Have you ever wondered what is the Arsenicum album personality and how it has been built? I am not just talking about mental characteristics but the whole personality, physical, emotional and pathology.
During practice, patients often ask me why I use a remedy for this or for that, and some even ask me to name which remedies I use for the different problems in their case.
I tell them that this is impossible as they do not have sufficient knowledge to understand why these remedies are prescribed, and they are probably looking at it from only a keynote system. It is assumed that the Banerji Protocols are mechanical, so even practitioners who can not understand their mechanism of action dismiss them.
The truth is that Dr Banerji, Dr Pratip and all of the doctors in their clinic are homeopaths that have studied for several years to become homeopaths. They know the ins and outs of the remedies and have a good grasp of the basis of homeopathy.
I wanted to show you how I approach a case and all of the aspects I consider in the process! I integrate the Banerji Protocols into my homeopathic training and work with a multi-layer approach. This means I prescribe the Protocols and use them to understand the case from a homeopathic perspective.
I consider the Banerji Protocols a fantastic set of remedies that give us a lot of guidance in a case. But, and this is a big but! to work with them, you need to understand the remedies in the context of the protocols and the relation to the case or disease. So one thing is to use the protocols for everyday issues or one condition, and another is to navigate through a case using the Banerji Protocols working with several health issues.
Each protocol follows the next and holds a relationship in homeopathic terms.
In order to give you a brief idea of what goes on in my head when I am working through a case, this is the process that I follow. I need to know a bit about the disease process for which the patient is consulting me, how the remedies in those protocols help and why and how each remedy in the protocols or single layers relates to the case and each other! My brain is constantly firing information and building a mind map for the patient as they are talking.
I look for patterns and joint symptoms that may seem unrelated to the patient. I access the case mainly through Banerji Protocols, and I add single layers as I weave both to form my unique methodology.
To exemplify this, I want to show you a similar process but with a remedy Analysis. I need to make the same connections working through a complex case I will show you when analysing or studying a remedy.
You will recognise this remedy easily and have probably used it in a protocol or as a single remedy many times, Arsenicum Album. You will also see how the personality of this remedy is built.
Arsenicum is a poison with a wide sphere of action and its crude form, and it has been known to affect the skin, respiratory, cardiovascular, genitourinary, gastrointestinal and nervous systems.
Let’s explore how the body systems are affected and their relationship to toxicology and Materia Medica in Homeopathy.
From a homoeopathic perspective, these are the affinities of Arsenicum Album in our body: Mucous membranes, Mind, Respiration, Lungs, Blood, Heart, Nerves, Spleen, Lymphatics, Muscle, Skin, Serous cavities and Organs.
Do not forget the homeopathic affinities of this remedy! You will be able to see how they relate to the toxicology reports and are the basis of why and how we use this remedy in homeopathy, especially in the Banerji Protocols as we go along.
Remember that the principle of homeopathy is matching disease symptoms with the symptoms in our Materia Medica of homeopathic remedies.
Arsenicum poisoning affects so many systems because Arsenicum enters the blood very fast and leaves our system through the urine. Once in our body, it is quickly distributed to every area through the cardiovascular system.
Chronic poisoning or long-term exposure to the substance involves a multi-system illness, and the most serious of all consequences is a progressive malignancy. Cancer of the skin, lung, liver, kidney, and bladder correlates with long-term Arsenicum ingestion.
It is fascinating to note that one of the themes of Arsenicum in Materia Medicas and provings is disintegration and decay, and one of the significant key symptoms that you probably know is fear of death. This is the essence of the remedy that you will see pocking through many different expressions of the disease or symptoms.
Here it is good to note that this is the reason why this remedy is complementary to septic remedies such as Baptisia, Carbo-veg, Pyrogen, Rhus-tox and Tarantula. In terms of Nosodes, it is complementary to Carcinosin and Syphilinum, both remedies touching the dark side of life, and it is often used as drainage for those two remedies.
ARSENICUM ALBUM SKIN
The skin will present changes such as hyperpigmentation in diffuse dark brown spots and or keratosis (a small, thickened, scaly growth or lump that develops on the skin) solar and palmar. Another feature is seen on the nails; arsenic deposition in keratin-rich areas creates thick white transverse lines in the finger and toenails called Mee’s lines.
Hahnemann’s provings describe some of these clinical symptoms:
-“Thick eruption of little white elevations the colour of the sin, of the size of a lentil and smaller…”
-“Eruptions resembling urticaria”
-“spots here and there on the skin”
-“miliary eruptions all over the body which falls of in scales”
-“inflamed measles-like spots over the body…”
-“eruptions of a copious red scorbutic military rash”
Under various actual Materia Medicas, we find similar symptoms:
Pimples, vesicles; skin dry, rough, free desquamation; spots, blue, black and white; urticaria; However, in older ones such as Kent or Lippe skin conditions are not mentioned.
