The Nitrogen


Antimony compounds, particularly in the naturally occurring sulphide, served in antiquity as cosmetic for coloring the eyebrows and for the treatment of skin diseases and wounds. Even today antimony is used in the Orient in the treatment of the Bagdad boil. Paracelsus used it as a powerful arcanum. According to Latz of the seven arcena two are antimony preparations: Pulv. solaris niger and Pulv. solaris ruber. In 1604 Basilius Valentine published the work “Triumphal Chariot Antimonii” and extolled antimony in the French disease, eruptions, cancer, interment fever, asthma, gastric maladies, epilepsy, and melancholia. If the iatrochemists held the use of antimony extensive, then the Galenic were just the opposite. Physicians were excluded from their organization because they employed the very dangerous antimony. This fight in the school over antimony lasted approximately a century. In spite of the prohibition the Paris faculty favored the use of antimony as the so-called pox-salve for diversion to the skin, as an antiphlogistic, an emetic and expectorant. In 1836 an extensive study was published on antimony by Sachs (Professor in Konigsberg) but the use was infrequent. In school therapy at present the employment of antimonial preparations as expectorants or in larger doses as an emetic is not common. Recently antimony as Sb2O3 in analogy with arsenic has obtained chemotherapeutic significance in trypanosome and spirilla diseases.


Corresponding to its position between arsenic and bismuth, antimony (stibium), Sb, has a more marked metallic character than arsenic. Moreover antimony still has 2 allotropic modifications but the non-metallic yellow form is extremely unstable, so that only the metallic forms has significance. As a chalkophilic element antimony occurs predominantly as the sulphide especially as trisulphide, grey or black antimony, Sb2S3, more rarely also in solid form and as the trioxide, Sb2O3, white antimony.

Antimony oxide, SbO3, dissolves in acids to form salts, and is also a base forming oxide. In antimony there exists the possibility of being positively charged, an anion. But at the same time Sb2O3 also has the capacity in the presence of a strong cation to charge itself negatively and to be an anion in the form of SbO3 salts of metamonic acid SbO2H can be formed. With this property of being able to appear as a weak base as well as weak acid is associated the tendency to form complex salts.

The salts of the basic complex SbO + antimony are important for us, above all the potassium antimony tartrate, a double salt of tartaric acid. Tartarus stibiatus and tartarus emeticus, are other names for the same preparation. The other common antimony preparations are the naturally appearing sulphur compounds Sb2 S3 black or grey antimony our antimonium crudum and Sb2S5, red antimonium sulphide, our antimon, sulfurat, aurantiacum. Antimonium aresenicosum is a mixture of antimony pentoxide Sb2O5, with arsenic trioxide, As2O3.

The variability of these preparations constitutes a great difficulty in deminitely establishing the characteristic antimony effect. In general potassium antimony tartrate is regarded as the compound which comes the nearest to approximating a true antimony effect, since the antimony binding here is very loose. Experimental investigations have also been made largely with it. Spiro assumes that the slighter pharmacologic activity of antimony in contrast to arsenic is due to the greater stability of the complex compounds. But in other groups of the periodic system we also see that with an increasing heavy metal character, an element tends t become foreign to the body and with it the extent of action is limited.


Antimony compounds are absorbed from all mucous membranes as well as from the skin. Excretions occurs through the faeces, urine, milk, and bile. After parenteral administration the greatest part is excreted into the stomach and intestine. Antimony is obviously retained for a long time in the body and then is discontinued. Thereby it collects chiefly in the liver. In acute poisonings the kidneys and intestines are also found the sites of excretion.

In contrast to arsenic it is not possible to obtain an habituation with antimony; resorption is not lessened on persistent administration but rather increased. Therefore previous treatment with antimony seems to increase the sensitivity of the animal; this is connected with the slow excretion and absorption. Brunner found trivalent antimony much more active than pentavalent.


Locally antimony compounds in soluble exert very strong irritant action on the skin and mucous membranes. On the uninjured skin the inunction produces a marked inflammation with follicular pustule formation which leave behind small pox-like scars. After the ancient use of antimony ointment on the hairy scalp, as the “pox-ointment” or martyr’s salve, gangrene of the scalp with periostitis and deep ulceration often occurred.

But skin manifestations are also observed from the internal use of antimony, particularly on the genitals, arms and back. They consist of pustules up to the size of peas which may arise from small red papules at the stoma of the gland follicles. Deep necrosis may occur form the internal use. Christopherson and Gloyne have observed a goose-like skin after the long continued injection of tartar emetic as well as the marked appearance of roughness, moreover, a leucoderma in the negro.

In poisoning by antimony vapors stupefaction and frontal headache appears, then chest symptoms, severe painful cough, partly dry, partly with tenacious sputum difficult to evacuate, and piping and rales in the chest. Then the gastro-intestinal symptoms pustules on the genitals were observed, finally great prostration decrease of sexual potency and swelling of the testes.

After the ingestion of toxic doses (maximal dose 0.2 gram pro dosi) pains in the mouth, a metallic taste, and aphthous-like vesicles or pustules on the oral mucosa are encountered. The lips swell. The patient complains of difficulty in swallowing. Nausea, vomiting, gastric and abdominal pain occur, the stomach and the hepatic region are particularly distended. There is increased salivation, then retching and finally vomiting of bile containing gastric contents. Simultaneously colicky abdominal pains appear, the stools become mucoid, the bile content often increases and many times in animal studies the stools are bloody.

Chilliness occurs, the face becomes pale, the throat rough, the voice fails, respiration is greatly impeded. The pulse is small, clonic and tonic spasms occur, the skin is cold and covered with clammy sweat. With vertigo, collapse and loss of consciousness, death occurs. The urinary output is lessened but not to the extent noted in arsenic poisoning. As effects incidental to intravenous injection immediately after or during the injection a slight redness of the face and slight feeling of oppression to respiration many times accompanied by an irritant cough. A metallic taste in the mouth is mentioned just as rapidly. Soon after the injection there are muscle pains, particularly drawing pains between the shoulders, in the upper arms, in the back muscles, with a feeling of stuffiness in the entire musculature, even in the muscles of the jaw. This sensation may persist 1-2 days and impair movement.

Outside of Nobiling’s study the actions on the respiratory passages have received little attention in German literature. Ringer, however, knew the increase of secretion in the bronchi after small doses in the sense of school medicine of antimon. tartar. as well as the good therapeutic results in catarrhs of the respiratory passages, particularly in children, with frequently repeated doses of 1 mg.

In acute poisonings in animals bronchitis and pneumonia have often been found. The anatomic findings in acute poisonings in the stomach and intestine as well as in the liver is exactly the same as in arsenic poisoning.


Concerning chronic antimony poisoning the best information is given by the older investigations on healthy men by Nobiling with tartar emetic and the studies of Mayerhofer with ant. sulf. aurant., Sb2 S3, whose experiments were long continued and arranged according to the method of homoeopathic drug proving. Less suitable are the more recent reports of Schrumpf and Zabel because they also include the alloy poisoning of typesetters in which lead as well as antimony participates. They found downcast facial expression, nervousness, irritability, insomnia, lassitude especially mornings, sensation of vertigo, headache especially frontal and occipital, widespread local pains neuralgic pains in the extremities, nausea, anorexia, gastric and intestinal disturbances and constipation. They also report a leucopenia and an eosinophilia as an experimental finding. The proving of Mayerhofer with ant. sulf. sur. yielded the chief action on the bronchi, then the gastro-intestinal canal and skin similarly as they are described in the homoeopathic drug picture.

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,