How to study Homeopathic medicines derived from Alkalies, their common characters by Otto Leeser in The Text Book of Homeopathic Materia Medica….

The alkali metals act as the univalent cations of salts in the lithosphere as well as in the organism. The elements as such have very slight existence as individuals. In air as well as in water they immediately undergo alterations; their electro- positive tendency, the giving off the outer electrons, goes so far that they decompose water with the production of much heat. In their compounds they dissociate very extensively and they are easily convertible and have a wide range of reaction. This is associated with their great atom volume; because the attraction of the outermost electron is so much the less, the greater the relative diameter of the atom. Lithium with the smallest atom volume falls far behind the other alkali metals in respect to free movability and breath of reaction.

Our consideration can be restricted to the first three members of the group, lithium, Li, sodium, Na, and potassium, K, because rubidium, Rb, caesium, Cs, have neither physiologic nor pharmacologic significance as yet. Of the first three, lithium is not vital to life and is a very much less reactive element than sodium or potassium.

In order to obtain the most comparative picture, we can proceed best from the carbonates of these elements: Li2CO3, lithium carbonate, Na2CO3 sodium carbonate or soda, and K2CO3, potassium carbonate or potash. Here we have the prospect of finding most purely the characteristic trends of the alkali constituent. The carbonate compounds react alkaline, that is, in the dissociation in water, free OH ions predominate. Taking K2CO3 as an example, the dissociation in water occurs according to the formula: K2CO3 Plus H2O <-> KOH Plus KHCO3. So the alkaline reaction remains as the common factor or the working tendency of the alkaline carbonates.

Sodium and potassium are by far the most important members of this group, in the circulation in the earth as in the organism. The sodium and potassium salts are developed through hydrolytic decomposition from the stones of he lithosphere. Sodium bound in sodium chloride, is found for the most part in the sea. On the other hand, potassium becomes adsorbed for the most part to colloidal aluminum particles in humus and from there enters into plants. In about equal total amounts (about 2.4 per cent of the earth surface) sodium and potassium separate even in the earth surface through their affinity to the fluid or colloidal fractions. Similarly in the organism of higher animals sodium and potassium appear in about equal amounts and the same manner of partition between the fluid and colloidal phases is followed. In this case no apparent differentiation through selection has occurred from earth to man. Such examples of the universal task of elements in all natural structures, on the basis of their properties, make likely analogy considerations on the microcosm and macrocosm which were so often used deductively in pronounced ways in the prescientific age, even if with fantastic elaboration. The significance of alkali cations for water regulation, for the acid-base equilibrium and the colloid state of the organism has been discussed in general in the preliminary survey.

Besides sodium and potassium, lithium plays a small role in the earth as a companion, particularly, of sodium. As such it will also be found in the organism without one being able to ascribe any individual action to it at present.

We shall add also to the alkalies ammonium, which, as the ammonium cation, NH Plus 4, behaves as a single atomic alkali cation. And to the ammonium alkali we shall count the preparation causticum which is peculiar to homoeopathy.


Potassium is one of the most important elements in the cell economy, but our detailed knowledge does not extend sufficiently far for us completely to understand its significance. Quantitative estimation is very difficult because it belongs primarily to the colloidal interior of the cells. We do not know how much potassium is fixed in the cells nor in what state it exists.

The two to three grams of potassium which are brought to the human organism daily from plants does not state anything about how much active potassium is brought to the various places and what is excreted as inactive potassium, the reason being that there exists an internal potassium circulation so that what is used at one place can again be used at another.


Potassium has a property which is not known of any other constituent of the organism. As Campbell discovered in 1907, potassium is radioactive, it sends out beta-particles, rapidly moving electrons. Possibly the radioactivity of potassium plays a role in the catalytic excitation of cell life as H. Zwaardemaker has suggested. Through beta-radiation, energy should be furnished which maintains the automatism of the heart and smooth muscles, in which apparently no caloric energy is given off. A heart which has ceased to beat in a potassium-free Ringer’s solution can be brought again to beating regularly through the radiant equivalent of uranium, thorium, or rubidium, and also through alpha-radiation from radium and polonium.

That it is exactly with potassium and its neighbors, rubidium and caesium, that beta -radiation is observed, may well be associated with the great volumes of these atoms. The slight attraction of the negative charge unit the electron, to the nuclear center can make freedom and radiation of independent electrons possible, and these are beta-particles.


The univalent cations agree in that in general they favor the swelling of colloids and reversely their power of precipitation is the least. The above mentioned lyotropic series gives particulars on this. Through the promotion of swelling the univalent cations may ease the entrance and exit of salts and foreign substances from water through the plasma membrane; therefore they stand in contrast to the chief representative of the earthy alkalies, calcium, which is characterized by its caulking action.

Now the action of alkali ions on the cells does not proceed entirely parallel with that on colloids but, according to the cell substrate investigated, it shows characteristic deviations of the so-called cytotropic or cytotoxic series of cations from the lyotropic series.

