy Mercurius from Materia Medica Pura, which Samuel Hahnemann wrote between 1811 to 1821…

(Quicksilver, Argentum vivum.)

In commerce this metal is often adulterated with an admixture of lead, sometimes also of bismuth. The best way to purify it is to put it in a porcelain saucer, pour over it a watery solution of nitrate of mercury, and let it boil for about an hour over a charcoal fire, always adding water to replace that lost by evaporation. The acid in this solution takes up the lead and bismuth and disengages its mercury which becomes added to the mercury to be purified.

Mercury in its fluid metallic state has but little dynamic action on man’s health, it is only its chemical compounds that cause great effects.

Among the salts of mercury those which for several centuries have been chiefly used in the treatment of diseases are those formed with a small proportion of muriatic acid (sweet mercury, miercurius dulcis, calomel, hydrargyrum muriuticum mite) and the complete muriatic mercurial salt (corrosive sublimate mercurius sublimatus corrosivus hydrargyrum muriaticum corrosivus) for internal use, and its combination with fatty substances (unguentu mercuriale s. neapolitanum, unguentum hydrargyri cincreum) for external inunction. I will pass over the innumerable other preparations of mercury, chiefly combinations with other acids or prepared with other substances, which have been used less frequently and have attained no lasting repute.

This is not the place to estimate the medicinal value of all these preparations. It would, indeed, be impossible to do this because even those of them in commonest use have been but little, and those more rarely employed not at all, tested as to their true peculiar action on the healthy human body. Consequently they cannot be homoepathically selected for particular morbid states with any certainty of a curative effect. Thus much only does careful proving enable me to express from experience, that they all display in their action a certain general similarity as mercurials; whilst, on the other hand, they differ greatly from one another in their peculiarities, and very much in the intensity of their action on the human health. Especially should it be observed, that all the saline preparations of mercury display a number of little known but generally very active accessory effects, according to the nature of their basic acid, which differ very much from the mild absolute effects of perfectly pure mercury, unaltered by any acid.

Even mercury merely united with fatty substances in the form of ointment excites peculiar effects on the human body,( John Bell complains that he has never succeeded in curing the venereal-chancre disease by merely rubbing in mercurial ointment, without being compelled to destory the chancre by the aid of external remedies. But by the internal use of a mercurial preparation uncombined with any acid, such as the mercurius solubilits (hydrargyrum oxydulatum nigrum), the whole disease, including the chancre, is cured, without any external remedy for the latter being required.) different from those produced by the internal administration of the mild, pure, semioxydized mercury (aethiops per se), probably because in the ointmet it is chemically combined with fatty acids.

Now, as the hornoeopathic method rejects all medicinal substances that produce heterogeneous accessory effects in consequence of being combined with something else, I have long endeavoured to obtain pure mercury in such a condition that it should be able to dispaly its ture, pure, peculiar effects on the human organism in a more powerfully curative manner than all other known preparations and saline combination.

What a long-continued, mechanical succession of fluid mercury, or as was practised in ancient times its trituration with crab’s eyes or solution of gum effected very imperfectly, viz, its change into semi-oxyde free from acids, this I sought to do in 1787 and 1788, by precipitating is from its solution in nitric acid made in cold, by means of caustic ammonia. This preparation of mercury, distinguished by its black colour, was, under the name of mercrius solubilis Hahn. (mercuriu oxydulatus niger), preferred in almost all countries to all other mercurials hhitherto in use, on account of its much milder, more efficacious antisyphilitic virtues. But a more careful investigation showe me that even this did not possess the highest degree of purity. In fact, its dark black colour was rather owing to an excess of the caustic ammonia required for the precipitation of the somewhat over-acid nitrate of mercury. But nitrate of mercury with excess of acid generally contains some muriate and sulphate of mercury (which even in very small quantities possess a deleterious acridity). These are concealed by the dark colour of the black oxyde, are precipitated along with it, and thus render it somewhat impure.

