Alumina – Homeopathic Remedy – Materia Medica Viva George Vithoulkas
Aluminum oxydatum, Argilla pura.
English: Oxide of aluminium, common clay
French: Alun, Argile
German: Thonerde, Alaunerde
Aluminum is one of the most abundant metals on earth, being found in air, water and soil. It is used in the manufacture of abrasives, smelting and in antacids. In olden times it was confounded with lime and silica, but it has been recognized now as an oxide of aluminum [Al2O3]. After silica, aluminum is one of the most widely disseminated substances in nature and is found almost pure in the sapphire, corundum and adamantine spar.
It is extracted from alum, which is a supersulphate of alumina and potassa or ammonia, by pouring an excess of ammonia into a slightly concentrated solution of this salt; the precipitate which is formed, being carefully washed and dried, is pure alumina. Of this powder, take one grain [5 centigrammes], in order first to make three triturations with sugar of milk, prior to dissolving it and making the succeeding attenuations with alcohol.
The essential features
The Alumina case is one which is difficult to diagnose. Frequently, as one takes a homeopathic case history, one searches for positive symptoms on which to base a diagnosis. In Alumina however, perhaps because of a characteristic vagueness of the patient’s descriptions, this approach often will not yield the necessary information. Instead it will be needed to observe the whole patient, looking at the contextual background as well as the specific symptomatology that is provided. It can be said that the pathology of Alumina evolves from two different tendencies: confusion and retention. In the neurological system we find confusion of neural impulses resulting in incoordination, ataxia and finally paralysis. Alumina is one of our most useful remedies for deep neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis, myasthenia gravis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, tabes dorsalis, and even acute forms of paralysis like Guillain-Barré syndrome. In the mental sphere one almost invariably finds mental haziness and dullness of thinking. As the mental pathology progresses the confusion becomes so profound that it leads to imbecility or near psychotic states.
The Alumina tendency for retention is pervasive; both expressiveness and normal eliminative processes seem to be held back. The patient gives the impression of being very closed and self-protective. He seems unwilling or often unable to bring forth his thoughts and emotions. Even in his sexual life the release of orgasm is delayed or completely absent. On the physical plane one sees that normal secretions such as the menses are retained or scanty. Perspiration and other lubricating secretions are also scanty, giving rise to the great dryness of the mucous membranes and the skin which is so characteristic of Alumina. Of course, Alumina is also famous for severe constipation without urging. Thus, one finds the same theme repeated in all the normal outlets of the organism — retention and difficulty in moving forward, even to the point of paralysis. It is as if the entire system were moving in slow motion.
The pathology of this remedy seems to concentrate mostly on the mental and physical levels, with the emotions less affected. On the mental level the Alumina patient almost invariably displays marked dullness and slow comprehension. During the interview the patient gives information very slowly and in vague, hazy terms. Of course, as in all remedies, one finds a spectrum of cases ranging from intellectuals to more unsophisticated, primitive type people. Patients at either extreme will present themselves quite differently. The intellectual will come to the office with carefully prepared notes. He has realized that he has difficulty in retrieving the information he needs from his memory, so he comes with everything written down. He gives this information very slowly, as if being very careful to be exact. However, even as he describes his symptoms he does not seem to be really involved with the interview. He plods along, speaking in a colorless, monotonous voice, giving just minimal answers without elaborating, even to the point of monosyllabic replies. The homeopathic practitioner may well feel like reaching across his desk and shaking this patient just to provoke some kind of interaction. Even if the interviewer “zeroes in” on the patient and exactly describes his condition, the patient may rather blandly respond, “Yes, that’s correct.” He may appear slightly perplexed at the practitioner’s comprehension of him, but he shows none of the excitement or relief normally expressed by a patient who finds that he has been understood so completely.
At the other end of the spectrum, the unsophisticated or primitive type patient demonstrates an even more extreme picture. The effort to describe himself can visibly entail an almost agonizing struggle. He seems powerless to describe what he feels. Despite the probing and questioning of the interviewer, the conversation may resemble the following:
Interviewer: “Can you tell me how you feel?”
Patient: “Umm… ahh… hmmm… I…. I don’t feel well.”
Interviewer: “Are you feeling anxious?”
