In the ancient wisdom the elements, and particularly the metals, have a special place, being connected with the planets. Many of the metals we use and stress – Aur., Arg., Hg., Ferr., Cupr. – but some which theoretically should be as important do not come into their own in our knowledge and prescribing. For instance, the subject of this paper, Stannum, or tin.

Our materia medica gives a horde of symptoms for each of the well-proven remedies, on an empiric basis. This is practical if we can synthesize and remember the welter of detail. But our crying need in materia medica is to deepen it, to study the substances in themselves, in their relation to the cosmos and the natural sciences. Then a sense of the inevitability of the remedy picture grows in us. Instead of a feat of the memory, it becomes a growing power in the physicians soul. New implications and possibilities arise which painstaking research as well as vigorous thought can carry through from hypothesis to science. That which Hahnemann made into homoeopathy had its source in the ancient mysteries. He himself acknowledged his great debt to Paracelsus, and some of our best homoeopaths have been deep students of alchemy, like the late Dr. Emil Schlegel of Germany. The Doctrine of Signatures and the Correspondence of Swedenborg hold much light for those of us into whom it can penetrate.

In the ancient wisdom the elements, and particularly the metals, have a special place, being connected with the planets. Many of the metals we use and stress – Aur., Arg., Hg., Ferr., Cupr. – but some which theoretically should be as important do not come into their own in our knowledge and prescribing. For instance, the subject of this paper, Stannum, or tin. This is the Jupiter of the alchemists, one of the seven most important metals, each being allied to one of the seven major planets (Aur. to the Sun, Arg. the Moon, Plb. Saturn, Stann. Jupiter, Cupr. Venus, Ferr. Mars, and Merc. Mercury). The more recently discovered planets, such as Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, etc. are as yet unassigned as to metallic correspondences.

Some of the metals are intermediary, a combination of forces, as Zinc. of Plb. and Stann., Magn. of Ferr. and Cupr., etc. In the alchemic view these metals influence or represent different planes of the human economy: Aur. the Ego, Cupr. and Ferr. the astral (emotional), Stann. and Merc. the etheric (vital), Plb. and Arg. the realm between the etheric and the physical. You will note that each plane save that of the Ego, has two chief metallic influencers. The one increases the forces, and the other diminishes them. If you will check this abstruse sounding statement by our knowledge of homoeopathic medicaments and their workings, and even by orthodox physiology, you will be surprised at how they all fit in.

For instance, copper (astral) is connected with Venus and is the element which frees the astral that has too strong a hold. In plain terms, when emotionality is excessive we have hysteria, cramps, etc. which are of the essence of our homoeopathic Cupr. Ferr., the other astral aspect (Mars) strengthens the astral grip. In other words the anaemic, flabby Ferr. patient needs more of the defining, rigid, astral influence. Again Stann. (etheric) connected with Jupiter, is the forming force – ideals realized in the physical, so to speak – whereas, Merc., connected with Mercury, represents the dissolving forces of healing.

For the etheric plane is the plane where healing takes place. We know, homoeopathically, how Merc. will resolve the clogged antrum, the hard swollen gland, etc. (the glandular is etheric.). We also know how Stann. will build up and strengthen vital (etheric) weakness. To follow, Plb., related to Saturn, frees the etheric from the physical, thereby tending toward the isolation of the physical, which means death. We know how slow, devitalized, chronic, emaciated and near dissolution is the Plb. patient. Arg., corresponding to the Moon, permeates the physical with the etheric, thereby vitalizing, warming and fluidifying the solid.

In the Ego realm (corresponding to the Sun and warmth) Aur. brings the Ego in, strengthens the spirit. We know the warm powerful Aur. personality, with its despairs in the higher realms of the Ego, and with its action on bones (bones belong to the Ego sphere). Although I have not found it in the literature I feel that the other metal acting on the Ego must be Platinum, the false Ego, as it were, when the Ego is too strong and needs releasing, just the opposite of gold (Aur.) where it needs fortifying.

