The Sulphur

A special content in sulphur is shown by keratin and probably also the pigment of the skin. Moreover, the chondroitin in the cartilage is united with sulphuric acid, and likewise the synovia apparently contain more sulphur than the other mucins. It is not improbable that with this marked presence of sulphur there is a connection between the special affinity of sulphur for the joint surfaces.

A quantitative insight into sulphur metabolism and its morbid alteration is difficult to obtain. The diversity of steps of splittings and the ways of discharge and the still very imperfect numerical conceptions of the single fractions in the blood and in the tissues have permitted only general conclusions up to the present time.

So the relation of neutral, imperfectly oxidized sulphur to the total sulphur in the urine gives a measure of the oxidation of sulphur compounds in the organism. And from the relation of the so-called, paired sulphuric acids to the total sulphur in the urine a point is gained for the measuring of the appearance of toxic intermediary metabolic products (phenol, indol, skatol, etc.) These intermediate products are detoxified by the sulphates and probably in the liver. Practically only the estimation of indican and the qualitative diazo-reaction is used for this purpose.

It may be assumed as very probable that the chief function in the splitting and in the oxidation of sulphur compounds occurs in the chemical center of the organism, the liver. To a remarkable action of sulphur in the liver, in the formation of glycogen, we shall return later.

The adrenals are especially rich in sulphur, particularly their yellow substance. Here the sulphur is said to be present almost exclusively as neutral sulphur. The adrenals are considered as the site of absorption and the regulation of sulphur metabolism.

That in all acute disease, in consequence to the increased destruction of protein, the amount of sulphur in the urine is increased is not surprising. Moreover remarkable it is that, in chronic diseases generally, the sulphur content of the urine is diminished. One might perhaps conclude from this that there is a depression of sulphur metabolism in many chronic diseases. And it exactly in chronic diseases that sulphur serves as a medicinal agent of the metabolism.


What disturbances of sulphur metabolism are possible through elementary sulphur? Since it cannot simply be concerned with the introduction of more or less sulphur, so must it be the property elementary sulphur, so must it be the property of elementary sulphur which permits these disturbances. On the path of sulphur, exercising its effectiveness much is known, especially through the work of Heffter. In the intestine sulphur is reduced to H2S. This occurs principally through bacteria, particularly in the large intestine, as has been long known; but it can also occur through certain protein bodies of the intestinal mucous membrane and indeed the small intestine. The gastric mucous membrane does not contain this reducing protein substance. This reducing protein fragment is in all probability cystin. Between the H2S and the cystin develops an equilibrium of reversible reaction in which the hydrogen remains labile. The diffusion of H2S out of the intestine into the blood occurs easily. Thereby it must be reckoned that a part of the sulphur is dissolved in the presence of H2S, to polyhydrogen sulphides so that actually a reaction mixture of H2S, polysulphides and sulphur reaches the intestine. By the injection of finely divided sulphur into the blood stream or the musculature, the same thing happens in general, because everywhere the sulphur meets cystein and becomes H2S. In this case the disturbance of sulphur metabolism is a very stormy one. With large introductions of sulphur, the H2S, excretion through the lung and skin becomes very obvious.

In any case the pharmacologic action of sulphur is pressed to the side by hydrogen sulphide and the question is whether these is a chronic H2S poisoning from small doses. From the acutely fatal action of an air containing a strong content of H2S, not much can be withdrawn for our problem. It has great similarity with the action of another catalyser poison, HCN. Severe, but still not fatal, H2S poisoning proceeds with loss of consciousness and respiratory disturbances. The milder general symptoms of chronic H2S poisoning are headache, stupefaction and striking tendency to sleep. Such symptoms often accompany irregularity of intestinal evacuation, and it has been considered whether rightly or wrongly as due to actions of H2S from absorption from the intestine. The general actions of H2S can increase up to vertigo, states of excitation, intoxication and narcosis, and Lewin has suggested that the delirium of the priestess at Delphi can be traced to H2S vapors.

