Know Your Remedies: Sulphur (Sulph.)
Common Names: Sulfur; brimstone.
Those who need Sulphur are typically warm-blooded individuals with a hot face, head, hands or feet. They seek coolness and prefer open doors and fresh air. They are often thought of as “ragged philosophers” because of their theorizing and expansive ideas but lack of attention to appearance. Burning pans are common while discharges and secretions such as sweat, stool, and urine are offensive or excoriating. Sulphur children are energetic, strong, robust, extroverted, and curious.
- Self-centered, opinionated, critical, pedantic, egotistical.
- Imaginative and philosophical. Enjoy debates.
- Full of great ideas – constantly theorizing. May be practical.
- Lazy and messy. Dislike washing or bathing. Not concerned about appearance.
- Anxiety about health matters.
- Fear of heights – even when seeing someone else on a high place.
- Conjunctivitis with the sensation of grit in the eyes.
- Red and burning lid margins.
- Bushy eyebrows.
- Heartburn and indigestion.
- Red lips and red anus. Itching of the anus.
- Smelly, offensive stool. Diarrhoea or soft stool every morning on waking.
- Crave sweets and spices. Dislike eggs, especially soft-boiled.
- Itchy rashes and eruptions. May scratch until bleeding.
- Complaints such as asthma, convulsions, diarrhea or vertigo when eruptions suppressed by steroids.
- Excessive and offensive sweat.
Headaches and Migraines
- Weekend headaches.
- Sleep disturbances. Light sleep – wake to every noise.
- Nightmares when sleeping on the back. Unable to sleep on back.
- Hot, burning feet – must poke them out from under the covers.
- Hot animals with itchy skin eruptions.
- Dislike being washed.
Where do I find it?
Sulphur (Sulph.) is available from our online store as a single remedy, and as part of the following Complexes (combination remedies): Anxiety; Conjunctivitis; Cramps – Muscular; Dandruff; Headache – Tension; Indigestion; Insomnia from Anxiety or Grief; Reflux; Snore Ease.
While above self-limiting or acute complaints are suitable for home treatment also contact your healthcare provider during emergency situations or if symptoms worsen or fail to improve. Chronic or persistent complaints, which may or may not be mentioned above, require a different treatment and dosage protocol so are best managed by a qualified homeopath for good results.
Dosage Instructions (suitable for babies to adults)
For the home treatment of acute and self-limiting complaints take one pill or five drops of the remedy every 1 minute to 4 hours (1 minute for intense or emergency symptoms (plus seek emergency help), 4 hours for milder ones). Once an improvement is noticed, stop dosing and repeat the remedy only if symptoms return. If there is no improvement at all by three doses, choose a different remedy or seek professional guidance.
Note: Chronic symptoms or complaints require a course of professional treatment by a qualified homeopath to manage the changes in potencies and remedies may be required.
Guidelines on which potency to use
From Past Masters
Homeopathy is a 200-year system of medicine. Early medical homeopaths recorded initial provings, remedy relationships, and their early experiences with each remedy in great detail.
These writings were then shared with others to advance homeopathic knowledge and practice.
Today, these same writings give a fascinating insight into the symptoms and clinical conditions for which each remedy was used.
The following extract, with minor editing, is one example.
Leaders In Homoeopathic Therapeutics by E. B. NASH M.D.
Hahnemann’s king of anti-psorics; combating all psoric manifestations, as described in Hahnemann’s chronic diseases.
Itching eruptions on the skin everywhere; scratching is followed by burning.
Burning everywhere, general and local, especially feet; has to stick them out of bed to cool them.
Redness of all orifices, as if pressed full of blood (lips, ears, nostrils, eyelids, anus, urethra, etc.).
Exudations into serous sacs following acute inflammations.
Weak, faint, after hot flashes, followed by sweat, especially at 11 A. M.
Modalities: < 5 A. M. (diarrhea), standing; 11 A. M., close room, open air, bathing, cold damp weather; > doors and windows open, sitting or lying.
* * * * *
I now come to an attempt to give some idea of the curative sphere of Hahnemann’s king of anti-psorics.
I do not in this place feel it incumbent upon me to enter into a defense of Hahnemann’s psora theory against those who discard it because they do not understand it. With those who do understand and profit by it there is no need of such defense.
The truth stands confirmed (with those who have put to the test Hahnemann’s rules for the use of Sulphur) that it has power to meet and overcome certain obstacles to the usual action of drugs when indicated by the symptoms, or least seemingly so. That is the reason why the indication as laid down in the books reads: “When seemingly indicated drugs do not cure, use Sulphur,” because psora is the obstacle to be overcome.
