One man’s justice is another man’s injustice.
[Ralph Waldo Emerson]
Tinctura acris. Caustic substance.
PREPARATION When heated in a glowing fire, marble [crystalline calcium carbonate] turns into burnt lime [calcium oxide]. The red heat allows “an acid of the lowest order” to escape as a gas [carbon dioxide]. “During this process the marble, as burned lime, has received [besides the latent heat] another substance into its composition, which substance, unknown to chemistry, gives to it its caustic property as well as its solubility in the water, whereby we obtain lime-water. This substance, though itself not an acid, gives to it its caustic virtue, and by adding a fluid acid [which will endure fire], which then combines with the lime by its closer affinity, the watery caustic is separated by distillation. Take a piece of freshly burned lime of about two pounds, dip this piece into a vessel of distilled water for about one minute, then lay it in a dry dish, in which it will soon turn into powder with the development of much heat and its peculiar odour, called lime-vapour.”1 Burnt lime is soluble in water, forming calcium hydroxide – Ca[OH]2 – and generating a large quantity of heat. Calcium hydroxide, called slaked lime, consists of crystals, soft granules or powder; it is slightly bitter and has an alkaline taste. When heated it loses water and turns back into calcium oxide. “Of this fine powder take two ounces and mix with it in a [warmed] porcelain triturating bowl a solution of two ounces of bisulphate of potash, which has been heated to red heat and melted, cooled again and then pulverized and dissolved in two ounces of boiling hot water. This thickish mixture is put into a small glass retort, to which the helm is attached with wet [pigs] bladder; into the tube of the helm is inserted the receiver half submerged in water; the resort is warmed by the gradual approach of a charcoal fire below and all the fluid is then distilled over by applying the suitable heat. The distilled fluid will be about an ounce and a half of watery clearness, containing in concentrated form the substance mentioned above, i.e. , Causticum; it smells like the lye [strong alkaline solution] of caustic potash.”2
MEDICINAL CONTENT Hahnemann’s aim was to obtain the caustic principle as pure as possible. At first this resulted in ‘Tincture acris sine Kali’, caustic substance without potassium. In Chronic Diseases Hahnemann refers to this as a [less pure] preparation of causticum and changes it in “Caustic substance” or “Causticum”. Some think that Hahnemann introduced it in an effort to combine in one drug the action of calcium and potassium – “and with more or less success, the potash element seeming to predominate. It seems to be a hydrated caustic solution of lime and potash, and is a combination of the two earths in rather uncertain proportions.”3 The remedy has been ridiculed as a fantasy, being laughed off with the argument that the distillate, chemically, lacked any content of effective substance and could contain nothing but distilled water. For Hahnemann the new substance, “unknown to chemistry”, certainly carried the caustic principle into effect, for it “tasted very astringent on the back of the tongue, burned in the throat, and hastened the putrefaction of animal substances immersed in it.” Leeser admits as witnesses for the defence three chemists who found that causticum contained free ammonia. “A completely insufficient opposition satisfies many who consider this new finding an error. For this reason at my request the Johannes-Apotheke of Stuttgart have repeatedly prepared causticum and controlled it exactly. The method of Hahnemann was followed as closely as possible in respect to his apparatus. Even a retort of the old form was used. That there is something in the distillate, which is different from distilled water, one is convinced best through the soda-like odour and the mildly astringent taste. Furthermore, with Merck’s universal indicator, it shows that the distillate actually has an alkaline reaction. The fresh preparation has a pH of 8.0-8.5 which decreases gradually after 24 hours to a pH of about 7.5. Likewise the fresh preparation reacts weakly alkaline to litmus. With Nessler’s reagent it gives a light yellow colour, which colourimetrically determined corresponds to about the fifth decimal potency of ammonia. Even earlier it was suggested that the ammonia arises from the lime and indeed from the inclusions of animal tissues. In the burning, ammonia would become free, be taken into solution by the water, and be distilled over. Also if chemically pure, apparently nitrogen-free, original material is employed [calcarea ustae marmore pro analysi and potassium bisulphuricum crystallisatum], the result remains the same. … In what form the ammonia exists in the distillate is still unknown. At any rate, the preparation must be added to the ammonium compounds.”4 The past research done to identify the chemical composition of Causticum shows controversial results. The researchers were faced with an unsolvable situation. In 1989 Grimm, who, like Leeser, claims to have followed the exact procedure originally employed and documented by Hahnemann, undertook a new attempt. His analysis revealed that Causticum contains, “beyond doubt”, potassium ions. Analysis of the specimens of Causticum mother tincture produced by three German homoeopathic manufacturers revealed that all of them contained ammonia, but no potassium. Grimm concludes that the results raise much doubt about the reliability of producing homoeopathic remedies at industrial scale. 5
