The Sulphur

The inequality in the action of single springs cannot be placed parallel in any way with the sulphur content. Moreover, the natural springs cannot be supplanted in any way through artificial water in which one can indeed increase the sulphur content and the development of H2S through polysulphides much higher than in natural springs. The form of sulphur here also is responsible for the medicinal activity. The quantity of alkali or earthy alkali polysulphides in springs hardly exceeds the fourth decimal potency, and the most active frequently much less. The indications for single springs are presented very diversely. However, one has a reputation chiefly for rheumatic processes in the muscles and joints, for neuritis and traumatic bone and joint affections; the other, for chronic skin diseases, inveterate syphilis, chronic metal poisonings; still another, for chronic catarrhs of the upper air passages or inflammatory diseases of the female sexual organs. Many springs are considered useful in the mild cases of pulmonary tuberculosis, but the progressive cases show an aggravation. The presence of other minerals or even radioactive substances, and the temperature of the water, modify the action considerably so that experiences with springs can be valued only in a limited way for pure sulphur actions.

In general, from antiquity the sulphur springs have been ascribed the property of activation of chronic processes and the excitation of mucous membrane and skin secretions. But experience has also taught that it depends upon the state of the organism how such activation shall express itself and whether it will be useful or damaging. While cardiac activity and respiration are slowed in the useful sulphur water cure, in the chlorotic, palpitation and dyspnea occur. In the chlorotic the existing insomnia is aggravated and likewise the tendency to cough and bleeding. Pulmonary patients, especially of the erethistic type with fever, may have light hemoptysis from sulphur springs. Generally, febrile and acute inflammatory diseases are considered a contra-indication for sulphur baths. Likewise, by the homoeopathic physician the use of sulphur in progressive stages of pulmonary tuberculosis is contra-indicated. The activation is not of use at all times but only in definite degrees and at the right time. To determine this biologic moment, the earliest symptoms of the human organism are of assistance.

The medicinal action of sulphur is always an excitation, an activation whether, it is acute and parenteral with massive doses, or whether it is given at definite intervals with small or smallest but particularly activated doses, and then necessarily with special regard for the suitability. On the other hand, the sulphur action in the chronic experiment on the healthy is entirely different. It can be brought exactly under the conception of oxidation depression; the metabolism and the functions of the susceptible receptive organs like the skin are finally slowed because the disturbances cannot be equalized through opportune increase. The symptoms in which a persistent sulphur disturbance is expressed give us the suitable point at which the sulphur can be utilized for activation.



(1) Hahnemann: Reine Arzneimittellehre, II Aufl. 1825, Bd. 4, p. 277. Chron. Krankheiten, I Aufl.1830, Bd. 4, p. 335.

(2) ‘Wurmb: Die Reinwirkungen des Schwefels, Ztschr. d. Verbascum d. hom. Aertze Oesterreichs, 1857.

(3) H. Schulz: Studien uber die Pharmakodynamik des Schwefels Geirfswald, 1896. Niesel, M; Ueber die Wirkung fortgesetzer kleiner Dosen von Schwefel beim gesunden Menschen. Inaug. Diss. Greifswald, 1895.

(4) Riesser and Simonson: Verh. d. Deutsch. Pharm. Ges. Rostock, p. 46 1925; and Simonson and Richter: Arch. f. exp. Path. u. Pharm., Bd. 116 p.272, 1926.

(5) Abegg: Allg. Hom. Ztg., vol. 179, pp.398 and 406, 1931.

