PHOSPHOROUS

Phosphorus

Phosphorus (Light-bearer, Morning Star) “was discovered in 1673 by Brandt, an alchymist of Hamburgh, and shortly afterwards by Kunkel, in Saxony.” Teste, from whom I quote, says that attempts were made to use Phos. in medicine immediately after discovery. Kunkel made it into his “luminous pills,” and Kramer claimed to have cured with it diarrhœa, epilepsy, and malignant fevers. Teste gives a list of old-school cures, which include: Continuous, bilious, and intermittent fevers; general œdema; measles; two cases of pneumonia of left lung, with ataxic symptoms; chronic rheumatism of the legs; apoplexy; hydrocephalus; periodic headaches (in one case with menstrual irregularity); catalepsy; epilepsy; gutta serena; asthenia facilis; chronic lead poisoning,─a list which shows a very good idea of the range of action of Phos.

Hahnemann’s proving brought out the fine indications, without which the generals are of little service, and to Hahnemann’s symptoms have been added those of later provings and of numerous cases of poisoning, and the effects on workers in match factories, especially necrosis of the lower jaw. The vapour given off by unignited Phos. is Phosphorus oxide. The jaw affection, called “Phossy-jaw” by the workpeople themselves, is accompanied by profound adynamia, and not unfrequently ends in death. The form of the disease differs according to whether the upper or lower jaw is attacked. In the, former case it pursues generally a chronic and mild course, ending in exfoliation, cicatrisation, and cure. In the latter the necrosis may be either acute or chronic., but is always severe, and the patients usually die of “consumptive fever” (C. D. P.).

Here is a typical case quoted in C. D. P. from B. J. H., iv. 287: J. D., 21, had been four years in a match factory. For two and a half years he had only laryngeal irritation from the local action of the fumes. He then began to cough very much and expectorate thick white mucus. Then most violent toothache set in, with swelling on right side of face. A molar was extracted but without relief, and one tooth after another dropped out. He became too weak to walk. A swelling as big as an egg formed below right orbit, burst in a fortnight, and discharged a large quantity of white pus. He grew worse all the teeth fell out; gums of lower jaw were retracted. Examination found right cheek swollen. At right angle of lower jaw an opening discharging laudable pus, through which a probe can be passed two inches along bare bone, and two inches anterior to this another aperture leads to the same. On opening mouth the whole lower jaw as far as ascending rami and down to reflection of mucous membrane is denuded and of leaden greyish colour. On right upper jaw probe can be passed over bare bone. Pareira (C. D. P.) has observed in phosphorus workers “a peculiar sallow, bloated complexion, with dull expression of eye and gastric derangement,” when there was no affection of the jaws. [Wagner found Phos. symptoms long before local disease appeared, e.g., cardialgia, anorexia, eructation of gas smelling of Phos.; also dizziness, faintness, and cachectic appearance. The first symptoms in the jaws are tearing pains, the teeth being sound, swelling and suppuration of the gums, and loosening of the teeth follow, and the bone becomes denuded.

Langenbeck objects to the term “necrosis,” stating that it is a periostitis in which bony deposit occurs, enclosing the jaws more or less as in a sheath. There is no exfoliation. This osteo-periostitis may arise from rheumatism.─-Klin. Woch, Jan. 2, 1872.] In cases of acute poisoning the most remarkable effect noted is acute fatty degeneration of the liver and engorgement of the lungs. At first there is tenderness of the liver, but as it shrinks this passes away. The right lung is more affected than the left. The symptoms of acute Phos. poisoning are exceedingly painful if consciousness is retained; violent tearing pains in œsophagus, chest, stomach; vomiting and diarrhœa; rectal, vesical, uterine tenesmus; bloating of abdomen; sensitiveness to touch; hæmorrhages from all orifices. Death may take place in a few hours, or it may be delayed for months. In the case of a child of 2 1/2 who had sucked the heads of matches, two days afterwards there was some feverish excitement, later violent convulsions, lasting three hours, and ending in death. There were found after death no fewer than ten invaginations of the small intestines, which, however, were empty, and there was no sign of strangulation (C. D. P.).

