Nancy Gahles, DC, CCH, RSHom(NA) examines arsenic poisoning and the phenomenon of proving.

by Nancy Gahles, DC, CCH, RSHom(NA)

“Could you be poisoning your family?” The recent article in was reminiscent of Frank Capra’s classic comedy wherein two sweet, old spinster sisters serve elderberry wine spiked with arsenic to unsuspecting bachelors in order that they may die with a smile on their face.

“Arsenic on your dinner plate?” Granted, this is not the impulsive desire to kill with a poison that the Brewster sisters suffered from, nonetheless, the article points out that there are dangerous levels of arsenic in our fruits, vegetables and grains from pesticides; in our drinking water, and in our poultry from arsenic based commercial feed. Unwittingly, we may be poisoning our loved ones in a more insidious way and we certainly don’t intend for them to die, even with a smile on their faces.

Ingestion of small amounts of arsenic, especially when diluted in high concentrations of water, may serve to produce symptoms of arsenic poisoning in the general population. In the science of homeopathic medicine, this phenomenon is called a proving. That means that if a healthy person is given a small amount of a poison on a repeated basis, she may develop the symptoms of that poison. Recordings of drug provings are the basis of homeopathic material medicas. These are the textbooks that homeopaths use to reference all the existing homeopathic drug data in order to prescribe a remedy on the basis of one of its principle laws,  Similia Similibus, the Law of Similars. As Dr. Samuel Hahnemann described in his Organon of the Medical Art,” For curing, homeopathy avails itself only of those medicines whose capacity to (dynamically) alter and differently tune the condition it exactly knows and then it searches out the one medicine whose condition-altering powers (medicinal disease) are in a position to lift the natural disease through similarity ( similia similibus).

As a homeopath, my senses were stimulated to react when I read about the numerous vehicles of transmission of arsenic in our environment. Ingesting it through our foods via pesticide laden produce is one area. Drinking it in our water is another way that has become acceptable since 2001 when the allowance for arsenic levels in the water supply was reduced from 50ppb to 10ppb.

While reading, I was reminded of the 1990’s when I was raising my children and there were warnings about arsenic treated wood in playground equipment. The Consumer Product Safety Commission had tested 7 wooden playgrounds purchased from “major US manufacturers” and found arsenic leaking from the wood.  Naturally, I ran right out and bought the plastic playground sets. Who knew about phthalates back then? But I was horrified at the thought of my children innocently inhaling arsenic fumes or having it seep into the pores of their tender skin while they happily played on the slides with their friends.

 The NaturalNews article refers to the antibiotic Roxarsone which is an arsenic based substance used in commercial chicken feed. My fears were not allayed by the comment therein from the spokesperson for the National Chicken Council, Richard Lobb, who said “There simply does not appear to be a human health problem of any kind resulting from the use of arsenicals in poultry production.”

So what would a human health problem resulting from arsenic look like? As a homeopath, I immediately verified the restless inner knowing that had been stirred up by this article.  A grand keynote of arsenic poisoning is RESTLESSNESS. People who are poisoned with arsenic are so restless that it pervades every area of their beings. They are restless in their bodies, which urges them to continued movement and they must pace and change from place to place. I thought of all the hyperactive children. What percentage of them, if any, does this pertain to? Has it been considered?

Arsenic poisoning causes great agitation of the mind as well and ranges from irritability to anger to debilitating anguish. Anguish and anxieties that cause sleep disturbances, compulsive disorders, confusion of mind and concentration difficulties are all part of the arsenic picture. I thought of all the children medicated for obsessive compulsive disorders (OCD) or those who fall just under the diagnostic criteria. There are the children who suffer with anxieties of anticipation and constant, tormenting thoughts of worry causing nausea and palpitations. Impulsive, mischievous children with the desire to hit, spit and those with more violent tendencies of rage can also be affected by arsenic and may be labeled as defiant and oppositional. Those with respiration difficulties may account for the alarming increase in the rate of asthma in our population. Arsenicum album is a noted remedy for asthma. Involuntary gestures and tics are another salient feature of those affected by arsenic. In my practice. I see more and more children with neurological deficits such as this.

By no means is poisoning selective. These same human health problems can be detected in adults. Arsenic poisoning can produce symptoms of depression, an often diagnosed condition that is highly medicated in our adult population. The neurological symptoms of restlessness are often seen in the extremities as weakness, stiffness, twitching and trembling. I believe there is a commercial for its acronym, RLS. There may even be a little song that goes with it to remind you of the analogous pharmaceutical cure. The sleeplessness of arsenic also has a correspondent commercial for a drug that warns you it might make you sleepwalk or unwittingly get up to drive your car at night or make yourself a meal.

The keynote of restlessness is pervasive and in older people it presents as a more degenerative picture. There may be forgetfulness, fixity and rigidness in mind as represented by fixed ideas and in the body as lameness. There may be indolence and apathy and an aversion to work. There may be oversensitivity to odors, light and noise on the physical plane and to pain and reprimands on the emotional plane. How many people consider themselves as having environmental allergies? They may well have!

Considering the fact that, at present, there is not even recognition of a problem with arsenic in human health, it may take years to rid ourselves of the environmental hazards it poses. There are ways to reduce overt consumption such as water filters, purchase of organic produce and free range chickens that are antibiotic free.

A simple route to take towards lessening the toxic burden of suspected arsenic poisoning is to assess the signs and symptoms and address them in a homeopathic way. Alerted as you now are to some of the signs of arsenic poisoning, it may behoove you to consult with a Certified Classical Homeopath.

Homeopathically prepared Arsenicum Album was the subject of a scientific study conducted in West Bengal and reported on in Scientific daily (Oct. 22, 2003). Research published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, suggested that Arsenicum Album reduces liver damage caused by Arsenic poisoning.  “In their search to find inexpensive treatments for arsenic poisoning that are easy to administer, effective in low doses and non-toxic, researchers from the University of Kalyani, West Bengal, discovered the homeopathic remedy Arsenicum Album yielded positive results in mice.”  The researchers wrote,” As supplying arsenic free drinking water cannot totally rule out the chances of arsenic contamination from other sources, the problem of eradicating arsenic cannot be addresses through such effort alone.  The potentized homeopathic drug Arsenicum Album not only has the ability to help remove the arsenic from the body, but these drugs in microdoses appear to detoxify the ill effects produced by arsenic in mice.”

In the modern tale of Arsenic and Old Lace, there is a cure for the poison. I love a happy ending!



2. Science Daily, Oct.22,2003.

3. Biomed Central (2003, Oct.22) Arsenic Remedy for Arsenic Poisoning? Homeopathic Solution for a Global Catastrophe.

4. Ameliorating Effect of microdoses of a potentized homeopathic drug, Arsenicum Album, on arsenic-induced toxicity in mice. P Mallick, J. Chakrabati, ( mallick), B. Guhaa, AR Khuda-Bulchsh, BMC Complementary and Alternative Med., 2003.

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To hear more about this topic first-hand, attend Plenary Panel: Environmental Health Update at the 2009 Integrative Healthcare Symposium. Integrative Practitioner members get 15% off Symposium registration when they enter discount code7470.