Schüßler salts have been very popular in Germany for years and are a bestseller in many pharmacies. Almost everyone has heard of them, knows someone who swears by them or even tried them out: No. 7 Magnesium phosphoricum for headaches or period pains, No. 11 Silicea for strengthening the connective tissue or No. 3 Ferrum phosphoricum for increasing the immune system .
But what's really wrong with the method? Are there proof of effectiveness? And can "Schüßlern" also have side effects? We will inform you about this in the following article.
The salts have their name from the founder of this form of therapy, the doctor Dr. Wilhelm Heinrich Schüßler (1821-1898). He theorized that most diseases arise from a disturbance in the mineral balance in humans. Schüßler has identified twelve mineral compounds that perform particularly important functions in the body. From his point of view, with the strong dilution of these substances it was possible to remedy disturbances in the mineral balance in the interior of the cells as well as in the spaces between the cells and thus stimulate the body to heal itself. The Schüßler salt therapy is also called "biochemical healing" or "biochemical therapy".
Schüßler salts are often used by naturopaths, but in some cases also by conventional medicine doctors. Since they are available without a prescription in the pharmacy, many people also use them for self-treatment. They come in the form of tablets, globules, creams, drops, powders, lotions, ointments and gels.
So far, there are no scientifically recognized studies on the effectiveness of Schüßler salts. In addition, their assumed mode of action is not compatible with the principles of natural science. Therefore, evidence-based medicine (conventional medicine) assigns them to alternative or complementary medicine methods. However, this does not necessarily mean that Schüßler salts are ineffective. From a scientific point of view, its effects have so far only been not plausibly proven. Many therapists, on the other hand, are convinced of the effectiveness of the Schüßler salt therapy and cite good experience in using the salts as an argument.
What are Schüßler salts?
Schüßler salts are mineral salts that are diluted very strongly according to the rules of homeopathic potentiation. You can find out exactly how this works below in the section "Production of the Schüßler salts: potentiation". The term "salt" stands for crystalline substances that are composed of two starting materials, such as sodium chloride (Na-Cl, table salt).
Origin of the Schüßler salt therapy
Dr. Wilhelm Heinrich Schüßler worked at the beginning of his career in the nineteenth century as a homeopathic doctor. The research by Jacob Moleschott and Justus von Liebig regarding the mineral balance of animals and plants as well as the findings of the cellular researcher Rudolf Virchow sparked his interest. That is why Schüßler himself began to research the effects of minerals in the human organism. Among other things, he discovered that twelve minerals were still detectable in the ashes of human remains. He chose these mineral salts as the twelve Schuessler salts. After Schüßler's death, supporters of the form of therapy added 15 "supplements".
Four principles of the Schüßler salt therapy
Dr. Wilhelm Heinrich Schüßler established the following four principles for his Schüßler salt therapy:
- The first principle states that diseases or health disorders result from the lack of certain minerals in the cells.
- According to the second principle, the body can regenerate itself by adding the missing minerals.
- For the third principle, Schüßler salts should only be added in very small amounts, which is guaranteed by potentiation (strong dilution).
- The fourth principle states that the mineral salts should be administered in such a diluted form that they can be immediately absorbed into the blood through the mucous membranes of the mouth and throat. This should also be ensured by potentiation.
Effect of minerals in the body and consequences of a lack of minerals
Minerals are vital for the human body. They are involved in many metabolic processes. For example, some of them, like calcium, are found in the bones. Others fulfill important functions in the hormonal system, immune system or in the transmission of nerve impulses.
A mineral deficiency can have serious consequences for the organism and make us sick. For example, iron deficiency leads to fatigue and exhaustion, calcium deficiency can lead to a decrease in bone strength and a lack of zinc often manifests itself in a weakened defense against infections.
Various causes can lead to a mineral deficiency. These include, for example, an increased need due to pregnancy, smoking, stress or competitive sports. A one-sided diet or certain diseases can also lead to a deficiency.
If there is a lack of certain minerals in the body, it first draws on its reserves. These are available in so-called work or long-term stores at various points in the organism. The working memories react immediately to acute shortages, with the long-term storage serving more as a depot. In the event of a slight deficiency, there is no bottleneck. However, if the lack of minerals is greater, the body gets what it needs from blood and cell fluid. As the stage progresses, the depots are attacked. When these are finally empty, the organism begins to demineralize various tissue structures.
The withdrawal of minerals can cause various, sometimes massive, health problems. An example is osteoporosis. So Schuessler was definitely right with his theory that diseases are a result of mineral deficiency. However, far from all diseases can be attributed to a lack of minerals.
