The Sulphur


The homoeopathic drug picture of selenium is supported essentially by the provings of C.Hering and Schreter. The actions determined show a distinct similarity with those of sulfur. This can serve as an indirect proof of the utility of selenium symptoms, since the chemical group affinity of selenium and sulfur was not known to provers.

There are first the general manifestations of a neurasthenic type: weakness, exhaustion of bodily and mental effort; benumbed head; pulsation in all parts of the body, especially the abdomen, for days, great tendency to lie down and to sleep; at night light sleep (catnaps). Aggravation after sleep is modality of selenium which exists in sulfur as aggravation after extraordinarily long-continued sleep. Moreover, in selenium the great forgetfulness is striking; thereby the recollection of the forgotten should occur in semi-sleep. The entire symptomatology of exhaustion is said to be particularly worse in hot weather and to be better when the sun has set.

Even more definite than with sulfur are the states of weakness in the male sexual system. It is this indication which usually leads to the choice of selenium. In phantasy there exists a sexual irritability, but still there is a physical impotency: frequent involuntary seminal emissions without erections; or slow and weak erections; ejaculation praecox; also prostatorrhea. Frequently observed is an unpleasant sensation of drops which roll along the urethra, due to prostatorrhea but also to an after-dropping of urine or to an inflammatory state of the urethra as in chronic gonorrhea. This dropping sensation is observed particularly on walking and after evacuation of the bladder or bowel. The nocturnal polyuria which is important for sulfur should also be noted here. Residual states of chronic gonorrhea to which are joined neurasthenic symptoms are given as indications for selenium.

The sulfur-like affinity for the skin comes definitely to expression in the selenium provings. However, up to the present they have not obtained great clinical significance. Subjectively the provings report itching of the skin and biting in various places, particularly on the surfaces of the hands, soles of feet, around the knuckles and between the fingers; objectively small eruptions and vesicles as well as greasy facies and falling out of hair. A proven indication for selenium is acne in the greasy (seborrheic) skin. Many sensations of heat in the skin, and sweats, are worthy of mention in analogy to sulfur and tellurium.

The effects on the digestive organs in selenium are much less expressed than with sulfur. Hunger at unusual times, as at night, or morning loss of appetite and white-coated tongue, unusual desire for alcohol (at first desire for salt, later aversion to it), tendency to constipation with hard stools, difficult to evacuate, are symptoms which up to the present have been utilized but little. The aggravation from alcohol and tea, in contradistinction to the desires, does not seem sufficiently established as yet.

As more definite than with sulfur the laryngeal manifestations are to be emphasized. Perhaps the local inflammatory manifestations from selenium can be used for explanation, as Meissner has conjectured the effect as a deposit of metallic selenium in the tissues after a reduction of SeH2. “Increasing huskiness at the beginning of singing” has given occasion for the use of selenium in the hoarseness of singers and speakers. Moreover, a cough with the expectoration of blood stained clumps of mucus has been observed, and consequently tuberculous laryngitis has been given as an indication for selenium. Coryza with loss of smell is observed; sudden development and disappearance of the coryza, at the basis of which a state of nervous excitation may lie, is mentioned but once.

Above all, new provings with metallic selenium and increased therapeutic utilization must go hand in hand in order to make seleniuim indications more precise in the future.

SUMMARY Chief Trends:

Neurasthenic weakness, especially sexual, importance; chronic gonorrhea.

Skin: seborrhea (acne)

Larynx: hoarseness of singers (also tuberculous laryngitis?)

Special Symptoms:

Drops sensation along the urethra

Desire for alcohol which is badly borne

Worse in hot weather

DOSE: Usually the 6th decimal; in nervous complaints the D 30 is also recommended.


Tellurium is found mostly in combination with the heavy metals, as bismuth, silver, gold. Since even slight traces of tellurium in the body by change into (CH3)2 gives rise to a very intensive persistent garlic like odor, one understands that bismuth paste, as a contrast medium for x-rays, and gold for dentistry must be tellurium free.

Externally tellurium has entirely a metallic character. It appears as an amorphous black substance and as a crystalline metal with a silver-like sheen. Its chemical compounds behave entirely like those of selenium but are even less stable than these.

In school therapy, tellurium is limited to rare use in the form of potassium tellurate (K2TeO4) as an anti hydrotic, particularly in the tuberculous and for foot sweats. To this it may be added here that C. Hering in his proving of six weeks duration noticed a foot sweat which was somewhat offensive and that Metcalf reported a general warm vapor over the entire body and that Wohler and Bunsen in their work with tellurium compounds reported very unpleasant and offensive sweats which compelled Bunsen to remove himself from company for four weeks. Kranz- Busch is accordingly correct when he perceives the use of telluric acid salts as homoeopathic involuntaria.

The element tellurium is considered nontoxic in pharmacology just as is selenium, and in traces, like selenium, has been found, according to Gassmann in bones and teeth. The poisonous action of tellurites and tellurates in animal investigation was first undertaken by Gmelin and is said to correspond entirely with selenites and selenates. With tellurites somnolence appears; in cats and dogs diarrhea, paralysis, respiratory paralysis and cardiac standstill in diastole; a fibrillary muscle twitching is observed, however no spasms (as in selenium).

At autopsy in the cold-blooded, a gray discoloration of the organs is described; in the warm-blooded, a black-violet. It depends upon the deposit of reduced metallic elementary tellurium. L.Beyer found that telluriums is deposited in the nuclei of ganglia, liver, pancreas, rennet, urinary tubule, sarcolemma, lymph and bone-marrow cells. Telluric acid is reduced in the organism to metallic tellurium, deposited in this form and then converted into metallic telluride.


From the homoeopathic side, metallic tellurium has been proven

by Metcalf and C. Hering and Dunham.

The skin manifestations are the most outstanding in the provings Repeatedly and persistently a sticking and prickling feeling as from flea bites appears, then an eruption like herpes circinatus with annoying itching, which on scratching goes over into pain; furthermore, itching papules on an inflammatory basis which dry after several days and form small white scales. The papular and vesicular eruption itch very severely, worse at night on going to bed. Likewise the well-known ear symptoms which have given occasion for the employment of tellurium in otitis media when the discharge smells like herring brine (trimethylamine) are characteristic skin symptom on the external ear if one reads the provings carefully: “The ear began to itch, to burn, and to smell; in the external auditory canal appeared a heavy pain and later a watery discharge from the ear which smelled like herring brine and was acrid; and a vesicular eruption appeared on the auricle, the neck and every place on which the discharge fell. The ear was colored a bluish-red and looked as if infiltrated with water”. This picture of “toxic” vesicular skin inflammation does not apply characteristically to the indication of otitis media with a peculiar-smelling ear discharge. Kranz- Busch (l.c) cites a case history of otitis media which, however, is not entirely convincing. My therapeutic attempt in this direction in single cases of otitis was without results.

Most important in tellurium remains the sulfur-like skin affinity which perhaps later will attain greater significance and exact limitation. The vesicular formation, the ring-like configuration, the acridity, the strong odor, can lead further. Whether casually a different type of herpes zoster which in older literature was confused with other forms of herpetic eruptions because of its shape also belongs to the working domain of tellurium, is at least doubtful. The above-mentioned action on the secretion of sweat may be ascribed to the skin action.

As a second, less used trend, mentioned only because of the similarity with selenium is in the flow of coryza with huskiness and lachrymation in the provings, but up to the present it has not attained clinical significance.

A third trend appears to be characteristically expressed in tellurium. Pains in the sacrum are reported, in two provers, pains extending along the course of the right sciatic nerve. This sciatica is much worse from coughing, laughing, effort (bending), from pressure at the time of stool evacuation; better on walking. Another symptom seems to stand in connection with this neuralgia. This is sensitivity of the vertebra (from the last cervical to the 5th dorsal) with desire to avoid contact on this region. The sensitivity radiates in all directions.

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,