The Carbon


Lactic acid, CH3.CH(OH).COOH, oxypropionic acid, develops from sugar through fermentation. It is found in many foods (sour milk, sauerkraut, cucumbers) and is formed in the stomach during fermentative processes. There is a dextro- and laevo-rotatory from as well as the racemic mixture of both. The dextro-rotatory form develops in working muscle from the fermentative splitting of glycogen and with phosphoric acid plays an important regulating role in the production of muscle contraction (see p.454). Moreover lactic acid can also form during protein splitting.

Lactic acid is locally employed as a corrosive agent when abnormal tissue (new growth, tuberculous ulcers) are to be electively attacked. Healthy cells are more resistant to this acid; however the corrosion is painful for some time.

Fermented lactic acid in foods, particularly the various types of curdled milks (yoghurt, kefir, koumyss), play a great role in dietetics. Although overrated for a long time, still they possess much that is correct for, in many cases, an alteration of the intestinal flora is favored through these lactic acid is employed for betterment of the bacterial flora and for changing the reaction (toward the acid side) in vaginal douches.

Fifty to sixty years ago lactic acid in large doses was extolled in diabetes and skimmed, easily soured milk was recommended as a suitable drink for diabetics (J. Leeser). The important physiologic role of lactic acid opened, similar to phosphoric ac- id, the prospect that in the future this treatment would be grounded more exactly. In homoeopathy diabetes in a potenized form.

Form the use of large doses (60-100 drops per day) of 10-15 Percent lactic acid in two diabetics, Foster 584 saw pain, swelling, redness of many joints with copious sweating and fever, aggravation of the pain on movement, and on repetition of the medication these symptoms recurred, that is, a syndrome conformable to rheumatic fever. Thus the frequent pains in the muscles and joints and along the N.ischiadicus are conceived as rheumatic.

PROVINGS ——– Provings of acid. lact. are found: T.F.Allen: N.Y. Journ. of Hom., Bd. 1, p. 337.


Diabetes and acute rheumatic affections are the main field of application for acidum lacticum. When both indications appear together, perhaps in a diabetic sciatica, then one may attack with this remedy.

Signs of diabetes are the frequent and increased urinary output, particularly at night, which appeared repeatedly in the provings; attempts to retain the urine causes pain; thirst only once in a non-characteristic way; the mouth is dry and there is a constant desire to swallow.

The rheumatic inflammations are characterized by the copious sweats and by aggravation from movement. Profuse, non-offensive foot sweats was noted in a prover. Sharp pains in the cardiac region with cardiac palpitation refers to the involvement of the heart in the rheumatic affections. Many pains involve the chest muscles. Red patches on the skin and in one prover with the 30th potency on the lower third of the leg on the anterior surface, with burning and improvement from cold or sudden transition from cold to warm, has led to the indication in peliosis rheumatica which Stauffer has confirmed.

Nausea and acid, hot, acrid, sharply burning eructations and constant necessity to eructate, thickly coated white-yellow tongue has given occasion for the use in acid dyspepsia. The nausea occurs particularly in the morning, and is often relieved by vomiting. Tobacco smoking aggravates the eructations associated with regurgitation of tenacious mucus which must be constantly swallowed. Morning nausea in sensitive women and morning vomiting of drunkards and smokers seem to be suitable indications. Diarrhoea (once reported as foamy) with sudden urgency refers to the abnormal fermentation.

Dryness, burning, and sensation of soreness in the larynx and failure of the voice was evident in a proving with the D 15. 585 A special suitability of lactic acid for laryngitis and indeed of tuberculous origin can hardly be drawn from this.


Chief Trends:


Rheumatic inflammation. Joint, muscle. (Cardiac involvement?) Sciatica? Peliosis rheumatica.

Dyspepsia acida. Morning nausea.


Worse from moving.

Nausea and acid eructations, worse in the morning, from smoking; at times better from eating.


Acidum lacticum is recommended in the 3, 6, and 30th potency. Most provings have employed the 30th. In diabetes the high potencies are said to be most active.


Acetic acid, CH3. COOH, appears in a few plants. In the distillation of wood it is obtained in the tar in addition to other lower fatty acids, as the impure “wood vinegar.” The development from alcohol (oxidation) be fermentation has been known since antiquity.