Patient: “I… umm… I think…………. umm…… yes.” (One may wonder from such a response whether the answer is affirmative or not.) Interviewer: “Are you afraid? You feel afraid?”
Patient: “Ahh…..afraid? Ummm………..umm…..I think so…….I feel……. umm…. I don’t feel well.”
(and so on.)
Meanwhile, looking at the patient’s face one may observe a deep struggle and a sense of agony. He struggles to find words to describe himself, or even more precisely, he struggles to comprehend what has happened to him. He rubs his forehead, straining to answer even the simplest question (as if his mind were constipated). Even this struggle, though, is not vividly expressed. Rather it seems like the effort one makes in trying to wake up from an anxious dream — a nebulous, inscrutable type of struggle. At this point one must mention that the imagination of Alumina seems extremely restricted, and therefore he has difficulty in making decisions, perceiving things in their real dimension, and comprehending abstract or complicated ideas. He sits there silently trying hard to comprehend what everyone is talking about, wearing an expression, to the observing eye, of constant bewilderment. His associative capacities are minimized or lost, his judgement crippled.
Because of this mental slowness the Alumina patient seems to need a slow, consistent lifestyle. He cannot tolerate pressure, especially time pressure. If allowed to work at a slow, familiar pace, the Alumina patient can be a diligent, competent worker, but he must do things at his own pace and according to an established routine. If such a person is rushed, for instance, by someone who hurriedly says, “We have to leave here in three minutes!”, a great commotion will follow. He loses all sense of organization and hurriedly rushes about, almost hysterically frantic. Even though he may be physically and mentally capable of accomplishing all of the necessary tasks within fifteen minutes, the sense of being pressured causes him to lose any ability of functioning effectively. He becomes immobilized and confused, almost paralyzed. It is a slow competence that, if pushed to a faster pace, completely disintegrates. An interesting consequence of the mental slowness and confusion of Alumina is a distorted time sense — time may seem to pass too slowly (Medorrhinum ).
The patient often recognizes his mental inefficiency. He may work hard to overcome his weakness by keeping notes and performing tasks in an organized, systematic manner; however, the apprehension that he may not finish things on time remains. It is as if the patient moves at a slower rhythm than the rest of the world. With the slightest provocation he feels rushed. He may know certain information perfectly well, but if one were to say, “Quick, tell me about this matter!” he would become confused and unable to think clearly. From the above it is easily understood that the Alumina patient does not like surprises or excitement. He may tend to be rather antisocial, preferring small gatherings or one-on-one interactions. Especially in the morning upon awakening there may be a great aversion to conversing. Interestingly, Alumina women may be more open and outgoing during the menstrual period, as if the flow of their emotions parallels their menstrual flow.
As a rule the Alumina individual is self-protective. He withholds his feelings until he is certain that his affection is reciprocated. He represses his anger and may later redirect it toward family members. Again one sees the idea of retention. Often an Alumina patient will be encountered who lives excessively in his imagination. He will have all sorts of daydreams and fantasies, but he tends to keep them to himself. Sometimes his mind will get stuck on one theme, and he will dwell repeatedly on that thought. His mind is weak, and he makes silly, stupid comments. At other times he becomes argumentative, bringing up foolish objections during a discussion.
One can be tempted to shake one’s head in disbelief at some of these foolish statements.
The mental deterioration occurs in stages. At the beginning the patient merely exhibits some slowness of thinking. Then he seems to lose his expressiveness, developing the tendency for retention. His mind fatigues very easily, and it becomes a great effort to think at all. The patient especially becomes confused when he attempts to read; the mind becomes dull and does not absorb the material. At this stage he answers questions somewhat vaguely, rubbing his forehead and thinking a long time to find an answer. When a case has evolved this far, the prescriber will have considerable difficulty making the diagnosis. Frequently the homeopathic practitioner will be so preoccupied listening for specific symptoms that he will fail to notice how this patient must hesitate and puzzle before he can manage making even a simple observation, such as whether he is warm or chilly, etc.
