Causticum: The Remedy of the Idealist



Causticum: Doctrine of Signatures
Mental and Emotional Symptoms
Physical Symptomology
The Relationship between Kali (Potassium), Calcarea and Sulphur



Hahnemann created Causticum by distilling Calcium Hydroxide and Potassium Sulfate, thus creating a unique remedy that has elements of Calcarea, Kali Carbonicum and Sulphur. The symptoms of the Causticum type are unusual, and when they are in a state of dis-ease, they may manifest traits such as misplaced idealism and empathy for causes and people. While there is nothing wrong with either of those in a healthy individual who is able to keep matters in perspective, the pathology may lead to obsessive behaviors.

This remedy is suitable for people who are extremely idealistic, sensitive and rigid in their outlook. They may suffer from exhaustion to the point of being unable to talk, the memory starts to fail and they become irritated and peevish. The potassium component of the remedy has an effect on the neuromuscular system, making it a useful remedy for neuralgic pains, stiffness and cramps. A great remedy for the elderly who suffer from lapses in memory, absent-mindedness and hypersensitivity.

Causticum is a unique remedy but contains elements of its original components: Calcium Hydroxide and Postassium Sulphate. The effects and distinguishing characteristics of these are discussed to help differentiate between the remedies.

Causticum: Doctrine of Signatures

The amalgamation of the slaked lime and bisulfate of potash is Hahnemann’s most interesting compound remedy. It produces a burning taste on the back of the tongue and it smells like the lye obtained from potash. Its freezing point is below that of water. Slaked lime is used extensively in the making of plaster and cement. The caustic element of the remedy, namely its ability to burn, indicates that it is a major remedy for serious burns that cause blistering.


Causticum is prepared by distilling freshly burned lime, potassium bisulfate and water. The clear distillate is used.

Mental and Emotional Symptoms

Now, if we consider the above information about the freezing point of the remedy and the fact that is used in cement, which sets hard and solid; there is a link in the nature of the remedy and the type of person who would benefit from Causticum in a relatively loose, superficial way.


The Causticum individual is a chilly person who is adversely affected by getting wet, by draughts, and especially by clear, cold, dry weather. They feel much better in mild, wet weather.  At the freezing point of the distillate it becomes inert from the point of view that it no longer flows, so we can see that this very cold weather and its effect on the Causticum individual is one that is inimical to its nature. They are worse for getting wet…and cement is the reaction of quick lime with water. And like cement, they tend to be rigid in their thinking. This rigidity is a key component of their pathology. The tend to be stiff, unbendable, immovable, not only physically, but mentally and emotionally as well.


Water is also represented in the Causticum picture as tears. They are tearful, oversensitive, sympathetic people.  They are intensely sensitive to the suffering in others, much like Calcarea and Phosphorous. The Causticum individual is more deeply affected by suffering and is more likely to actually do something about it, for they are idealists, often fanatical about causes and bringing about change. He fights for causes close to his heart, and because he is so sensitive, and sympathetic. He has real issues with authority. They tend become politically involved and are capable of being terrorists to fight for what they perceive to be justice.


Physical Symptomology

They tend to react strongly to the news, often getting so worked up that they cannot watch it. He is deeply afflicted by grief; it pervades his being and eventually, in the Causticum pathological state, we find paralysis of many types. This paralysis comes on gradually, after many repeated griefs, long-suffering and deep sorrow.


The paralysis may take the form of

·        stuttering and spoonerizing  It is as if a mental paralysis occurs in the speech area of the brain, but once he has recovered from his grief or shock, his speech will return to normal.

·        enuresis, especially in children in the first few hours of sleep, also involuntary passing of urine when coughing or sneezing

·        chorea, even at night, especially the right side of the face and the tongue

·        drooping eyelids, facial paralysis

·        all the limbs may be affected, and this is accompanied by great lassitude, and fatigue

·        menses occurs only during the day, and stops at night, it may cease on lying down

·        disturbing functional activity of the brain and spinal nerves, resulting in paralysis


 This relaxation of the muscles, the indescribable fatigue and heaviness of the body is frequently accompanied by tremulousness, quivering, jerking and twitching of muscles.


They are full of anxiety, and may fear the future, and they may suffer from a variety of disturbing delusions. One of the most notable fears of Causticum is that something bad is going to happen.  This feeling of foreboding is a result of their extreme sensitivity and also their deep love of family, fearing that something will happen to them. Their sensitivity also makes them prone to being easily offended and quarrelsome and sulky. They tend to brood over things that upset them, replaying events over and over again in their minds.


Hysteria, which increases gradually, is another feature of the disturbed Causticum. This may be when a woman loses control and says foolish things, when her nervous system has become oversensitive to noise, touch, excitement, anything out of the ordinary.