If you now ask me, what is psora? I answer in true Yankee style, what is scrofula? Perhaps psora is scrofula, or scrofula is psora. Call it either or neither. Yet it is present, a something named or unnamed which must be recognized and complicates so-called acute diseases.
Now there is nothing so very remarkable about this. Syphilis does the same. Once contacted or inherited no matter what ordinary acute disease appears, we are at times obliged to turn aside from its treatment to give a quietus to the old enemy before we can overcome the acute affection.
So it is with Sulphur and psora. The orizing and philosophizing, no matter how wise they sound, must go down when facts oppose them. (See case of gastralgia under Arsenicum and neuralgia under Causticum).
Now upon this symptom -“When carefully selected remedies fail to act favorably, etc.,” as we said when writing of a certain group under Nux vomica -this is putting it in too wholesale a fashion.
Let no one understand that Sulphur is the only remedy capable of removing psoric complications, but simply that Sulphur will be likely to be oftener indicated here, because it oftener covers the usual manifestations of psora in its pathogenesis than any other remedy.
There are anti-psorics, like Psorinum, Causticum, Graphites, etc., which may have to be used instead of Sulphur. And we know which one by the same law which guides us in the selection of the right remedy any time.
Another thing must not be forgotten. All the anti-psoric remedies have their own individual sphere of action outside their anti-psoric powers; and often a close study of the case in hand, where other remedies have failed, as we had supposed, on account of psora, will reveal that the anti-psoric remedy was the true simillimum from the start, independent of any psoric element.
To undertake to go over the whole range of action of Sulphur would be simply to give its whole symptomatology. That is not the object of these notes, but we can notice only the red line indications which lead the careful prescriber to its further study in the Materia Medica.
One of the chief characteristics of this remedy is found under the head or rubric of sensation, viz., that of Burning. Burning on vertex (outer and inner head); burning in eyes, painful smarting; burning water from nose; burning in face without redness; burning pain in tongue; burning vesicles in mouth; sore throat with great burning and dryness, first right, then left; burning in stomach; burning and pressure in rectum; burning and itching in hemorrhoids; burning in anus; burning in urethra; burning in vagina, scarcely able to keep still; nipples burn like fire; burning in chest, rising to face; burning between scapulae (Phos. and Lycop.); burning of hands; burning of feet; puts them out of bed to cool them; hot flushes and burning all over; burning skin of whole body; itching eruptions burn after scratching.
After reading such a list of burning in the cured and characteristic symptoms of Sulphur one does not wonder that hell is represented as being heated by this substance, for it seems by its pathogenesis as though it were eternally burning.
Arsenicum album, Phosphorus and Sulphur lead the list in our Materia Medica for burners. These burning sensations are found in both acute and chronic diseases. Of course there are several other remedies that have this symptom in an intense degrees and must be chosen if the other symptoms come in to complete the picture of similarity. Among these of first importance may be named Aconite, Agaricus, Apis, Belladonna, Cantharis, Capsicum, Carbo animalis and Phosphoric acid.
I think Arsenicum leads in all acute diseases, while Sulphur leads in chronic affections We, as homeopathists, do not yet fully appreciate the value of sensations.
The action of Sulphur upon the circulation is to cause and cure local congestions and a chronic tendency thereto. In other words, it seems to have the power of equalizing the circulation in persons subject to such local congestions and inflammations.
These, either acute or chronic congestions, may manifest themselves in boils, swellings, felons, abdominal or portal congestions and inflammations, and here it is especially indicated if caused by suppressed hemorrhoids; congestions to the head may result from the same cause; the chest becomes congested, when there is great difficulty of breathing; feels so oppressed that he wants doors and windows open. This rush of blood seems to fill the whole chest, the heart feels as if “too full,” palpitates and labours, as if trying to rid itself of a burden.
The orifices of the body are red, as if pressed full of blood. The lips are red as vermilion, ears very red; eyelids red, anus red, urethra red. All these are manifest indications for Sulphur.
Especially is the true if these symptoms follow, or are consequent upon, the suppression or retrocession of some eruption or skin trouble. If inward affections work outward towards the surface there is not usually cause for alarm, but it they go the other way look out for breakers, there is shipwreck ahead.
No one need tell me that there is no relation of skin to internal troubles. I have seen too much of it, and have cured many cases of that character, where a restoration of the skin disease relieved the internal which had followed its retrocession or suppression.