In a woman, 45, who swallowed the Phos. from 120 matches, Ozanam found a typhoid febrile state, profound prostration; inability to raise herself; dry tongue; much thirst; stomach sensitive; vomiting of black, sooty matter. Death took place on the second day (C. D. P). A man, 48, inhaled vapour of burning Phos. Among his symptoms were: A sensation as if something twitched under skin or was creeping between skin and flesh. Twitching of single bundles of fibres at different times like playing on a piano. Tongue when speaking often refuses to move, so that he stammers (C. D. P.). A case reported by J. O. Müller and translated in C. D. P. brings out some very characteristic symptoms of Phos.

A strong woman, 30, took about three grains of Phos. from matches. Among her symptoms were: After eight hours violent and noisy, vomitings. Prostrated, cold, pallid, as if moribund and unconscious. Cold, clammy sweat, general; skin here and there waxy yellow; complexion leaden grey; dark blue rings round eyes; pulse small, hard, slow, unrhythmic, intermitting. Abdomen distended, very sensitive all over, the slightest touch causing violent pains; could not bear weight of nightdress. Senses and mind in unconscious apathy; could only be roused by loud calling into her ear. Aco. 1 every ten minutes revived her. She complained of very violent burning pain in lower chest (œsophagus?), stomach, and whole abdomen < by every touch or change of posture. Vomiting and diarrhœa had ceased, but she still had retching and ineffectual straining at stool with burning like fire in large intestine and anus. She passed with difficulty small quantities of dark yellow urine, smelling strongly of garlic, after micturition very severe burning. Boring, burning pains in bones, especially of skull, palate, nose, jaws, and teeth, < taking cold or warm things into mouth or chewing, only tepid liquid nutriment could be borne. At times numb pain in teeth; they felt loose as if they would fall out. Apathy alternating with angry words and actions. After menses, burning leucorrhœa that made the parts sore. Soft parts of joints swollen. Considerable rigidity of joints. The skin, which had been pale, put on a yellow tint, bloated swellings appeared in places on eyelids and face, pitting on pressure. On nape, back, and other parts the skin could be raised by the fingers in large folds, which slowly smoothed down again. Finally a peculiar exanthema appeared on the skin about the joints like eczema; vesicles in groups turned rapidly into scabs and frequently recurred. Sulph. was given and gradual recovery occurred.

