The Sulphur

One can give as the characteristic for sulphur patients, defective renewal of tissue and fluids. In its basic trends the sulphur type belongs to the carbonitrogenous constitution of v. Grauvogl. But it is not to be overlooked that by the acute irritant effects of large doses, certain trends in the sulphur picture are suggestive of the oxygenoid type: an increased vessel irritability with heat in the skin and acceleration of the pulse.


Out of the embracing picture of nervous-psychic, general symptoms, the stagnation of the sulphur personality becomes distinct. But the three chief trends of sulphur toward organ systems, skin, venous system, digestive system, are of a type that add themselves well to these general features. It would be entirely non-homoeopathic to place such general representation, which only yields a survey for enlightening summary, at the side of observed symptoms. The reason is that there are many agents which show metabolism on the healthy, which increase the residual products, but which still in suitable doses seem to give the impulse in case of disease for increased excretory activity. They can be differentiated only through the actions peculiar to them, by their symptoms.

The first chief trend of sulphur is the skin. It lacks a fresh smooth appearance, but is always dirty red, is sensitive towards cold water and cold air, is rough, unhealthy, tends to intertrigo and eruptions and secondary infections of all types, particularly to eczema, acne and furuncles.

In his polemic publication W. Heubner denies that the action of sulphur in furunculosis, even if it should be confirmed, is concerned with a homoeopathic effect. He states: Because the introduction of a disease like furunculosis through the ingestion of larger doses is not held possible even among the homoeopathic profession and much less has not been demonstrated. I must contradict him: In Hahnemann’s Chronic Diseases, one finds under sulphur the symptom, boil. In the depiction of the action of sulphur by Hugo Schulz one finds: Increased sweating occurs, eruptions of the most diverse type develop, particularly furunculosis. But we may permit a contemporary of Heubner who is unsuspected of any homoeopathic conceptions to speak. L. Lewin states: After the ingestion of sulphur, occasionally an acne or miliaria-like eruption appears, very rarely swellings and carbuncle-like formations. From more recent times the experiences of A. Bier as well as his pupil Abegg may be added.

I have mentioned this controversy in order to show that the use of sulphur is well founded homoeopathically and that A. Stiegele, who at one time recommended a retesting of sulphur iodatum to A. Bier, was entirely justified from the standpoint of the homoeopathic method. But what Stiegele surely did not wish and what, as he himself has stressed repeatedly, would be entirely non-homoeopathic, is the generalization to which Bier’s reports gave occasion in the medical world, namely that sulphur is indicated for any furunculosis. With such an unselected procedure only a certain percentage of results will be obtained. It is not homoeopathic when one proceeds to give sulphur on the basis of the diagnosis furunculosis. Only if the furunculosis stands on the soil of such skin and metabolic alterations which lie in the sulphur trend, will the homoeopathic physician select sulphur. It might be that he would select arsenicum if there were a diabetic basis, or again arnica if there were a pyemic state in the degenerative condition of tissue and skin, and a tendency to ecchymosis spoke particularly for it. To know the homoeopathic use of sulphur means to know the homoeopathic materia medica as completely as possible so that one may proceed differentially therapeutically.

The form of sulphur eruption goes from erythema over to papular, to pustular and to vesicular forms. Outside of the folds in the skin, the sites of transition of skin to mucous membrane, the curves of the hand, the face and the scalp are preferably involved. A characteristic of sulphur in skin affections is the voluptuous itching, worse from the warmth of the bed and from woolen covering, whereby the itching is relieved or replaced by burning. The aggravation through washing and baths and cold air I have mentioned above and may be considered as a sign of reduced reaction capacity of the skin. The emanations from the skin and sweat are offensive and furthermore, washing does not lessen them. So also from this side, uncleanliness appears in the picture of the sulphur type: as a child with unkempt hair, as an adult; a disorderly unclean pseudo-philosopher or pseudo- creator. Generally with sulphur the secretions are offensive, acrid and excoriating. All discharges burn the parts on which they flow. Therefore the openings of the body, the anus, the vulva, the meatus of the urethra, the nasal orifices, lips, edges of the lids, are markedly reddened, under conditions also inflamed. The breath is also offensive, the stool, is fetid; and so from all sides the impression of uncleanliness is increased and this is conditioned by the incompleteness and inertia of metabolism. But still the sulphur patient is sensitive to all disagreeable odors, even from his own body. This is an exception to his indifference to his own body and his environment.

