“Liver of Sulphur” is a name which was given by the old chemists to several sulphur compounds whose Colour was supposed to resemble that of liver.
Before Hahnemann’s time Hepar sulphuris calcareum, Sulphuret of lime, was used as an external remedy for itch, rheumatism, gout, goître and scrofulous swellings. In 1794 Hahnemann proposed to use it internally to arrest mercurial salivation. A few years later it was tried (Teste thinks first by Dr. Busch of Strasburg) for asthma and pulmonary phthisis. That this was a happy inspiration Hahnemann’s provings and clinical experience has thoroughly borne out.
The Hepar of Hahnemann is not identical with ordinary sulphuret of lime, being prepared with oyster shells, instead of ordinary lime, in a special way. Neither is it identical in composition or properties with Calcium sulphate (Gypsum) of Schüssler. Being a chemical combination of Calcarea carb. and Sulph. it has some of the properties of both, but is very different from either, and though it is useful to compare them, Hepar must be studied as a separate entity. The one feature which more than any other characterises Hepar cases is over-sensitiveness. It runs throughout the remedy.
“Any trouble occurring on the skin where there is a great sensitiveness to the slightest touch; patient can’t bear to have even the clothes touch the part, or have it touched in any way. Exanthema, like nettle-rash, sore to the slightest touch. Skin hard to heal; inflammation of; sensitive soreness of,” is Guernsey’s admirable definition of this feature as it affects the skin and touch.
But the sensitiveness is not confined to touch, there is excessive sensitiveness to the air; patient can’t bear the least draught; and if a hand accidentally gets outside the bed-clothes it brings on an aggravation; sensitiveness to noise, to odours. The mind is no less “touchy” than the body. “Dissatisfaction with oneself and others; dreamy, atrabilious mood, a sort of ferocious spleen, as though one could murder a man in cold blood (even in persons who are generally of a merry and benevolent disposition).” This is from Teste, who says he has removed these symptoms with Hepar. Irritable and angry, feels inclined to kill any one who offends him. Another instance of the sensitiveness of Hepar is in relation to pain: the slightest pain causes fainting. There is also irritable heart. The sensitiveness to cold air is more to the dry cold air of Acon. and Bry. This distinguishes it from Nat. sulph. in asthma, which has
In his “Medicine of Experience” Hahnemann speaks of the itch-like eruptions caused by Hepar and its corrective properties in wool-worker’s itch. It is suited to: The psoric, scrofulous, diathesis. Debilitated subjects. Great tendency to suppuration. Strumous, outrageously cross children. Torpid, lymphatic constitutions; persons with light hair and complexion, slow to act, muscles soft and flabby. Slow, torpid constitutions with lax fibre and light hair; great sensitiveness to slightest contact of ulcers, eruptions and parts affected. (These conditions differ from the Sulph. type: lean, stoop-shouldered; unclean-looking, aversion to warmth.)
The symptoms are:
There is marked periodicity in Hepar: every day; every four weeks (attack of paralysis); every four months (scabby eruptions on head); every winter (whitlows); spring and autumn, bilious attacks. The bends of the elbows and popliteal spaces are affected by Hep. In eye affections patient likes to have them covered lightly. The following case was cured by Hep. after Sul. and Calc. had failed. Pustular ophthalmia of left eye, > keeping eye closely covered with some soft fabric, < mornings, > as day advanced. Pimples surround affected eye.