On studying Sulphur one finds that each writer enlarged upon that part of its vast symptomatology that appealed to or impressed him most. So we find in Kent his “ragged philosopher” concept overshadowing many of the other fine mental symptoms of this great remedy. Nash, on the other hand, accentuates its characteristic burning.
It is easy in treating on a remedy like Sulphur to become somewhat of a philosopher oneself, because, to this writer’s mind, there is no other remedy in the materia medica that provides one with better food for thought. Writing the symptomatology of Sulphur, one virtually writes the story of Mankind, more or less. Portions of the Sulphur picture are to be found amongst the “highest” and the “lowest.” In it is written the story of the different stages of the evolution of Man.
The study of Sulphur leads one immediately to observe its very well-marked essentials, viz. (a) Its rather outstanding and definite mental symptoms; (b) very characteristic skin reactions; (c) secretions, excretions, and exudations; (d) tissue reactions; and (e) its circulatory disturbances.
In dealing with anybody, proper relations should start with proper introduction. Sulphur should, I think, always be introduced first of all by its rich mental symptomatology.
When meeting the Sulphur individual anywhere there is immediately to the knower of mankind a striking personality, whether he is a chatterbox from the “back streets,” a socialite, a university professor, a poet, a philosopher, a scientist, a religious dignitary, an iconoclast, a recluse or merely a hobo, or the “dirt-man” or street cleaner. He is, on closer study, always a singularly “different” type, and is often revered or despised by his fellow men because of this difference. Whether he is of the lowly group or of the higher, he always insists on having his own ideas about things, and says so; or he stays silently aloof from the world around him.
Masculinity is a strongly-marked feature of this personality; not the so-called “he-man” variety, but rather does this individual gives this impression through the uttered word, his reserve, or his appearance, which, even in rags, may have an air or philosophic nobility.
Sulphur is seldom concerned with what the world around him thinks of him; he is more concerned with what he thinks of the world. So, if he is a gifted and developed personality, he could quite easily become the great and revered leader. Or again, if he should be the lower type of mentality, he may be nothing more than an egoistic chatterbox and nuisance.
It has been said that the Sulphur individual is selfish, and this is true, but in this writer’s experience, more in so far as his opinions, his concepts, and his accomplishments are concerned. As far as his worldly goods are concerned, he may be most generous and unselfish. This is the type who could probably sell what he has and give it to the poor so that he could follow a great ideal, even as many of the world’s great religious leaders, reformers, philanthropists, artists, scientists and philosophers have done. Sulphur is always somewhat of an iconoclast and fanatic.
There is a certain degree of perseverance about Sulphur which deserves mention, because it is quite unusual. He can seldom persevere when it comes to hard physical expenditure of energy, but can reveal an amazing doggedness when it comes to a mental pursuit. Sometimes, and especially when his line of thinking delves into the greater mysteries of existence and being, this can lead to often apparently foolish conclusions of a supposed solution of these mysteries, or else end in aimless brooding and speculation. This maze of contradictory possibilities may drive him into deep religious or philosophic melancholia and despair, or else he may become cynical and atheistic, or again he may meekly decide to accept the whole business as Fate, Karma, or the will of God and not to be questioned.
The Sulphur personality is often endowed with an amazing memory, but, strangely enough, not for the names of other people, unless they are authorities on his own particular interests. This may be due to the fact that he considers few people important enough to remember their names at all.
Sulphur is usually a dirty person, not very careful about washington and changing clothes; as a matter of fact, there may be a distinct aversion to washing, and many Sulphur skins are aggravated from washing, and many Sulphur skins are aggravated from washing. And yet, on the other hand, this individual may make a fetish of cleanliness. To some Sulphur types filthy smells, or places, or talk may be very obnoxious, although the opposite may be just as true. Amongst Sulphur types one may find the practitioners of a very ancient form of auto therapy, namely the taking internally of their own urine and faeces for medicinal purposes.
Or these people may be advocates of such practices, And again young children may eat the dried secretions from their noses or excreta. Sometimes these same practices are observed amongst the demented.
With some of these people, organized education means nothing. They are either too lazy to study or believe that education is not such a wonderful asset at all. They often suffer from what one may term the “arrogance of ignorance.” Yet with many more there is a great thirst for knowledge, but often their studies concern subjects not ordinary followed, or lead into the extraordinary, the abstruse, the peculiar. The Philosophic student will usually follow up one of the mystic or esoteric branches of philosophy. In this search for a solution of the riddle of the universe, he may give up all practical considerations of the everyday duties that Life enjoined upon him, forget about his person, the necessities of his family and dependents.