The white tick lines in the nails have not been found either in MM or provings under this remedy. This tells us that our knowledge of remedies is very incomplete.
No wonder Arsenium Album 6c and 200c are the first-line agents for most skin complaints for the Banerjies, and they add it to other remedies to make a combination for skin issues. This remedy covers many different issues with a considerable affinity to the skin.
You will find Arsenicum in their skin protocols for Eczema, Psoriasis, Itching, Scabies, Vitiligo, Lichen Planus, and many others.
Remember that the protocols are homeopathic and obey the same principles of like cures like. Or, in more modern terms, they mirror the same disease process!
THE GASTROINTESTINAL SYSTEM
In acute poisoning, the gastrointestinal tract is the most and worst affected, and this one is a key feature of the Arsenicum Album Personality. Not surprisingly, Arsenicum 3c is the first line of action for the digestive tract lining by the Banerjies.
Clinical features include nausea, vomiting, colicky abdominal pain, oesophageal pain and profuse (bloody, rice-like) watery diarrhoea. Other symptoms include the sensation of burning in the mouth and thorax.
Under Hahnemann’s provings, we find burning in the throat, which becomes one of the most prominent key symptoms of Arsenicum Album.
Burning is one of the most prominent keynotes of the remedy in all Materia Medicas.
The GI tract is also affected in chronic poisoning, but diarrhoea, a significant symptom in acute poisoning, is present in recurrent bouts. It is associated with vomiting (it is curious to notice that one of the characteristics of Arsenicum Album personality is “periodical”).
We find Arsenicum 3c in the Banerji Protocols for Gastritis, Nausea, Vomiting, Peptic ulcers and GERD. a key feature of the Arsenicum Personality. From a classical perspective, it is one of the first remedies to think of for acute poisoning with vomiting and diarrhoea.
The most characteristic GI tract symptoms are represented in the repertory by the rubrics:
-STOMACH: Vomiting, offensive odour
-STOMACH: Vomiting, diarrhoea, during
-STOMACH: Vomiting, violent
-STOMACH: Vomiting, black
-STOMACH: Vomiting, everything
-STOMACH: Nausea, anxiety, with
-STOMACH: Nausea, fever, after
-STOMACH: Nausea, desire to lie down, with
-STOMACH: Nausea, perspiration, during
-STOMACH: Nausea, vomit, sensation as if about to
-ABDOMEN: Pain, burning
-ABDOMEN: Pain, cutting pain
-ABDOMEN: Pain, sore
-ABDOMEN: Pain, lower abdomen, burning
-ABDOMEN: Pain, diarrhoea, with, cramping
-STOOL: Watery, rice water, like
-STOOL: Thin, pouring out
-STOOL: Watery, black
Hahnemann’s provings also show that the gastrointestinal system is significantly affected. There is much vomiting, vomiting with blood, diarrhoea with blood, eructation, nausea, sickness, altered taste in the mouth, and pain in the stomach.
Materia Medica is full of gastrointestinal symptoms: black vomit, gastritis, nausea, retching and vomiting, bloody saliva, constricted throat, pain in the epigastrium, stools like rice water, inflammation of the oesophagus, vomiting vile and blood, pain in the abdomen, bloody stool, simultaneous vomiting and diarrhoea.
Intoxication of Arsenic presents many complications for the cardiovascular system. Increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, ischemic heart disease, cardiac arrhythmias and gangrene of the extremities.
If you remember, we talked about the affinities of Arsenicum Album personality in our Materia Medica, two of which were the Blood and the Heart.
In Hahnemann’s provings, we find dysfunction of the pulse, weak, rapid, small, tense, quick and also gangrene of the extremities: “Cancerous ulcer which rendered it necessary to amputate the limbs”.
The Banerjies Use Arsenicum Album 200 in combination with Hepar 200 or Hypericum 200 to treat wounds with decay, wound healing, abscess, avascular ulcers or bed sores.
From a single homeopathic layer, we know that this remedy is full of palpitations and shortness of breath and weakness. Due to these symptoms, this was often a remedy employed by Kent for people with heart disease. However, he realised that this remedy would not address deep heart pathology, only functional symptoms of the organ. He states, ” when this is not a state of the heart itself, then Arsenicum becomes a wonderful remedy”, and to address the organ dysfunction, you will need to find a remedy that covers that aspect. We could say that Arsenicum Album covers the fundamental layer in the case, but it has no depth to treat lesion dysfunction of the organ.
