* Claims based on traditional homeopathic practice, not accepted medical evidence. Not FDA evaluated.

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Cell Salts History: 12 Therapeutic Allies

Cell Salts:12 Therapeutic Allies, Karen Allen CCH

In 1843 when Samuel Hahnemann passed away in Paris, there was a young court scribe in Oldenburg, Germany named Wilhelm Schuessler who aspired to become a physician. His family was not able to finance his ambitions, so he worked as a writer and translator. A clever fellow, he spoke, read and wrote six languages, and earned his living using them for others. His interest in medicine remained apparent; over time, he got into some trouble for his efforts to heal the sick without a physician's training.

He eventually began his formal study of medicine in Paris in 1852 at the age of 31, where he learned homeopathy. He continued his studies in Berlin and Prague. As he prepared to graduate from medical school, his lack of a completed undergraduate degree appeared as a road block, and he was required to complete 3 additional semesters of coursework before he could receive his medical degree. From 1858 onward, Schuessler returned to Oldenburg where he practiced as a homeopathic physician. He saw the value of homeopathy, but eventually found himself frustrated with the complexity of the analytical method and the increasing number of remedies. By the 1870s, he was searching for ways to simplify his work.

The timing and location of Schuessler's entry into the medical profession were key factors in his eventual development of the cell salts we use today. New physiological discoveries, especially about cellular biology, in the late nineteenth century were causing fundamental changes in understanding, and Germany was in the center of it all. Although Schuessler's name is the one associated with them now, the science emerging at that time surely led him in his considerations.

Cellular biology was emerging

Though the existence of cells had been known since the earliest microscopic observations in the late 1600s by Hooke and Leeuenhoek, it took more than a century to further develop cell theory. By 1838, Theodor Schwann had shown that yeast were tiny plant-like organisms, and examined tadpole cells. He leveraged the observations of his colleague, Matthias Schleiden, about the nuclei in plant cells to further define animal cells. The two of them co-founded cell theory.

Also in the 1850s, Dutch physician Jacob Moleschott proposed that emotion and thought had a physiological basis (not a popular concept at the time which forced his resignation from the University of Heidelberg). Moleschott further scandalized the academic authorities by advocating cremation. During the Greek and Roman empires, cremation was common, but by about 400 AD, Christian influences had shifted to burial of the dead. Cremation had become rare in Europe outside of circumstances of war or plague; in densely populated areas, outdoor pyres were impractical. In the 1873 World Exposition in Vienna, an Italian professor from Padua presented a model of a closed cremation chamber. Cremation societies were created in England and Germany. Another piece of the puzzle came from Gustav von Bunge, a nutritional physiologist who was finishing his degree in chemistry at the University of Dorpat in Estonia. Although located within the boundaries of Russia, this university was run by and for Germans living in Estonia. Crucial research was developed and published there, including the physiology of human metabolism by Freidrich Bidder and Carl Schmidt in 1852. This famous team were Gustav von Bunge's teachers, and guided his research. He became especially interested in sodium chloride and its metabolism. He also investigated iron and calcium as nutritional compounds. In 1874, von Bunge published a remarkable paper on dietary, nutritional and metabolic factors of sodium and potassium chloride, referencing the importance of salt in food and cultural habits of various peoples. He was exploring the interplay within the body of potassium and sodium. He also investigated the composition of blood and milk.

Biochemic principle

By the 1870s, Schuessler had become fascinated with the emerging science of cellular biology. Particularly the publications by Virchow and Moleschott began to change his understanding of disease. Gustav von Bunge's work directed him toward the mineral components most likely to be relevant in human nutrition. Schuessler began to evaluate the ashes from cremations, investigating the minerals that were not destroyed by the end of life. He found the same minerals in each collection of ash and theorized that these minerals were essential to life, and thus to health. He concluded that disease arises at the cellular level due to lack of minerals. Schuessler called this the biochemic principle, and proposed that these minerals taken as dilute medicines would be able to heal every sickness.

"My healing therapy balances disturbances which come about through agitation of inorganic substances in the human body, by means of similar substances. Homoeopathy reaches its purpose of healing indirectly through different substances.”