Kent considered this selfishness, but the fact is, that it seldom enters this mind that he is selfish. He is probably fully aware of the conditions to which his dependents are subjected, but he can hardly do anything about it, because he feels that his search or research is a great necessity for the benefit of Mankind at large, and so it often is. So did many a religious aspirant, a philosopher, a scientists, an artist work, or locked himself into seclusion to do just this. So did Karl Marx toil away at his controversial philosophy, amidst squalor and want, with his family in abject misery and without the amenities and comforts of everyday life.
It is related that he developed many boils, was careless in his writing, as well as rather unclean. He had an inflated opinion of himself, was pitted against all those better off, and who perhaps worked much harder for what they had. As a scientific experiment for the exhibition of Sulphur in high potency, his life story sounds very interesting!.
This type is also a very easy borrower of money, books, just about anything, but, whereas other types will make an effort to return the borrowed things, or else borrowed with the dishonest intention of never returning, the Sulphur person has every intention of doing so some day, but seldom does. He just keeps on forgetting the obligation.
If there is also one who believes that the world owes him a living, it is this one. He is often peevish, almost childish in his expectations and complainings. It is written in the symptomatology that Sulphur is “a hopeful dreamer.” It is true that with many Sulphur types “there is always tomorrow.” This should not be such a bad trait, but, whereas with others there may be an active effort to make “tomorrow” better, not so with this one.
He just hopes from day to day, does not bestir himself, and quite often believes in Fate, in luck, or for some miracle to happen which will alleviate his lot.
A listed symptom of this remedy: “thinks rags beautiful,” is, I am afraid, somewhat ambiguous, unless more circumscribed. It is not necessarily to be taken that the Sulphur person will look at a piece of rag with ecstasy, unless he is utterly insane. It is rather a peculiar mental ability acquired by deep philosophic speculation and introspection that gives the power to see past and through the sordid appearances of Life and find that underneath it all is a greater reality which in innately beautiful. This, peculiarly, is the experience of many artists, thinkers, religious men and others who have gone through the terrible struggle between reality and unreality.
A mental symptom that disturbed this writer during a personal reproving with a CM potency was the feeling that he gave the wrong remedies to patients which might bring harm to them or even cause their death. And the strange thing is that one knew one had done one’s best and used extra care in the selection of the remedy, yet this thought kept recurring again and again over a whole two or three months until it virtually became a nightmare and torture. Of course, knowing that Sulphur has such a symptom.
I kept on reassuring myself that it was only a proving, yet so strong was this feeling that I could not even console myself with that thought, although my therapeutic success was no less than at other times! This makes one think how easy it may be for this type of confess to a crime he never did and so find a form of expiation for his theoretically committed wrong. Investigating a few known occurrences like that, it did appear as if some of these individuals may have needed Sulphur.
The Sulphur individual is not often a suicidal creature, but, if he should contemplate such,it would be the type of idea of a sort of sacrificial death with a philosophical or mystical angle to it that would be considered; a kind of idea of “let me die so that others may be happy”.
The countries east of the Mediterranean, with their mysticism, their philosophy, their customs, fanaticism, their strong, spicy diets, their ability to endure suffering, their religious cults, their dress, etc., all seem to be strongly suggestive of this medicine. As a matter of fact, in some of the mystical cults the intake of Sulphur is recommended, on somewhat similar lines as the eating of arsenical preparations in Styria, for aiding the neophytes in their mystical aspirations.
Probably because Sulphur is such a mental creature with so little regard for the physical, and probably because he is often such a poor digestor of his food, often constipated or diarrhoeic, and often so sensitive to filthy secretions, many belonging to this group are staunch advocates and practitioners of diet reform, vegetarian and fruitarian diets, colonic irrigations, sweat baths, etc. They follow these with fanatic zeal. Often vegetarianism becomes a holy gospel with them, because many Sulphur types have a strong aversion to killing for food or otherwise. During wars many of them will be found amongst the “conscientious objectors” or many of the, will get out of what others consider their duty on grounds none too flattering. Yet when it comes to holding out to the “bitter end” it is most likely the Sulphur type that will be the last man on duty.