MYSTERY “I have not found as yet a satisfactory answer to why Hahnemann went to so much trouble to make this remedy. What were his intentions? If the goal was to make potassium hydroxide this method is not very efficient and apparently unnecessary. … Andreas Grimm, who reproduced the original method exactly, speculates that Hahnemann was trying to isolate and distil the ‘caustic principle’ i.e. the OH- ion which is, unknown to him, and a fruitless task using this crude method. Perhaps we will never know the truth but the combination of so many alchemical elements seriously leans towards an experiment with another dimension. The use of the great transforming fire, the meeting of the two principles masculine [acid] and feminine [base] in equal measure, the hermetically sealed unit and the final distillation in the alembic are all well known alchemical processes. … According to the formulas the thickish mixture in the flask contains only three components: potassium hydroxide, calcium sulphate and water. There are actually no volatile gases or products which would pass over during distillation except water. Potassium hydroxide dissolves in water but remains behind as the water boils off. Calcium sulphate is insoluble and remains behind as a white hard mass. So how is the final product alkaline at all? For many years it was thought that the alkalinity was due to ammonia which is created when elemental calcium metal reacts with nitrogen, and the resulting calcium nitride reacts with water to form ammonia gas. This gas then forms ammonium hydroxide, sometimes called ammonium causticum, when it contacts water. … However reactive elemental calcium metal is not present in our process and calcium oxide, which is, does not form this liaison with nitrogen and thus ammonia is not formed. It is possible for ammonia to be formed if potassium hydroxide comes into contact with the protein of the pigs bladder but this is very remote. So how is the potassium hydroxide present in Causticum? Grimm gives, what I believe, is the most likely explanation. At 350-400o C, temperatures, created by the charcoal fire, potassium hydroxide sublimates without decomposing. Sublimation means that the solid vaporises into the condenser and is carried over into the receiving vessel by water vapour thus resulting in a weak solution. Grimm also suggests that bumping may also occur, which is common with alkalis, creating a spitting effect up the tube. Thus Causticum is a weak solution of potassium hydroxide by these effects. … However there is also another subtle dimension which must also be remembered. The starting point was an impure marble which could have had trace elements of many different elements. Ornamental marble gains its colour from the presence of impurities such as iron creating red, chlorites the greens and graphites the blues. Quartz [silica] is also often found as an impurity in marble, so there are still many possible trace elements which are unknown and may be present. … Putting the three elements together – [potassium, oxygen, hydrogen] – shows the true polychrest nature of Causticum. Kali bringing the will which is linked to the syphilitic miasm and the search for truth; Oxygen brings the emotional element linked to the sycotic miasm and the search for love; Hydrogen represents the mental element linked to the psoric miasm and the search for wisdom.”6
CAUSTIC The name Causticum derives from Gr. kaustikos, from kaiein, future, and kausein, to burn. As substances with corroding or burning properties, four caustics are chiefly used: caustic ammonia, caustic lime, caustic potash, and caustic soda. Caustic potash – potassium hydroxide – is used as an emulsifier in hand lotions, as a cuticle softener, and as an alkali in liquid soaps, protective creams, shaving preparations, and cream rouges. Caustic soda – sodium hydroxide – is largely employed for similar purposes: as an alkali and emulsifier in liquid face powders, soaps, shampoos, cuticle removers, hair straighteners, shaving soaps, and creams. All caustics are extremely irritating to the skin and mucous membranes, and can cause burns. Ingestion may be fatal. Being considered peculiar to homoeopathy and of indefinite composition, Causticum should be prepared in strict accordance with Hahnemann’s instructions. Allen states that “the distillate contains potassium hydrate, but no lime nor sulphuric acid.” For that reason, he includes some effects of caustic potash – sources 13 and 14 – in the materia medica of Causticum.
PROVINGS ••  Hahnemann – 10 provers; method: unknown.
[1-2] Hahnemann, Chronic Diseases.  Chase, Causticum; Transactions of the New York Hom. Society, 1909-1910.  Leeser, Textbook of Hom. MM, Inorganic Medicinal Substances.  Grimm, Causticum: Ätzstoff oder Phantasieprodukt?; Zeitschrift für Klass. Hom., 1989 Heft 2.  Morgan, The Mystery of Causticum; The Homoeopath, Spring 1998.
NERVES [motor; sensory]. MUSCLES [BLADDER; LARYNX; limbs]. Skin. Respiration. * Right side; face. * Left side.
Worse: Air [DRY, COLD; raw; WINDS; drafts]. Extremes of temperature. Stooping. Coffee. Suppressions. 3-4 a.m. or EVENING. Exertion. Clear weather. Motion of carriage. While perspiring. New moon. Getting wet. Entering a warm room from the open air.
Better: COLD DRINKS. Washing. Warmth; of bed. Gentle motion. Warm air. Damp, wet weather.