With equal molecular concentration, also with equal osmotic pressure-presuming weak hypotonia-hemolysis of the red blood cells through the various neutral alkaline salts occurs at different speeds. The hemolyzing capacity of the cations takes (according to Hober) the following series: Li, Na
A first glance into the significance of cell-binding salts for the orientation of cell colloids to a definite state of swelling, which is different in single species of animals, can be gained from the following results: the blood corpuscles of a species of animals are so much more resistant to hemolysis with saponins, the less phosphoric acid and potassium they contain; on the other hand they are so much more resistant to hemolysis from hypotonia, the more phosphoric acid and potassium they contain. The saponin hemolysis will be favored so much more strongly through combination with potassium, the more phosphoric acid and potassium they contain as binding ions, and so much less the less the blood corpuscle of a species contains of these ions.


Still more important for a decision on potassium action are the connections of potassium to muscle cells. The great content of muscle cells in potassium shows from the start the great significance of potassium in muscle function. The potassium ions seem to possess a special significance for the production of the bioelectric current. The membrane theory of muscle function suggests that in the resting state, the plasma surface membrane is impermeable for potassium ions, but permeable for other ions. From this an electrical double layer results on the cell surface. By stimulation of the muscle a state of alteration of certain cell membrane colloids occurs and thereby an increase of permeability, particularly for potassium ions. on the other hand the interior of the muscle cell seems free from sodium ions. An important influence of sodium ions proceeds from the fluid bathing the intermediary substance.

The potassium salts are not able to give back irritability to a muscle which has lost it in an isotonic solution of cane sugar, while all sodium and lithium salts are able to do so. If one places fresh muscle in isotonic alkali chloride solution, it maintains its irritability longest in NaCl; then follow LiCl, CsCl, NH4Cl, RbCl; and it is lost most rapidly in potassium chloride. For the impairment of muscle irritability one has also the following series of cations: Na

  • In this series the contrast of sodium and potassium in respect to muscle is expressed more distinctly. The reduction of muscle irritability is apparently a special property of potassium (the equally acting Rb is not of physiologic nor pharmacologic significance and is left out of consideration). According to Hober, this influence occurs through alteration of the colloid consistency of the plasma membrane and, indeed, through relaxation of the plasma membrane. The removal of muscle irritability by potassium is reversible. Parallel with it goes the influence of potassium salts on the muscle current. Biedermann found that if one brings a place of uninjured, currentless frog muscle into contact with a potassium salt solution for a short time, a rest current of the same direction and electromotive power appears as in a partial destruction. The part of the muscle coming into contact with the potassium salt will be negative in respect to the reminder of the muscle and it will thereby produce a regular rest (cross-section current). If one washes off the salt producing the alteration, then the original state of the currentless muscle is restored. The potassium salts bring the muscle into a state in which, if it is stimulated already, it cannot be stimulated further. Because the excitation, just as the potassium salt, produces a local and transient negativity of the muscle and at the same time brings the muscle into a state of nonexcitability. It is presumed that the excitation process running through a muscle is associated with a change in the state of colloids which is released through an electrolytic process within the muscle. The binding salts, particularly the K and HPO 4 ions, in any case here have the chief role.The potassium ion is the chief carrier of positive charge on the inner limiting membrane. If through potassium ions from without, a migration of potassium ions is made possible, then the potential difference ceases and with it the irritability as long as this potassium influence from without is active. The same ion whose presence within the interior of the muscle fibril is a pre- condition of irritability disturbs or removes this irritability by influence from without. Apart form the influence of the quantity, the concentration, there is also a shifting of action indeed according to the site of influence. A defective potassium function can be conditioned just as well form too few ions within the sarcoplasm as by too many potassium ions without the sarcoplastic limiting layer. By what way, in such a disturbance of potassium balance in the muscle, a regulation follows from medicinal doses of potassium, we will obtain an explanation only when the significance of potassium ions for nerve irritability is better known. The same relations as in the muscle fibrils, in any case, seem to be present. According to Mac Donald, the destruction of a nerve is associated microchemically with the liberation of large amounts of previously un-recognizable KCl at the place of injury. Furthermore, the cations reduce the irritability of nerves in the same series as they do muscle,, here again sodium the least and potassium most strongly.

    Otto Leeser
    Otto Leeser 1888 – 1964 MD, PHd was a German Jewish homeopath who had to leave Germany due to Nazi persecution during World War II, and he escaped to England via Holland.
    Leeser, a Consultant Physician at the Stuttgart Homeopathic Hospital and a member of the German Central Society of Homeopathic Physicians, fled Germany in 1933 after being expelled by the German Medical Association. In England Otto Leeser joined the staff of the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital. He returned to Germany in the 1950s to run the Robert Bosch Homeopathic Hospital in Stuttgart, but died shortly after.
    Otto Leeser wrote Textbook of Homeopathic Materia Medica, Leesers Lehrbuch der Homöopathie, Actionsand Medicinal use of Snake Venoms, Solanaceae, The Contribution of Homeopathy to the Development of Medicine, Homeopathy and chemotherapy, and many articles submitted to The British Homeopathic Journal,