The Sulphur

An increase of the quotient, C:N in the urine is believed by Meyer-Bisch to be characteristic for diseases like arthritis chronica and bronchial asthma. With it, a numerically conceived deviation from the normal metabolic status, like dysoxidizable carbonuria, would be gained for these diseases from the domain of arthritism, a characteristic of oxidation depression and its grade in these metabolic disturbances.

As the effect of a parenteral injection of sulphur of 0.003 g. Meyer-Bisch saw a marked decrease of the quotient, C:N in the urine. This would signify an increase of oxidatives processes. This action is possessed by sulphur in the healthy as well as patients with chronic arthritis. But if one studies the numbers exactly, then it is observed that the action is only very transient. One can conclude from this that the selected type and the dose of sulphur administered rapidly may induce an increase of oxidation, but that this is of too short duration to accomplish a prolonged healing effect. If the ratio, C:N in the urine proves itself as a reliable criterion for the metabolic disturbance in arthritism, so for a decision on sulphur action according to this criterion one will need first a great series of investigations with various doses and particularly with long continued administration in the healthy and the sick. It would be remarkable if chronic effect of sulphur in the healthy did not produce a depression of oxidation for which so many arguments have been introduced by another side. Exactly with sulphur there is no doubt that its effects become distinct in their peculiarity only with the persistent use of smallest amounts. The parenteral introduction of single doses of sulphur, on the contrary, yields so little specific of sulphur effects that the separation from the action of other irritant bodies has not as yet been accomplished.

The works of the Gottingen school have made probable from urine analysis in acute sulphur injection experiments that the action on the protein and salt and water economy agrees with the action of other irritant bodies as milk, aolan and sanarthrit. The agreement becomes evident in doses of 5 mg. of sulphur.

Thereby the nitrogen output shows a slight decrease. That the intermediate protein metabolism is nevertheless altered can be concluded from the absolute and relative increase of neutral sulphur excretion. In the urine appear paired glycuronic acid and urobilin transiently in increased amounts, a sign of liver damage. Water and NaCl will be retained after a transient pouring out; in consequence, increase of weight, and dilution of the serum.

On the contrary with injection of 100 mg. of sulphur the nitrogen output increases and the neutral sulphur decreases absolutely and relatively, conceivably signs of protein destruction. Further, water will be markedly poured out and weight disturbance (induced in a few hours) will be only slowly balanced; still, on the next day, dilution of the blood will occur with the retention of water and NaCl. Increase of urobilin and paired glycuronic acid in the urine appears also with great doses. Disturbance of general sensation and fever are more marked with these doses than even after injection of milk.

Measured in these excretory products the action of 5 and 100 mg. of injected sulphur is exactly reversed; the action curves course entirely different and in consequence a certain quantitative measure gives an exactly opposing deviation from the status of equilibrium. Moreover, the entire investigation with 5 mg. gives us no glance at the characteristic manner of action because the same effects are obtained through all so-called protoplasmic activating substances.

The same authors have tried through special therapeutic effects of sulphur in chronic joints diseases, from chemical analyses of the joint cartilage of dogs before and after the injection of sulphur and from human joint exudates, to gain an insight into the local metabolism. They found in dogs, after injections of sulphur, a decrease in total sulphur in the cartilage, primarily through a decrease of chondroitin- sulphuric acid, as well as a decrease in the swelling of the cartilage. A joint exudate from a patient with chronic polyarthritis, who had received an injection of sulphur six days before, contained more, sulphates than are found as a rule in normal blood and essentially more than in the vast preponderance of pathologic exudate studies. So far as the sparing observation available at present permits a conclusion, it may be assumed that after injection of sulphur, a type of destruction occurs in the specific material of the joint cartilage which manifests itself colloid-chemically in a decreased swelling of the joint cartilage tissue. Accordingly, under the influence of an injection of sulphur, the cartilage tissue, rich in chondroitin sulphuric acid, would liberate sulphate compounds and they would be found in the joint fluids. Also, the possibility that through an excessively strong action of sulphur a previously healthy joint can be damaged, has been indicated by Meyer-Bisch. An example of ankylosis of the shoulder after SO2 poisoning has naturally only conditional value of proof that it was concerned with an action of SO2. Of great interest is the fact that, not only in this SO2 poisoning but also in two patients who had received sulphur injections, a transient pleuritis appeared. That in persistent pleuritis, as generally in serous exudates, sulphur is often homoeopathically indicated and at the same time acts as resorptive agent, is the contrast of this. The trend to serous membranes appears naturally only with large doses of sulphur.

In the connection with arthritism belongs also the recently discussed question of sulphur action in hypertension. This question up to the present has neither been clinically nor pharmacologicaly even approximately explained. Ruscniak found a reduction of blood pressure from the injection of sulphur from 1 Percent sulfolen in 2-3 daily intervals of 1-10 cc. intramuscularly. Since he employed other measures (bleeding, rest in bed, veronal) these reports can hardly be evaluated. The French authors, Piery, Bonnamour and Guiguonet have employed the colloidal sulphur in rabbits in doses of 0.01 mg. per kilo, a dose which they had earlier demonstrated as fatal. The transient increase of blood pressure found by them with a subsequent sudden fall is not to be considered a sulphur effect because they gave the sulphur in a 50 Percent glucose solution. From this is explained without further discussion the severe disturbances of respiration, the clonic and tonic cramps, and the final respiratory paralysis. The trial of Gordonoff with intravenous colloidal sulphur in a dose fifty times as great in an oily suspension is not comparable with those of the French writers, and Gordonoff was not able to observe anything special beyond a falling of the blood pressure no spasms appeared in rabbits and the animals stood the studies well.


In sulphur metabolism the skin takes an important part. It is especially available for the investigation of the manner of action of sulphur.

Since antiquity, the skin has been well known as the point of attack of sulphur. The empiric use in skin diseases consisted of the external application, on account of which only a local effect was taken into consideration. But it has been shown that the effects of absorbed sulphur should not be overlooked.

We have assumed that the cystin form in the keratinized cells is the final form of sulphur metabolism in the skin and that sulphur is constantly excreted with these epithelial cells. That sulphur appears in a loose form in the upper surfaces of the skin, in particular in the hair, one knows from the practice of hair-coloring methods in which the sulphur is precipitated through lead or silver salts, as the metallic sulphide. Likewise, in the use of cosmetics, the crude action of the polysulphide form in the skin, when sulphur is introduced keratolytically, is particularly solvent on the keratinized substances. Calcium and barium sulphide are used especially for the depilation of hairs. Thereby an alkaline reaction conditions. But still the action is not identical with the keratolysis through hydroxyl ions.

P. Pulewka shows that barium sulphide solutions exert 2-3 1/2 times as great keratolytic action as barium hydroxide solutions of equal OH ion concentration. In any case there is a special action of sulphur in keratolysis. Menschel showed that hairs treated with alkalies take on an abnormal extensibility with marked swelling, and on the contrary alkali and earthy alkali sulphides produce a maximal fragility of the hairs. There is no uniform conception on the chemistry of sulphur keratolysis. While Pulewka ascribes it to be hydrogen sulphide in alkaline solution, Heubner holds the presence of polysulphides can be deposited in the disulphide group of cystin, and new sulphuric compounds form which would make altered mechanical properties easily comprehensible.

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,