* GRADUAL PARALYSIS, on three levels: EMOTIONAL, MENTAL and PHYSICAL.
c EMOTIONAL: ailments from GRIEF [many or long]. Internal suffering, kept in.
Suffer from injustice in society, with the following reactions:
1. Religious fanaticism.
2. Anarchistic opposition to “Big Brother”.
3. Idealistic fight for a “better world”, fighting for a cause.
Helps actually the oppressed, the poor, and not only talks about it.
• “He has passion for ecology
compassion for minorities
he carries printed placards
to put an end to war
he is a hero, he is a rebel
with a half a hundred causes
he peddles his petitions door to door
he is at home among the homeless
singing ‘Set my people free’
he will march with total strangers
but he will not walk with me.
He writes letters to his congressmen
on Indian indignities
black men are his brothers
he bears collective guilt
he’s a prophet, he’s a pacifist
put to peace is his objective
he has no fear to see his own blood spilt
his roots are with the rootless
that’s where he needs to be
he will die with total strangers
but he will not live with me. 1
c MENTAL: Immovable points of view, indifference to dictates of conscience.
Fear something will happen.
Weakness of memory with the characteristic feeling as if he had forgotten something [has to go back and check].
• ” … while doing one thing, he always felt as if he had to do something else, more important, and yet he knew not what.” [Hahnemann]
c PHYSICAL: Paralysis, facial paralysis [mainly RIGHT-sided], paralysis of bladder, paralysis of vocal cords, drooping of upper eyelids.
M WEEPING FROM SYMPATHY WITH OTHERS.
Suffering with others.
• “Excessively compassionate; at the relations of others and of the cruelties inflicted upon them, she is beside herself for weeping and sobbing, and cannot content herself.”
• “… and when she saw boys climbing she was very uneasy lest they might get hurt.” [Hahnemann]
M CANNOT STAND INJUSTICE.
Sensitive to AUTHORITY.
• “Although [e.g., political] disputes were started with him, he remained pretty calm; he felt himself excited indeed, but avoided speaking of it, or getting into a passion [curative action, the first hours].” [Hahnemann]
• “Causticum is often overbearingly present. They like to be able to pull all the strings. You will not often find them in subordinate positions. If you do, then you will hear from them how difficult it is to work under such superiors. In general they are born leaders who can inspire others. In a relationship they are usually the dominant partner. They think they know what is best for the other and will let them know in no uncertain terms, even though it may be the wrong moment to pass comment. Frequently they will play the role of therapist towards their partner. They need to know exactly what the other is thinking, feeling and experiencing and are more likely to criticise their partner than themselves, let alone stand open for discussion. In reality these are all expressions of the heart of the matter of Causticum, namely an extreme vulnerability and a very deep fear. Many of their survival mechanisms, such as being dictatorial, are a means of controlling their irrational, vague anxiety feelings.”2
• “They are definitely irritable people, and often slightly difficult to deal with. They have a fairly good opinion of themselves – if their wishes are not carried out accurately and rapidly they are apt to become irritable and fly into violent passions. It is always an aggravation of their present complaint. These bursts of temper always aggravate their complaint.” [Borland]
M Anxious FOREBODINGS [felt in head], < twilight. M Fear of DARK. M STAMMERING [on account of excitement or anger]. M Obsession and introversion. • “It is important to remember that Causticum is a potassium salt, and it is thus not surprising that the more introverted Causticum individual shares many traits with the other Kalis. One of these shared traits is obsessiveness. The more introverted a Causticum individual, the more liable he is to become obsessive. This obsessiveness may be in the form of fastidiousness, as seen in Arsenicum and Natrum. Some Causticum people are extremely tidy, and will straighten pictures on the wall in strangers’ houses. Others are perfectionists in their work. The potassium salts all have a certain mental rigidity. In the more extrovert Causticum this takes the form of doggedly pursuing various causes. In the introverted Causticum there may be a problem with repetitive negative thoughts. Just as Lachesis must find an outlet for his powerful sexual energy, or become anxious, so Causticum seems to become anxious when he does not have an external focus for his mental energy. One expression of this is obsessive-compulsive disorder. After prolonged stress Causticum may start to obsessively check that doors are locked. He may also suffer from obsessive cleanliness and hand-washing, a syndrome more frequently associated with Syphilinum.” [Bailey] M Fanaticism – rigidity. Immovable points of view, indifference to dictates of conscience. • “Causticum has very voiced and clear-cut ideas of what is good and what not. For them things are either black or white. For Causticum to come to a compromise is very difficult. You will rarely see them in a political party with mild ideas. They are more likely to be seen in an outspoken left or right wing party. They will put themselves out to pursue these ideals and can go a long way in this. … The ideals of Causticum are always combined with great power and perseverance. They radiate self-confidence and admire people who appear strong. They are very ambitious and wish to make a successful career for themselves. … Causticum has the tendency to exaggerate everything, is quick to become emotional and to dramatise little things.”3 G Constitutional effects of burns [physical and emotional]. G Local PARALYTIC affections, gradually developing after an initial stage of irritability and overexcitability; esp. right-sided. G CHILLY. < Cold air; < cold dry weather. G Aversion to sweets; desires smoked meat; coffee <. Yet a craving for sweets is not uncommon in Causticum patients! G > WET weather.
