In the deeper strata, the chalkosphere, are predominantly such chalkphile elements as are characterized by their marked affinity to sulphur and whose sulphur compounds are easily soluble in iron monosulphide, sulphates and oxides of heavy metals, particularly of iron.
Finally there is the metal nucleus, the siderosphere, where the earth is characterized by deposits of iron and nickel and by metals which, partly in the free state and partly as iron compounds, are easily soluble in molten iron (siderophile elements).
In the further course of the massive metallurgic smelting operation (V. M. Goldschmidt) of the great chemical laboratory of the earth, the elements in the lithosphere distribute themselves, the stone and the slack of the smelting oven processes according to the law of crystallization. This proves to be dependent upon the atom or ion radii, in that the approximation in size of radii favors the appearance of a common crystalline structure.
There follows then the physiochemical reciprocal actions with the atmosphere which contains the easily volatile atmospheric elements as O, N, H, and the noble gases: then with the hydrosphere which outside of water contains the hydrophilic elements pouring out of the earth crust and their combinations and, finally, the biosphere which will concern us in particular.
The reciprocal actions in the lithosphere most accessible to our observation proceed chiefly from physiochemical processes in water solution (weathering, sediment formation, stone metamorphosis).
If the frequency of single types of atoms in the world was determined through the properties of the atom nucleus, so will the way of distribution of elements be lawfully determined through the properties of the electron shells. In the same way we find also, in the organism, the nuclear structure of the element the ordinal number standard for the specific property and the appearance of the element, but for the way of distribution and the physico-chemical exchange the electron shell is standard, in other words the group kinships of the periodic system of the elements.
THE STRUCTURAL ELEMENTS IN THE ORGANISM
Lithosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere in their narrow physical and chemical reciprocal connections are the material basis of the biosphere, the organism. The question, which elements adapted by their circulation in nature are suitable for the biosphere and necessary or promoting for the life of the organism, will be answered through the elementary composition of the organism and its nutriment. In place of describing the progressive material differentiation in a developmental series of organisms in detail, we pass over at once to the status of the elementary composition of the human body.
If, by a subtle investigation, slight traces of any element of the periodic system can be proven in the organism, so there is the peculiarity existing in the living organism for it in that certain elements appear in relatively constant typical proportionate amounts and are characterized by their physiologic importance and necessity. The limits between elements which are necessary for every organism, those which are useful but dispensable for this or that organism, and those which appear in the organism but which are without significance may appear to shift with the progressive penetration into metabolic events. The basic facts which are important for the material composition of the human organism we can touch upon but only very briefly.
There are primarily four fundamental elements: H O C and N, the basic elements of organic substance. They are characterized by the highest degree of combination variations. It must strike anyone that each of them takes the first place in a group in the periodic system. They are the simplest representatives of the kindred groups of various valences: hydrogen is univalent positive, oxygen is divalent negative, carbon tetravalent amphoteric, forming carbohydrates and fats and the combinations with the trivalent negative (or pentavalent positive) nitrogen is the basis of protein compounds.
The combining of H plus and OH- to water, H2O, the basis of the hydrosphere and also of the organism, is the most general medium of reaction for physico-chemical processes and in which it remains quite unaltered. As a fluid neutral salt, to certain extent, of the ions H plus and OH – water has a physical function: the spatial approximation or separation of energy carriers. Moreover water by virtue of its capacity for evaporation, due to the internal and external temperatures, has significance even for the regulation of temperature of the organism. Being the least differentiated and most general medium of reaction water possesses an enormous physiologic breadth. And since it enters into the structure of organic molecules and again becomes free through the splitting it possesses a most general nutritional function. But such a mass action is also dependent upon the sensitivity of the organism. So for example, under certain conditions an excess of water can induce a super-regulation, an excessive diuresis; however, such an excitation through physical mass remains outside of a characteristic medicinal range. Only through alteration of the site of the influence (perhaps through intravenous injection) can water bring about nonphysiologic actions; an alteration of the form whereby water would become a drug in the narrow sense is hardly possible, because the alteration of form through temperature for the purpose of activation steps beyond the possibility of internal use. But chemical activation may be ascribed to the materials which water decomposes even though the physical mass action of water(by external use in dependence upon its temperature) is important still it has no place as an energy carrier in the materia medica. On the contrary the water storage is of great significance as an object of drug action. It will be regulated in the main by the grade of swelling of body colloids on the one side, on the salts dissolved in water (particularly sodium chloride, NaCl) on the other side. If the need for water as is signaled by the symptom of thirst is removed by the introduction of water, then this belongs to nutrition, but it is still not a characteristic drug effect. A disturbance of water distribution often steps beyond the physiologic range and then the medicinal influence through increase of bodies, own regulation arrangements (in the places where it fails) is available: but in general not through water itself but only indirectly.