Probably also because the poor fellow has an easy sensation of oppression of the chest, suffers perhaps with catarrh and chronic sinusitis, bronchitis or asthma, and has an almost universal “air hunger,” deep breathing exercise may form part of his daily regimen and austerities.
Quite often the Sulphur type degenerates into a lazy loafer, perfectly satisfied to wander from place to place in his dirty rags, unwashed person, long hair and beard, begging for food or one’s money to buy cheap liquor with which to drown his last vestiges of human decency. He is usually the one that spits in disgust when one ignores his plea for alms. This same wanderer sometimes takes on a more virtuous aspect in the person of the itinerant preacher, often not even representing any organized religion, and often equally grotesquely garbed, but perhaps more presentable otherwise. His begging is perhaps also more aesthetic and in line with his calling, so he is satisfied with silver collections. Many times they are also the founders of new religious sects or cults.
Sometimes Sulphur is quiet and aloof, but more often he is a great talker, often possesses great linguistic abilities, is a master of rhetoric and hyperbole. He is the born teacher and seldom without quite a streak of crude or refined conceit and bombast!.
So much for the mental symptoms of this great remedy.
The next most striking thing about Sulphur is its characteristic affinity for the skin and its typical reactions here, which mostly, combined with its mental symptoms, form the basis for its therapeutic choice.
There are a large number of the entities described under the heading of skin diseases that may at one or other time require Sulphur when indicated by its own unmistakable symptoms. The most important of these are burning, itching and excoriation. These skin conditions may be dry, scaly, cracked, pustular, excoriated, pimples or comedones, worse from warmth, warmth of the bed, in the evening, and worse from washing. Excoriations where the skin makes folds, around the genitalia, the anus, under the arms, etc. Some of the so-called skin allergies are admirably covered by Sulphur.
The typical burning of Sulphur as a general condition runs right through most of its symptomatology. We find burning on the vertex; flushes of heat with burning of the face, ears, neck, in the chest; there may be burning of eyes, burning and excoriation of the lips, tongue, mouth, throat; burning in the stomach, worse about 11 a.m., afternoon or evening. There is burning in the anus, with excoriation and redness, often haemorrhoids; burning of the vagina, or the urethra. Burning of the back, the hands, ad especially the feet, often so bad that they have to be pushed from under the blankets at night to cool off. Another very interesting observation here is that the Sulphur patient will start feeling generally oppressed and suffocated as soon as the feet start to get too hot and burning.
The secretions of Sulphur are usually burning and excoriating. So we have burning urine, burning during passing and burning of the urethra after passage; burning or putrid eructations, sour, very acid; chronic or non-yielding nasal secretions, with burning, or so putrid, that the patient smells it himself. Often one comes across this is old catarrhs or sinus infections. The Sulphur diarrhoea or dysentery is very excoriating and the sensitive anus burns much with the stools, often bloody, mucoid and so malodorous that they disgust the patient himself.
The Sulphur woman frequently suffers much with her menstruation and with leucorrhoea. The discharges may be almost of any description, but the characteristics are acridity, putridity, and often burning and excoriation, with terrible itching of the parts.
It has much perspiration. The hands, the feet, between the toes, under the arms, in the folds, around the genitals, or general sweats, and only too often a very bad odor. Some of these poor people would come into one’s office, and one would still be aware of their odor some time after they had left. Most of them are often aware themselves of their odor. Some will just not care, but some of them are hypersensitive about it and will make a fetish of washing themselves.
This writer once cured a poor school teacher of this condition with Sulphur in high potency, who used to wash herself very frequently, and yet the people with whom she lived could sometimes not stand her body odor.
The urine, often burning and excoriating, is usually increased. It may be useful both in diabetes mellitus and insipidus: “passes large quantities of colourless urine.” This writer has often required Sulphur when there was much mucus in the urine, or pus, a dirty urine, with much urging, and often quite offensive. The desire for urination is very urgent at times. Once in a while it is required for the enuresis of dirty little urchins, who do not like to wash or be washed.
In the lungs we have excessive secretions of mucus with much rattling oppression of the chest with difficult breathing, heaviness of a weight on the chest. Often in advanced chest conditions there is effusion into the pleurae.
These inflammatory exudates are not only encountered in the chest, but also the brain, the joint spaces, the bursae, or even general anasarca.