In order to avoid this, in the preface to mercury in the second edition of this first part of the Materia Medica Pura, published in 1822, I directed the mode of preparing a perfectly pure precipitate of mercury, obtained by caustic ammonia acting on nitrate of mercury quite free from superfluous acid. This is of a dark grey colour; it is a perfectly pure oxyde of mercury, like the powder obtained by prolonged succussion of the metallic mercury, and called aethiops per se.

This preparation, being a perfectly pure mercurial medicine, was quite unobjectionable except that the process for making it required much care and labour.

But as one of the rules of homoeopathy, as also of common sense, enjoins that we should attain our aim the simplest and shortest way (quod fieri potest per pauca., non debet fieri per plura), so in this case the aim is attained in the speediest, easiest, and most perfect manner by acting according to the directions laid down in the second part of the Chronic Diseases , p, 5. One grain of perfectly pure mercury (such as is employed for making thermometers) is triturated as is done with other dry medicinal substances, with three times 100 grains of milk-sugar for three -hours, up to the million-fold powder-attenuation described in detail in the place referred to),( After the trituration of the grain of mercury with the first 100 grains of milk-sugar, there still remains on the smooth surface of the porcelain mortar, in spite the most diligent scraping, a considerable black discoloration, which is almost entirely taken up by the trituration of one grain of the first trituration with a second 100 grains of milk-sugar, and is completely effaced by the third trituration.) and one grain of the last is dissolved in diluted alcohol; this solution is twice succussed, and a drop of this solution is raised through 28 dilution phials to the decillionfold potency (hydrargyrum purum potentiatum X).

One small globule (300 of which weigh one grain), moistened with the last dilution, is the appropriate dose of this very medicinal metal for all suitable cases.

The following symptoms were produced by the administration or the black oxyde of mercury (mercurius solubilis), which was generally pure enough to develope mostly pure mercurial symptoms, whereby, as I hope, the knowledge of the peculiar powers of this metal has beep increased in no small degree.

They show that if we select mercury only for such morbid states, the totality of whose symptoms is met with among those of the drug in striking similarity;- when, moreover, we only employ it in the most perfect, pure and highly potentized preparation and in the above-named dilution; we shall find in it an indispensable, highly serviceable remedy for very many cases.

But mercury has been only too often improperly employed in all sorts of diseases in allopathic practice, in which either it was believed that benefit could not be obtained by milder remedies, or where it was taken for granted that induration and obstruction existed which had to be resolved by this metal which was held to be a universal solvent, or where in obstinate ailments, as so many are, a concealed. venereal infection was groundlessly imagined to lurk. When aggravation of the symptoms ensued from the daily repeated doses, the allopath did not ascribe this to the unsuitability of the medicine or the disease, but be usually attributed it to the dose being too small for such a great disease, and he then attacked the patient with larger and more frequently repeated doses of more-energetic mercurial preparations (if he wished to produce a very powerful effect he gave corrosive sublimate); he rubbed a quantity of mercurial ointment into the skin, and in this way destroyed life, or at least ruined the health beyond possibility of recovery, in innumerable cases.

But, as we now know, all chronic diseases, with but few exceptions (pure syphilis and sycosis being among, these), arise from more or less developed psora; and even where uneradicated syphilis or sycosis is complicated with developed psora, the latter is more and first to be attended to in the treatment. But mercury (and especially its impure but acrid preparations) can never serve for the radical cure of psora, must always make it more incurable. This will easily explain the disastrous results of the mercurial treatment of chronic diseases of all sorts.

I leave out of consideration the injudicious treatment by blood-letting, by repeated purgatives, by the-frequent abuse of opium in order to allay all sorts of pains, to procure sleep and check diarrhoea and spasms, by cinchona bark in to order to cut short intermittent fevers and strengthen the patient, in cases where the uncured disease and the squandering of the juices and strength by the doctor were the only causes of the weakness. Apart from these injudicious operations, there is no remedy employed by the alllopaths, who plume themselves on being healers of diseases whereby the life of patients afflicated with chronic diseases is oftener destroyed than their favourite calomel and corrosive sublimate. How different are the results obtained by homoeopathy in its treatment of the sick!

