Homeopathy 2006; 95(02): 108-110
DOI: 10.1016/j.homp.2006.02.002
Social and Historical
Copyright © The Faculty of Homeopathy 2006

20 years ago: The British Homoeopathic Journal, April 1986

S.T. Land

Subject Editor:
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
29 December 2017 (online)

Zinc deficiency

Shuttleworth, in this paper entitled ‘Zinc—in perspective’, gave an historical overview of the discovery of the role of zinc in plants, animals and man. It is remarkable that, before 1960, deficiency in man was unrecognised and considered unlikely; in spite of known deficiency syndromes in citrus fruit and other crops, and markedly in pigs. The author described the pioneering work of Prasad in the early 1960s with peasants in Iran and Egypt, rounded off a decade later by Halsted, also in Iran. He commented that mild deficiency is prevalent throughout the world, even in infants in the USA when fed with infant foods lacking in zinc. He referred to the steady evolution of knowledge of deficiency in special situations, citing eight examples, including alcoholism, chronic enteritis, susceptibility to infection, and burns and wounds. His reference to the difficulty of laboratory diagnosis might explain the late appreciation of zinc deficiency in man. Serum levels are frequently normal in mild deficiency, and are not a measure of bioavailability.

The author then discussed the value of homeopathy in this condition, pointing out that zinc does not have a well defined homeopathic picture; apart from ‘fidgety legs’, with emphasis on the compulsive, repetitive nature of the symptom. However, it is interesting that the old homeopaths referred to ‘depressed, exhausted and irritable condition of the nervous system such as may arise from a variety of causes principle among which are injuries, sexual excesses, etc’, while it is now known that some of the tissues richest in zinc are the prostate, testis and spermatozoa (1 mg or more in an ejaculate); and to ‘weak memory—difficult conception, incoherent ideas, etc’, while the parts of the brain richest in zinc are the pineal gland and hippocampus. Shuttleworth commented that ‘in modern nutritional literature there is little reference to the mental state and feelings of zinc deficient patients’, and in conclusion he considered that ‘Medical homoeopaths generally take a detailed comprehensive multi-angled history form patients, and are therefore in a position to evolve a coherent Zincum picture correlated to our modern nutritional knowledge. Zinc obviously has therapeutic potential’.[ 1 ]