There is one thing about Sulphur that it often under-estimated by the profession in general, viz., its power of absorption. It is after the stage of effusion has set in or even later when this stage is passed and the results of the inflammatory process are to be gotten rid of; like the enlargement of the joints in rheumatism, exudations into serous sacs, pleura, meningeal membranes, peritoneum, etc. Bryonia is one of the remedies first thought of in these cases, and we have another remedy that is making a record for itself here, viz., Kali muriaticum; but when the case is complicated by psora and, especially, when the characteristic burnings stand out prominently Sulphur is almost sure to be needed before the case is finished.
Bryonia and Sulphur complement each other; but, of course, the symptoms must decide and may decide in favor of neither of them. Right here it may be well to speak of that power possessed by Sulphur of arousing or exciting defective reaction.
Your former remedy was well chosen and seemed to help the patient in a measure, but the case relapses, lingers or progresses slowly to perfect recovery. It is on account of a depression of the vital force, as Hahnemann would call it. It may be on account of psora or not.
Now give a dose of Sulphur and let it act a few hours if in an acute case, or number of days if chronic. Then you may return to your former remedy and get results which you could not before the Sulphur was given. It clears up the case and prevents its becoming chronic or a lingering unsatisfactory convalescence.
No remedy has more general, positive and persistent action upon the skin than Sulphur. With or without eruption, itching and burning, are the characteristic sensations attending the skin symptoms.
If any one doubts the itch-producing power of Sulphur let him work a day or two in the bleaching room of a broom factory. I have tried the experiment, and we all remember the fact that our mothers and grandmothers used to cure or rather over-cure itch with it.
So strong is this affinity of Sulphur far the skin that it seems bent on pushing everything internal out on the surface. Especially is this true if it is something that naturally belongs there. Over twenty-five years ago I had a case that illustrates this.
A lady (maiden) had been an invalid for fourteen years. Her trouble seemed to center in her stomach. So that for all that long period of time she could eat nothing but at little Graham bread and milk, hardly enough to sustain life and in the earlier part of her sickness for a long time was able only to take a teaspoonful of milk at a time. She was an almost literal walking skeleton.
I found, after much questioning and several failures to relieve her much, that about fifteen years before she had with an ointment suppressed an eczema of the nape and occiput. She boasted that she had never seen a vestige of it since.
I gave that lady Sulphur 200th and in three weeks from that time had that eruption fully restored and her stomach trouble completely relieved. The deacon of her (Presbyterian) church exclaimed as she came walking up a long hill to service, “Here comes Susan F., who has been dying for the last fourteen years and lo and behold, she is the biggest, fattest one among us!”
Now how about the relation of skin to internal trouble? I can report a number of as convincing cases in my own practice cured with Sulphur, Arsenicum, Causticum or other remedies. One thing must be recognized and never lost sight of, viz., that symptoms weigh whether we can give the pathological interpretation of them or not.
Here are a few of that kind from the pathogenesis of Sulphur:
“Particularly efficacious with lean, stoop-shouldered persons, who walk or sit stooped; standing is the most uncomfortable position.”
“Dirty, filthy people, prone to skin affections.”
“Children cannot bear to be washed or bathed.”
“Voluptuous itching; scratching relieves; after it burning.”
“Complaints continually relapsing.”
“Congestion to single parts.”
“Pain in heart, extending to back.”
“Scrofulous (psoric) chronic diseases that result from suppressed eruptions.”
“Discharges from every outlet acrid, excoriating and reddening.”
“Offensive odor of body despite frequent bathing.”
“Hot flushes with spells of faintness, or debility passing off with a little moisture, faintness or debility.”
“Weak, faint spells frequently during the day.”
“Burning in feet, wants to find a cool place for them; puts them out of bed to cool them off.” (Chamomilla, Medorrhinum, Sanicula.)
“Feels suffocated; wants doors and windows open, particularly at night.”
“Diarrhea after midnight; Painlessly driving out of bed early in the morning, as if the bowels were too weak to retain their contents.”
“Weak, empty, gone or faint feeling in stomach about 11 A. M.”
“White tongue with very red tip and borders.”
“Bright redness of lips as if the blood would burst through.” (Tuberculinum).
“Heat on crown of head; cold feet; frequent flushing.”
Every true homeopath knows the value of these and many more symptoms of this remedy. No one else appreciates them. Again, none but those who use the potentized Sulphur can ever know what it is capable of curing.