In it, the smallest dose of the purest mercury in the above-mentioned highest development of potency, demands, on the part of the true disciples of this method of treatment, the most careful selection of the case of chronic disease in which this remedy may be unhesitatingly given, and in which it is indispensable to the cure. I refer to other cases than to the pure venereal chancre disease (syphilis), uncomplicated with psora, where its employment is positively indicated. In this cane, too, one single smallest dose always suffices for the cure of this chronic miasm.

This, the only rational employment of this noble metal, has nothing in common with the abuse of the drug which has for several years past been prevalent in the ordinary method of treatment, where calomel (mercurius dulcis, in which the mercury, owing to its combination with muriatic acid, has other properties very different from its original, specific ones) is blindly employed in almost all diseases, without distinction, in large doses, generally combined with opium without any knowledge on the part of the practitioner of the real effects of either the calomel or the opium, and without any attempt to distinguish the cases in which the former or the latter, or both together, are suited. We may well say that here the irrational practice, allopathy, has reached its climax. This homicidal practice deserves only condemnation, and is not worth further notice.

The perfect saline combination of mercury with muriatic acid, the mercurial sublimate (corrosive sublimate, mercurius corrosivus sublimatus) is is somewhat better known by reason of its frequent abuse. On account of its solubility in water and alcohol, and hence its capability of being diluted to every degree, it is more adapted for homoeopathic use. I have given some of its symptoms further on, which are well worth being added to, that will serve to give some.idea of its peculiar action, which is very different from that of pure mercury. I have found a single dose of a. small portion of a drop of the quintillion-fold, or better still, of the decillion-fold dilution, given alone, to be almost specific in the common autumnal dysentery. In this case the truth of the homoeopathic law of cure is distinctly corroborated.

So also the sulphurous combination of mercury, cinnabar, possesses its own peculiar properties which differ from those of pure mercury, though they are not yet well enough ascertained. In the symptoms I have given below, I have made a small commencement to the knowledge of its medicinal worth.

When even the purest mercurial preparation causes injurious effects, if administered in unsuitable cases of disease, therefore unhomoeopathically, then, according to the character of the untoward symptoms that arise, the antidote will be found in hepar sulphuris sulphur, camphor, opium, china, or nitric acid. All these remedies must, however, be given in very small doses, selected in accordance with the symptoms present.

Cases of slow poisoning by mercury, especially the trembling of gilders, are said to be relieved by electricity.

The symptoms here recorded that have been observed from the administration of the black oxyde of mercury are mostly primary effects. Very few of them can with certainty be said to be secondary effects. These are distinguished by painlessness and non-inflamrnatory character. Among them I rockon e.g. a kind of hard, cold, painless swelling of the glands and a certain cataleptic paralytic weakness of the muscles.

[HAHNEMANN was aided in his proving of the black oxyde of mercury (often called mercurius solubilis Hahnemanni) by GROSS, GUTMANN, FR. HAHNEMANN, HARTMANN, HORNBURG, LANGHAMMER, RUMMEL, STAPF.

No old-school authorities are cited for the symptoms recorded under Mercurius solubilis calomel, mercurii acetas. mercurius praoecipitatus ruber, and cinnabar.

One old-school author furnishes some symptoms of mercurius corrosivus, viz.

SCHWARZE, C. FR., Beob, and Erfahr. i. d. Medorrhinum Dresden, 1827.

For other mercurial preparations the following authorities are quoted :

ACREY, THOM., in Lond. Medorrhinum Journ., 1788.

BELL, Ueber bosart. Tripper and vener., Krankh., Leipzig, 1794, ii,

BETHKE, Schlagfluss.

CHEYENE, J., in Dublin Hospital Reports and Commentaries on Medorrhinum and Surgery, Dublin, 1816, vol. i.


CULLEN’S First Lines, note by French translator of.

DEGNER, in Acta Nat. Cur., vi.

ENGEL Specimina Medorrhinum, Berol., 1781.