Apart from the gradual paralysis that sets in after a long period of suffering, other key symptoms of Causticum are inflamed mucus membranes, which often cause a troublesome cough as they are unable to expectorate the viscous mucus, which then slides down the back of the throat. They may suffer from hoarseness and a raw pain in the chest and are worse after a cold, dry wind and are much better for warmth, especially a warm, moist atmosphere. Cold wind can actually cause facial paralysis that comes a day or so after exposure, unlike Aconite, which develops the symptoms almost immediately.


The skin symptoms in Causticum include the following:

·        sub acute and chronic eruptions which are similar to blisters from burns

·        large warts which exude moisture and which tend to bleed easily

·        varicose and fistulous ulcers

·        warts, which tend to be large and horny, and which are typically located on the ends of the fingers, the face or the nose.

·        the nipples may be cracked and sore, and surrounded by herpes

·        hemorrhoids, which may be raw and extremely painful, worse for walking, from straining the vocal chords



Causticums tend to be dark-haired people, with dark eyes, and a generally morose disposition. They suffer from dull, tearing pain in their hands and arms, and a tearing feeling in their joints. They often have weak ankles and suffer from contracted tendons, thus making walking very difficult and painful. Another symptoms they suffer from is “restless legs” at night.


They are very fond of salt and smoked meats. They have an aversion to sweets and they do not like water, especially cold water but enjoy various other liquid beverages such as beer.


In their end stage pathology they begin to lose their memory and a gradual decline ensues. They have the foreboding that something bad is going to happen and their short-term memory is dysfunctional; they can, however, remember things that happened well into the past, thus making Causticum a remedy suitable for old age and senility.

The Relationship between Kali (Potassium), Calcarea and Sulphur


Potassium Carbonate is a white crystalline substance, and was originally obtained from wood, plant and seaweed ashes. It was the major potassium compound in commerce before potassium chloride was obtained from the salt mines in Germany in the 1860’s. It is too caustic to be administered internally, but was used as a lotion for eczema and urticaria. The homeopathic remedy is prepared from potassium carbonate by trituration.


Potassium itself is also an essential element of the cells of the body, found mainly inside the cells. 


The Kali Carb type is someone who would prefer to be alone, but because he is dependent on others, he feels resentful about his need for their company.  They are extremely conventional, and are very concerned about doing the “right thing” They fear change and will resist anything that is unproven or unfamiliar. They tend to be sticklers for rules and regulations, mostly because they are not very confident. By adhering to the rules they are able to preserve their safety; it is this, rather than strongly held conviction that dictates their behavior. This trait is similar to the manner in which Causticum is dedicated to the truth, however, even the introverted Causticums retain a certain openness and idealism when compared to other Kalis.

Kali Carbonicum seems to be a very vexatious, wearisome person. He is difficult to get to know, and may seem hard to like. He seems very serious and quite inflexible, lack spontaneity, as if the life force has been restricted in some way. Yet, he may have unconventional interests that he will pursue methodically and sensibly, but without the passion of say, Sulphur.


Kali salts are great remedies for the skeleton, and the Kali mind is much like a skeleton: stiff, rigid, dry and structured. They live in and through the intellect, logically, unemotionally and unimaginatively. They make great scientist and bank managers, Dr. Spocks (of Star Trek) or John Majors… they are “gray” people who seldom reveal any great enthusiasm, dash or verve. They can, however, be counted upon to do what is right, and they are dependable and trustworthy.


The difference between Causticum and Kali Carb is that although the latter also displays some mental rigidity, especially as far as his ideals are concerned, he is nonetheless more open and lacks the social stiffness of the Kali type. Causticum is altogether less formal and rigid. Whereas Causticum suffers from a gradual paralysis as his pathology deepens, Kali tends to have no definitive symptom to identify it. Kali complaints do, however, manifest themselves with great regularity and the time aggravations are quite marked. The early morning hours are particularly difficult times when all suffering seems to be greater. (3 to 4 a.m.)


Another feature that is typical of Kali is that they suffer from stitching pains. They suffer greatly from backache, which tend to be a constant pain of such intensity that the patient feels as if the back and the legs will collapse The pain may extend into the hips and the gluteal muscles and is accompanied by a characteristic sweat. This feature is unique to Kali Carb.


Another “favorite” locality for pain is the lower right chest, and the pain is likely to run right through to the back. The pain, again, is stitching, and the remedy is very useful in pneumonia and pleurisy.


Nash does point out that Kali carb is a great remedy for debility, a weakened condition of the nerves, making the patient very weak and extremely sensitive, so badly that he cannot bear to be touched, especially on the feet. There are also numerous stomach troubles, with flatulence, distention and fullness, even after eating only a little. This remedy may be used if Ferrum has been used incorrectly.