At this stage the patient notices that something is wrong with his mental functioning: “I have a fear and an anxiety that I won’t do what I want myself to do”….or perhaps, “I am not who I think I am.” The latter phrase is illustrative of a peculiar feeling of unreality, especially about the patient’s sense of his own identity, that can accompany the Alumina confusion. The patient may say that when she talks, she thinks that someone else is talking, or, even more strangely, the patient may say that she cannot hear except through the ears of someone else. “When he hears or states something, he has the feeling as though some other person
has said or seen it or as though he was placed in another person and could see only through them.” Such information will not be volunteered; it must be elicited by direct questioning once one suspects an Alumina case.
As a consequence of his developing confusion, the Alumina patient can come to feel quite insecure about his mental capabilites, suspecting, at times somewhat fearfully, that he may be going insane. This insecurity may lead to dependency on other people. His developing uncertainty and irresolution compel him to cling dependently to some trusted person (a parent, spouse, etc.). As the mental deterioration continues, the mind becomes increasingly indolent such that eventually almost all reasoning power may be lost. Alumina is listed prominently in the Repertory under the rubric “Prostration of mind.” Frequently this prostration in women is worse after the menses. The end stage of Alumina corresponds to imbecility or what we today see so frequently — Alzheimer’s disease. It is one of our most frequently used remedies for senility (Argentum nitricum, Baryta carbonica, Plumbum, Secale ).
Even though the emotional level is less affected in Alumina than the mental and physical levels, significant emotional pathology can be encountered. The Alumina patient often develops great anxiety, most frequently in the morning on waking. He may awaken with a feeling that something terrible is about to happen. There is a fear and anguish that the patient himself cannot explain. Frequently the patient may awaken with this anguish in the morning, especially at 4 AM. As the morning passes the anxiety subsides, and by evening it is markedly ameliorated. Many times he may experience feelings of guilt that bring about a kind of indescribable anxiety, but all the same these feelings are described or defined with great difficulty on the part of the patient (Arsenicum album, Aurum, Chelidonium, Digitalis, Psorinum, Sulphur ).
Alumina can have very definite fears and phobias. Perhaps the most striking of these is a fear of knives or pointed things (Ars., Chin., Hyos., Lyss., Sil., Spig.). The Alumina fear is different from the fear of small pointed things seen in Spigelia and Silicea; it is, rather, a fear of, or at times a repulsion for, large knives. The disturbing idea is that the object is potentially lethal. Sometimes the patient has the thought, “Someone could be hurt with that instrument.” However, this symptom of Alumina is often not so clearly presented. There may simply be revulsion when looking at the instrument, an instinctive dislike. At other times there can be momentary impulses to use the knife or images flashing in the patient’s mind of the instrument being used to hurt someone else or himself. Thus, there is a gamut of unformulated fears and impulses concerning knives and pointed instruments.
Another phobia is fear on seeing blood (Nux m.). Alumina can also produce a great fear of cockroaches. The fear of insanity is quite strong, but there may also be a fear of disease in general which causes the patient to travel from doctor to doctor. A fear that she may get epileptic fits may be seen (Arg-n., Merc. ). Fear of evil spirits (Calc-c., Chin-s., Manc., Psor., Phos. ); this is the only fear that may come at dusk, when darkness comes (Graph., Sulph. ). Such fears seem to come mostly in the morning when the mind seems to be sluggish, weak, and non-functional.
At some point the patient seems to arrive at the vague realization that there is something seriously wrong with his system. Looking for an answer, he visits several doctors. When he sees that no one seems to understand what is wrong with him, he despairs that he may never recover. The patient thus progresses into depression, even to the point of having suicidal impulses, especially on seeing a knife (Merc.). It is rather an impulse than a logical decision stemming from long and tedious suffering. He logically rejects the idea of killing himself, but as soon as he sees the knife the impulse comes automatically. However, imagining himself wounded and bloody is an idea abhorrent to him.
The Alumina depression can be described as a “gloominess;” there is no light. The patient complains to the doctor, but not in a burdensome way. He does not express his despair to the doctor; instead it is incumbent upon the doctor to see, to observe the despair in the demeanor of the patient. His disease has slowly progressed and has become so deeply ingrained that he sees no possibility of recovery. He wants to be alone, undisturbed by people; his inability to cope with, to process the sensory stimulation underlies this aversion to company. A feeling of unreality prevails, and despairing, he resigns himself to his condition.
From this description of the mental and emotional spheres, we proceed to a discussion of the generalities and the specific complaints of Alumina in each organ system.