FOURCROY in the translation of Ramazzini’s Maladies des Artisans.

FRIESE in Geschichte and Versuche einer chirurg. Gesellschaft, Koperh., 1774.

HEUERMANN Bemerk and Untersuch., ii.

HILL, JAC., is Edinb. Essays, iv.

HOFFMANN. in Baldinger’a Magaz.

HUBER, in Nova Actea Cur., iii.

HUFFLAND, Journal d, pr. A., x, xxvi, 4.

HUNTER; J., On the Veneral isease.

LARREY, in Description de P Egypte, t. i. Memoires et Obs.

LOUIS, in Pibrac Memoires de l’Acad. Royale de Chirurgie, t. iv.

LOUVRIER, in Annalen der Heilkunde, 1810 Dec.

MICHAELIS, in Hufel. Journal, vi and xxviii.

Misc. Nat. Cur., Dec. iii, Ann. 5, 6.

OETTINGER, Diss. Cinnabris exul, redux, Tubing, 1760.

PLATER, FELIX, Obs., i, Basil, 1614.

RICHTER, A. GOTTL., Chirurg., Bibl., vi.

RIVERIUS, Obs., Medorrhinum

SCHENK, PET., vii.

SCHLEGEL, in Hufel. Journ., vii, 4.

SCHLICHTING, in Actea Nat. Cur., viii.

SWEDJAUR, Traite des malad. vener tom., ii.

WEDEL, Amoenit. Mat. Medorrhinum

The 1st edit. contains 848 symptoms of the different mercurial preparartions, the 2nd 1424, and this, the 3rd, 1450.] this, the 3rd, 1450.]


(Mercurius solubilis Hahnemanni)

In the head a vertigo, during the day.

Vertigo in the room, so that when walking she must take hold of something in order not to fall.

She is giddy even when sitting.

Vertigo more when sitting than when standing, dimness and blackness before the eyes, especially towards evening.

5. Vertigo; when sitting at his desk there was whirling in the head, as if he were drunk, he, rises up and walks about the room staggering, then anxious heat breaks out over him, with nausea., but not to the length of vomiting; at the same time some headache (for 3 successive days, noon and afternoon).

When he has sat in a stooping positions and rises up, he feels a vertigo at the first instant.

When she lies on the back she has a whirling and qualmish feeling; this goes off when she lies on the side.

Vertigo, cold hands with febrile rigor, then confusion of the head.

(When standing) violent vertigo, during which he bent the head forwards. [Lr.J

10. Vertigo, compelling him to lie down. [Fr. H-n.]

On turning round quickly, vertigo, all goes round with him.[Stf.]

Vertigo, when walking in the open air, at. the same time nausea and a sensation as if a worm in the chest crawled up into the throat. [Fr. H-n. ]

Vertigo and staggering when she comes out of the open air into the room. (Fr. H-n.J

Giddy and staggering when walking in the open air, but in the room only heaviness of the head (aft.. 48 h.). [Gn.J

15. A kind of vertigo; when lying he feels as if swung long-ways. [Fr. H-n.]

In the forehead like whirling. (St f. J

Dull and stupid in the head. [Fr. H-n.]

After eating she is as if drunk; heat and redness mount up into face, which swells.

By day drowsy and sleepy.

20. Weakness in the head like dazedness, and as if it whispered round in the forehead and went round in a ring.

When she has eaten and stands up, stupid, whirling and black before the eyes, above the nose, worst in the warm room, better in the open air.

Headache, like dizziness and fulness in the brain.

Somewhat dull in the head, in the morning on rising, a dull headache.

Dullness in the head, in the morning on waking.

25. In the room, heaviness and confusion of the head also when sitting and lying.

The head is heavy as if involved in a dull pain and confused.

In the morning after rising, vacant in the head and as if he had been up all night; this goes off in the open air.

It takes away the acuteness of his intellect, makes him dizzy; he does not hear what is said to him, cannot retain well what he reads, and is apt to make mistakes in speaking.

