Arsenicum album is a homeopathic remedy derived from the metallic element arsenic. Traces of arsenic are found in vegetables and animals. In its crude form, arsenic is poisonous. Gradual accumulations may result in digestive disturbances, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea , dehydration, coma, shock, convulsions, paralysis, and death.
Common names for arsenicum album include arsenic trioxide, white arsenic, white oxide of metallic arsenic, and arsenius acid. Arsenic is indestructible, even by fire, and remains in bone ash after cremation. It has been used to create pigmentation for wallpaper, carpet, and paints. Arsenic has also been used to produce medicines and pesticides.
Arsenic was used as a remedy for certain types of cattle disease as far back as the eighth century. In the seventeenth century, arsenic was applied topically to treat malignant ulcers and skin diseases in humans. Taken internally, it was used to treat fevers. When frequent and repeated doses of arsenic resulted in poisoning and death, arsenic was pronounced unsafe for use. However, housewives and practitioners still used arsenic and were often successful in their treatments. Eventually arsenic use was reinstated. Weak compounds of arsenic were often used to increase strength and endurance, remedy anemia , and improve the skin and fur of animals. An ointment made from arsenic was used to treat cancerous growths and tumors.
Arsenicum album is one of the most frequently used homeopathic remedies and is one of the most well-proven remedies. A polychrest with a wide field of action, arsenicum album has the power to affect all parts of the human body.
Arsenicum album is used to treat serious acute ailments, chronic diseases, and acute colds, bronchitis , and fevers. Homeopaths prescribe this remedy to treat asthma, anxiety disorders, panic attacks, skin infections, boils, burns with blisters , cystitis, eye inflammations, chickenpox , colds, coughs, indigestion, Crohn's disease , herpes simplex, flu, insomnia, measles, mumps , sore throats, allergies and hay fever, food poisoning , and fevers. Arsenicum album has also been used to treat malarial and septic infections, alcoholism, syphilis , lupus, and cancer (when applied in the early stages of the disease).
Arsenicum album illnesses can be brought about by the use of quinine, tobacco, or alcohol, or from the suppression of skin eruptions, sweat, or mucous membrane discharges.
People requiring arsenicum album generally fit a particular profile. They are anxious, restless, weak, pale, emaciated, faint, chilled, and catch colds easily. Their eyes are sunken and glassy; their faces is yellowish or ashy pale, and mouth, lips, and tongue are parched and dry. They desire liquids in small, frequent amounts. The forehead, face, chest, knees, hands, and feet are often cold, so patients crave warmth. They may suffer from burning, pressing pains throughout the entire body. These pains are aggravated by cold and reduced by heat. Weakness is sudden and is reduced by lying down, although the other symptoms are worsened by it.
Other physical characteristics of this remedy include burning, offensive, and watery discharges; palpitations; profuse, sour sweat; and a red-tipped tongue. There is a tendency to bleed easily and from any place, and vomiting of blood and bleeding from lungs, throat, and mucous membranes are not uncommon.
The mental and emotional symptoms of the patient profile also include anxiety, nervousness, suspicion, impulsiveness, irritability, sadness, hopelessness, and depression . People requiring this remedy are often difficult patients. They are critical and argumentative, easily offended, easily startled, insecure, forgetful, sensitive to pain , and often suffer from delusions or hallucinations. They think their ailment is more serious than it is and despair of ever getting well, often fearing that they are going to die. They desire company and are afraid of being alone. Patients may be unable to sleep due to their restlessness and anxiety or from physical discomforts such as fever or cough . When they do sleep, they may have anxious dreams or nightmares. Even though they are extremely weak, arsenicum album patients are clean and tidy, partially to relieve their restlessness.
The symptoms are aggravated by a change in temperature, wet weather, cold food and drink, and by the slightest exertion. They are worse after midnight, upon waking, with alcohol use, and during menstruation . Symptoms are improved by heat, hot beverages, the warmth of the bed, fresh air, and lying down.
Arsenicum album is a useful remedy for mental disorders with symptoms of melancholy, irritation, intense anxiety, and restlessness. The patient may be prone to violent fits of anger or rage or have an impulse to commit murder. It also can have a positive effect on alcoholism and can improve diarrhea, weakness, stomach irritation, and emaciation.
Arsenicum album can be used for the following conditions:
- Throbbing, frontal headaches. These are accompanied by a flushed or hot face, heat or burning inside the head, and a feeling that the head will explode. These headaches occur with regularity and are reduced by cool air or cold applications.
- Herpetic or eczematous skin eruptions. These are moist, scabby, pustular, itching , or burning.
- Hot, burning fevers. These sometimes alternate with chills . Fevers are worse at night, particularly after midnight.
- Sore throat. It is accompanied by burning pain that is worse from swallowing or cold drinks and is reduced with hot drinks.
- Hacking coughs. These are frequently dry at night and are relieved by hot drinks. They are worsened by the cold, by fresh air, when lying down, at night (particularly after midnight), and during a fever.
- Chronic nasal congestion. This is often accompanied by bleeding, constant sneezing , chills, fatigue , restlessness, anxiety at night, troublesome dreams, and crusts in the back of the nose.
The homeopathic remedy is prepared by separating arsenic from iron , cobalt, and nickel when the minerals are baked at high temperatures. The powder is then ground and diluted with milk sugar.
Arsenicum album is available at health food and drug stores in various potencies in the form of tinctures, tablets, and pellets.
If symptoms do not improve after the recommended time period, a homeopath or healthcare practitioner should be consulted.
Consumers are advised not to exceed the recommended dose.
There are no side effects currently reported.
When taking any homeopathic remedy, consumers should not use peppermint products, coffee, or alcohol. These products may cause the remedy to be ineffective.
Cummings, Stephen, M.D., and Ullman, Dana, M.P.H. Everybody's Guide to Homeopathic Medicines. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, 1997.