Alumina has a general aggravation in the morning upon waking. This aggravation may take the form of anxiety, as previously mentioned, or it may consist of irritability, aversion to company, sadness or confusion. There is an amelioration in the evening and night; there may also be an amelioration or aggravation at 4 PM or from 4 to 8 PM, as in Lycopodium. Alumina patients are generally warm, and there is often an aggravation from heat or from the heat of the bed. (Some cases can be aggravated from cold.) This warm-bloodedness, together with the marked dryness of the skin, explains the amelioration from snow that can be seen in Alumina. Alumina is one of the driest remedies in all of the Materia Medica, which explains the aggravation from dry weather of this remedy. There can also be an aggravation from both walking and talking. On the other hand, there is a general amelioration from eating. There is also an amelioration from lying down and a strong desire to lie down. Alumina can display a marked periodicity with symptoms recurring on alternate days; the intervals can be longer however.
Alumina suffers lassitude from talking (Calc-p., Stann., Sulph.) and from coition, strenuous exertion for Alumina. Worse during full and new moon. Intolerance to starches, especially potatoes, and a general aggravation from salt, pepper, wine, and vinegar.
Alumina states can sometimes follow such causative factors as: a long history of allopathic drug treatment, long use of aluminium utensils, intense anger, a cerebrovascular accident (stroke), and extended over-exertion of the mind. The time required to witness positive results of homeopathic prescribing in Alumina patients can be prolonged (Calc. p., Sil. ).
Alumina can produce a true vertigo in which objects whirl around; it can also produce a sense of faintness, especially from standing (Bry, Dig , Nux m, Sulph, Zinc ) and also from talking, and from opening and closing the eyes.
Thus, Alumina can be seen in cases of compromised proprioception causing a positive Rhomberg’s sign — a tendency to fall when standing with the eyes closed. (Alumina is indicated in neurological disorders of the peripheral nerves and posterior columns of the spinal cord.) Vertigo in old, weak and fragile people, with stiffness of the neck.
Alumina has periodical headaches, especially headaches every other day. The headaches frequently occur from 10 AM until 2 PM. The pain is aggravated from walking and by talking. The symptoms are ameliorated when the patient lies down.
Headache in forehead as if a hat is pressing hard against it.
Headache after an upper respiratory infection.
Headache, as if one is pulled by the hair.
Frontal sinusitis coming after a cold, when a thick, crusty discharge from the nose is suppressed.
Alumina also produces falling of the hair. There can be great itching of the scalp with numbness, but without eruptions. As in all of the skin conditions, the itching drives the patient to scratch until the skin bleeds and then forms crusts.
Falling of the eyelashes.
There is dryness of the eyes (Acon., Ars., Bell., Lyc., Mez., Nux m., Op., Puls., Sulph.,Verat., Zinc ), as well as inflammation of the conjunctiva. Alumina produces a thickening of the eyelids (Arg-m., Arg-n., Merc., Tell. ) and also a paralysis of the lids. Chalazion.
Granular formations on the margin of the eyelids.
Inflammation of the conjunctiva.
Sees a yellow halo around lights; white stars before the eyes with vertigo. Dimness of vision as if in a fog. Weak and changeable vision. W eak muscles of the eyeball.
Strabismus in teething children.
Diplopia looking sideways.
Eyes feel cold.
The symptoms of the ears are rather sparse. In some cases a purulent otorrhea is encountered, also tinnitus. One ear hot and red.
Noises in the ears on swallowing.
Alumina is one of the main remedies for frequently recurring colds. This tendency seems to be due to sluggish neural and circulatory reaction in the mucous membranes of the nasopharynx. In these infections the patient often responds to Bryonia, which is considered the acute complementary to Alumina. Also, catarrh in elderly patients with red discoloration of the tip of the nose is seen in Alumina.
A diminished sense of smell.
Cracks or fissures on the tip of the nose can be seen (Carb-an.).
Red discoloration of the nose (Chin,. Phos., Sulph. ).
Dryness of the mucous membranes with crusts or tenacious mucus in the nostrils.
Usually there is a strong whitish, pale color of the face, as if the skin resists the sun’s rays and does not tan easily. The skin is easily wrinkled with very fine lines, and the person looks tired and older than his chronological age.
