The Sulphur

Furthermore, in the sulphur picture come other catarrhs of all the mucous membranes on the least occasion, but particularly on chilling. But it is not necessary to recount all these catarrhal symptoms if they cannot be differentiated by very definite peculiarities as sulphur symptoms. Neither conjunctivitis and blepharitis, nor coryza, nor throat, laryngeal, respiratory or bronchial catarrhs are indications for sulphur, apart from the burning and the previously mentioned acrid type of secretion which many other remedies also have. Usually the selection of sulphur follows only from reflections of a general nature as from the entire type, from a defective tendency to resolution as perhaps in a pneumonia, from the chronic recurrent nature of the process, in particular through the development by suppression of former attempt at excretion on the part of the organism, etc. So, for example, sulphur has very often proven itself in bronchial asthma which appears as the result or equivalent of an eczema. Here as in scrofula, sulphur, apart from the skin manifestations, is the leading agent on account of the tendency to chronic catarrhs, much depending naturally upon the favorable interval of use and upon persistence if one is to obtain a result.

Entirely the same holds for chronic athritis, recurrent neuralgias and lumbago. Also, in these affections from the circle of arthritism one cannot with due regard for the success and result employ sulphur merely from the diagnosis, but only if sulphur is indicated by the special symptoms of the single case or occasionally if it is used as an interpolated remedy when the reaction to another correctly chosen remedy is insufficient.


Predominantly chronic diseases or transition to a chronic stage (activation).

Recurrent and vicarious process after suppression of eruptions or secretions.

Constitution: Carbo-nitrogenous (with single trends to increased vessel irritability of the oxygenoid type; bodily and psychic stagnation; venosity congestive stages).

Organ Trends:

Skin: Inflammation up to failure of functions. Mucous membranes especially at transition to skin. Intestinal and portal system: abdominal plethora, hemorrhoids, dyspepsia, alteration of constipation and early morning diarrhea.

Special Symptoms:

Burning predominates, also itching; heat at the vertex, nocturnal burning and heat in the feet, otherwise cold feet; offensive secretions and emanations; bodily orifices reddened and inflamed; secretions cause burning; feeling of emptiness at 11 in the morning; early morning diarrhea which drives patient out of bed.


Aggravation of most complaints at night (early morning or 11 in morning, see above). Aggravation from standing (better from moving). Aggravation from washing and bathing and aversion for them. The congestive symptoms are worse from warmth; the skin, from the warmth of the bed; the catarrhal symptoms, from cold and damp.


The dosage of sulphur has a very great breadth, from the lowest potencies, perhaps the third, to the highest; the thirtieth and higher have been recommended. In chronic general maladies in which sulphur is used as a constitutional agent one sees action of the high potencies which are missed with the lower. Sulphur adapts itself particularly well for studying the effectiveness of higher potencies, the primary aggravation and the subsequent improvement.


When hepar sulfuris is mentioned in homoeopathy, calcium sulfide is meant while otherwise by it hepar sulfuris-kalinum (potassium polysulfide) is usually understood. The minimal solubility of hepar sulfuris calcareum in water is an important difference of the longer action in contrast to hepar sulfurish-kalinum. Hepar sulfuris calcareum is obtained through heating calcium (the middle layer of the oyster shell) with flowers of sulfur. Thereby arises a yellow-gray, crystalline mixture of calcium polysulfides (CaS2, CaS4, CaS5, etc.) and calcium sulfate. The internal use is not common in the German official school and only the watery solution is employed externally at times under the name of Sol. Vlemingkx in the cure of acne and itch. The H2S split off acts keratolytically. Likewise the crude actions on the mucous membranes are known to arise from H2S.

But in homoeopathy a very prominent place is taken by hepar. Essentially it has the action of sulfur in its active H2S form, but still is modified in certain directions through the participation of the calcium ions. The acute and volatile H2S action in nontoxic doses is prolonged through a preparation of this type by the cells of the skin and mucous membranes being brought into longer contact with it. The calcium links the action toward the lymph glands.