Possible mode of action of the Schüßler salts
If you find a mineral deficiency, it would make sense to compensate for it directly with the addition of the missing substances and to replenish the mineral deposits, in the case of iron deficiency, for example, by giving iron tablets. Sometimes, however, the problem is not necessarily a lack of intakes of the minerals, but an upset or utilization disorder.
Wilhelm Heinrich Schüßler argued that his Schüßler salts support the cells in the absorption, processing and utilization of the minerals directly inside the cell. They should stimulate the self-healing powers and make the body cells function properly again.
From Schüßler's point of view, the starting materials had to be greatly diluted in order to be able to pass through the cell membrane unhindered. The mineral deficiency should also be compensated for by eating or taking the missing minerals.
Schuessler saw the Schuessler salts, ie the highly diluted minerals, as so-called "functional agents", while the minerals in their undiluted pure form represented the "building material". In order to stick to this picture, the Schüßler salts could be seen as construction workers, who ensure that the building materials, i.e. the minerals, come to the right places in the cells and are properly processed.
The strong dilution of the minerals is the point that is most frequently attacked by opponents of the Schüßler salt therapy: the potentiation makes it impossible to compensate for a lack of minerals via the Schüßler salts, because enormous amounts would have to be taken in order to Fill mineral deposits in the body. And if the minerals are taken in addition to the Schuessler salts, an observable effect is supposedly due to the minerals themselves instead of the Schuessler salts.
Since there are no scientifically recognized studies on it, one can only speculate here. However, one possibility for an assumed effect would be that there are problems with the absorption, processing or utilization of the mineral substances within the cell metabolism, which are eliminated by the Schuessler salts, so that the actual mineral substances can work again or be absorbed.
For example, an iron deficiency in a person might not necessarily be due to the fact that this person does not consume enough iron through food, but that the iron cannot be well absorbed or used by the cells. This problem could possibly be remedied by taking the Schüßler salt Ferrum phosphoricum.
Production of the Schüßler salts: the potentiation
Just like homeopathic remedies, the Schüßler salts are potentized. Potentiation is a stepwise dilution that is precisely defined in terms of method. Milk sugar (lactose) is normally used to dilute the mineral salts. In the meantime, however, there are also lactose-free and gluten-free Schüßler salts as globules. In these, sucrose (cane sugar) is the carrier. The Schüßler salts are also available in drops.
The respective mineral is first crushed very strongly by grinding. One part of mineral salt is then taken and mixed with nine parts of lactose (or sucrose or another carrier). This is the first degree of dilution in decimal steps, the so-called decimal power D1. To obtain a D2, take one part of the D1 and dilute it again with nine parts of lactose (or sucrose). And so on until you reach D6 or D12, the two potencies that are most often used in the administration of Schüßler salts.
Most Schuessler salts are administered in D6. Exceptions are the Schüßler salts No. 1 Calcium fluoratum, No. 3 Ferrum phosphoricum and No. 11 Silicea, which are taken in the potency D12. This is based on experience.
Delimitation of the Schüßler salt therapy to homeopathy
In 1873, Wilhelm Heinrich Schüßler published an article on his research, "An abbreviated homeopathic therapy" in the "Allgemeine Homöopathische Zeitung", whereupon many representatives of homeopathy attacked him. Because when choosing the remedies, he did not adhere to an important principle of homeopathy. The principle of similarity applies there: a disease can therefore only be cured with the means that would produce the symptoms of the disease in a healthy person.
The founder of homeopathy, Samuel Hahnemann, came to this view by taking chinese bark extract for several days. He always responded to this with typical symptoms of malaria. When he stopped taking the bark extract, the symptoms went away. He repeated these observations with various other means and based on this the principle of similarity (also Simile principle) of homeopathy: similia similibus curantur - similar things are healed with similar things. Schuessler, on the other hand, prescribed the mineral salt that he suspected was deficient in the patient. Despite the criticism, Schüßler remained true to the path he had chosen.
Another difference is that the Schüßler salts only use minerals that occur naturally in the body. In contrast, remedies that are not present in the organism are often used in homeopathy. Although there are also minerals as homeopathic remedies, these now include several thousand remedies, which are also obtained, for example, from the animal or plant kingdom or from pathogens.
There are also big differences in the amount of revenue. Schüßler salts are administered in much larger quantities and are usually taken regularly for a period of time. With classic homeopathic treatment, the chosen remedy is usually given only once. After that, it will only be taken again if the symptoms appear again after improvement and no new symptoms have appeared.
A common feature of the two methods is the potentiation described above. Both homeopathic remedies and Schüßler salts are extremely diluted in the manufacture.
Due to the differences between the two complementary medical methods, there are always controversial discussions between supporters of homeopathy and those of the Schuessler salts. Nevertheless, there are therapists who use both methods in parallel and have had good experiences with them.