There can be itching of the face, again without an eruption.
Sensation of tightness of the skin of the face or a sensation as if egg white had dried on the face.
Frequently lingering colds settle in the throat, indicating weakness of the immune system. The upper respiratory infections usually settle in the pharynx and larynx giving rise to a persistent dry, constant cough, worse in the morning after waking. These morning coughs are ameliorated only after finally expectorating a little tenacious sputum.
Great dryness of the pharynx, in the evening only (Bar-c., Zinc. ). There can be dryness of the esophagus with choking, which is worse in the morning on waking or worse with swallowing. As he swallows, the patient feels the esophagus throughout its whole length.
Partial paralysis of the esophagus such that the patient has to force down his food. Offensive ulcers with a yellow-brown discharge.
Tonsils hard, indurated.
Tickling in the throat as if skin is hanging there.
Sensation as if the uvula is elongated and touches the ticklish spot.
The voice becomes weak and feeble, as if from paralysis of the vocal cords.
Alumina has an unusual desire for dry food; such as, dry rice, starch, etc.. This is all the more strange considering the general dryness of the Alumina constitution. Also, a desire for indigestible things, such as dirt, lime and
chalk, is seen. There may be an aversion to beer, meat and potatoes. One of the best confirmatory keynotes of Alumina is a marked aggravation from potatoes. Cold drinks and cold food may aggravate the patient while warm drinks ameliorate. There may also be an aggravation from wine, excess salt and pepper.
Nausea may occur from vertigo; nausea is especially prone to occur at 4 AM or upon waking in the morning. Nausea from standing is also found in Alumina. Bitter eructations and indigestion, especially after milk or potatoes.
As mentioned, Alumina is famous for constipation. Usually the rectum is totally passive and dry (Hep., Nux m., Sep.), and the patient sweats and strains in the effort to pass a stool, finally being forced to use his fingers to dig out the stool even though the stool is usually soft. Despite this effort the bowel movement is unsatisfactory. It is almost as if the rectum is paralyzed. Sometimes the stool is hard and knotty, like sheep dung.
One must be careful to note that although most cases of Alumina constipation are without urging, some cases manifest urging without effect. Often the Alumina patient can go as long as ten or fifteen days without stool. In some cases the movement is facilitated if the patient tries to evacuate during urination.
Also, there can be great dryness of the mucous membranes of the rectum. Alumina is indicated for constipation of pregnancy when accompanied by great dryness of the rectum.
Burning pain during stool (Ars., Con., Iris., Op., Sulph. ).
The same tendency for retention occurs in the urinary system. Often the stream of urine is feeble in the morning on waking. In some cases the patient must press for a long time before he can initiate urination.
Urinary frequency in the night or during menses can be seen.
Alumina can be indicated for painless, chronic urethral discharges of yellow color.
Genitalia – male
Alumina males can have either increased or diminished sexual desire. In some cases frequent sexual fantasies lead to masturbation. Alumina can cause relaxation of the genitalia and impotence, especially after sexual excesses.
Also, hypertrophy of the prostate is seen, accompanied by delayed urination. In these conditions one may see pain in the prostate from sneezing or from blowing the nose.
Involuntary emissions on straining for stool, especially when the organism has been weakened. Emissions during sleep. Hardness of the testes.
Genitalia – female
This patient may have great difficulty discussing her sexual life. She will usually say that her sex drive is “normal;” however, she may often have an active sexual imagination with but little expression of her desires. She likes to engage in foreplay but seldom allows herself to experience orgasm. As one patient stated, “I want the foreplay in slow motion but not the orgasm.”
There are scanty menses of a pale color, frequently lasting for only one day (Sepia ).
The patient may complain of an acrid leucorrhea with a yellow or white albuminous discharge which can be ropy, viscid.
Alumina patients often have prolapse of the uterus.
Great mental and physical exhaustion after menses (Carb-an., Cocc. ). Small ulcers of the vagina like aphthae or indurated ulcers.
Hardening or even scirrhus cancer of the entrance of the uterus.
One may see one group of symptoms relating to the sexual organs disappear after cessation of menses, only to be supplanted by another group of symptoms; such as, difficult digestion with sour eructations, flushes of heat to the face, redness of the tip of the nose, and a feeling of dyspnea. A tendency for alternation of symptoms in a periodical fashion is quite strong in Alumina.
