Sulphur – The Ragged Philosopher

Dr Amit Pandey 

Common name – Flower of sulphur, brimstone.

Source – Sulphur is mostly derived from the lava or the molten red-hot fiery liquid that erupts from the bowels of the earth through the volcanoes.

Parts used – Sulphur

A fine, yellow powder, called flowers of sulphur, is extracted from the mineral sulphur and used to make the homoeopathic remedy. The mineral sulphur is found in every cell of the body and is especially concentrated in the hair, nails and skin. Medicinally, it has been used for more than 2000 years. In the past, many children were given sulphur in the form of brimstone and treacle to cleanse the bowels and skin. In orthodox medicine, sulphur is still applied externally for skin conditions such as acne. The homoeopathic remedy is also used for skin, mind, mucous membranes and digestive complaints. Hahnemann called this the Prince of the antipsorics.

Sulphur is a compound word consisting of “Sul” meaning salt and “Phur” meaning fire. Hence it means “ The salt that burns”.  A great Greek poet refers to Sulphur as Brimstone i.e. burning stone. Since on burning it produces a strongly smelling gas, it is called Gandhak  in Hindi because it has a smell of its own. The Latin word Sulphuricum is derived from Sulphari, which is a Sanskrit word for Sulphur which means opponent of copper. (Dr.P.Sankaran writes “We do not know their full range of opposite qualities but we know that Sulphur is indicated in lack of reaction while Cuprum is needed in cases of violent reaction). Knowledge of the source and origin of substances helps much.  We know that Sulphur comes from the lava or the  red-hot fiery liquid that erupts from the inside of the earth through the volcanoes and this character of source reminding us that Sulphur  also reflects in the centrifugal force which drives and throws out everything on to the surface, bringing internal peace.

Patient of Sulphur is lean, lank, hungry, dyspeptic with stoop shoulders; et many times it must be given to fat, rotund, well-fed people, face is delicate with long, thin eyelashes. (Very much like Phosphorus which is also indicated n tall slender persons of sanguine temperament). Sulphur is also suited to lymphatic temperaments. Nervous constitutions disposed to haemorrhoids, with constipation or morning diarrhoea, diseases caused especially by suppressed eruption, peevishness, sudden and frequent flushes os heat all over body, followed by perspiratio hot palms, soles and vertex, faintness in epigastrium in forenoon. Dirty, filthy people, prone to skin affection (Psorinum).

Sulphur has happy dreams, wakes up singing. There are big egos; very intellectual selfish; ambitious; obsessive; curious. Sulphur will get a crowd them and it’s a good party while they are the center of attention and telling people what theyknow because they want recognition. They come in, knowing what they want to talk about. Very selfish; no regard for others. Strong impulsive tenency to suicide by drowing or leaping from a window. Imagines himself a great mean though ignorant, despises literary men and education. Dr. Herring, called them as “the Ragged philosopher” probably because they remain in their own world-do not change clothes for days without bathing, have long uncut hairs but working day and night without caring for cleanliness and decency. Wants to know who made or that and how, tries to reason without any hope of discovery or possible answer. Sulphur is always speculating on religious or philosophical subjects. Dr. P.Sankaran says that Sulphur is a scientist and goes on questioning everything while Arsenic is an artist(the latin ward for Arts is Ars.).

Sulphur is associated in ideas with the Lake of fire and everlasting BURNING  and produced great burning pain (esp. in chronic diseases) by a sort of local congestion. There is cold feet in daytime with burning soles at night, wants to find a cool place for them(Sang. Sanic.): puts them out of bed to cool them off(Med.) cramps in calves and soles at night.  And with its burning these may be burning in parts- patchy or local burning with coldness else where, as feet cold with burning heat of face. (In the same way that Nat-mur may have irregular distribution of the fluids of the body, as diarrhoea with a dry monthand tongue, or dryness of mucous membrane with watery secretions elsewhere). Patient of Sulphur is hot, keeps doors and windows constantly open. Sulphur has heat in spots whereas Cal-c has coldness and perspiration in spot. ( The burning of Arsening is violent and esp. in acute diseases and is > by HEAT except head, with mid-day and mid-night aggravation and has fear of deat. The burning  of Phosphorus is found in every organ, e.g. in internal organs, in spots, along spine, in the palms, and soles; but generally in diseases of nervous system, which is worst in the evening).