Selection of salts
W. H. Schüßler made the choice of the salts mainly with the help of the face analysis. This means that he took certain abnormalities on the patient's face (for example, dark circles, bags under the eyes, torn corners of the mouth, pimples, striking complexion) and derived a lack of certain minerals from this.
“Disorders” of metabolic functions and “needs”, such as an excessive craving for chocolate, were also included in the choice of salt. To date, these criteria have remained valid within the Schüßler salt therapy.
So far, no side effects of Schüßler salts are known. In the case of complaints such as a harmless cold or mild menstrual pain, there is no reason not to try this method and see for yourself whether the symptoms improve.
However, some people react to certain carriers with allergies or intolerances. Therefore, pay attention to the composition of the preparation and, if necessary, get advice on the ingredients. There are now lactose and gluten-free alternatives to the conventional Schuessler salt tablets based on lactose.
If, after taking a Schüßler salt preparation, you notice physical abnormalities that could be side effects, some manufacturers offer registration forms for this on their websites. If in doubt, stop taking the preparation and get expert medical advice.
Note: In the case of serious illnesses, you should definitely consult your family doctor as to whether Schüßler salts are suitable for concomitant use. Under no circumstances should you treat serious complaints with Schuessler salts or stop taking medication prescribed by a doctor.
How are Schuessler salts taken?
The Schüßler salts should primarily be absorbed through the oral mucosa. Therefore, the tablets or globules are sucked or you simply let them melt on the tongue. You put drops on the tongue. Another option is to dissolve the tablets or globules in a little warm water. According to the theory, this can only be stirred with a wooden or plastic spoon. Before swallowing, the liquid is kept in the mouth a little so that it can be better absorbed by the mucous membrane.
Salt No. 7 Magnesium phosphoricum should only be taken in solution in water - in hot, once boiled and slightly cooled water.
Diabetics should generally avoid the Schüßler salts based on milk sugar. Alternatively, the lactose-free drops can be used here. Children often prefer to take Schuessler salts as globules rather than in tablet form.
Schüßler salts are not addictive and can be taken for years without harming the body. The combination of different salts should, however, be left to experienced therapists. Some common combinations can also be viewed on the websites of some manufacturers or taken from books on the subject.
Overview of the Schüßler salts
The original Schüßler salt therapy was based on twelve basic salts. After Wilhelm Heinrich Schüßler's death, his method of treatment was continued. As a result, another fifteen so-called supplemental salts have been added to date. From the point of view of W. Schüßler and the current supporters of this method, the individual salts have a wide range of uses, which is why each salt is only briefly described below.
No. 1 Calcium fluoratum
Calcium fluoratum (fluorspar) is considered the salt for skin and connective tissue. If elasticity is lost or if slackness has occurred, this could be an indication that No. 1 is the right Schuessler salt. This salt is said to work both on sagging ligaments and on hardened glands. According to the principles of Schüßler salt therapy, calluses, corneas and brittle nails are signs that the body lacks Schuessler salt no. 1 calcium fluoratum or that it cannot be adequately absorbed or used.
No. 2 Calcium phosphoricum
Schuessler described No. 2 as the "salt of the bones and teeth". Calcium phosphoricum, in English phosphoric acid lime, is needed together with calcium fluoratum, magnesium and sodium chloratum for the bone structure. According to supporters of Schüßler salt therapy, this salt is said to help with symptoms that require warmth, especially in the limbs and joints. The formation of white and red blood cells should also be supported with No. 2.
No. 3 Ferrum phosphoricum
The Schüßler salt no. 3 Ferrum phosphoricum (also phosphoric acid iron) is considered the "salt of the immune system" and the so-called "inflammation salt of the first stage". This means that from the point of view of the supporters of this form of therapy, Ferrum phosphoricum can be used for all inflammations of the body in the initial stage - be it a cold, an intestinal infection or an inflammation caused by injury. With a mild fever up to 38.5 degrees Celsius, No. 3 is the method of choice. In the case of injuries, it is often used in acute cases.
No. 4 potassium chloratum
Potassium chloratum or potassium chloride is considered the "inflammatory salt of the second stage". An onset of a cold with a slight sore throat and a sore throat, for example, could indicate the use of Schuessler Salt No. 3. If swelling and mucus secretions appear in the further course of the disease, No. 4 potassium chloratum could be the appropriate remedy.
Potassium chloride is also called the "salt of the mucous membranes". This salt can be used for all diseases that affect the mucous membranes. Possible examples here would be bronchitis or a bladder infection.
No. 5 potassium phosphoricum
Potassium phosphoricum (also potassium phosphate) is considered the "salt of the nerves and the psyche", which can be used both in the central nervous system and in the vegetative nervous system. Potassium phosphoricum is said to help with anxiety, timidity and chronic fatigue. Therapists who use the Schüßler salt therapy use this salt for every illness that is associated with exhaustion.