Speaking is disagreeable to him, he cannot read, his head is vacant, he cannot work, and falls asleep when sitting.

30. Thinking power very weak; it is with difficulty that he can recollect himself, and answers questions wrongly (this he is conscious of himself).

His thoughts completely forsake him. [Fr. H-n.]

His thoughts sometimes go away entirely for some minutes. [Fr. H-n.]

He knows not where he is. [Fr. H-n. ]

He cannot calculate., cannot reflect. [Fr. H-n.]

35. Unconsciousness and speechlessness; she appeared to sleep, but was pulseless; the body was warm enough, but she looked just like a corpse; after an hour her consciousness returned and some sound in her voice; she wished to speak but could not, not till after 12 hours did her speech return. [Fr. H-n.]

Distraction; when he wishes to do some work, something else always comes into his mind; one thought always drove out another, from time to time (for a couple of days).[Gn.]

Heat and pain throughout the head. [Fr. H-n. ]

In the evening an uneasy painful feeling in the head till he goes to sleep; loud talking distressed him, one must talk, in a low voice diminished by sitting and leaning the head against something.

Burning in the head.

40. Pain in the head like an annular violent out-stretching in a stripe not above three fingers broad, which appears to go round just above the eyes and ears.

Pressive headache as if the head were tightly bound.

In the evening, headache, as, if the brain were tied round with ligature.

Headache as if close under the skull, as if it were too heavy and too tight there.

Headache, a. forcing outwards.

45. Headache, like a pressing outwards in the parietal bones.

Head is painful, as if it were pressed asunder.

Headache, as if the brain were forced asunder.

Fulness in the brain as if the head would burst.

Aching pain in the occiput.

50. Headache; outpressing in the forehead and pain in the bone below the eyebrows, even when touched.

Violent headache, as if the head in its upper part would fall asunder, and as if all were pressed down to the nose.

In the evening headache; in the front and upper part of the head a painful dull. feeling, with crossness. [Fr- H-n. ]

Pressing pain out at the forehead. [Gn.]

Pressing pain out at the forehead, worst when lying; he got relief by pressing on it with the open hand (aft. 41 h.). [Gn.]

55. Tensive aching pain in the sinciput; he felt relief by holding his open hand there. [Gn.]

Undulation and beating in the whole sinciput. [Fr. H-n..]

From the occiput a strong, tearing, continued pain, which went into the forehead and there pressed. [Hbg.]

Shooting in the forehead whilst walking in the open air. [Fr.H-n. ]

Tearing in the skull, especially in the frontal bone.

60. Tearing headache in the sinciput extending to the crown.

Tearing headache in the lower part of the occiput.

Headache like a slow tearing stitch, and as if bruised.

Stitches all through the head.

Shooting headache in the forehead (immediately).

65. (When sitting) intermitting boring stitches in the left side of the forehead, very painful. [Lr.]

(When standing) painful tearing stitches in the left side of the forehead. [Lr.]

(When sitting) tearing stitches in the left side of the forehead, with rigor over the whole body, cold hands, hot cheeks, and warm forehead, without thirst [Lr.]

Drawing digging in the front part of the head. [Gr.]

On stooping headache, like digging in the forehead and a weight there.

70. Pain in the upper part of the occipital bone.

A boring pain in the occiput.

Contractive headache; the head is as if screwed in, sometimes in the sinciput, sometimes in the occiput, sometimes on the: left side, at the same time watering of the eyes. [Fr. H-n.]

Samuel Hahnemann
Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843) was the founder of Homoeopathy. He is called the Father of Experimental Pharmacology because he was the first physician to prepare medicines in a specialized way; proving them on healthy human beings, to determine how the medicines acted to cure diseases.

Hahnemann's three major publications chart the development of homeopathy. In the Organon of Medicine, we see the fundamentals laid out. Materia Medica Pura records the exact symptoms of the remedy provings. In his book, The Chronic Diseases, Their Peculiar Nature and Their Homoeopathic Cure, he showed us how natural diseases become chronic in nature when suppressed by improper treatment.