Vinegar as a condiment is completely burned to CO2 and H2O in metabolism. How far this is the case with large amounts is uncertain. In the dilute from (2-4 Percent) it stimulates the secretion of saliva and gastric juice. In concentrated form acetic acids is a corrosive agent like the mineral acids. The use of vinegar as a skin stimulant, as well as for the production of reaction sweat and for the alleviation of excessive sweating, moreover bleeding is common in folk medicine.

The results of acute poisoning with corrosion has nothing characteristic. In chronic excessive use or the industrial inhalation of acetic vapors, there is a gastric catarrh with coated tongue, fetor expectoration, acid eructations, emaciation, loss of strength, weak pulse, pallor and anemia. Colicky pains and diarrhoea are rare. In rare cases bleeding occurs. After injection into new growths, pallor, cyanosis, and increased temperature and a central vasomotor action is seen.


Provings of acid. acet. are found:

1. Melion: Roth’s Materia Medica, Bd. 3, p. 15.

2. Catell: Brit. Journ. of Hom., Bd. 11, p. 338

3. Berridge: Monthly Hom. Rev., vol 15, p. 397.


Acetic acid is rarely employed. Emaciation, increasing pallor, oedema, profuse sweats, great fatigue and the above mentioned gastric disturbances are the chief symptoms.

General oedema and the “skin pale as wax” is cited in Orfila’s toxicology for acetic acid; oedema in the extremities has been noted in other instances. One must think of the end stage of cachexia. An influence of acetic acid on the peripheral vessels is also known from the action in bleeding.

Severe thirst, increase of the urine; and emaciation has led to the recommendation of this acid in diabetes, but this has rarely been followed. (The diuretic action of potassium acetate is a salt effect of massive doses.)

Gastric catarrh and diarrhoea in acetic acid have nothing charac- teristic but are merely occasional indications in association with emaciation, cachexia and oedemas, perhaps in atrophic children.


Used rarely in emaciation, pallor, oedema, cachexia with accompanying gastro-intestinal catarrh.

Diabetes (doubtful).


It is usually employed in potencies from D 3-D 6. Experiences are insufficient.


Formic acid, H.COOH, is found free in the anal secretiona of ants. The tincture prepared from formica rufa is proven, 586 from the pure formic acid by injections of D 3 and D 4 also proven by Scheidegger, and the tincture and lower potencies internally by Stauffer. The symptoms have been joined to those of formica rufa.

The external application of “formic spirits” in rheumatic processes is laic. The internal use of acidum formicicum in rheumatism of the muscles and joints and states of weakness occurs rarely in homoeopathy. On the contrary the subcutaneous and intravenous injections of potentized formic acid (D 6, D 12, D 30, and D 200) has found very extensive employment by A. Reuter 587 in conjunction with Krull; it is given at long intervals and in the most diverse diseases on the soil of arthritism and the exudative diathesis. In arthritis, asthma, beginning tuberculosis, chronic skin maladies, chronic nephritis, etc., results have been reported from this derived parenteral irritant therapy. With internal administration the action is slow, uncertain and limited.


Carbon stands at that remarkable place in the periodic system which seems to be the pivot of the balance in relation to the other element. But this need not lead to a consideration of the element C as an enduring resting point but rather a rotation point about which the shifting equilibrium of the elements plays (from the H+ or the O- side). Carbon is the pole which lies diametrically opposite to the fixed, stabile elements of the noble gas series (likewise the steadiers of the balance), when one considers the periodic system pictorially as a spiral arrangement on a cylinder surface. The longer the arms of the “balance” through the deposit of new elements on both sides, the more living the play of the balance or to leave the illustration: there develops from the point of departure C that unending series of new configurations, from whence (materially considered!) finally the living from is born, bloms, or whatever word may be used to symbolically designate it since a mechanistic expression is unsuitable.

This place of a new addition in the natural structures also signifies for our consideration, the material reciprocal actions with the living man, a new exit and at the same time a crossing. The carbon compounds which we include with the mineral medicinal substances build a bridge, at whose other end stands the plant and animal medicinal substances.

