Sulphuric acid, according to Teste, was a favourite remedy of the Middle Ages, being used extensively in dilution in the treatment of scrofulous, phagedenic, cancerous, and venereal ulcers; as a gargle and mouth-wash for aphthæ, ulceration of the gums, and diphtheria. It was given as “Mineral Lemonade” in cases of lead poisoning. [This use I have verified, giving water acidulated with the 3x.─J. H. C.]
The “Acid Soap” of Achard was prescribed as a dissolvent in scirrhus of the breast and calculous nephritis, obstinate intermittent fevers, visceral obstructions, dropsy, jaundice, cachexia, and “certain tumours of the feet.” Elixir of vitriol (a mixture of the acid, alcohol and water) is a popular remedy for nervous weakness in women at the present day. Dippel, Haller, and others each had an “Elixir,” differing only in the proportions of the chief ingredients. The elixirs were used in: Intermittent, putrid, malignant, contagious fevers; comatose and petechial fevers, scarlatina, confluent and malignant variola; dysentery; plague, lepra, itch, and other cutaneous diseases; nocturnal emissions; suppression of menses and piles, calculous nephritis, and gout; pituitous phthisis; chorea.
Hahnemann proved Sul. ac., and says that it has cured affections characterised by: “tension in the eyelids in the morning, shortsightedness; hardness of hearing; inguinal hernia; chronic looseness of the bowels profuse menses; metrorrhagia; roughness in the throat; asthma; swelling of the feet; coldness of the feet” (Chron. Dis.).
Teste gives this experience of his own:” Two or three times I have used this drug with success against round syphilitic spots, of a bright red colour, of the size of a penny, rather itching, running into each other, secreting a humour sometimes, and generally seated at the upper and inner surface of the thighs, between the shoulders, on the face, and at the posterior surface of the forearms and hands. The subjects on whom this acid seemed to act best were lymphatic, ate a good deal, and were disposed to a constant looseness of the bowels, so that their evacuations were rarely in shape.”
Hahnemann’s proving with homeopathic experience has confirmed many of the old uses of Sul. ac. and brought out characteristic indications. Weakness is a keynote to Sul. ac.
The patient is weak and exhausted. Sul. ac. is suited to cases where the weakness is out of proportion to the disease. Weakness which seems to come from deep-seated dyscrasia. There is as well a sense of general internal trembling; as if trembling from head to foot, but without visible trembling.
It is useful for inebriates who are “on their last legs,” long after Nux had ceased to help. Hering says the craving for liquor has been subdued by taking for two or four weeks, thrice daily, ten to fifteen drops of a mixture of one part of Sul. ac. with three parts of alcohol. The indications are: “Vomiting in morning; acidity in stomach; burning in œsophagus and stomach; sour, acrid, or foul eructations.” Sul. ac. has this characteristic: in spite of great thirst, water is not tolerated; unless qualified with alcohol it chills the stomach. This is a common symptom with hydrogenoid patients.
Sul. ac. has a keynote symptom in the mental sphere. Hurry─hasty, quick, sullen, impatient; angry because things move so slowly. Like Sul., Sul. ac. is periodic and has an important place in agues and periodic neuralgias. Cooper with reason contends that many ague cases, supposed to have been cured with Chi. sul. (Sulphate of Quinine), were really cured by the Sulphuric acid used in dissolving it. “More-over,” says Cooper, “in all epidemic diseases─influenza, cholera, small-pox, &c.─Sul. ac. is often called for by the concomitant symptoms.
In the neuralgia of influenza it has cured very severe pain over the whole left side of the head, face, and neck, coming on from exposure to draught; in the diarrhœas of cholera times it certainly arrests mischief; in the diarrhœas of emaciated children it is often called for. A chemist in Covent Garden used to use a lotion of Sulphuric acid, well diluted, for all the cases of itch that came before him, and they were many.”
There is a keynote of Sul. ac. in respect to neuralgias which is of great service; the pains increase gradually and end abruptly; the most characteristic kind of pain is dull pressure─as of a plug thrust in. There is external soreness and sensitiveness. The piles of Sul. ac. are external, sensitive to touch and accompanied by itching. Sul. ac. is a great hæmorrhagic; there is bleeding from every orifice; bleeding under skin (purpura); the menses are too early, too profuse, and sterility may be a consequence of this; oozing of dark thin blood. Many sufferings of Sul. ac. seem to arise from the generative organs, especially of the female.
With Sul. ac. 30, a dose every night, I gave great help to a delicate woman who had nightmare, waking in a fright, before each menstrual period. The local “weakness” of Sul. ac. may amount to prolapse of vagina and uterus.
Trauma is another indication for Sul. ac.; it follows Arn. in bruises of soft parts, Con. in bruises of glands, Ruta. in bruises of bones. It also removes long-lasting black and blue spots with soreness and stiffness of the parts. Flushing is another feature (as at climacteric), and with the flushing there is sweating. Easy sweating is a note of Sul. ac., and the sweat affects mostly the upper part of the body. The body odour of Sul. ac. is sour and cannot be washed off. This is especially observed in children.
Heartburn with sour eructations that set the teeth on edge. Sul. ac. is suited to:
(1) Old people; especially women.
(2) Light-haired people.
(3) Pains at climacteric.
(4) When some deep-seated dyscrasia prevails, the child is weak with no other symptoms.
(5) Sour babies.
As if brain were loose and falling from side to side.
As if one side of head filled with smoke.
As if a plug were thrust quickly into head.
As from subcutaneous ulceration in scalp.
As of a foreign body on right outer canthus.
As of a leaf lying before ears.
As if white of egg had dried on face.
As if skin of cheek and chin were pinched.
As of want of elasticity of vocal organs.
As if there were a lump in throat.
As if menses would come on.
As if hernia would protrude.
As if rectum were torn to pieces during stool.
Many symptoms appear on right side, but the left cheek and left parotid are most affected. Pain travels from left to right round hypochondria. Other Peculiar Symptoms are: Pains felt during sleep and disappearing on waking. Jerkings on falling asleep. Seriousness alternating with buffoonery. Pain in bladder unless call to pass water is immediately attended to. The symptoms are: < By touch; pressure; chafing; mechanical injuries. Open air <. Warmth >. Cold <. Rest >. Lying on affected side > gnawing in face. Motion; lifting arms; rising; walking; riding <. < Morning; (also evening and night). < Drinking cold water. Wine <. Warm food = sweat. The cauterising property of Sul. ac. is of the phagedenic order, which makes it suitable to many gangrenous conditions.