The Halogens

Geochemistry of Halogens used as Homeopathic medicinal agents, their appearance and distribution in organism by Otto Leeser in the text book of Homeopathic Materia Medica….

4 HF = SiF4 + 2 H2O. Thereby is the possibility given for the mobilization of silicium in the organism through fluorine. This would show us the way to the first understanding of the extremely striking similarity of acidum fluoricum and calc. fluoricum with that of silicea. If the indicated silicea fails in its action perhaps because of overdosage, then according to homoeopathic experience the fluorine compounds render good service; one knows this type of therapeutic relationship in which two similar agents follow each other well in homoeopathy as a complementary relation. But only extremely rarely are the numerous complementary drug relations chemically so well established as in this case. On can consider that a deadlocked silicic acid metabolism is again mobilized or activated through fluorine if it is only converted at the place from the usual SiO2 into SiF4. This exceptional position ofchoice.

The close chemical relationships of the halogens, that is, the salt formers, can also be found in their effects on the organism. The contrast to the alkalies and earthy alkalies is likewise obvious.

However, there exists between the lightest halogen, fluorine, and the heaviest, iodine, considerable difference in the affinity for hydrogen and oxygen. With fluorine the hydrogen affinity is predominant, with iodine it has become very slight, so that Hl is no longer stabile. Therefore, an increasing affinity for oxygen exists in a series from fluorine to chlorine, to bromine, to iodine.

With increasing atomic weight, the elements of this group gain independence in contrast to other elements under otherwise equal conditions. So fluorine and, in general, also chlorine come into consideration only in the ionic form in action in the organism while iodine certainly and bromine probably unfold important actions in molecular nondissociated form in the organism.

The independent halogen character can be most clearly presented in iodine. For this reason we can best begin with it.



Iodine was separated in the earth in the first demixture of molten lava originally in all layers. It has, moreover, become outstandingly a biophilic element, has increased in living organisms. In the lithosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere it appears only in traces in company with chlorine and bromine (about 1 part to 10,000 parts of chlorine). In the chalkosphere and siderosphere the amount is even less. As a biophilic element, iodine is obtained also from plant and animal organisms( seaplants, coral, mussels). But one chiefly obtains it from sodium iodate where it arises in company with Chile saltpeter, from plant or animal marine life, perhaps also from volcanic deposits.

The geochemic union of elements from the same related group is an ever-recurring phenomenon. It shows that also in the great chemical laboratory of the earth related elements are separated with just as much difficulty as in the test tube. The common appearance of iodine with chlorine suggests and enrichment in sea water and in sea air. The iodine goes approximately parallel with the total salt content. The decided increase in certain geologic areas (iodine springs!) is traceable to prehistoric plants. Therefore strata containing coal are relatively rich in iodine. Outside of the sea coast where not only the air but also the food is rich in iodine, drinking water obtains significance for the introduction of iodine. Hard calcium-containing water arises from geologic levels (calcium- rich sediment stones), which are very poor in iodine. Apparently there is also an antagonism between calcium and iodine in the organism, because McCarrison could produce in pigeons and enlargement of the thyroid by excessive long-continued administration of calcium.

The greater atomic weight in iodine in contrast to chlorine brings a lessened affinity for hydrogen and therefore iodine appears much less in a dissociated anion from than chlorine. In the organism it has much less ionic action and appears more as a molecule in its organic compounds.


Iodine is an element necessary for the mammalian organism but it is not essential for the general electrolytic economy, for the regulation of osmosis and and colloid states, but has specific functions as a catalysor. Corresponding to this is the extent of iodine economy which moves in the range of gamma amounts (1 gamma equals 1/1,000,000 Gm. or 001 milligram). The amount necessary for the maintenance of metabolic equilibrium is about fourteen gammas a day according to v. Fellenberg, but is subjected to considerable individual variations.

In regions where goiter is common, drinking water contains on an average 0-1 gamma per liter, in nongoitrous regions, 1-20 gammas the liter. Iodine is very generally present in plants; formerly it was erroneously believed that it appeared only in sea plants. However, it is still debated whether iodine is a necessary building stone of plants. Yet it is clear that small amounts of iodine promote the growth of plants. It is worthy of note that Chatin, in 1850, found much iodine in Nasturtium officinale which had long been in use against scrofula, tuberculosis and endemic goiter. Iodine also seems to have an influence on the growth of children. From this it might be concluded that in the Spring the thyroid is richest in iodine and children grow most in the Spring. According to Veil, the highest value of iodine in the blood is in May; according to Breitner, in February. This Spring acme is significant for physiologic function as well as the tendency to disease.

The promotion of development of tadpoles is used directly as a test for certain organic iodine compounds. But an acceleration of growth is also observed in mammals.

Baumann found iodine in the thyroid in 1895 and in 1927 Harington and Barger made a chemical determination of thyroxin (tetra- iodophenol ether of tyrosin), to which may be ascribed the chief action of thyroid. Besides this, di-iodo-tyrosin, it appears, has a weaker action.

Iodine is found not only in the thyroid of the organism but probably everywhere. It has been noted in the blood, in the skin and its secretions in the hair, and in almost all organs; only the thyroid, with about three milligrams to one gram of dried substance, is by far the richest in iodine as it contains 1/6-1/7 of the total iodine. In goitrous regions the iodine content of the thyroid is smaller than in nongoitrous regions; in children it is the least but even the thyroid of the new- born is not free from iodine. At puberty the iodine content increases suddenly; between the years of twenty-five and fifty it is highest and then decreases. In women it is higher than in men; in summer, higher than in winter in general. The iodine content of the blood is increased during menstruation. After the thyroid, the skin and hair, ovaries and adrenals are most rich in iodine.

Iodine is taken up with food (water, plants, especially leafy vegetables, animal substances, cod liver oil, eggs) and is absorbed in the upper intestine, and to a slight extent is exhaled from the air. It is taken chiefly to thyroid through the blood which absorbs it and then again gives it up according to the need of the organism. In the thyroid, iodine is found exclusively in organic composition as thyroxin and as di-iodo- tyrosin (the latter a more simple formula and probably a step in the synthesis of thyroxin). Thyroxin is apparently the active principle of the thyroid. However it is probably not free but is contained in an inactive form bound to globulins in the thyroid. In the blood, iodine circulates normally about 65 Percent organic and 35 Percent in inorganic combination.

Iodine is excreted chiefly though the kidneys but also through the bile, faeces, skin (sweat), nasal secretion and, in very small amounts, through the lungs. Inorganic iodine leaves the body much more rapidly than organic iodine, the greater part within 24 hours. It is probable that, under the conditions of the organism in the presence of carbon dioxide, corresponding to the experiments of Binz, iodine dissociates from potassium iodide.


For the physiologic movement of iodine in the organism, the thyroid is the central laboratory and the regulator of organic combination and absorption. The physiologic significance of iodine is known up to the present only in connection with the thyroid. But this in no way states that thyroid function is exhausted with the regulation of iodine metabolism; on the contrary, the circulation of other elements in the organism, as phosphorus and arsenic and the counterbalance of calcium, will certainly be influenced by the thyroid. But the association- thyroid -iodine economy is especially important and also the best known. The state of the thyroid and iodine metabolism stand in closest reciprocal relation. Thyroxin is probably the most essential oxidative catalysor in the organism among the mobile, humoral forms of hormones (iron on the other hand is the cellularly fixed oxidation catalysor).

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,