No. 6 potassium sulfuricum
Potassium sulfuricum, in English potassium sulfate, is regarded as the "salt of the cell interior" and as the "inflammation salt of the third stage". If inflammation is far advanced, which manifests itself in yellow-greenish secretions during a cold, for example, or has already become chronic, Schuessler Salt No. 6 can be used. No. 6 is also recommended for diseases that do not go as they should.
No. 7 Magnesium phosphoricum
Magnesium phosphoricum, also called phosphoric acid magnesium, is known as "hot sieve". Dr. Schüßler observed that this salt works best when it comes into contact with boiled hot water. Magnesium phosphoricum is said to be able to bind and excrete volatile ammonia gases. If this salt is missing in the body, this should lead to bloating. According to Schüßler therapists, the salt absorbed in hot water is supposed to bind the ammonia gases there in the intestine when it cools down and bring them out of the body. This salt is said to be particularly suitable for all cramps and pain, such as menstrual cramps, abdominal pain, intestinal cramps, headache and much more.
No. 8 sodium chloratum
Schüßler Salt No. 8 sodium chloride is said to have a strong influence on the body's fluid balance. Sodium chloratum is said to compensate for both a deficiency and an excess of fluid. For example, this salt is used for swellings, but also when there is not enough thirst. No. 8 is said to be able to bind poisons and to discharge them. It is often used for insect bites to remove the insect's organic toxins from the body.
No. 9 Natrum Phosphoricum
Dr. Schuessler's Salt No. 9 is from the point of view of Dr. Schüßlers an important lymphatic agent, which is said to have a good effect especially on children. When there is an excess of uric acid in the body, sodium phosphoricum is usually missing. This salt can also be used to bind accumulated acids in the body. It is said to be able to balance the acid-base balance. Symptoms of rheumatism can become noticeable if sodium phophoricum is missing in the nerve threads.
No. 10 sodium sulfuricum
Sodium sulfuricum, also known as sodium sulfate, is considered an "excretion salt" and is said to be an inexpensive follow-up salt of No. 9 when taken. According to Schuessler supporters, the acids bound with the help of sodium phosphoricum are brought out by taking No. 10. No. 9 is said to bind the acids and No. 10 to excrete them. Even with flu infections, especially with chills, the No. 10 should provide relief. Sodium sulfuricum is also said to promote drainage.
No. 11 Silicea
Silicea is better known as silica and is found in all cells, tissues and organs. Silicea strengthens skin, hair and connective tissue. The Schüßler Salt No. 11 is therefore recommended for stretch marks, varicose veins and spider veins. Salt No. 11 is also intended to support the body in the collection of pus, to excrete or break it down. According to the theory of Dr. Schüßler can be broken down faster with the help of this salt.
No. 12 Calcium sulfuricum
The sulfuric acid calcium is considered the "salt of dynamics" and is said to have a cleaning effect on all mucous membranes. Schuessler did not always count Calcium sulfuricum among the Schuessler salts because he saw No. 9 sodium phosphoricum together with No. 11 Silicea as a complete replacement for the No. 12 salt. 12 is used for suppuration as part of the Schüßler salt method if a procedure has already been created. It is therefore one of the follow-up agents to No. 11. This salt is also used for acid excretion and is also used for inflammations with thick secretions.
The Schüßler salts as creams, gels and lotions
The twelve Schüßler salts can also be used externally in the form of ointments, creams and gels. The advantage of this is that they can be used for problems with the skin, muscles or joints exactly where the symptoms are. The application of the ointments, creams or gels can also be combined with the internal intake of the Schüßler salts.
Ointments are made on a fat basis without water and are therefore recommended for dry skin. Creams contain fat and water, which is particularly beneficial on hairy parts of the body. Gels do not contain fat. They are therefore often used on oily skin. Gels also have a cooling effect.
The supplementary salts
These are combinations that Dr. Schüßler could not research with the methods available to him and therefore did not know it. Due to the improved analytical methods in the twentieth century, these mineral compounds were found in the body. The supplementary salts are present in the body in a much lower dose than the twelve basic salts.
In the Schüßler salt therapy, the supplementary salts are often used when the therapeutic success is not yet satisfactory. The supplementary salts require a detailed medical history and a particularly careful selection of the individual salts. These fifteen additional salts are used in lower doses than is the case with the twelve basic salts. According to the therapists who use the Schüßler salt therapy, the effect of the basic salts can be increased by using the supplementary salts.
The Deutsche ApothekerZeitung Online provides a detailed tabular overview of the supplementary salts with an explanation of their function in the body, the relationship to the organ and possible areas of application. (kh, sw)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Magistra Artium (M.A.) Katja Helbig, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch
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