Of the abnormal sensations besides itching, burning predominates. Sensation of heat at the vertex has been mentioned above, likewise the itching combined with burning at the openings of the body. Burning on the soles of the feet an palms, worse from the warmth of bed, makes it necessary to place the feet out from under the covers; but burning is also noted in the tongue, the urethra, the bladder and in other organs. Waves of heat and burning in the skin go over the entire body. This increased vascular irritability makes sulphur very useful in menopausal disturbances. Non-appearance or suppression of the menses may also suggest sulphur. The blood seems unequally distributed; the head is hot, the feet are cold.

This leads to the second chief trend of sulphur: on the circulation, in particular on the venous system. Characteristic for sulphur is the aggravation from standing. By standing, the already present venous relaxation and venous stasis increase, and an entire series of secondary complaints increase. Varices with their sequels and hemorrhoids are a special field for the use of sulphur. The superficial veins are also easily relaxed in the sulphur type on going from cold to warmth, and there develops a feeling of puffiness in the face or in the extremities; the face seems swollen and reddened.

Especially numerous in sulphur are the symptoms of an abdominal plethora. And here the trend in the portal system cannot be separated from the third chief trend of sulphur on the intestine. Likewise an action on liver function is certain. One has concluded an increase in biliary secretion for the green coloration of the stool. In Haarlem oil, indeed, sulphur is considered to be the chologogic agent. In the experience of Rademacher, sulphur is the remedy for the portal system. That so good an observer as Rademacher saw good from his very massive doses of sulphur in hemorrhoids and also saw many symptoms which he considered as arising in the portal system is noteworthy and contrary to the prolonged non-consideration for sulphur in its original form in internal medicine. However, with Rademacher sulphur had only a limited field of application and I might deduce from this that he did not comprehend the unfolding of a substance through potentization, and so the best possibilities of effect were lost. Rademacher obviously knew nothing of the foolish doses of homoeopathy.

Abdominal plethora and dyspepsia are the summary of symptoms for the abdominal organs in the sulphur type, the stagnant stay-at- home type. Hemorrhoids burn, pain and also bleed especially after the evacuation of acrid, liquid stools. Flatulence, distention, flatulent colic, abdominal colic, many eructations are mentioned. The patient can tolerate only the lightest foods and must restrict the diet ever more. He has a desire for alcohol and sweets, but both are badly borne. He is usually emaciated and has a bent gait. He eats little and drinks much. A feeling of hunger is often present an hour before the usual meal time; a feeling of weakness and emptiness about 11 in the morning is considered characteristic for sulphur. The stools are always irregular, constipation often alternates with vain urging and diarrhea. A peculiar and characteristic symptom is ever-recurring early morning diarrhea, often persisting over years, which drives the patient from bed; to differentiate from other early diarrheas (for example, podophyllum diarrheas) is the fact that with the others the diarrhea is not daily. The decisive method of proving on the health as it is used in homoeopathy has shown that sulphur action on the intestine is not necessarily characterized by diarrhea; more often constipation appears first. Chronic constipation temporarily relieved by diarrhea not rarely finds the correct remedy in sulphur. Just as there is ineffectual urging with constipation so in the diarrheas of sulphur tenesmus is observed, and it has given occasion for therapeutic results in chronic dysentery. A burning, sore feeling predominates in the intestine in the diarrheas; particularly the anus burns after evacuation of the stool and becomes sore and red.

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,