The red-hot openings of the volcanoes reminder us Sulphur has portal stasis manifesting as redness at the muco-cutaneous junction e.g. eyelids (Graph), lips (Tub), nostrils, meatus of the ears, anus, etc., through which the red-hot burning discharges comes out. Sulphur was used in the manufacturing of gunpowder by Chinese several centuries ago because Sulphur has quality of itself catches fire easily. Water being the enemy of fire, again reminding us the Sulphur patients are worse by washing and bathing. (Averse to bath- Am-c, Sep). Antimonium crudum is a sulphur compound-Antimony sulphide, also has aversion to and aggravation from bath. The Sulphur patient also develops dirty habits. He is himself dirty and offensive and or is indifferent to dirty and offensive surroundings. Hydrogen sulphide is one of the most offensive gases and this can explain the extremely offensive discharges of the Sulphur patients. Some of the sulphides are absorbed and destroyed in the organism with the liberation of sulphuretted hydrogen which escape via lungs and skin, giving a peculiar odour of rotten eggs to the breath and perspiration, others form sulphates and are excreted in the urine. The yellow color of the sulphur element is also reminding us in the yellow staining of the perspiration.

Since the skin contains sulphur and has great affinity for the skin and exhibits various manifestations like eruptions, ulcers, warts, etc. Ointments containing sulphur are used as external applications for various skin conditions in Ayurvedic and Allopathic medicine particularly for scabies, and Sulphur springs are very popular in the patients suffering from skin diseases. Itching, voluptuous; scratching > : “ feels good to scratching”; scratching causes burning; < from heat of bed (Merc).

The experiment of Prof. Augustus Bier is very interesting and gives us some idea of the nature of Sulphur. He put a patient on Sulphur 3x and found that the patient started excreting daily 576 mg of Sulphur, which is sixty times the normal rate.Even after the Sulphur was discontinued he was found to excrete 117 mg on the day after, he then averaged 54 mg for ten days, and after 30 days he was still excreting about twice the normal. The seborrhoea about which he had complained was markedly improved and his general well-being decidedly better than before the experiment. The patient was located two years later and agreed for the sake of experiment to make a retrial, although he considered himself cured. When he  took Sulphur 6x for 10 days, hardly any extra excretion of sulphur was found.

Sulphur has an antipsoric action independently of its power of “bringing out” rashes. Sometimes, it so happens that the reaction or resistance of the patient is so poor and the system refuses to respond to the well selected remedy especially in acute diseases( in chronic diseases- Psorinum), it matters not what the disease may be, whether it is a disease which corresponds characteristically with the symptomatology of Sulphur or not, in such cases one or two doses of Sulphur will  often be the remedy to clear up the cases and either itself cure the case or open the way for the action of other remedies.(Other ‘reaction remedies’ are Ambra grisea, Ammonium carb, Capsicum, Carbo veg, Laurocerasus, etc. may be chosen). Dr.P.Sankaran says that Sulphur is a good remedy to close the treatment of acute diseases and to begin the treatment of chronic condition.

Because Sulphur is an inner powder, when taken in mass, greater part escapes unchanged with the stools, but some of it forms sulphides, mostly sodium sulphide, in the alkaline fluids of the intestines and these cause irritation of the mucous membrane, with consequent increased peristalsis and mild purgation. The depletion by perspiration or diarrhea may account for excessive thirst and the craving for salt. Insulin contains Sulphur and this reminder us may explain the craving for sweets and < from sweets. The metabolism itself is disturbed and so the patient is weak, empty, all gone or faint feeling in the abdomen at about 11 a.m., cannot wait for lunch, he gets well but emaciates. He has also craving for fats. In Kent’s Repertory, 5 remedies are given for desire for fats, viz., Ars., Hep., Nit-ac, Nux-v, and Sulph. Out of these remedies, Sulphur is the only one < by warmth.

There is profuse nasal discharge when outdoors, but indoors feels blocked up. Strong desire for alcohol. Morning diarrhea, painless, drives him out of bed in the early hours of the morning with prolapsus ani. (Bryonia- as soon as he moves and Nat-s has also loose morning stools with much flatus; worse, after a spell of wet weather). Diarrhoea frequently alternates with constipation, stools hard, dry, black as if burnt. Sulphur is generally the remedy when Aloe has been abused as a purgative.  It is chronic of Aconite, Nux-v, and Puls.

Selenium metallicum is a cognate element of Sulphur and close analogus in case of bad effects of mental exhaustion; of seminal losses and impotence. You can differentiate it from its modalities, Sulphur < from coffee, whereas Selenium < from tea and has also ‘tingling in spots’. Sulphur is one of the great trio of remedies ( Sulphur, Calcarea and Lycopodium), about which Clarke says, “ all the rest of the materia medica can be grouped”.

Sulphur have interesting relationship with Arsenic. Sulphur is complementary to Ars., but they are widely different in nature. Ars. is < by cold and Sulph. < by warmth. Sulphur is indifferent, careless, slovenly and dirty while Ars. is meticulous, wants everything in its place. Ars. has excessive anxiety, hurry and restlessness with the euphoric whereas Sulph. has slow and lazy state.

