Heavy Metals

The recommendations for vanadium preparations in homoeopathy are also merely clinical and very general; as a tonic for the stimulation of the appetite in early tuberculosis, in anorexia with states of irritation of the gastro-intestinal canal, anemia, emaciation. Moreover in homoeopathic materia medica a fortunate use has been obtained by Burnett in the indication: fatty degeneration of the liver and arteriosclerosis (with many pains in the course of the aorta, pressure in the cardiac region). Vanadium is also used in compound remedies for arteriosclerosis. The basis through the result in the case in which the diagnosis is by no means accepted without reservation does not exactly awaken confidence for such a grave indication.


The elementary relationships of copper go in three directions: the horizontal direction to the nearby iron group on the one side, to zinc on the other, and to the vertical group relationship to silver. The sister relationships are expressed again in the frequent natural association of the iron and zinc with copper; they appear in the earth in the chalkosphere, usually in the sulphide forms, often with admixtures of arsenic and antimony.


Biologically the relationship to iron is still visible in that copper in the form of haemocyanin plays the same role in the blood of crustacea and mollusks as iron in the vertebrates. Even from antiquity a connection of copper to the blood formation process has been stressed. The agreement with zinc on the one side, with silver on the other, is found in the nervous system. Perhaps it is merely a foreign but still not absurd thought that a physical property as the particularly high conduction capacity for electricity and heat, as are peculiar to copper and silver, can be placed in relationship and compared in analogy to the especially strong tension in the nervous system. Finally must this especially great conduction capacity must appear again in conjunction with the living organism.

Likewise that it is precisely copper and silver which show in a high degree the so-called oligodynamic actions must be founded upon similar special physical properties. The observations of Naegeli with copper have been the point departure for these investigations. The millionth or milliarddilution which still act lethally or exert damaging actions on lower organisms (molds, bacteria, algae) permit one to think of catalytic influences which involves an electro-magnetic charge in the vital tension. If one uses only very slight amounts of very finely divided copper or silver for the disinfection or the destruction of algae in large amounts of standing water and on the other side fairly concentrated solutions of copper sulphate for the protection against parasites in wine cellars, then one can draw the conclusion from this, that the medium has significance for the optimute necessary, that it determines the degree of liberation of effective powers, the impetus power of molecules. If we add now a simple rule based on observation that below a definite optimum of division which exists for the damage of living organs, there lies another promoting, then we easily see that the various steps of concentration for the promotion and likewise for damaging are possible and that these optima depend upon the material. Actually with copper Richet has found several optima and minima in the concentrations for the development of lactic acid fermention.

The lethal action of copper has been medicinally sought many times in the human organism. In tuberculosis the results of this chemotherapy are in no way striking. On the contrary copper preparations have proven themselves in the attack upon intestinal parasites in accordance with the ancient conception (for example cupr. oxid. nigrum, the remedy of Rademacher in taenic and ascarides).

A local corrosive action is held by copper salts in common with most heavy metal salts. They rest on the precipitation of proteins, the formation of metal albuminates. This property is used in copper sulphate on mucous membranes and formerly copper ointments were employed for the stimulation of granulation on ulcers.


Acute poisoning with copper salts by mouth, in which copper sulphate and acetate come into consideration, show at first severe gastro-intestinal symptoms. The repugnant metallic taste of copper salts is very persistent. The vomiting whivh follows rapidly from copper sulphate is also therapeutically used, for example, in phosphorus poisoning it is a very suitable emetic because the copper at the same time renders the phosphorus harmless. However at present kali permangganate is preferred. The vomiting may also protect against further toxic manifestations. The vomiting occurs through the intermediation of the vagus. When this has been sectioned in animals there is no vomiting after copper sulphate. With very large doses of copper salts however a complete removal is not possible on account of the injury to the mucous membrane. The a severe gastro-enteritis appears. To the vomiting is added salivation, burning and pain in the esophagus, severe colic like pain in the stomach and intestine, meteorism, diarrhoea with tenesmus, at times with blood. Widening of the pupils, small pulse, cold extremities can complete the picture of acute poisoning. With a longer duration bile pigments are observed in the urine and often icterus, in the latter instance often a high grade anemia. Perhaps outside of the bleeding an accelerated destruction of the erythrocytes participates. Once 623 alterations in the red blood cells (anisocytosis, etc.) was observed. Debris of blood cells and microscopic hemorrhages have been described in all organs as autopsy findings. The trend outside of Rademacher and homoeopathy (for example by Hannon) stressed for the effectiveness of copper in chlorosis in place of iron might find some support in these toxic end damages. The biochemic connection of traces of copper which are found in the serum is not yet explained in respect to the hemopoietic system. Deficiency of copper in the food is said to lead to anemia. 624 In hemochromatosis and certain cirrhosis of the liver one finds increase of copper. 625 One might think also of a catalytic role of copper in the new formation of blood.

In a latter phase of copper poisoning severe nervous symptoms appear in the foregroun: vertigo, cramps with high grade cyanosis, especially severe cramps in the calves, trembling, paralysis, loss of consciousness. This syndrome has become the object for comparison for the homoeopathic use of copper in very acute states. The nervous effects also appear in acute animal experiment. At first fibrillary muscle contractions occur then muscle paralysis with complete loss of irritability, then cardiac weakness. It is noteworthy that a case of acute copper sulphate poisoning from an eczematous scalp, reported by Lewin, that symptoms developed after 24 hours which recalled the threatening state of cholera in the phase of asphyxia. Such pictures are seen in homoeopathic materia medica.

Even fatal copper poisonings do not run very rapidly, but death occurs only 7-10 days after onset. Likewise in favourable cases recovery is very slow and the digestive disturbances may persist for a long time.

Lewin denies in general the possibility that so slight an admixture of copper salts which could occur by the storing of acid foods in copper vessels or through the green discoloration of conserves with copper sulphate could be injurious and seeks to interpret such poisonings in some other manner. But when one thinks that outside of the quantity, many other conditions can be decisive, then one ought not to deny in general so many reported instances of poisoning.

Likewise chronic poisoning is denied by Lewin (apart from the local discoloration of the hair and teeth and irritative manifestations in the upper respiratory passages from inhaled copper dust). But a chronic copper poisoning is described by others, for example, Roberts saw anorexia, tenesmus, tremor and fainting; 626 recovery after seven months. That usually metallic copper dust is not absorbed, because the particles are still too large is probable. But to be recalled in regard to copper salt poisoning is that the slowly progressive non-fatal intoxication still causes prolonged after-effects and also goes over into a subacute stage. The excretion of copper occurs very slowely (through the bile, stomach, intestinal glands, pancreas, kidneys, salivary glands, and apparently also through the skin glands). Absorption in greater amounts also occurs from previously damaged sites, mucous membranes and skin. The storage occurs chiefly in the liver, then in the pancreas, spleen, kidney, nervous system and muscles. Copper is ingested in small amounts with many plants, which derive copper from the soil, and therefore is quite constant in the body. But the production of resorptive symptoms through small amounts obviously presumes frequent introduction in fine division.

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,