Note that both Cactus and Lachesis are complementary to Arsenicum Album and are both remedies covering heart pathology.
Do you remember that I mentioned remembering the homeopathic affinities of this remedy? And can you see now why we would use this remedy for these problems? It has a relationship to Lymphatics, helping to clear debris, skin and blood. In essence, it is a remedy for disintegration and decay, making it a top remedy for these conditions. And in case we need a more scientific approach, the Banerjies show that most people with these problems will respond to those remedies or protocols.
We may also notice that blood is present in most discharges, vomiting with bleeding, faeces with bleeding, and ulcers with blood.
Materia Medica also brings heart and blood symptoms to the Arsenicum Album personality;
Palpitation, rapid pulse, small, heart pains, audible beats, angina pectoris, pulsations on the body, gangrene, and bleeding.
ARSENICUM ALBUM THE RESPIRATORY SYSTEM
The respiratory system presents restricted and obstructive lung disease and bronchitis.
In Hahnemann provings we find:
-“constrictive sensation in the throat”
-“long-continued tightness of the chest”
In Kent’s Materia Medica, we compare asthma and difficulty breathing. Vermeulen mentions asthma, and Phatak talks about shortness of breath.
The Banerjies use Arsenicum 6c for sneezing in allergic respiratory conditions and Arsenicum 30c is one of the most commonly indicated remedies for allergic wheezing.
THE NEUROLOGICAL SYSTEM
The neurological system includes changes in behaviour, confusion, memory loss and cognitive impairment, vertigo, altered mental status and encephalopathy or degeneration of the brain function. Tingling and numbness are also reported, and this is due to damage to the peripheral nervous system that carries information from the brain into the spinal cord to all parts of the body.
-“Stiffness and insensibility of the hands”
-“Fine tickling in the left palm, causing him to rub it”
-Great formication in the hands at night”
-“Paralysis of the limbs”
-” Paralysis of the lower extremities”
-“Irritated state of disposition”
-“Her desire is greater than her need”
-“Discomfort, he has pleasure in nothing”
-“Diminution of memory”
-“He is confused on the head”
-“Empty in the head”
If we explore this section of the Arsenicum Album personality under various Materia Medicas, we find:
Kent describes changes in behaviour as restlessness, anxiety, sadness, and suicidal tendencies, which are comparable features.
However, towards the end of the disease, Kent describes “prostration that is so marked that he cannot move only his limbs until at last, he becomes so weak that he is no longer able to move and he lies in perfect quiet in extreme prostration”.
This could be due to two clinical reasons:
a) degeneration of brain functions
b) damage to the peripheral nervous system
Five strong mental symptoms of the remedy picture of Arsenicum Album are restlessness, fastidious, fears and insecurity, which are represented in the repertory by the rubrics:
-MIND: Fear, death, of
-MIND: Fear, control, loosing
-MIND: Fear, cancer, of
-MIND: Rest, cannot rest when things are not in the proper place
-MIND: Conscientious about trifles
-MIND: Greed, cupidity
-MIND: Restlessness, alternating with, sleepiness
-MIND: Restlessness, internal
-MIND: Restleness, move, must constantly, goes from one room to the other
-MIND: Insecurity, mental
-MIND: Accident, his friend had met with an
-MIND: Friend, affection of, has lost the
Can you see how the toxicology of the remedy relates to our Materia Medica and its uses? Let’s explore one of the areas that most of you would recognise of the Arsenicum Album personality, the well-known keynote- restlessness and anxiety. This is one area for self-prescribing where you will find it easy to identify this remedy, but on the other side, it is also one of the first remedies to prescribe for someone in the final hours of their life before passing. It brings much relief and can finally depart in peace.
You may want to understand this from two angles:
a) the theme of decay or disintegration- death
b)the anxiety of dying- restlessness
The main characteristics of Arsenic poisoning are found in both the toxicology report, provings and Materia Medica, although with some differences. For instance, burning in the throat is slightly mentioned in Hahnemann’s provings, but it is the main keynote in the Materia Medicas regarding Arsenicum Album personality.
However, this is an important symptom in toxicology reports. We can assume that this symptom has been gathered by clinical evidence and shows us that provings alone are very subjective and less reliable than we thought.
I still like to understand the source of the remedy and the disease process to understand the protocols and how they work for my patients. Every day I prescribe a protocol, I still feel that it teaches me something about homeopathy in a way that I have not been taught before, yet it resonates with every aspect of homeopathy I know. For sure, they make me a better homeopath day by day and round my general knowledge in homeopathy!