By Dr. Sarah Reagan
Instructor & Advisory Board Member at The American Council of Animal Naturopathy
Tissue or cell salts may sometimes be thought of as the “red-headed stepchild” in holistic therapeutics. They are triturated yet they are not true homeopathic remedies, and in fact they work within the Law of Opposites, not the Law of Similars. They are not really understood by many naturopaths, and many ‘classical’ homeopaths shun them because they are outside the context of the “totality of symptoms” approach. Yet these little tablets of twelve various mineral salts can be invaluable in certain therapeutic situations…we simply have to understand what they are and know when to use them.
Tissue salts were developed by Dr. Wilhelm Heinrich Schϋssler in Germany during the mid to latter part of the 19th century. Dr. Schϋssler was born and raised during a peak time of conflict between natural science and the burgeoning materialistic approach to science. He was both a homeopath and a medical doctor (for humans). Like Samuel Hahnemann before him, he was disenchanted with the ignorance of fellow doctors who were becoming more and more enveloped by the materialistic realm, and was becoming disenchanted and frustrated by consistent lack of successful treatment of his patients utilizing the prevailing conventional methodology. Even though he practiced as a homeopathic doctor for seventeen years, including writing a book on homeopathy, he was very restless with applying the Law of Similars principle and employed “Contraria contrariis” – treatment via antidoting, or what we now call the Law of Opposites. What Schϋssler apparently failed to realize at the time, is that Hahnemann viewed the Law of Opposites as a valid natural law from a non-disease aspect; and what Hahnemann did not comprehend enough to bring to light was the biochemical process that the body goes through in utilizing minerals.
During his university years, Schϋssler was exposed to the teachings of Justus von Liebig, a chemistry teacher, as well as Rudolf Virchow, the founder of cellular pathology, who taught that changes in function or condition of cells in the body can result in illness. Through von Liebig we gained the knowledge of the “law of the minimum”, particularly with respect to nutrient minerals: if one element is missing or deficient, (plant) growth will be poor, even if the other elements are abundant. (This can apply to growth of any organism that requires minerals for sustenance.) It was Schϋssler who coined the term “biochemistry”.
In order to develop his understanding of mineral requirements, Dr. Schüssler performed studies which allowed him to determine which mineral elements remained after a person or animal had died. He burned cadavers and examined the contents, establishing that 12 minerals remained in the ash, and depending on the state of health of the cadaver before death, found that certain minerals would be lacking. What is interesting to note is that the tissue salts that Schϋssler determined as being crucial to sustain life are the same minerals that we now label as essential to organic life. These minerals are also called electrolytes due to electrical charges that separate them.
Since ingested minerals must go through the digestive tract, and utilizing his knowledge of biochemistry, he realized that the body requires time to break down and metabolize crude (or coarse, as he called them) minerals. Dr. Schϋssler also understood that when the body digests food (at least of the kind it recognizes) it is essentially dynamizing and potentizing that food – and all of its components become assimilated into self. From his knowledge of homeopathic principles and then by applying this same theory to minerals, he was able to formulate a delivery method of single minerals that the body recognized as already having been ‘digested’. Therefore, Schϋssler tissue salts bypass the digestive process and are transported directly into the blood stream which in turn allows them to pass to each cell as needed. He called these dynamized tissue salts “fine” minerals, as opposed to “coarse” (or crude) minerals. We have a process today of chelating crude minerals that helps facilitate absorption over simply feeding ‘rock powders’, but these “fine” tissue salts work much faster than even chelated minerals; depending upon the exact form, coarse minerals may take up to three months before any difference is noticed in the organism.
Minerals first need to come through food – and that means a species appropriate diet. However, it is no secret that many of the Earth’s soils are minerally depleted. If the soil is depleted whatever is growing in that soil will also be lacking. We can also find that the animal suffers a functional deficiency even when there is sufficient quantity of a given mineral in the food. This can occur due to many things, not the least of which is a history of traumas to the system such as vaccinations and other conventional drugs. The first step is to clear these traumas (a subject not addressed here), but sometimes the body needs a little ‘push’ in the right direction – this is where tissue salts can have a significant therapeutic advantage.
We can think of tissue salts as cellular ‘superfood’. While they do not replenish a lacking of a particular mineral, they provide a blueprint or model for which the organism can then regain functionality. In some very chronic cases we may need to rely on these fine mineral forms (to correct function) as well as more coarse forms (to replace a mineral that is missing). This is why I always recommend having available a good blend of chelated powdered (not block form please!) minerals, as well as loose Celtic or Himalayan salt and quality kelp meal, that a horse may partake of free choice; allowed an appropriate lifestyle, he will instinctively know when to do so.
