– VERMEULEN Frans,
Nothing improves the memory more than trying to forget.
CLASSIFICATION Tellurium is a rare element, placed in group 16 of the periodic table, along with oxygen, sulphur, selenium, and polonium. It was discovered in 1782 by an Austrian mineralogist, Von Reichenstein, while examining gold ore from Transylvania [Romania]. From this ore he obtained a material that defied his attempts at analysis and was called by him metallum problematum or aurum paradoxum. Tellurium was recognized as an element in 1798 by the German chemist Klaproth, who named it for the earth [L. tellus = earth]. As a metalloid it stands between metals and non-metals, that is, it has properties of both but equals neither of them. Tellurium occasionally occurs in native form, but it is more commonly found in gold, silver, copper, lead, mercury, and bismuth ores. Two of the most common tellurium minerals are sylvanite [gold-silver telluride] and calaverite [gold telluride]. Commercial tellurium is usually recovered from the slimes from lead and copper refineries and in the flue dust from telluride-gold deposits. [Both tellurium and selenium are undesirable impurities in copper.] Tellurium deposits are found in Mexico, South America, western Australia, and Ontario, Canada. In the U.S. , small amounts are obtained from rocks in Colorado and California.
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FEATURES Tellurium exists in two forms: a silvery white, brittle, crystalline solid with a metallic lustre, and an amorphous, dark grey to brown powder. Oxidation of the solid modification causes a slightly yellowish and/or pinkish hue. The element is not very metallic in character; it is a poor conductor of heat and only a fair conductor of electricity [which increases slightly with exposure to light]. Tellurium burns in air or in oxygen with a blue-green flame, forming the dioxide. Comparatively stable, tellurium is unaffected by water and hydrochloric acid, but either nitric acid or aqua regia oxidizes it to tellurous acid. It reacts with the halogens to form halides, and it combines with most metals at elevated temperatures to form tellurides. Tellurium forms many compounds corresponding to those of sulphur and selenium, the elements above it in group 16. Its chemical properties are similar to those of sulphur.
USES Tellurium is used as an alloy to improve the machinability of steels, cast iron and copper. Small amounts of it increase the ductility of aluminium alloys, the hardness and tensile strength of tin alloys, and the corrosion-resistance in lead and in manganese-magnesium alloys. In addition, it is used as a colouring agent in glass and ceramics [imparts a blue colour]; in catalysts for petroleum cracking; in blasting caps; in infra-red transmitting glasses; as vapour in ‘daylight’ lamps; and as a gasoline additive to reduce engine knock. It is added to lead to increase resistance to vibration and fatigue. Electronic applications for tellurium include thermoelectric materials, infrared sensors, photoconductors, and photovoltaic cells. Tellurium is used in the rubber industry as an accelerator and curing agent to improve high temperature properties and in the chemical industry as a catalyst. In the electroplating of silver it produces a black finish. Colloidal tellurium is used as an insecticide, germicide and fungicide.