Causticums are people who are affected by cold, dry weather, who suffer from weakness which comes on in the evenings, and who suffer from burning pains. Kali’s complaints are also aggravated by cold, dry weather and draughts; they also suffer from weakness, but their pains are characteristically of a stitching nature. Both are chilly types who are better for warmth, and weakness is common to both.




Calcarea is mostly found in limestone, which was formed from the shells of sea creatures. Calcium is also one of the most abundant minerals in our bodies.


Calcium Carbonate is used in plaster and cement, as well as having numerous other uses (e.g. to build tarred roads). The homeopathic remedy is prepared from the calcium layer between the interior and exterior surfaces of oyster shells. It is thus a substance that is hidden from view, one has to break the shell to obtain it, and it is ground into a powder.


An oyster is an inert creature that does not move much except to open and close its shell in order to assimilate food. It is a flabby, limp, soft, slimy thing, protected by its outer casing.


The typical Calc patient is much like an oyster: she is without strength, she is weak, flabby, and pale, and she prefers not to be actively busy; resists change and is content to live a placid, unchallenging life. She may have intellectual pursuits, but they tend to be focused on superficial acquisition, rather than deep intellectual study. The common factor between Calcarea and Kali Carbonicum is their down-to-earth natures. They tend to worry over every little thing; Calcarea is perhaps less of a worrywart because she is less rigid in manner and outlook.


Sulphur is also a type who loves to collect facts and knowledge, much like Calc, but Sulphur tends to theorize and is more opinionated, whereas Kali, who is similar to Sulphur in this area, tends to be drier, and less enthusiastic about his knowledge. Kali is the dry professor, and Sulph the irascible, effervescent, passionate type.


Calc’s outstanding mental/emotional symptoms are

·        anxiety

·        aversion to labor

·        confusion

·        despair of getting well

·        fearful (of death; in the evening)

·        fears that something dreadful will happen  (also seen in Causticum)

·        melancholic

·        sluggish

·        stubborn

·        tearful


Calcarea is a remedy for bones problems, such as 

1.     tardy development of the bony tissues

2.     curvature  of the spine and the long bones

3.     deformed and crooked extremities

4.     softening of the bones

5.     fontanels which are slow to close 


They are pale and flabby, their bones have no strength, and they are weak and weary. Their weakness is due to their undeveloped, weak muscles whereas Causticum is weak because of a paralysis that ensues after prolonged grief.


The physical paralysis that is seen in Causticum is present in the mind symptoms of Calcarea.  It is as if their thoughts vanish into thin air; brain paralysis seems to occur and they are unable to think clearly or to remember anything.


Causticum does, however, suffer the same fate in its end stage pathology.




Sulphur is a substance that occurs naturally as a result of volcanic activity, and it also occurs as an essential chemical constituent in all living tissue. It has been used for at least 2 000 years to treat skin disorders. It occurs in nature as a crystalline solid from which the remedy is prepared.


Sulphur seems, in many ways, to mirror aspects of Causticum, but at closer scrutiny, it seems as if these aspects are two opposing poles of the spectrum.


Sulphur is a remedy that causes the body to expel all illness to the surface, mainly the skin, of the body. This remedy plumbs the depths of the Sulphur ego and allows the individual to open up to externalize his symptoms through the skin.


These individuals are characteristically self-centered, impatient, irritable and very critical. They are academics who have lots of ideas but cannot put them into practice themselves, but will have theories on how to do it better. They are untidy, and may look unwashed; they are also lazy, preferring to lean on something when they are standing. They would prefer not to work if they can help it. This does not come from a feeling of debility or a weakness such as in Causticum or in Kali, but rather from an innate drive to be as comfortable as possible.


Sulphur will philosophize about his ideals, and Causticum will die for them, as Sulphur lacks the dedication to actualize his dreams; while Causticum is easily disillusioned when the world does not respond to his visionary ideas, Sulphur will brush off criticism and opposition, he will ignore indifference to his schemes and will readily come up with another idea in the next week. Sulphur seems to have an ability to survive grief more easily than Causticum, who will suffer deeply and profoundly. Causticum does not lack confidence in himself, and can be as passionate about his ideals as Sulphur, but he is a much more sensitive soul, and he is far less egotistical than Sulphur.


Causticum thus has more rigidity, more sensitivity and more empathy than Sulphur, who shares many of these traits but in a more superficial, sloppy manner. Both are characterized by a strong intellect, but the manner in which it is applied, differs vastly. Sulphur’s pathology arises because he does not put his ideas into practice, and the further away they are from realizing their ambitions, the sicker they become.


 It is important to be able to differentiate between these remedies since they do share common elements. It is essential to take a full history of the client and to be get to the essence of the disturbance, to make sure that the external manifestations of the client as well as the mental, emotional and modalities as all taken into account before making a remedy choice.








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Nash.E.B. Leaders in Homeopathic Therapeutics. 1998. Jain. New Delhi.


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