Most of you are probably wondering why busy physicians should indulge in such esoteric meandering, and itch to prescribe for me Sulph. DMM, on the key-note of abnormal interests in “Who made God”! But I have found curious value in straying beyond the customary purlieus of thought. At least it sets us thinking in that stark, simple, focussed way, which may be the beginning of wisdom.

All this by way of preamble to the consideration of the scope of Stannum. I shall spare the infinite detail which you know or can easily read. In personality, connected with Jupiter: calm, fair, phlegmatic, slow but sure, capable of amatory dalliance, only occasionally wielding the thunder bolts in the form of colic. It is sad mentally (tubercular patients who are not euphoric); prone to week, but aggravated by tears (opposite of Puls. which is its complement); uneasy, discouraged and indifferent because of weakness. Think of the element tin: beautiful but no enduring, too malleable, too ductile, too brittle; somehow soft all through, easy to dent and ply. It is used to be called diabolus metallorum because it could not, as we say now, “take it”. This leads us to the greatest characteristic of Stann.: weakness, weakness especially in the chest, as if empty; weakness in the voice, cannot talk or read aloud, loss of timbre. Stann. slumps in a chair, cant sit up for weakness.

Other notable generals are:.

Pains increase and decrease gradually with the sun.

Discharges yellow and bland and often sweet tasting.

Worse 4-5 a.m. and 10 a.m.

Worse descending (Bor.) – harder to sit down than to rise up.

Better in open air; sensitive to cold, drafts and change of weather.

Better walking fast; worse lying down, especially on right side.

Left-sided remedy.

Better from hard pressure, worse light touch (Chin.).

Worse from warm drinks (opposite of Spong.).

You all use Stann. often in tuberculosis and laryngeal phthisis, and copious haemoptysis and for coughs with copious, easy expectoration which relieves, coughs better bending over and worse lying down on the right and from hot drinks. But you do use it for neuralgias and migraine with watering of the left eye worse form 5 a.m. on, especially for tuberculosis following the suppression of neuralgia or vice versa? Do you use it for leucorrhoea in neuralgic women or where the two are concomitant? For deltoid neuritis when singing; left phrenic or diaphragmatic neuralgias; writers cramp, malar neuralgias before and during menses? (Menses early and profuse with body odor better by the flow and prolapse worse at stool.)

For frequent colds which turn into neuralgias? Do you use it for burning and boring in the liver with emptiness after eating and bitter eructations? For gastralgia better by hard pressure and walking; pain as of ulcer with hematemesis worse lying down? For colic (even from worms) with clutching pain around the navel, better bending over a chair? When Coloc. does not cure this picture Stann. often will. It has also colic with hunger, rigors in the thighs during stool, Monday constipation (a key-note of Herings).

It has cramps and spasms even to convulsions; sweat of paralyzed parts; musty night sweats after 4 a.m. especially of the nape and brow. It has milky urine full of phosphate; splitting nails; sleeps with one leg drawn up and other extended; sleepy by day and not by night and any number of others.

Looked at from another view point, Stann. appears in the Periodic Table of Mendeleeff between carbon and silicon. I have found it often needed when Sil. has been given, and chemically it is related to silicon also. In the atomic weight table it classes between indium and antimony, whose weakness in homoeopathic form, it shares.

In the neuralgic diathesis on a tubercular base it is almost the remedy of choice and in myriad ways vital to the homoeopath as one of the seven great metals toward the healing of mankind.


Elizabeth Wright Hubbard
Dr. Elizabeth Wright Hubbard (1896-1967) was born in New York City and later studied with Pierre Schmidt. She subsequently opened a practice in Boston. In 1945 she served as president of the International Hahnemannian Association. From 1959-1961 served at the first woman president of the American Institute of Homeopathy. She also was Editor of the 'Homoeopathic Recorder' the 'Journal of the American Institute of Homeopathy' and taught at the AFH postgraduate homeopathic school. She authored A Homeopathy As Art and Science, which included A Brief Study Course in Homeopathy.