In other cases the burning pains of Phos. are prominent: burning between the scapulæ; burning in spots along the spine; feeling of intense heat running up the back (no other remedy has exactly this symptom). The uncertain gait, neuralgic pain, and fuzzy feeling of the feet, give the correspondence with locomotor ataxy, when the conditions correspond. Epilepsy from masturbation. Petit mal: epilepsy with consciousness. Man of Itzehoe (H. R., xv. 268) cured this case of sciatica: An elderly lady had for eight weeks a continual burning pain running along back of left thigh and leg, compelling her to spend most of the day in bed. Entire limb so weak that she could hardly walk. < Lying on left side. > Lying on right side or on back. < By movement. < By cold air. > Being warmly-covered. < In evening. Phos. 6x, every two hours, caused aggravation for the first three days, and after that gave relief, but did not cure. Phos. 30, one powder every evening, completed the cure in a week. But the action of Phos. is not confined to the brain and spinal cord, it also affects the cranial bones and spinal column. I cured mainly with Phos. 1m a case of spinal caries with paralytic symptoms in a lady aged 67. That is, I cured the caries and removed the paralysis, though the curvature remained. There was a history of a strained back thirty-five years before, and of lumbago and sciatica five years before I saw her. She had many pains in the scapula and chest, and could not walk unless supported about the waist. Ice cream > the gastric pains. There is nausea on putting hands into warm water; sneezing and coryza from putting hands in water. Regurgitation of ingesta in mouthfuls. During pregnancy the sight of water = vomiting. The appetite of Phos. is remarkable: Must eat often or he faints. Hungry soon after a meal; hungry in the night, must eat. Craving for salt (Phos. remedies the effects of excessive salt-eating). The sinking, faint feeling of Phos. is felt in the whole abdominal cavity; also in head, chest, and stomach. The stools of Phos. are peculiar, whether constipated or diarrhœic: Long, tough, hard fæces (like a dog’s); voided with great difficulty and straining. Diarrhœa as soon as anything enters the rectum; profuse pouring away as from a hydrant; watery with sago-like particles; with sensation as if the anus stood open involuntary; during cholera-time painless; morning of old people bloody stool; blood-streaked stool; stool like shreddy membranes. With the stool there is burning in the anus and tenesmus. There are also pains of all descriptions in the anus, notably stitches shooting up rectum. A man suffering from pneumonia, to whom I gave Phos. 3, after a few days developed attacks of violent pain in rectum and anus, with distension of abdomen and desire for stool; stool light, lumpy, constipated, only passed by aid of glycerine enema; after stool, complete relief of pain; sometimes the attack waked him from sleep. With Phos. 200 I cured a very severe proctalgia coming on at every menstrual period. During urination, and also when not urinating, there is burning in the urethra. Another very characteristic burning of Phos. is burning palms, cannot bear to have the hands covered. Flashes of heat beginning in hands and spreading to face. The fever is more of the yellow fever, typhus, or typhoid, nervous or hectic, type. In intermittents when there is heat at night beginning in stomach; faint and hungry in night; heat of hands. There is also chilliness towards evening; icy coldness of hands, knees, and feet, even in bed. Sweat is anxious, profuse, exhausting on slightest exertion; profuse at night; cold and clammy, smelling of sulphur or of garlic. Phos. corresponds to yellow fever in many particulars; disorganisation of the liver and blood with jaundice; hæmorrhages. It has caused acute fatty degeneration of the liver; and corresponds also to fatty degeneration of pancreas with gastric symptoms and oily stools, and fatty and amyloid degeneration of the kidneys. Phos. stands at the head of hæmorrhagics, and corresponds to the hæmorrhagic diathesis. The blood loses its coagulability. Very small wounds bleed profusely. Blood-streaked discharges are very characteristic when from lungs, nose, bowels, or other orifices. Hæmorrhoids. Menses are more profuse and longer-lasting than usual. There may be vicarious menstruation in the form of hæmoptysis, epistaxis, or hæmaturia. Left ovarian pain. Leucorrhœa which causes blisters. Sexual excitement is great in both sexes, going to the extent of satyriasis and nymphomania. Frequent erections in men, and sexual thoughts entirely beyond the patient’s control. Erections in spite of efforts to control passion in young men. Impotence from over-indulgence or from celibacy. The female breasts are the seat of many burning, shooting, cramping pains, and Phos. has proved a leading remedy in mammary abscess and fistulæ. The characteristics are: Erysipelatous appearance; red streaks starting from opening; thin, ichorous discharge. The hæmorrhagic action of Phos. is seen in many forms of pulmonary hæmorrhage and congestion: blood-streaked or rusty sputa; tasting salty; when patients with delicate chests bring up phlegm tinged with blood whenever they take cold Phos. will generally clear up the case. Phthisis florida may also need Phos. It has also a “stomach-” or “liver-” cough; cough comes on after eating, and starts from a tickling in pit of stomach. Cough < when strangers enter the room. Cough < from strong odours (part of the general sensitiveness of the drug). Bronchial catarrh > in all grades may require it. Cough = tearing pain under sternum as if something was being torn loose. Suffocative pains in upper part of chest with constriction of larynx and engorgement of lungs; mucous râles; panting and laboured breathing, even emphysema. After the cough an asthmatic attack. The Conditions of Phos. will generally decide when it should be given. T. D. Stow (J. of Homœopathics, August, 1890) reports the case of H. B., 52, farmer, who had for six months a sharp pain with soreness in third intercostal space, three inches to left of sternum, limiting inspirations. Dyspnœa on exercise; dry cough during the day till 10 p.m. Thick, yellow, sweetish sputa from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Cough < lying on left side; when talking; when eating and just after eating; on going into cold air; by change of weather. > In fairly warm room; lying on right side. Prefers cold food. Has become alarmed by the persistence of the attack and loss of flesh. Three doses of Phos. 500 (Dunham), taken on three successive days, cured. This case was translated in Hahn. Month, September, 1890, from Alg. H. Zeit.: Whilst walking rapidly against the west wind three months before, X. felt a pain under middle of sternum with sensitiveness of the part to pressure. Pulse rapid. Phos. 6 removed the symptoms for two weeks, when pain and sensitiveness returned, and with the pain a sensation as though gas would rise from epigastrium. Phos. 3 cured.

