The reputation of Sulphur as a remedy is perhaps as old as medicine.
“As early as 2,000 years ago,” says Hahnemann, “Sul. had been used as the most powerful specific against the itch. . . The itch, with which the workers in wool are so much affected, causes an intolerably agreeable, tingling, itching, gnawing as of vermin. Some designate it as an intolerably voluptuous titillating itching, ceasing as soon as the parts are scratched and commencing to burn, which burning continues after the scratching. Sul. frequently produces in healthy persons burning-itching pimples and vesicles resembling the itch vesicles, and especially itching in the joints, and in the night.”
The specific power of Sul. to cure itch was abused. It was applied externally as baths and ointments, and the skin affection was not cured but repelled, and a host of secondary affections appeared in its place. Hahnemann found in Sul. the homœopathic counterpart of the peculiar constitutional dyscrasia which tends to manifest in itch-like eruptions, and which he named Psora. Sul. is the chief of the antipsoric remedies. A proving of Sul. appears in the M. M. P., and this is amplified in the Chronic Diseases.
The domestic use of Sul. (in the familiar “Brimstone and Treacle”) as a “Spring medicine” is based on its antipsoric properties. “It is one of the most popular diaphoretics of the day,” says Milne, “few old women failing to use it when any eruption is supposed to be struggling through the skin.” It is this property of Sul. to divert to the surface constitutional irritants which renders it the chief of Hahnemann’s antipsorics. Sul. has also an antipsoric action independently of its power of “bringing out” rashes.
The psoric poison may be present and active in a case of disease and “apparently well-indicated remedies may fail to act” in consequence. In such cases one or two doses of Sul. will frequently antidote, as it were, the psora, and either clear up the case, or open the way for the action of other remedies.
In such cases there will almost certainly be some Sul. indications present. Sul. is a potent antiseptic, and is one of the most certain destroyers of the acarus of itch. The exact relation of acarus itch to psora and other itching eruptions need not be considered; but as Sul. has the power of repressing constitutional eruptions when locally applied, as well as the power of destroying the acarus, it is best to use other means (e.g., Oil of Lavender) for the latter purpose, and give Sul. or other indicated remedies internally. In my experience the psora of Hahnemann (which is a very real and definite dyscrasia) is generally inherited.
The symptoms of latent psora are set forth in detail in Hahnemann’s Chronic Diseases, and they are for the most part almost exact reproductions of the symptoms of Sul. But whilst Sul. is the chief of antipsorics, it is only one of many; and Sul. is in no way limited in its uses to cases of latent or declared psora. Much more important is it to know the leading features of the drug’s action, which are sure guides in any case. (1) A key to many of the Sul. conditions is to be found in an irregular distribution of the circulation: flushes of heat; rush of blood to head, chest, heart; plethora from suddenly suppressed eruptions, piles, discharges; heat and burning sensation of all parts or coldness, sweating of many parts. These irregularities may go on to actual inflammation with effusions; and to fever of intermittent or other types.
Another manifestation of this is found in the redness of orifices and parts near orifices: red ears, red nose; red eyelids and red borders round eyelids: brilliant red lips; bright red anus in children; red meatus urinarius; red vulva. The orifices are not only red and congested, but they are sore and hypersensitive as well; the passage of all discharges or excretions is painful. (2) The other side of this feeling of fulness is a feeling of emptiness.
There is no medicine which has this symptom in a more extreme degree than Sul., and there is no single symptom that is of greater value to the homœopathic prescriber than “Faint, sinking, all-gone sensation at 11 a.m.” When that symptom is marked I give Sul. (generally 30), and get all the good I can out of the remedy before prescribing anything else, and very rarely am I disappointed. There is no need to wait to be told the symptom, or to ask patients directly if they experience it. I generally ask if they get hungry out of their usual mealtimes; and if they say “Yes”; I ask “What time?” The time need not be exactly eleven; though that is the most characteristic time. People who “must have something between breakfast and dinner-time” are generally benefited by Sul.
This ravenous hunger at 11 is often associated with other Sul. symptoms, as heat at vertex; dyspepsia; portal congestion; constipation with ineffectual urging; piles; constipation alternating with diarrhœa. When the dyspeptic gets food and relieves his hunger he begins to feel puffed up, feels heavy and sluggish, and is low-spirited, he scarcely cares to live.
The dyspepsia of Sul. is often the result of suppressed eruptions. It is well known that drunkenness “runs in families,” and the underlying disease of drunkenness is often psora. Sul. both causes and cures craving for beer and spirits. Gallavardin cured many apparently hopeless drunkards with Sul. 1m. The “sinking, empty, all-gone sensation” is a common feature in the dyspepsia of drunkards. Dyspepsia from farinaceous food. Cannot take milk; vomits it at once; sour vomit with undigested food. Voracious appetite is a frequent symptom of scrofula, and scrofula and psora are frequently convertible terms. The child clutches at all food offered to it as if starved to death. Defective assimilation; hungry yet emaciated. Stopped catarrh; nose obstructed indoors, > out of doors. The child looks dried up, a little old man; skin hanging in folds, yellowish, wrinkled, flabby. Head large in proportion to body. Lymphatic glands enlarged. Defective assimilation. When scrofula exists without particular symptoms Sul. will develop them. Allied to scrofula is tuberculosis; in connection with which many symptoms of Sul. appear: marasmus with hunger at 11 a.m.; sore, red orifices; flushes of heat. In tuberculosis of the lungs a keynote is “body feels too hot.” The patient must have windows open no matter how cold the weather may be. The caution is usually given to repeat Sul. seldom in cases of tuberculosis; and to give it only in the early stages. (3) “.) The cases of rheumatism and sciatica requiring Sul. will generally have > morning and (“feels good to scratch”); scratching = burning;