From the ears there is a stinking discharge, usually worse from the right ear, which may be thin or purulent, with deafness and tinnitus, a whizzing or singing in the ears, which, in my own experience, is worse in the right ear. Here it often aids the action of Silica.
Under the tissue reactions we often find pre-cancerous states, usually from terminal indurations or congestions, where the vital functions have been too sluggish to bring about complete resorption. Fibroids and other malignant or benign neoplasms often start from just such foci.
Sulphur is very often required to stimulate reactivity. The tissue is in such a poor state of irritability that apparently well-indicated remedies fail to react. After Sulphur there is reaction and these same remedies will act better or longer or complete the case.
There are sometimes warts, perhaps small, itchy little warts, on the hands, or elsewhere on the body in the typical Sulphur case cured by this remedy.
In the back there is pain, pain usually worse from standing, a sort of tired aching, that makes the patient want to slouch down in an easy chair. This is often expressed as a heaviness with aching, worse from standing. Pain in the left shoulder, extending towards the cardiac region.
It is a weary ache, never, in my own experience, very sharp, but quite troublesome. This symptom, as well as the backache, and also stiffness and aching of the knees, arms and hands, with itching around the ankles, the hands, palms, wrists, fingers, were rather prominently developed in this writer under a personal proving. Of these, however, I found that the backache and pain in the left shoulder were rather constant symptoms of this remedy. Something else here of interest is that Sulphur is generally depicted as being stoop-shouldered, but perhaps this symptom is easily explainable if all Sulphur patients have the same relief for the spinal aches from stooping as I experienced personally.
It often cures neuralgic pains mostly occurring in the face, which may recur daily, as after malaria; or prosopalgia with tearing, drawing or pressive pains about the eyes, temples, over the eyes, worse left and often with very constant twitching of the upper lid of the same eye. This causes the eye to be rubbed frequently and may give it a red, bleary appearance. There are also stitches in the right eye, worse in the evening.
Other very common and persistent eye symptoms are blurred vision, worse in the evening, muscae volitantes, with threads, specks, chains, black or brownish, usually moving obliquely down in the field of vision. At night there is a halo around lights, with bluish-violet, violet-reddish, and rosy-red rings accentuated. Ulceration of the cornea, the lids on their margins, keratitis, with burning heat, smarting and lachrymation, are all covered by this remedy. There is a kind of dirty ophthalmitis found amongst the children of the “back streets” for which Sulphur is very often required.
Very recently this writer cured a syndrome of symptoms rather dramatically which developed after an acute cold. There was a constant, severe cough caused by a tickling and scratching in the right side of the larynx, with congestion of the sinuses, stitching neuralgic pains into the right eye, and below and above it, with great obstruction of the nose, constant blowing of the nose, and much lachrymation of the right eye especially. The skin over the affected part was of a dusky, reddish-purplish color. Sulphur cleared up most of these symptoms overnight. The tickling and scratchy feeling in the right side of the larynx, causing severe cough, was confirmed by the writer during a proving with a CM potency.
Another observation here is perhaps of value viz., that it would appear that this remedy is very often required, not only to clear up, but also to give a certain amount of immunity against, these colds and coryzas so prevalent in highly industrialized areas with their smog-polluted atmosphere.
The symptoms are usually chronically recurring and characterized by congestion of the sinuses, nasal obstruction with discharge and sore, ulcerated, burning nostrils, oppression of the chest, and terrible coughing, worse in the mornings and evenings, and with lachrymation and heat of the face.
This observation also holds good for many miners and industrial workers, especially those in the early stages of the pneumonconiosis, i.e. silicosis, asbestosis, siderosis, anthracosis, railway men, and workers with industrial chemicals.
The Sulphur type is either a very poor eater or else a voracious feeder. His digestion is so weak that he can only digest the poorest of meals, or he has an amazing craving of food, especially poorest of meals, or he has an amazing craving for food, especially rich foods and sweet foods. He often cannot take eggs or milk. Frequently he drinks too much beverage at the expense of eating a proper meal. This is often the case with mental workers.
A symptom of very great prescribing value is a faint, weak, hollow, hungry feeling, worse at about 11 a.m., which is apt to make the patient press his hand firmly over the epigastrium for relief only while doing so. If something, perhaps only a cup of tea and a biscuit, is not taken then, the patient becomes faint, weak and trembling, perhaps even flatulent and nauseated. Morning sickness, in women with such symptoms is often speedily relieved by a single dose of Sulphur in a high potency.