PHYSIOLOGY “The average body burden in humans is about 600 mg; the majority is in bone. The kidney has the highest content among the soft tissues. Some data suggest that tellurium also accumulates in the liver. Tellurium in the food is probably in the form of tellurates. The urine and bile are the principal routes of excretion. Sweat and milk are secondary routes of excretion. … Condiments, dairy products, nuts, and fish have high concentration of tellurium. Food packaging contains some tellurium; higher concentrations are found in aluminium cans than in tin cans. Some plants, such as garlic, accumulate tellurium from the soil. Potassium tellurate has been used to reduce sweating.”1
TOXICOLOGY Workmen exposed to tellurium or its compounds develop ‘tellurium breath’ which has a garlic-like odour. Overexposure to tellurium may produce dry mouth, metal taste, somnolence, anorexia, nausea, dermatitis, and decreased perspiration. As to the latter, the opposite effect has been reported by Wohler and Bunsen who, in their work with tellurium compounds, experienced such offensive and unpleasant perspiration that Bunsen had to ‘remove himself from company for four weeks’. “Neurotoxicity of tellurium has been demonstrated in animals. Young rats exposed to tellurium in their diet develop a severe peripheral neuropathy. Within the first two days of beginning a diet containing tellurium, the synthesis of myelin lipids in Schwann cells display some striking changes. There is a decreased synthesis of cholesterol and cerebrosides, lipids richly represented in myelin, whereas the synthesis of phosphatidylcholine, a more ubiquitous membrane lipid, is unaffected. … At the same time as these biochemical changes are occurring, lipids are accumulating in Schwann cells within intracytoplasmic vacuoles, and shortly afterwards, these Schwann cells lose their ability to maintain myelin. Axons and the myelin of the CNS are impervious to the effects of tellurium. … One of the few serious recorded cases of tellurium toxicity resulted from accidental poisoning by injection of tellurium into the ureters during retrograde pyelography. Two of the three victims died. Stupor, cyanosis, vomiting, garlic breath, and loss of consciousness were observed in this unlikely incident.”2
PROVINGS ••  Hering – collection of provings, 12 provers [10 males, 2 females], 1850-52; method: Hering ‘swallowed in water the part washed with alcohol from the mortar and pestle after triturating’; 2c [1 prover], 3c [5 provers], 4c [1 prover], 6x [2 provers], 12x [1 prover], single dose or repeated doses.
••  Raeside – 17 provers [11 females, 6 males], 1965-66; method: three proving trials of 14 days each; 6c, twice daily for 14 day; 12c, twice daily for 14 days; 6x, twice daily for 14 days.
Most symptoms with 6c and 6x, least with 12c. “Six students had to stop the experiment because of excessive symptoms. These were mainly skin manifestations and occurred three in the first term [6c], two in the third [6x], and only one on the 12c.”4
[1-2] Klaassen, Casarett and Doull’s Toxicology.
Spine. Nerves. Ears. Eyes. Skin. Right to left. * Left side. Right side.
Worse: Touch. Lying on part. Cold. Empty swallowing. Spinal injuries. Weekly. Cold weather.
Better: Lying on back; lying [> vertigo]. Eating and drinking [> sore throat].
M Fear of being touched on sensitive places [esp. upper dorsal vertebrae].
• “During the second month of the proving [with the 4th trit.], the spine, from the last cervical to about the fifth dorsal vertebrae, became very sensitive and the seat of a peculiar sense of irritation which made the prover dread having the part touched or even approached. This dread was disproportioned to the actual sensibility of the part when pressed or rudely touched, for this sensibility was not really very great.” [proving Hering]
• “It not only hurts at the point of contact, but it’s also felt in the head and in remote parts of the body.” [Clarke]
M Neglectful and forgetful.
• “He forgets and neglects much; also the writing down and even the observing of the symptoms; it is all too much trouble to him. When thinking of the one, or of any business, he forgets everything else, and on account of this, he neglects much that is necessary.” [proving Hering]
G Food and drink.
Eating and drinking > dry sensation in pharynx.
Sudden desire for apples.
• [On the 12th day from beginning the proving] “Jan. 30, 11.30 p.m. , whilst going asleep, sudden desire for apples, which makes him wide awake again.” [Hering]
Desire for beer.
Thirst for cold drinks. [Raeside]
Craves fatty bacon and salt. [Raeside]
Like putrid fish brine or garlic.
[odour from mouth; otorrhoea; perspiration axillae; odour of the body].
• “It’s a leading remedy in offensive foot sweat.” [Clarke]
G ACRID discharges; excite itching, vesicles etc. [esp. otorrhoea].
G Radiating pains.
Of mouth – with thirst for cold drinks.
Of nose; of lips; of throat.
Of skin of face and hands
• “Many of the symptoms come and go SUDDENLY. The ears are suddenly stopped. There are sudden rushes of blood to the head.” [Clarke]
G Vertigo on falling asleep or in first sleep.
