Heavy Metals

At the time of Hahnemann only silver nitrate AgNo3 was employed and it appears quite remarkable that at that time Hahnemann 629 should have seen metallic silver effects in the organism. Because the general view is expressed by Sachs 630 when he states: “Metallic silver is insoluble in the animal organism and therefore cannot serve as a medicament.” A single observation such as that of White, 631 in which a patient who accidentally swallowed a silver coin which was carried for 18 months was cured of epilepsy also awaken much confidence on the effectiveness of metallic silver. The certainty with which Hahnemann introduced metallic silver into the drug treasury is all the more remarkable. He has obtained splendid confirmation in this respect by recent investigations.


It has required a large series of studies 632 in order to bring proof that the actions of the colloidal metal in its chief manifestations are the same as its coresponding salts. Colloidal silver preparations constantly split off silver ions in watery solutions and the presence of these ions is decisive for the action. The hydrosols, that is, the water dissolved colloids have the same action as the very low doses. For a decision on the activity to dissociate. If now, in many textbooks of materia medica silver is denied having any general toxic influence on the organism, then this obtains only in the form where one employs it as the metal. But even poisoning from absorbed silver nitrate is denied. “Resorptive silver poisoning does not occur in man, only a grey black discoloration of the skin and many internal organs develop after the year long use of silver compounds through the deposit of insoluble silver (argyria).” 633 But Lewin 634 finds an acute as well as chronic poisoning with silver. The corrosive actions from silver nitrate as it is employed externally in the usual case, are slight in the stomach because of the combination with protein and chlorine so that often no symptoms are observed from the accidental swallowing. An absorption of silver compoundes certainly occurs, not only from the stomach where the silver albuminate dissolves in sodium chloride or perhaps silver chloride may be taken up, even from the skin. According to Lewin poisonings in the human are observed when silver nitrate solutions have been used for several years as a dye for the hair. Indeed the mere fact that agyria exists proves absorption. Outside of the intestine silver is excreted through the kidneys (according to Lewin but denied by others) and what is important for the action of silver, also in the stomach after parenteral administration. Thus it is understandable that gastric manifestations can occur which are not explainable through primary local influence. The partial retention of silver in the tissues conditions agyria. The deposit is found in the skin perhaps in a reduced from, perhaps, also in the upper layers in organic combination as under the rete malpighii and cannot be removed by any measures. Lewin mentions that besides agyria at times stomatitis without salivation, gastritis, albuminuria, depression, dullness, weakness of memory, ear noises difficulty in heating, visual weakness and spasm of the eye muscles develop. At times oedema of the lower extremities and ascites develops. In older materia medica texts 635 cachexia, emaciation and dropsy are mentioned as results of prolonged extensive use of silver nitrate.

Even the Arabian physicians knew these actions of silver. T.R. Kochlin 636 states: “silver was employed by the Arabian physicians against dropsy, but can also produce a fatal dropsy.”

Of acute symptoms of poisoning there are severe gastro-intestinal symptoms, vertigo, spasms, loss of consciousness, loss of sensitivity over the body and involvement of cardiac activity, widening of the pupils which do not react to light as Lewin also cites. In animals after injection of silver compounds paralysis

of the central nervous system and soon after death is observed.


The official position toward silver as a drug has appeared in a new place since the employment of colloidal silver nitrate had significance and indeed in the first line as a strong external corrosive agent which contracted the smallest vessels and created a firm but superficial scab and at the same time worked antibacterially. On this rested its local use on the skin and mucous membranes. The sole internal use even today of silver nitrate in school therapy is in gastro-intestinal affections and in particular in chronic gastritis, gastric ulcer, less often in chronic intestinal diseases and diarrhoes. The action on the gastric mucous membrane moreover has been viewed as similar to that on other mucous membranes as, for example, in urethritis gonorrhoica, that is, astringent to corrosive and disinfecting. But we shall still learn the gastric symptoms of absorbed silver, which lie near to a healing effect in gastric affections without one tracing these back to crude effects.

But the uses of silver nitrate are entirely neglected in nervous diseases. Formerly it was recommended epilepsy, chorea, still later in tabes and other diseases of the spinal cord. The indications in angina pectoris and cardiac irregularity were still mentioned by Vogt, furthermore the use in older times in dropsy and ulcerative cachexias, which, as we find can also be provoked through the persistent use of silver nitrate. But all these indications were obtained purely empirically, ab usu in morbis. An entirely new field, the infections diseases, was opened for the internal use of silver through the introduction of colloidal silver (by Crede, 1897). One now recalls that even the Macedonians treated wounds by covering them with silver discs and erysipelas was treated in some regions of Italy by the same remedy In all types of septic affections, in particular the septicemias diseases collargol has been employed, in joint rheumatism and erysipelas, in pneumonia, in joint rheumatious and erysipelas, in pnemonia, in typhoid and paratyphoid, in appendicitis, furuncul- sis, phlegmons, anthrax, cerebrospinal meningitis and scarlet fever, diphtheria, dysentery, etc. The results obtained have been judged differently, indeed nothing else could be expected from a use so generalized. But two manifestations seem especially frequently observed after the employment of collargol: fall of temperature and subjective sense of well being of the patient for a few hours after the injection. But on the influence on the septic or in general infections diseases, one is not concerned with a peculiarity of colloidal silver but an action also approximated by other metal hydrosols. Only the colloidal silver is especially frequently employed.


It is now a question as to how the action of metal hydrosols and collargol is to be understood in septic diseases in particular. The simplest conception is that the infection producers are directly attacked through the finely divided metal. The killing of protozoa (paramecia) according to the studies of Filippi is effected even in a dilution of colloidal silver of 1:450,000 (also at least the D 5). With the various bacteria dilutions of 1:50,000-1:100,000 (also D 4-D 5) still effect complete depression of development, in case the colloidal preparation was sufficiently fine. Against molds colloidal silver is fairly indifferent. With the usual doses of collargol with intravenous injection (011-0.45 g.) the dilution in the blood corresponds to the amount effective in the test tube (about D 4).

But we know the finer process in the death or the depression of development of the microorganisms just as little in the test tube as in the organism. However there are single points of departure for the view that the influence of finely divided heavy metal on micro-organisms is concerned with a catalytic process, that is a promotion of the defense reaction of the organism against the actions of bacteria purely by the presence of the metal. Schade 637 assumes such an action to be an acceleration of oxidation. Nearly all toxins are exteremely sensitive to oxidation. And it is exactly the heavy metals which are suitable catalysors, which can accelerate oxidation in a great circle of reactions, (group catalysors). It is to be observed that this catalytic action is not limited to colloidal silver nor to definite reactions. The inorganic ferments (according to Bredig) in general are not limited to single reactions as are the organic ferments. “Now catalysis is a function of the (silver) surface, therefore proportional to the grade of division of the silver. The finer the particles, the more intensive the capacity for catalysis” (Schade). The dispersed red solutions are more effective than the green and these again are more active than the crude grey.

In regard to the action on toxins Hamburger has shown the depression of staphylolysin by collargol as measured by its hemolytic action. 638 Fod and Agazotti 639 could not demonstrate an action of silver hydrosol on toxin in the test tube, but when it is injected immediately after the toxin into the blood stream: an intravenous injection of collargol then defends animals against tetanus, diphtheria, and dysentery toxins in doses which are greater than 10 times the minimal lethal doses. The authors therefore conclude that the silver hydrosol activates the oxidizing ferments of the organism.

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,