W. A. Nicholas (H. W., xxv., 495) reports the case of T. B., 51, whom he saw after a four months illness, which began with congestion of the brain on the sudden death of his wife, and was followed by bronchitis. During all this time he was heavily drugged. A rather long walk brought on a severe attack of angina pectoris. Bell. 1x gave much relief. Nicholas noticed the patient at times put his hand to the back of his neck. Phos. 1 relieved entirely. Phos. corresponds to headache and other sufferings from grief. Hot vertex after grief. It has shocks in occiput; coldness in cerebellum; congestion of brain seeming to rise from spine into head. Phos. has “splitting headache caused by cough.” Neuralgic pains of many kinds, and impending paralysis. The attacks are induced by mental exertion; worry; washing clothes; and are < by music; noises; strong odours. Gale, of Quebec, discovered in Phos. a remedy for “washerwoman’s headache” (Organon, iii. 30). His patient had these symptoms: Whenever she washes clothes or walks fast she has─rush of blood to head, red face and eyes, heat on head, scalp sensitive to touch, sudden shooting pains, especially in vertex. Phos. cm cured. I cured a somewhat similar case (H. W., xxiv. 455) with Phos. 30 every four hours; only in my case the headaches always appeared the morning after washing: violent shooting pains left side of vertex, > wrapping head in flannel. I had given several medicines previously which had improved the general health, but had done very little for the headaches. Phos. affects all parts of the eye─retina, choroid, vitreous and crystalline lenses, cornea, and conjunctivæ. It has arrested cataract and glaucoma, and cured retinitis albuminuria from suppressed menses. The leading symptoms are: Colours appear black before the eyes. Always sees green. Halo round candle. Letters appear red whilst reading. As if a grey veil over everything. Blindness after typhoid; sexual excess; loss of fluids; lightning. Twitching of lids. Pustule on cornea. Burning pains. The characteristic skin of Phos. is waxy, and either clear and pale or yellow. Under a “Phosphorus treatment” which was in vogue a generation ago, patients had a peculiarly waxy, fine, clear complexion; and in one case which came under my observation there was also very marked enlargement of the liver. In a case of rheumatism in an old lady who had waxy pallor, Cooper gave Phos. and set free all the joints. All kinds of eruptions May be set up. Exanthema with pustules (like small-pox), ulcers, psoriasis, lichen, eczema, blood boils, purpura. Hansen cured a case of purpura in a girl of ten (H. W., xxxv. 105). The disease began with loss of appetite and pains in the stomach, but as soon as the purpura spots appeared the pains ceased and the appetite returned. The inner aspects of the thighs were affected. Phos. 2 cured. The ulcers of Phos. bleed easily at the slightest touch, and open cancers or fungus hæmatodes with this characteristic have been cured with Phos. “Large ulcers surrounded by smaller ones.” Ulcers affecting the nails. Inflammation and eruptions about joints. Fistulæ with callous edges from glands. The joints most affected by Phos. are the hip and knee. The left side of the lower jaw is more affected than the right. Caries and exostoses of spine and other parts have been cured with Phos. De Noë Walker cured with Phos. 6 a large exostosis of the femur which had been pronounced osteo-sarcoma by old-school authorities. There are some forms of rheumatism which only Phos. can cure. These are characterised by great stiffness of the joints, more stiffness than pain. A drawing, tearing, tight feeling in parts. Stiffness of old people. Paralytic rheumatism from exposure to rain. The tight sensation appears in the girdle pain of spinal affections; tightness of skin of face and forehead. (Also stiffness in brain; in eyes.) Allied to the rheumatic symptoms of Phos. is its sensitiveness to effects of storms, especially thunderstorms. Phos. has cured more cases of headache always coming on when thunderstorms are about than any other remedy in my experience. It has also cured blindness from lightning stroke. The headaches from inhaling the steam of a washtub perhaps come in the same category as effects of vapour-laden air when storms are about. Mills (quoted H. W., xxxi. 33) relates a typical case of thunderstorm effect:

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