In homoeopathy sulphur is considered in chronic diseases as particularly suitable as an activator. The exacerbation of chronic processes is indeed well known from sulphur baths; in heavy metal intoxications, particularly mercury and lead, these materials, will be mobilized, and syphilis and malaria may break out again from sulphur baths. This activating, mobilizing capacity of sulphur has long had a very general significance in homoeopathy. When acute diseases threaten to pass into a chronic state or chronic diseases return when even otherwise well- selected remedies do not produce the expected reaction, then with sulphur one gives a new impulse. But also the disease which can be recognized through alternating and vicarious appearance of syndromes in a particularly chronic deviation based upon the constitution requires sulphur, if not as the sole remedy, then as an interpolated remedy from time to time. The history gives the indications for sulphur if, in place of an earlier eczema, ulcer cruris, hemorrhoidal bleeding or foot sweat, another syndrome as asthma, ever recurring catarrh, or periodic headache appears or alternates with the syndrome first mentioned. On these connections of chronic diseases Hahnemann built his psora theory. There sulphur is in the outstanding place among the so-called antipsoric agents which today we would call constitutional agents. The confirmation of the suitability of sulphur again to bring into prominence suppressed or checked disease processes or again to kindle them is found in the fact that after minimal doses of sulphur remnants of eczema not rarely become extensive or an eczema or a gonorrhoeal discharge which has entirely disappeared again appears. Therein we see a guide to fundamental healing. So-called irritant therapy likewise states nothing more than activation of morbid phenomena which we signify as defense processes of the organism. But it is indeterminate because there are no indications by which one employs either sulphur, yatren or milk.


Let us first glance over the general symptoms of the sulphur picture. There we seem to hear the complaints of a neurasthenic. Headaches of the most diverse types; pressure, tension, tearing, band sensation, beating; as to the site: anterior, unilateral or the entire head. Here also we have no differentiating characteristics. Characteristic for sulphur is the feeling of heat at the vertex. By the rush of blood and surge to the head, cerebral congestion is revealed. At times nausea and vomiting are added. This unpleasant congestive group appears toward morning, on arising after long sleep, for example, on Sunday when sleep has been extended unusually long. Such a description of men who stay at home and who have defective metabolism is heard not rarely. The dull head and the vertigo is worse in the open air, while in the congestive states there is a desire for cooling. Long standing and bending are especially aggravating. The headaches also show marked dependence upon digestive processes; they will often be worse after eating and drinking. Then again appears the characteristic hungry feeling or weakness toward 11 A.M. or an hour before eating, at times with flickering and spots before the eyes.

The neurasthenic man as he reflects himself in the sulphur picture becomes unable to perform mental work, loses interest, is forgetful, easily fatigued, and even speech is influenced; thereby he has a general bodily unrest, is easily irritated, especially by noise. During the day he is sleepy; even when the night sleep is deep and long, he still remains unrefreshed. Often sleep becomes deep only towards morning so that he awakens with difficulty. Or he goes to sleep soon and awakens with difficulty. Or he goes to sleep soon and awakens about 3 A.M. with anxious dreams, speaking, crying, with twitching and jerking in the extremities which awaken him suddenly, and then he remains awake or sleeps only at dawn and then cannot readily awaken again or else awakens with sweating.

In this general picture of nervousness I might include other symptoms as frequent urination at night and the low stimulus threshold of the sexual system, ejaculatio praecox, many pollutions and tendency to masturbation.

The chief characteristic of sulphur men is the stagnation which we shall consider more closely in the bodily functions. But the stagnation is also psychic. He is concerned with himself, is egocentric. He is concerned primarily with impractical things, philosophic reveries, religious or occult enthusiasm which appears very significant to him but in reality is only a device to avoid real and definite work. He neglects his body and his appearance, is disorderly and unclean. The corresponding is indicated in his internal life. Constantine Hering who introduced homoeopathy into United States has called the sulphur patient a tattered philosopher. But thereby he does not mean a real philosopher but more a sort of spinner of phantasies or inventive genius who never finds anything correct. He does not arrive at an act which is satisfactory or complete. Concerned with himself and his own disordered thoughts, the sulphur type can fall into a hypochondriac-melancholic state, especially into religious melancholia with doubt on his own psychic welfare and always with strict limitation to his own person. The egocentricity and disorder make him useless for practical life. The usual neurasthenic-hypochondriac picture as it may arise out of a mental exhaustion is a preliminary step to this severe state and not rarely is favorably influenced by sulphur. But it is not to be assumed that sulphur is suited to every neurasthenic. But if an insufficient metabolic exchange lies at the basis, the entirety of neurasthenic symptoms predominate and no other drug suggests itself, then I tend to begin with sulphur and believe that it has often proven itself useful.

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,