The selection which is involved here in the transition structures of the carbon compounds was primarily guided by practical considerations. The substances whose actions are best known as extensive and which are employes most often have precedence. For homoeopathic materia medica this signifies a preference for those remedies in which a greater extent of action has been demonstrated through provings on the healthy. It happens now that the chemically impure mixtures of substances which stand very close to the formations of nature (outside of the relatively pure natural coal graphite mixtures as petroleum, wood and animal charcoal, cresotoe) stand in the first place; that on the other hand the chemically exactly defined and artificially prepared carbon compounds play a much more decisive role, indeed only a small number have been considered here. This leads to a problem, which ever again arises in the organic materials: with the chemical uniformity of carbon compounds the action on man will also be more uniform, one sided and limited. The intensity in given directions may be increased. All the artificial measures for the synthesis of such preparations indeed serve for the purpose of increasing definite properties one sidedly. But thereby the diversity of qualities of actions are lost. However it is exactly these which we would have and seek in medicinal substances when they are to be adapted according to the action similarity of morbid manifestations. The most “impure” natural products prove more suitable there because (through their colloidal state or their colloidal admixtures) the passage through the organism is slowed, ramified and hence more symptoms are unfolded in the organism. In the chemical constructions and variations on the other hand it is exactly one sidedness which is sought, the exclusion always to smaller fields until finally limitation to an outstanding symptom and uttermost freedom from “untoward” actions is the ideal. So the chemical drug construction leads, so far as it seeks its goal in the human organism and is directed not against foreign organism dwelling in it, logically to a treatment of symptoms. This artifice still compares poorly in spite of all elaboration with nature and the natural structures.

Thus is explained that here the homoeopathic materia medica can neglect a number of positively effective drug preparations without harm. So far as it possesses a valuable nucleus (also chemically considered), these recur in the plant or animal products. In this natural association its drug value can be evaluated better. This holds also for single substances already briefly mentioned, for example, formic acid.

If we would follow, the chemical construction plan with the carbon compound beginning with methane in the one, with benzol in the other series, then we could hardly find a way out of the lab- yrinth of the medicinally unused or unuseable preparations. Our knowledge of the relation of actions with the chemical structure is much too superficial and fragmentary to serve as a guiding thread. The infinite laborious fruitless attempts to obtain or to increase definite actions through chemical construction leads at every step to unexplainable surprises. Addition or subtraction of an accessory group or shifting in the arrangement of the groups in similarly composed compounds (isomers) may lose the effect. An explanation is not possible because we do not know the receptive grouping of the cell chemistry sufficiently well. A completion of the testing of all carbon compounds is unattainable. So far the chief weight has been placed upon details because the gaps between the results are so great and frequent that the greater associations can no longer be seen. On the contrary if one has ascertained the actions of a series of important drugs from the group of carbon compounds in the uttermost breadth, then the mutual trends and the deviations will be at least visible, even if not explainable.

In the series of carbon preparations selected here for practical reasons this was distinct. Graphites with its elementary carbon properties still permits considerable group affinity to silicic acid and very extensive constitutional effects to be reconized. Petroleum with its mixture of higher carburetted hydrogens, particularly from the paraffin series, still has very similar skin affinities, but less connection to metabolism, less constitutional involvement but shows an increase in the sensory actions by virtue of its volatile content. Wood and animal charcoal in all their similarities with graphites stress the note of depressed gas exchange and increase of fermentative processes. And the line from carbo vegetablis and animals to kreosote corresponds, perhaps, with that from graphites to petroleum. In the mixture of phenols, kreosote, the extent of action has already narrowed; it is less “constitutional” than carbo, but has the septico-malignant side more intensely as well as the necrotizing. With pure phenol the action becomes still more one sided and proceeds very rapidly to the vasomotor-trophic centers. The trend remains standard also after the entrance of the carboxyl group, COOH, in phenol, also in salicylic acid. But however this substitution (of COOH) seems to add a peripheral affinity for the supportive tissue which seems to proceed from the agreement with benzol ring. The same also holds for the divalent phenol from the paraffin series, oxalic acid. And this affinity becomes milder in the weak acids of the paraffin series up to formic acid. In the last the medicinal intensity, at least with oral administration is much weaker because in contrast to the cyclic acids and oxalic acid, it is more rapidly subjected to oxidative splitting. The nitrogen containing acids, picric and hydrocyanic stand between as outspoken central nervous system poisons with a tendency to paralysis. Here the influence of the organically bound nitrogen becomes obvious; this plays a very essential role in plant and animal poisons.

Finally a complete evaluation of these substances from the crossing would be possible only by a survey from the other end of the bridge, from the plant and animal medicinal substances.

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,