Just as molecular water so also molecular oxygen is considered as food for the necessary physiologic functions of all higher organisms. As the lithosphere is controlled primarily through the oxygen affinity, so are also the vital processes through the union with oxygen (oxidation) with the organic substance. The gas exchange between oxygen and the end product of carbon compounds combustion, CO2, is sensitive in its great physiologic range only for mass differences of these two gases, but one does not tend to designate this as medicinal. In general, in depression of oxidation, there is no failure in oxygen supply but in the possibility of utilization of the oxygen available. Here again it is not possible to give oxygen a more active form than it has in the atmosphere, so only mass actions at unusual places (in a nascent state, for example, as peroxide H2O2) does it come into consideration. The use of oxidation mediation is more possible through oxygen deficiency (high altitudes.).
HYDROGEN AND HYDROGEN ION CONCENTRATION
Hydrogen in molecular form has no place in the metabolism of higher organisms and a medicinal activity of this lightest gas is indeed hardly possible. Hydrogen only as an ion, that is, as a positive charged, dissociated atom, is active in the organism. Therein the relation to the other active constituent of water, to the OH, is always decisive. (The hydroxyl ion OH is to a certain extent and oxygen ion made univalent.) Preponderance of H plus (increased hydrogen ion concentration, pH greater than 7) signifies an acid reaction; preponderance of OH-, pH less than 7 (increased OH concentration) an alkaline reaction. Because the total ion concentration of neutral water in H plus and OH – ions equals 10 -14 so must there be, in a neutral reaction of water, solution of H plus equals OH – equals 10 -7. This relation is usually expressed by writing with the negative logarithm as pH, so that pH equals 7 means neutral reaction; a pH under 7, or a preponderance of OH- ions, an alkaline reaction. The strength of an acid (or base) is determined by the concentration of the dissociated H plus ions (or OH -ions). The ratio of reaction equilibrium of free ions, by which the activity is determined, is a reversible one of a type which is generally understood by the mass action law of Guldburg and Waage. The acid-base regulation physiologically is held very constant through diverse regulation agents. The physiologic defense against an alteration of the optimal (H plus, OH -) ion concentration has such a range that a morbid disturbance in intermediary metabolism, through the introduction of acid or base in a normal way, is as good as impossible. Only when the metabolism is already disturbed toward the acidotic or alkalotic side when the regulation processes which otherwise function without symptoms are defective and produce morbid symptoms, is the situation given for the medicinal intervention into the acid-base balance.
The formation of acids is the normal result of the splitting processes, the dissimulation. The physiologic counterbalances for the anions developing are the cations, and indeed here the alkali cations, sodium and potassium, because of their great motility and capacity for exchange, are the most important. The use of ammonia, which arises from protein destruction, is actually a danger signal. The alkali reserve is chiefly formed through the alkaline reacting carbonates and phosphates of the alkalies. The alkali salts of weak acids are suitably formed, and an excess of active H plus ions avoided and temporarily (until acid exertion can occur) made latent. If one takes CO2 and its sodium salt NaHCO3 as an example, so will the equilibrium
CO2 at the instant of appearance of a strong Na.HCO3 acid, that is, numerous free H ions, shift in favor of CO2, the alkaline reserve, NaCHO3 diminishing. But since the rush of H plus is collected as a weak acid whose dissociation of H ions is very slight, so in the medium, as perhaps the blood serum, the acid- base balance remains constant. Only the relation of the weak acid to its alkaline salt shifts. And this ratio is a reversible balance which after the elimination of CO2 through expiration again shifts in favor of the alkaline salt. This equalization function in the acid-base regulation is called buffering. the possibility of buffering is moreover given through the alkali reserve. In the blood it can be determined through the amount of CO2 which will be bound at a definite partial pressure through the buffering alkali of the blood serum.
Apart from the final balance through the excretion of anions or cations, the intermediate acid-base equilibrium is also ensured through a series of other processes. So almost all proteins are at the same time weak bases and weak acids, so-called ampholytes. They are also suitable for temporarily lessening an excess of active H plus or OH- ions through weak dissociation.