Drug provings are found in:

(1) Hahnemann: Reine Arzneimittellehre, 2 Aufl, Bd. 4, 3/9, and Chronic Diseases, 2 Aufl., Bd.3, p.348.

(2) Vergiftungsgeschichte: Knorre, Allg. Hom.Ztg., vol. 19, p.233.


First, hepar has the same significance as sulfur in chronic metal poisonings, lead poisoning, and, in particular mercurial diseases. The symptom, swelling of the gum with flow of saliva, principally suggested the remedy here. Also the large flat ulcers and bony swellings of tertiary lues, with great sensitivity (splinterlike pains) underlie the healing influence of hepar generally after the misuse of mercury. The effect of sulfur baths, which contain alkali or earthy alkali polysulfides, in inveterate syphilis is also known. Hepar should also act well in iodine poisoning.


Hepar proves itself more active than sulphur in all types of suppuration or inflammations which pass over into suppuration. The untoward actions of sulfur alkalies or sulfur earthy alkali compounds in the skin, which may evidence themselves from irritation of the skin to purulent pustules up to phlegmons and abscess formation, prove the homoeopathic suitability of the chief trend of action. It is uncertain whether increase of the power of reaction of the tissue through sulfur is made easier through hepar because it easily forms SH ions from this mixture and therefore can be utilized and become more active indeed, H2S is liberated through weak acids as well as CO2 (the 3rd decimal potency still has a very distinct taste and odor of hydrogen sulfide). It must also be left undecided how far the inflammation depressing and phagocytosis-stimulating calcium ion action has a share in the favorable influence. In any case, hepar sulf cal. has proven itself in acute inflammation as well as chronic suppurations, and especially well when due to staphylococci.

In the more empirically directed English, here, as so frequently, the differences between the schools have been bridged by experiences with hepar sulfuris. In proof of this a citation from the materia medica of Sidney Ringer may be introduced.

The sulfides seem to me to possess the property of preventing and restraining suppuration; so they resolve inflammations which threaten to pass over into suppuration and prevent the formation of pus. This effect is shown, for example, through the action of the local use of sulfur compounds in acne indurata.

After the formation of pus the influence of this group on the suppurative process is still very distinct; because the sulfides can accelerate the maturation distinctly, while they simultaneously limit and lessen the inflammation and promote the appearance of the pus on the surfaces and the evacuation of the abscesses.

Then Ringer describes the severe, deep-seated, cervical glandular swellings of nurslings which suppurate persistently and provoke a picture of severe disease. In such cases 0.006 g. of calcium sulfide in sugar or milk may be given every one to two hours with extraordinary success. Likewise in mammary abscess and at times in ulcers, the action of this remedy was very good; in rare cases the pains would be transiently increased, while usually the pains were rapidly relieved. In indolent buboes he has found this remedy much less useful for the promotion of maturation and suppuration. He then continues: It must be stressed that one has great difficulty in understanding how the same agent can have so diverse and apparently opposing effects as the destruction of inflammation in the one case and the driving out of pus in the other; cataplasms and hot fomentations also suppress inflammation in the one case while they considerably accelerate the emptying of pus in other cases.

In boils and carbuncles this remedy furnishes excellent results. 1/10 grain (0.006 g), calcium sulfide given hourly or 1/4-1/2 grain (0.015-0.03 g). three or four times daily, will in general prevent the formation of fresh boils while the inflammation in boils already present is lessened, the extension limited and the core rapidly liquefied, so that it separates much more rapidly and the course of the boils is considerably shortened. Where the skin is not open and the slowly separating core is not free, the sulfides frequently convert the boil into an abscess so that on opening, considerable pus is discharged and the wound soon heals; or if the middle of the indurated and swollen tissue is still not dead, the pustule dries, the inflammation ceases, the hard node resolves in a few days without the formation of a core and disappears without any discharge. Thereby this agent improves the general well-being in that it removes the weakness and poor health which so out-spokenly accompany boils and carbuncles. But in single cases, as in deep- seated abscesses and boils, and in diabetes, it is less active. In carbuncles the sulfides in general prove themselves equally effective in that they resolve the core into pus so that the dead and otherwise slowly separating tissue rapidly is cast off.

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,