• “As if in air on going to sleep.” [Hering]
• “A peculiar kind of vertigo sets in, every evening while getting asleep, about a half hour after going to bed – a sensation as if he were wafted and drawn forth very quickly in the direction of his legs. He is always wakened by it. It never returned later in the night. On the contrary, one day when he had gone to bed earlier than usual, about half-past eight o’clock, the sensation appeared in like manner, about a half-hour after had lain down and when he was first getting asleep. This vertigo kept coming for eight or nine days, was interrupted at one time by two days of quiet sleep, returned and then ceased altogether.” [proving Hering]
P Facial muscles.
• “During the first week, and now and then during the following, a peculiar twitching and distortion of the left facial muscles, often when speaking; the left angle of the mouth is drawn to the left, and upwards.” [proving Hering]
P Almost a specific in RIGHT-sided sciatica or [lumbosacral] backache extending to RIGHT leg.
< Coughing; jarring; laughing; lying on painful side. < Straining at stool; stooping; sneezing. > Walking; urination.
• “Early in the morning painful pressure or pain as if beaten in the os sacrum, worse when stooping, but not ceasing on getting up again; it extends, after a time, into the renal region, abating by walking in the open air, but returning after a short time when sitting. … Very tired in the knees and lower legs; worse on the right side; the whole evening, drawing in the right leg posteriorly from the right posterior superior spinous process down to the calf; worst in the kneeholder. … The pressing across the sacrum comes again immediately on stooping, and becomes almost intolerable when the stooping posture is persisted in. … The pains in the sacrum and [right] leg cease by motion in the open air. When pressing to stool, the pain in the sacrum increased; also, when coughing and laughing; the pain then extends into the right thigh. [proving Hering]
RINGWORM [herpes circinatus].
• “As with most provings, this one produced quite unmistakable effects on certain parts of the body, notably the skin. Of the seventeen people who took part in this proving of Tellurium, thirteen had skin reactions of some kind. … Many parts of the body were affected, but mainly the trunk and arms. Itching was frequently reported, sometimes severe irritation. The rashes were spots, points or blotches. One prover had his acne almost completely cleared from his back while on 6x, but it returned a few days after stopping the Tellurium. Another man had a return of eczema to his hands, a condition which he had had as a child. … It should not be difficult to confirm its action on the skin clinically. One would expect an eruption with great skin irritation widespread on the body, disturbing sleep and perhaps accompanied by palpitation and pains in the heart, and/or constipation with abdominal distension.”1
• “Other parts of the skin affected by Tell. are the hair-roots, the breasts, the perineum and the anus.” [Clarke]
 Raeside, A proving of Tellurium; BHJ, October 1968.
Delusions, drawing, he were drawn forth and wafted quickly in the direction of his legs [1/1], as floating in air like a spirit, on going to sleep [1/1]. Fear of being touched on sore parts [1/1]. Neglecting everything .
Discharges, excoriating , fetid , offensive, like fish-brine , watery . Eruptions, lobes, vesicles, caused by discharge from ear [3/1].
Obstruction alternating with discharge [1H].
Great dryness of skin of face [1R].
Odour, garlicky .
Mucus, drawn from posterior nares, saltish, like fish brine [1H].
Sexual desire increased followed by sexual indifference [1/1].
Pain, dull, heart, on waking at night, > lying on back [H]; stitching, heart, extending to left scapula [1R], < lying on left side [1R]. Palpitation, when lying on back or right side [1R], with stitching pain in heart [1R], with tightness of chest [1R].
Sleeplessness from vertigo .
Smoking cigars [1H].
Odour, rank, during menses [2; Stram.].
Itching, in cold air , of spots which perspire [2/1].
* Repertory additions: [H] = Hering; [R] = Raeside.
Aversion: : Smoking.
Desire: : Apples; beer; bread, in evening [R]; fatty bacon [R]; salt [R].
Worse: : Rice [= vomiting].
* Repertory additions [Raeside].