Wilhelm Schuessler made a remarkable contribution to homeopathy far beyond the cell salts through his introduction of these important mineral compounds to the materia medica. Once they were identified as cell salts, other homeopaths moved forward with potentizing and proving them. In 1880, Schuessler felt his method was developed fully enough to document in a text and he wrote Twelve Tissue Remedies. His 'satiation healing method' was not popular within the homeopathic community in Europe, though it was received quite well in the US. Constantine Hering published documentation of Schuessler's work after translating the 1873 initial report from German. This went through many republications before a more extensive book was prepared by Boericke and Dewey who noted how widely the concepts had been adopted:  Building on this concept, Dr. Rudolf Virchow published his conclusion that cells can only arise from other existing cells in 1858. His work demystified disease and connected it closely with cellular physiology:

  • "Disease is not something personal and special, but only a manifestation of life under modified conditions, operating according to the same laws as apply to the living body at all times...”
  • “Cellular pathology is not an end if one cannot see any alternation in the cell... Chemistry brings the clarification of living processes nearer than does anatomy. Each anatomical change must have been preceded by a chemical one.”
  • "The body is a cell state in which every cell is a citizen. Disease is merely the conflict of the citizens of the state brought about by the action of external forces.”

“Thus the present wide adoption of the Tissue Remedies in the treatment of disease may be seen to be the fruit of the seed sown on homoeopathic ground as early as 1832, but its development was slow until Schuessler gave it a wonderful impetus by bringing physiological and pathological facts to hear on his therapeutic procedure. The idea upon which the Biochemic method is based is the physiological fact that both the structure and vitality of the organs of the body are dependent upon certain necessary quantities and apportionment of its inorganic constituency, which are those that remain after combustion of the tissues — its ashes."

Is it a remedy...or a supplement?

Cell salts were developed to nourish and support tissues, and to address biochemical weaknesses. There was no attempt by Schuessler to prove any of the substances, or to develop 'like cures like' symptom pictures. It can be helpful to conceptualize the cell salts in a half way position between mineral supplements and homeopathic remedies. Each of the individual cell salt substances, such as ferrum phosphoricum, could be given to a client based on characteristic indicators as a remedy, or on physiological symptoms or lab results that suggest iron imbalances. We can think of it as 'both... and' rather than 'either... or'.

Cell Salts as an adjunct

When I sit at my desk in my office, I have a framed photo of Samuel Hahnemann that faces me. I like to think that he would be interested in the concepts of cell salts. I also trust that he would be led by the observable data in each situation as I consider therapeutic choices with clients.

Since Hahnemann died prior to the understanding of cellular nutrition and biology, he never had the opportunity to comment on Schuessler's work. In my opinion, a resourceful homeopath needs to be able to work effectively at the level of

    a cell or tissue (cell salts)
    an organ or body system (organ therapeutics)
    an acute or chronic state (lesional therapeutics and constitutional care)
    a family line (miasmatic aspects of the case)
    a community (genus epidemicus in communicable disease outbreaks)

I often find it helpful to use cell salts to support and nourish a client while the chronic remedy is continuing to unfold and do its work. I do not find that these interfere with the homeopathic therapeutics for the client. Consider these examples from my practice:

  • The anemic 48 year old female perimenopausal client with fibroids and hemorrhagic periods, getting relief from the homeopathic remedy Sabina to reduce the bleeding, is also instructed to take ferrum phos 6x cell salts 3-4 times daily to support her body as it restores the depletion from blood loss over the prior several months.
  • The 18 month old baby with eczema and constipation is responding well to lycopodium. As the eczema recedes and elimination normalizes, she begins cutting some new teeth. The mother is asked to give her calc phos 6x cell salts frequently to support the physiological burden of dentition.
  • The 26 year old athlete with a bone spur on his foot has been given rhus tox on chronic indications that match his overall state. His PT has advised him to get different shoes to remove the stress on his foot; he has now done this, but still has the bone spur that developed during the time when he had inappropriate footwear and stress on his foot. He has also been asked to take calc flour 6x cell salts 3-4 times daily to assist the body in breaking down and repairing the bone spur.
  • The 59 year old male over-stressed executive with a history of stomach ulcers and acid reflux has been taking Zantac prescribed by his physician for the past few months. In the consult interview, he notes that he is having painful cramps in his feet and legs at night, and comments on an article he read online about how Zantac depletes the body of magnesium. In addition to a chronic remedy to help his body manage stress and reduce symptoms, I also instruct him to take a daily multivitamin and mag phos 6x cell salts to support healthy magnesium levels and relieve night time muscle spasms.
  • A client calls to report that her 9 year old daughter has just been stung by a bee. She has given apis 30c from her home remedy kit and is wondering if there is anything else she can do. I tell her about Boericke's advice to set a tablet of nat mur 6x cell salt on any insect sting or bite, and then drip 1-2 drops of water on it and let it dissolve there, to relieve local pain, itching and swelling.
  • A 32 year old female client calls to say that she had the flu 2 weeks ago. She was very sick with vomiting and diarrhea for 2-3 days, and then had a few days of muscle aches and fever. After that the symptoms went away, but her usual level of energy has not returned at all. She feels draggy and has unclear thinking. I ask her to take kali phos 6x cell salts hourly while awake for a few days and then check back.
  • A 21 year old college student has just come back from 4 months of backpacking, and reports that she had several episodes of diarrhea and gut pain on her trip, and after returning was prescribed the medication Metronidazole for giardia. She no longer has indicators of giardia, but since finishing the medication, she has sour taste in the mouth and sour smelling vaginal discharge (new symptoms she has not had before). I ask her to repeat her constitutional and to begin taking nat phos 6x cell salts to help her body regain a healthy pH balance.
  • A mother brings in her 3 year old who has chronic ear infections which are affecting her hearing and speech. Over the past 2 years, the child has had many prescriptions of antibiotics, and now the pediatrician has advised her to have tubes put in the child's ears because of fluid in the ears. The mother wants to investigate other options and consider the insertion of tubes only as a last resort. Along with a dose of pulsatilla as a constitutional for the little girl, I suggest we give the little one kali mur 6x cell salts 4 times daily for 3 weeks and then re-evaluate.
  • A 17 year old girl is recovering from hepatitis which arose subsequent to taking the medication mefloquine for malaria prevention on a school trip to Africa. In addition to a constitutional remedy of sanguinaria which appears to match her overall state, I ask her to take nat sulph 6x cell salts 3-4 times daily until the next consult to support her body in repairing her liver.


William Boericke wrote about ferrum phos as a very helpful ally at the very beginning of any illness. He suggested that every mother needed a bottle of ferrum phos 4x in her cabinet. He directed the mamas in his practice to use it whenever they saw one of their children beginning to get sick with any cold, flu, etc. He advised one tablet of the ferrum phos in a little hot water to be drunk by the child every 15 minutes for 2 hours. Boericke believed that this would help the body fight off any initial onset of illness, and if followed by good sleep and healthy food, should set the person right.

Article source:California Homeopath


Karen Allen CCH is an experienced integrative healthcare practitioner, nationally certified in classical homeopathy. She began practice in 1994, and for the past decade, has been focused on endocrine, reproductive and fertility issues. Her services include biochemics, gemmotherapy, counseling, hypnotherapy, botanical and nutritional supplements, and dietary therapies.

In addition to consultation, Karen teaches at conferences and schools across North America, and has authored two widely used homeopathic textbooks. Teaching a continuing education program with strong emphasis in clinical efficacy, using homeopathy and other integrative therapeutics to broaden practitioner skills. As an advocate for credentialing within integrative healthcare, she served as a board member and past president of the Council for Homeopathic Certification. She now serves as the Education Director for Homeopaths without Borders (NA) focusing on establishment of a self sustaining homeopathic profession in Haiti.

Website:  www.karenallenhomeopathy.com


 *This information is intended for professional use only. The views and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of TxOptions, Standard Homeopathic and Hyland’s. These statements are based upon traditional homeopathic practice. They have not been reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration.