Author: Jan Scholten
In homoeopathic language ordinary ammonia is called Ammonium causticum because of its ‘caustic’ action. Its chemical formula is NH3 and when it is dissolved in water it becomes alkaline NH4OH. The Ammoniums are made up of NH4+, which behaves more or less like any other cation with a single positive charge, and a negatively charged anion. The Ammoniums have already been described in ‘Homeopathy and Minerals’. The themes are the same as the ones discussed previously, but we now know more about the relationship between Nitrogen and Hydrogen.
To get an idea what the Ammoniums feel like just imagine yourself taking a breath of ammonia. You’ll quickly shrink back and screw up your face in revulsion.
In the old days the Egyptians used to make ammonium carbonate by burning camel dung inside tall chimneys and then scraping the residue off the walls. The word caustic means burning or biting (as in caustic soda or Natrium hydroxide) and is also used metaphorically to mean sarcastic. Another word that describes this property of the ammoniums is ‘lye’. All the Hydroxides are lyes or alkali, but in homeopathy we know very little about this group. Natrium oxide and water turns into Natrium hydroxide: Na2 + H2O -> 2Na(OH)2. The alkali are related to soaps, which are considered to be a weaker form of alkali. So the alkali are associated with the hydroxides, which are the opposite of the acids (well known in homeopathy). Acid + alkaline gives water: H+ + OH- -> H2O. The alkali are the opposites of the acids, but they are very similar in their burning and biting properties.