So an optimal hydrogen ion concentration (pH) in the fluids and tissues will be maintained with great tenacity. it is moreover a basic condition for the normal course of vitally important processes. The great variations of food in acid-or base-builders is hardly able to disturb this equilibrium, at most to favorably influence an already disturbed one. An excess of acid in intermediary metabolism, acidosis, develops through incomplete oxidation and therefore incomplete excretion of acid end- product. In such cases the neutralization through strong alkali is naturally excluded, because the introduction of such OH – carriers in the amounts require must act disturbing on the cells and tissues. And the introduction of salts, which induce an alkaline reaction, as sodium carbonate, in such cases, can hardly give more than a transient neutralization; a chemical mass action which attacks the end-products of a metabolic disturbance, which is able to stimulate the intrinsic properties of the organism to conquer the disturbance, does not occur in any cases. It is the same chemical mass equalization procedure which brings temporary alleviation in an excess or deficiency of acid in the stomach through the corresponding amounts of alkaline- reacting salt or acid but which better induces an impairment of the selfregulation of the organism.
Of the destructive actions of strong bases or acids, we need not speak here. The solution of skin and mucous membranes through alkalies, the corrosion through acids, shows us only the impossibility of supporting life through marked increase of the OH or H ion concentration. But if we turn to bases and acids in a dilute state as stimulation agents, as drugs, then we must be clear that the action of the cations (bases) or anions (with acids) used, is shaped so much more acutely and transiently, the freer the OH -or the H plus ions are. Their great capacity for reaction is associated with the extraordinary speed of wandering. The strong alkalies, the OH compounds of the organic alkalies and earthy alkalies, can therefore practically not be used as drugs since their action is too brief and crude. The cations can have value if they are employed, for example, the carbonates. The strong acids, as hydrochloric, sulphuric acid, are likewise rarely used drugs of acute effects. With nitric acid and phosphoric acid the dissociation relations are somewhat more complicated, and a slower and more prolonged action is made possible. The similarity in the drug action of the alkali- forming cations on the one side and the acid forming anions on the other side, and the contrast between these cation and anion actions in the organism in general, will be mentioned later in the summary.
The role of H and OH ions in normal and sick organisms, and the understanding of the remaining anion and cation actions, is so important that they must be studied more closely, even if the ions themselves as constituents of medicinal substances have only a slight significance.
The third fundamental element, carbon, C, is the characteristic carrier of organic life. this is certainly connected with the central position of the element in the periodic system. Next, carbon as the lightest and therefore the handiest element of the amphoteric group IV, is also adapted for entering into combination with H and O beside one another and for extraordinarily changing relationships and forms. To this is added the capacity of combining with itself in chains and rings (homeopolar binding) which carbon possesses to a greater degree than any other element. It owes this also to its central position in the periodic system.
In silicium and the lightest members of the neighboring Groups III and V (boron and nitrogen), the capacity for homeopolar binding is much less. Moreover even in silicium there predominates a one-sided affinity, namely, for oxygen. Another advantage which carbon posses, which is not present in slicium, is that the simplest natural combinations of the oxidation end- products, CO2 and the last step in reduction, CH4, are volatile. So in spite of all diversity and convertibility of the innumerable intermediate forms, still an easy removal of the used material is made possible.
Elementary carbon on the other hand, similarly as silicium dioxide, SiO2, is for the organism a firm chemically unattackable substance. Through its physical properties when it is placed in a suitable state, such a chemically inactive substance can enter into reciprocal actions by virtue of its surface properties with an organism so that it is a quite universal drug. In SiO2 these physical powers indeed find physiologic utilization.
Chemically bound carbon is the structural and functional material of the organism. Indeed, as we saw, the simple oxidation product of carbon, namely, the anhydride of carbonic acid or carbon dioxide, CO2 as the final split product plays an important role in the regulation of ion equilibrium. Also the poisonous CO appears in slight amounts in the blood, probably developing as an intermediary step in the splitting of sugar. No characteristic drug can be made from either of the gaseous forms of the material, however.