> Bathing. > Bathing affected part.
G < HEAT and COLD. G < 3-4 A.M. G > SIPS of COLD WATER.
Also > facial twitching, and hysterical or epileptic convulsions.
G BURNING pains, like “raw flesh”, “as from an open wound”; sensation of RAWNESS or SORENESS of scalp, throat, respiratory tract, rectum, anus, urethra, vagina, etc.
BURNING pain in parts grasped with the hand.
G Sensation as if MUSCLES and TENDONS were TOO SHORT.
G Menses flow only during the day and cease at night; leucorrhoea reversed: flows at night, not during the day.
P STOMACH EASILY UPSET.
• “As if the stomach refuses everything.” [Hahnemann]
Heartburn; indigestion; burning eructation.
Eructations after fat food, coffee, farinaceous food, [fresh] meat, sweets.
Heartburn after sweets, fat food, farinaceous food.
Fulness and pressing pain after bread.
P INVOLUNTARY URINATION.
When SNEEZING, COUGHING, WALKING, BLOWING the NOSE, during FIRST SLEEP, from becoming COLD; > sitting.
Or PARALYSIS of the BLADDER after forcible retention or over-distension of bladder.
P Dry, deep cough, CAN’T COUGH DEEP ENOUGH to raise mucus; mucus slips back again; < warmth of bed, stooping, cold air, > sips of cold water.
P WARTS around nails, on eye lids, face, tip of nose.
 Dory Previn, The Altruist and the Needy Case; from the album Taps, Tremors and Time Steps. [2-3] Sneevliet, Causticum: The often forgotten Polycrest; HL 4/95.
Want of amativeness in women . Anarchist . Anxiety, about future, in evening, twilight [1/1]; from night watching . Full of cares about relatives . Checking, must check twice or more . Content with himself . Delusions, sees black images . Inclined to discuss political issues [1/1]. Excitement, during debate , while talking . Fear, of being alone, at night , that something will happen > warmth of bed , from noise, at night . Feels constantly as if he had forgotten something . Cannot support injustice . Laughing, before epileptic convulsions , during , after . Loss of self-control . Sensitive when hearing of cruelties , to crying of children . Sentimental, during drunkenness . Talking, desire to talk to someone . Weeping, from sympathy with others .
As if falling from a height . People seem larger during vertigo .
Pain, after epileptic attacks , > frowning . Perspiration, scalp, before epileptic attack [2/1].
Colours, green halo around light , white spots, then green [2/1]. Dim, morning on waking , > washing , on blowing nose [2/1]. Diplopia, when looking sideways, to right , to right > [1/1], when looking upward [2/1]. Flickering, when looking long . Foggy, when standing . Light points in a dark circle [1/1]. Sparks, on winking [2/1].
Noises, reverberating , every sound with difficult hearing , own voice .
Acute, her own voice seems very loud [2/1].
Distortion of mouth when talking .
Eructations, after coffee , after fats , after sweets ; sour, after farinaceous food , sour, after sugar . Sensation of fulness, after bread [3/1].
Constipation, passes stool easier when standing . Constriction, after coition [1/1]. Diarrhoea, from cold air on abdomen [2/1].
Urging, frequent, without passing any, then while sitting involuntary flow [2/1]. Urination, involuntary, during first sleep , when blowing the nose , on becoming cold , during exertion , from laughing , from sudden noise , while sitting .
Sexual desire increased, during drunkenness .
Aversion to coition, after menses . Menses, daytime only , cease when lying , only on motion . Sexual desire increased, during drunkenness .
Difficult, on kneeling [1/1], when speaking rapidly [1/1].
Anxiety, heart region, > moving about .
Sensation of enlargement, fingers, when touching something [2/1].
Falling asleep in society , talking .
Pain, burning, in parts grasped with the hand [3; Bry.].
Aversion: : Coffee; fruit; sweets. : Cold water; fish [*]; meat; vegetables; water.
Desire: : Smoked meat; smoked things. : Beer; cold drinks; refreshing; salt. : Cheese; eggs; fish; pungent; sour; sweets [*]; tonics; yoghurt.
Worse: : Coffee. : Bread; bread and butter; butter; farinaceous; fat; fruit; heavy food; meat, fresh; veal. : Chocolate; cold food; fish; honey; meat; pork; sour; sugar; sweets; vinegar; warm food.
Better: : Cold drinks. : Bread; cold food.
* Repertory additions.