Alumina produces an almost constant dry cough (Caust., Chin., Lyco., Rumx., Spong. ), worse in the morning on waking and worse from talking. Also, there can be urinary incontinence from coughing.
Vomiting from coughing.
There may be constriction of the heart, aggravated by eating.
In the back one finds a weakness in the lumbar region similar to that of Calcarea.
Also, there may be tearing pain in the lumbar region which is worse at night in bed. Burning pain along the spinal cord. Burning pains as if a hot iron were piercing the dorsal region, scapulae, and left superior angle of the scapula, ameliorated by massage. Sensation of bandages in different places in back and extremities.
As mentioned, Alumina is a very important remedy in paralysis of the extremities, as in hemiplegias or degenerative neurological conditions. There can be painful paralysis of the lower limbs.
Ataxia is a common pathological condition of Alumina.
In other cases the patient may merely complain of a sensation as if the limbs were paralyzed.
Multiple sclerosis cases when the disease steadily progresses toward paralysis without remission — a slow, steadily increasing paralysis.
Generally these conditions evolve slowly with, first, a sensation of heaviness and tingling, especially in the legs when sitting, later, incoordination or ataxic gait, and possibly a final progression to complete paralysis.
A variety of sensory disturbances is also seen. There can be delayed conduction of sensory neural impulses to the brain; hence, a delayed reaction to a pinprick can be seen (Cocc., Plb. ). There is sometimes numbness of the soles or heels. There can be tingling in both the upper and lower limbs. In the upper limbs one sees tingling in the hands and fingers and, especially, the left forearm, which is worse while sitting. Trembling of the limbs, especially of the knees. Lower limbs go to sleep while sitting.
Arthritic nodules. Coldness of the extremities, especially the back of the hands. Brittle nails.
The Alumina patient is often troubled by frequent waking from sleep at night, especially before menses in women. The sleep is filled with anxious dreams and often dreams of robbers (Mag-c., Nat-m. ). Dreams of being confused.
As mentioned previously, the sleep is unrefreshing, and the patient may wake with anxiety, fear, palpitation or irritability.
The fever pattern in Alumina is consistent with the weak reaction of the remedy and the tendency to retention. Alumina patients seldom produce high fever. Its fevers are of a lower grade with mild chills. Very little sweating occurs.
There is great dryness of the skin, and often fissures and cracks develop, especially in the winter. No sweating at all, even when very hot.
There can be many types of eruptions, but, most characteristically, the patient has itching without any eruption. It is as if, consistent with the theme of Alumina, the eruption is retained, not brought forth; the itching, however, can be quite intense, especially from the warmth of the bed. Often the patient is forced to scratch himself even to the point of bleeding before he finds relief. He may have scabs in certain areas as evidence of this habit.
Sometimes eruptions are seen which are consistent with the idea of dryness and hardness; e.g. , indurations, cracks, ulcerations that look dry, thickening of the skin which looks dry and withered.
Anxiety states, mental confusion, phobic states. Arteriosclerotic behavior. Effects of disappointments. Dementia. Alzheimer’s disease.
Diffused encephalomyelitis, benign myalgic encephalomyelitis, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Locomotor ataxia. Neurological conditions arising from arteriosclerosis. Paretic conditions.
Affections of the anus. Fissures. Constipation. Constipation of nursing infants. Constipation of pregnancy. Gastritis.
Dryness of eyes. Chalazion. Strabismus. Induration of lids.
Itching without eruption. Eczema. Fissures. Boils. Fistula. Indurations. Tetters, moist and itching. Lupus erythematosus.
Anger. Disappointments. Physical exertion. Long use of aluminium utensils. Long use of allopathic drugs.
Complementary to Bryonia and Ferrum.
Remedies that follow well: Argentum metallicum, Bryonia, Lachesis and Sulphur.
Antidotes: Bryonia, Ipecac, Camphor, Chamomilla, Coffee.
Inimical: Alcoholic drink, wine, tobacco, cold drink, cold food, milk, potatoes, salt, green vegetables, warm food.
From very low (3x]) to very high (CM) can be prescribed. In the Homeopathic Medical Center of Athens we usually prescribe from 12c upwards.