Tissue salts are generally triturated up to D12, but more commonly one finds them in D6 and sometimes D3 potencies. Any dilution past D24 (24X/12C) exceeds Avogadro’s number, so these biochemic tissue/cell salts contain some amount of crude mineral substance and are therefore used to ‘oppose’ a deficiency; they do not treat ‘disease’ as regular homeopathic remedies do. Below is a list of the twelve primary tissue salts with a short description; I am listing the full name as well as the abbreviated version of the name; also please note that the tissue salts go by number and that the numbers may be different between US and European pharmacies. Before utilizing, please do more reading as this article is but a brief introduction. One good book is Schϋssler Tissue Salts for Horses; Hans-Heinrich Jӧrgensen, 2007, Cadmos Verlag GmbH, Brunsbek (This book addresses the typical human-centric “use” of horses; obviously that is an etiological factor that needs to be stopped, thus reducing the need for so much therapeutic intervention.)
#1 Calcium fluoride (Calc fluor) – affinity for the bones, teeth, skin, connective tissues, and the elastic fibers of the veins and glands (i.e. the form of the organism); respiratory issues may be helped with this remedy especially when there is loss of elasticity in the lung area.
#2 Calcium phosphate (Calc phos) – affinity for the bones and teeth especially; also glands, nerves (particularly through spinal area), blood, gastric juices, and connective tissues; is an excellent restorative remedy for the convalescent; main function is to process protein; foals that may not be growing well for some reason may benefit from this remedy.
#3 Calcium sulphate (Calc sulph) – liver (including assisting with drainage/detoxification), gall bladder (which horses don’t have but nevertheless can help with excess acid reduction), spleen, and testicles; this mineral is mostly found in tissues of skin, blood, and mucous membranes; can help loosen mucous as well as sclerotic processes in the body. Please note: in original literature this remedy may be omitted as Schϋssler placed it at the end of his list and later removed it (leaving only 11 biochemical salts); however it was already established in use by that time; in the US it is listed as #3.
#4 Iron phosphate (Ferrum phos) – iron transports oxygen in the body and primarily found in all blood vessels as well as intestines; is an indicated remedy for anemia; it is also a primary remedy for inflammatory/fever processes (although keep in mind that some inflammation is necessary as a healing process).
#5 Potassium chloride (Kali muriaticum) – is a component of muscles and connective tissues, nerve cells, blood, mucous membranes, glands, and brain cells; helps to form fibrin; may bind to toxins but does not eliminate them.
#6 Potassium phosphate (Kali phos) – an energy carrier helping to build new cells and helps to prevent cellular breakdown; regulates metabolism in muscles; is a component of the nervous system (brain, spinal cord, etc); may be appropriate for some nerve-related emotional issues.
#7 Potassium sulphate (Kali sulph) – assists in the conversion of oxygen from blood into cells; detoxification with main action on spleen, liver and GI tract; is also found in the skin and mucous membranes; a primary use is in skin issues as well as mucosal related complaints.
#8 Magnesium phosphate (Mag phos) – has an affinity for the nerves, muscles, and heart, and is a good remedy for cramps and spasms of all kinds; may help with flatulence as it binds gases and helps to eliminate them.
#9 Sodium chloride (Natrum muriaticum) – salt regulates fluid throughout the body, and therefore also heat; it works on regeneration and renewal of tissues, cells, and fluids; may be used in both excess (edema) and deficiency (dehydration).
#10 Sodium phosphate (Natrum phos) – the biochemic acid balancer; can help with transformation of uric acid into urea and gastric upset; may assist with fat and sugar metabolism as well as blood pH regulation; the primary action is on the stomach, lymph, and tissue.
#11 Sodium sulphate (Natrum sulph) – helps with waste removal; has affinity for liver, pancreas, intestines (and gall bladder); along with Nat mur can assist in cases of edema.
#12 Silicon dioxide (Silica, sometimes spelled Silicea) – can assist in expelling nonfunctional organic matter (although this may best be done via actual homeopathic treatment depending on the situation); it is the construction material for connective tissue; acts on nerves, skin, hair, nails, cells and intracellular substances.
Administering cell/tissue salts to horses is quite easy. They are typically purchased in a bottle of small lactose tablets, and are generally quite cost effect being sold in bottles of 100 tablets. Once you have determined which one or ones need to be used, you can take the amount of tablets of each one (if more than one remedy), dissolve in a small amount of warm water (which generally only takes a few minutes). If there is a concern about too much lactose, you can let settle and pour off, leaving the lactose at the bottom of the container. This poured-off water (or otherwise entire amount) can then either be syringed directly into the mouth or simply poured over a tiny bit of hay. A typical maintenance dose for a 1000 pound horse would be about five tablets one or two times per day; a therapeutic/acute dose would be more frequently given, not more quantity per dose.
Cell salts may also be purchased as a combination of all twelve; this is a situation where they may be used to replace or balance electrolytes in total, such as after a profuse sweating, diarrhea, or other cause of loss of body fluids. One may also use the 12-combination salts prophylactically to help maintain functional homeostasis. In these situations, I would recommend doubling the amount of the tablets in a single dose, however if giving prophylactically, you may do so only once per day or even just a couple times per week. In a situation of emergency electrolyte replacement, I would recommend giving about 5 tablets dissolved every thirty minutes until the situation begins to resolve, then decrease to once every couple of hours until the horse is replenished.