The action of larger amounts of sulphur after introduction into the intestinal canal has been known as a mild purgative effect.

Bokay had shown that the action of larger doses of sulphur consists in an increase of peristalsis through the formation of H2S in the intestine. Under the influence of the H2S developing from the sulphur the passage through the proximal colon is accelerated so that the thickening which otherwise occurs here cannot occur or incompletely occurs. The stimulating action on the intestine has also been proven on the surviving and isolated intestine of animals. Van Leersum found that H2S stimulates surviving guinea-pig intestine in Tyrode’s solution in a concentration of 1:4,000,000 = 4. Gordonoff and Hashimoto studied the action of H2S containing water on the isolated rabbit intestine according to the method of Magnus. They found in weak concentration, for example 1:500,000, 1:1 million but also 1:10 million, an increase of the tonus and the pendulum movements (to decide by the curves with the weakest concentration of 10 the strongest action). Larger concentrations (1:200) effect a paralysis which is reversible; that is, the transference to Ringer’s solution causes it to diminish. (The paralysing and stimulating action can here and there be observed from the same concentration which may be attributed to inexactitude of dose through varying solubility of hydrogen sulphide).

Moreover the studies which Gordonoff carried out with Umehara on the isolated frog heart do not speak for a different behavior of the heart of hydrogen sulphide. The reduction of the stroke height is observed under large doses (H2S water 1:10, Na2S 1:250 and 1:100); weak concentrations, however, apparently have not been tested.

The purgative action is perceived as the first crude regulatory measure against the penetration of massive H2S in the organism. Thereby it becomes clear that, in such doses generally, action on the intermediary metabolism in the intestine need not become evident. If however, the H2S formation in the intestine remains below the threshold of stimulation of peristalsis, then certainly a definite resorption of the (H2S-polysulphide, sulphur) mixture appears. But there are further regulatory trends available so that it need not amount to distinct disturbances in sulphur metabolism, because H2S is never completely absent from the intestinal canal. Still there is a chronic action of small doses of sulphur, likewise after oral administration. This experience of the homoeopathic school has been confirmed now through the many studies since those of H.Schulz. They could have been confirmed through the unprejudiced evaluation of experiences with sulphur water cures. In any case the presumption for a characteristic disturbance of physiologic equilibrium through small doses of sulphur has been a long continued study. And indeed they have been overlooked by pharmacologists until H.Schulz. We cannot say even today by what experimental arrangement the first regulatory trends are circumvented so that there appear distinct signs and symptoms of disturbance in the intermediary regulatory process. It is conceivable that the resistance of the periphery is gradually exhausted through the constant repetition of the attack with the very active, diffusible substance in the H2S form. It is probable that another site of resorption, perhaps the oral mucosa, must be involved in order to attain this result. A fine division of the sulphur is another indispensable presumption.


The physiologic function of organic cell sulphur to intermediate oxidations and reductions permits one to expect that the actions of sulphur introduced in a suitable form will become obvious in oxidative metabolism. The results of experimental investigation have confirmed this. The trial by Riesser, Simonson and Richter upon themselves with use of modern methods of investigation of metabolism have made possible for the first time a numerical conception of the effects. The subjective symptom picture in these four series of studies with a saturated alcoholic solution of sulphur (0.035 Percent, tinctura sulphuris or, according to another designation, the fourth decimal dilution of the homoeopathic pharmacopoeia) is naturally scanty in contrast to that known from homoeopathic provings. But it confirms an essential series of symptoms of earlier provers. Thereby it is especially worthy of remark that one investigator (O.R.) in a second study with two to three times as great dose reported that there were no alterations of sensation and likewise that the objectively observed alterations were slighter than he had observed in the first study. Accordingly, one may conjecture that the dose in all these investigations, in spite of the smallness, still moved, around the upper limits suitable for such a purpose. Otherwise the study corresponds in general with those common to homoeopathy with pre and post- observation with several weeks, duration of the introduction of the the drug.

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,