The animal organism must obtain its organic fuel material in a highly complicated form; it requires the preliminary labor of green plants which alone have the ability to build the still so mineral like CO2 with the assistance of the sun’s radiant energy through photosynthesis to higher carbon compounds. These organic preparations are then nutriment for the animal organism as it has implements, agents and ways to gain utilizable energy through the destruction of these materials and to assimilate them. But if a short circuit occurs in this complicated and highly subtle physical chemical fabrication process then they attain poisonous, or in corresponding direction, a medicinal action. This short circuit may arise from the nutrient material being introduced parenterally in a nonphysiologic way, or by leaping over the normal processes and ways intentionally; or it may arise when the intermediary elaboration is imperfect and leads to poisonous substances or intermediate products not detoxified with antagonistic actions; or the usual physiologic processes may fail in respect to the carbon compounds introduce, which, in the metabolism of certain plants and animals form characteristic compounds (alkaloids, glucosides, toxins, animal secretions); or the compounds of so-called organic (better -carbon) chemistry can be artificially synthesized in the laboratory for a definite effect on the organism. Whether by these artificial products a parenteral introduction and a leaping over physiologic limits is obtained or not, still the attempt always goes utterly one-sidedly and equivocally in the direction of action and for the avoidance of untoward actions. The artificial elaboration of such constructed compounds in an extremely narrow path is worthy of remark as an accomplishment of homo technicus. Still all these compounds carry the stamp of one-sidedness, brief palliation, indeed a restraint of a few vital functions. Such a type of action serves a medicinal method which is oriented only to a slight extent to the extreme adaptation of natural vital processes and the use of their reaction powers. And so it happens that in homoeopathy these artificially constructed preparations play only a very subordinate role in contradistinction to the materials from the great laboratory of nature. For this reason we shall speak of the carbon drugs only briefly in an appendix to the mineral drugs.
Thereby we step over the limits of mineral substances in the narrow sense. But this limit is by no means sharp in nature. In metabolism definite organic compounds pass over into mineral (the organic carbon compounds to CO2, the organic sulphur compounds to sulphates) and reversely mineral compounds to the organic (NH4 salts to urea, iodine enters thyroxin and then again becomes free); then too numerous compounds are partly inorganic and partly organic (for example, salts of inorganic cations with organic anions, or the compounds of anions as phosphates with alcohols to form esters). And even if one assumes with Wiechowski that the differentiation is to be made according to the type of union and only unions directly on the C or over N to C as organic and those which are united through the intermediation of H or O as inorganic, still a division of the inorganic materials cannot be made without some arbitrariness. The inorganic type of compound is characteristic for compounds which furnish ions in a watery solution through dissociation whereas in the organic type of union the splitting into ions is possible only after complete oxidation.
In our materia medica we can include the simple carbon compounds untroubled by the type of union to minerals. The limit between the synthetic drug preparations which have a minor significance for us and the natural or artificial derivatives from the plant or animal kingdom can also be left vague. We shall therefore include single definite organic preparation from the plant and animal kingdom as carbo vegetablis and carbo animalis, creosote, petroleum and also such preparations which are available from artificial synthesis and plant destruction, as benzoic acid and salicylic acid, as an addition to the minerals since their inclusion with the plant or animal medicinal substances seems less logical.
The fourth basic substance, nitrogen, N, in its elementary form as it occurs in air as a diluter of oxygen, is like elementary carbon in that it is not utilized by the higher organisms. As a gas, no medicinal powers can be imparted to it through an alteration of physical state as can occur in the cases of the solid carbon. The animal organism can utilize nitrogen only in combined forms and this happens almost exclusively through the organic union to carbon. Indeed traces of NH3 or the ammonia cation NH4 occur as an end-product of nerve and muscle metabolism and somewhat larger amounts are liberated by the kidneys under certain conditions, when the regulation of buffer capacity of the urine the reserve in fixed alkalies must be spared. Otherwise nitrogen appears physiologically but still constantly as a companion of carbon in metabolism with which it is bound obligatorily in the synthesis or splitting of proteins. Inorganic ammonium introduced into the organism is so foreign and poisonous to the body that as soon as it reaches the liver it is detoxified.
to urea, CO That nitrogen metabolism is much -NH2.
less intensive than carbon metabolism is evident from the fact that nitrogen is present only in proteins and not in carbohydrates or fats. The ratio of C:N is always positive in the body, and only in the urine can it become occasionally negative, because the greater part of the carbon oxidized to CO2 is excreted through respiration while the nitrogen is excreted through the urinary passages. Indeed the lightest representative of Group V, nitrogen in its bound form, is always very convertible and very accessible to reduction and oxidation, but the affinity for hydrogen predominates distinctly and it cannot approximate carbon with its central position either in respect to the lightness of the H and O compounds or in the capacity for combination with itself.