Arsenicum album is a homeopathic remedy manufactured from the poisonous element arsenic. Homeopathic practitioners will tell you that homeopathic remedies have no side effects. Allopathic (traditional Western medicine) practitioners will tell you that homeopathic remedies have a placebo effect at best. Neither side is completely right, as there are some benefits and side effects to the use of arsenicum album.
Homeopathic medicine was tested and created by a German medical doctor, Samuel Hahnemann, in the late 18th century. This system departed from the leeches, purgative medicines, and bloodletting of the time and prescribed instead a system resembling today’s immunization practices. By giving patients a small dose of a substance that causes a certain negative symptom (i.e. poison ivy causing a rash) it will help the body to fight that symptom off. The homeopathic version, rhus toxicodendron, is not only listed as healing rashes, but every mental and physical side effect that would result from taking poison ivy at full strength. This is why homeopathic doctors are necessary for prescription, because a remedy will only be recommended if it heals several of the traits you are exhibiting, instead of just one like most allopathic medicine.
Arsenicum album (also called Ars. alb) has been used to treat digestive disorders accompanied by burning pains and dehydration. These would be the same symptoms caused by full strength arsenic. Other positive benefits of arsenicum would be healing anxiety and oversensitivity, food poisoning that includes vomiting, gastroenteritis from too much alcohol, and children suffering from a fever. This remedy, prepared from various metals and weakened to its diluted state with lactose, may also help asthma, mouth ulcers, anemia, dizziness, and fluid retention around the ankles. Homeopaths believe that those who need arsenicum feel chilly despite burning pain, want their heads to be cool but feel better generally in warmth, and feel cold to the touch despite feeling hot inside.
Side Effects of Arsenicum
There have been few studied side effects of arsenicum, but this may be because of a couple of factors. Allopathic practitioners are not willing to give much merit to homeopathic practitioners and vice versa. This leads to a difficulty in both proving benefits and detriments. There is a 2003 study in India that showed that an improperly prepared and dosed arsenicum homeopathic formula caused high arsenic levels in several patients. This is an isolated case, however, and there have been no further studies to corroborate its results.
Side Effects of Homeopathy
Homeopathic doctors often claim that there are no side effects for homeopathic medicine. However, this is false if patients take more than the recommended amount. Homeopathic remedies if taken too long and at too high doses can cause many side effects, depending on which remedies are taken. Arsenicum may cause the very symptoms that it is meant to treat like nausea, headaches, and chronic poisoning if it is taken improperly. This is similar to over-the-counter allopathic medicines, as taking more than the recommended dose may lead to side effects. The main difference is that while homeopathic remedies can also be purchased over the counter, different cases actually require different doses, which may require several switches in the appropriate dosage and remedy even in the same client. The availability of arsenicum album without a prescription can be dangerous if the remedy is abused and taken without a doctor’s advice.
Do not take homeopathic remedies without first consulting a homeopathic practitioner. Do not take several remedies at the same time as that is often discouraged in homeopathic treatment. Take the recommended dose only and immediately report any changes in condition to your doctor.
References and ResourcesArsenicum (Homeopathy)
Homeopathy: An A to Z Home Handbook; Alan Schmukler; 2006
Study on Toxicity