Sulphur is related to both the sun and moon, which makes it one of the important of periodic. Cooper cured many cases of neuralgia < at noon or at mid night. He regards every twelve hours as the most characteristic periodicity, but it may be multiples or divisions of twelve. Skinner gave to a man who had paresis of the lower limbs a single dose of Sulphur cm, with instructions to take it on a certain date (when the moon was full). The man recovered almost suddenly. (Some other medicines which aggravated at full moon are Alumina, Cal.carb, Graphites, Nat.carb., Nat.mur., Sepia, Silicea).

The Sulphur child is subject to catarrhal discharges from nose and eyes, etc, and mothers will tell that her child will eat the discarges from the nose. Child don’t like to bathe because their skin is sensitive and also because they don’t want to take the time todo it. Best suited to emaciated child, big-bellied, restless, hot, kickoff clothes at night; have worms. (Cina has also worm).

In women, Sulphur is effective for premenstrual syndrome symptoms, for example, headaches, irritability and insomnia, and menopausal symptoms such as flushing, dizziness and sweating. Menorrhagia has not been well since her last miscarriage. “A singal dose at new moon.”- Lippe.

 Von Grauvogl writes, In case of Hydrocephalus Sulphur 6 given as preventive  to the mother in pregnancy.

‘Never well since chest trouble’- S.R.Phatak.

Regarding the time and seasoned aggravation of remedies Dr.F.Bernoville says, “For functional remedies it is better to apply them one or two hours before the time of aggravation”. Ex. The month of June is the month of Sulphur whereas the month of Phosphorus is July. These remedies for “burning” are really useful at a time when the days are the longest during the years. “In amenorrhoea and in hypermenorrhoea Sulphur, Graph, Puls., Kali-c. form the quarto of the remedies. Apply high dilution of Sulp. 8 or 10 days before the period. If you apply it at a time nearer to the period, it will not bring back the menses which is delayed.

Chronic alcoholism; dropsy and other ailments of drunkards; “they reform” but are continually relapsing (Psor., Tub.).

Sulph.,Cal-c.,Lyc. Or Sulph., Sars., and Sep[. frequently follws in given order. – Allen.

Cal. must not be used before Sulphur. – Allen.

Syphilinum will act in old syphilitics aggravated by Sulphur, who had the symptoms of this remedy.  Syphilinum is an antidote of Sulphur. When Sulphur fails to act or patient is aggravated by Sulphur and when Pulsatilla, another antidote of Sulphur does not give any results, we must always think of latent syphilis. Psorinum can be tried when Sulphur fail to act.

Clarke says that if a patient is sleepless Sulphur may be given at night. If the patient sleeps well it is best to give in the morning, as it may disturb sleep if given at night.

Modalities: < Suppresion, heated by over exertion, in bed, atmospheric changes, talking, periodically 11 am. < 5 am (diarrhoea), standing; fullmoon, close room, bathing, cold damp weather; > doors and windows open, sitting or lying.

Dr Amit Pandey 
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  1. sulphur,layman homeopath understands this as where there is congestion of blood circulation that part will burn feel hot and excrete acrid offensive discharge,if at lip makes it red,if soles esp night on lying horizontal position burn feel hot removes cover,day time vertical position vertex hot,anus burn red morning diarrhoea.constitution lean stoop shouldered hungry dirty lazy a dirty smelly philosopher.long back i saw one prescription by Dr Mondal of ishapore for an executive constipated for days together sulphur 10M only two doses cleared his case which was not helped by any pathy,this gentleman emotionaly told Dr Mondal is God.

  2. HA roberts a researcher clarified sulphur and phos are prostrated both have many resembling symptoms like burning.hard core homeopaths tell, when no remedy is acting it is like in winter morning scooter needs a kick to start later starts on battery,sulphur is a kick to start glandular circulation scrofula diathesis later whole circulation is auto start thus sulphur termed as INDOLENT feeling as if river flow is halted.Roberts clarifies phos is over excited erotic and erratic thus prostrated from loss of vital fluids caused by physical or emotional strain cannot concentrate mind females have vicarious menstruation.

  3. sulphur,carbo nitrogenoid constitution defective oxidation creates acrid foul odor excretions cause itch burn on skin,arterial hyperemiaat certain points felt as burning pain plus abdomen area portal stasis this type circulation defect lead to fault in renewing of tissues and body fluids a rubbish person.check when he is resting esp night defective circulation visible burning feet red lips eyelids hot vertex dread of bath.sleepy daytime catnap sleep frequent urination nightly.wrinkly skin coarse hair walks stooped as back is weak.lazy circulation lazy person smelly many avoid sitting near to him on charpoy.

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