Sulfur Uses

Facts about Medical Uses for Sulphur

It is not clear exactly when sulphur was discovered or when our ancestors knew there were uses for sulphur in the medical world.  What is known is that these early scientists were correct in their belief that this element was a valuable remedy for certain conditions, as it still used in medical treatments today.

The element called sulphur

In Biblical times, the element sulphur was known as “brimstone”.  It occurs naturally in the earth’s crust, often but not always found near volcanoes; due to a reaction between two elements that are common with volcanic activity, sulphur dioxide and hydrogen sulphide.   The element also occurs naturally within certain types of metal ore, such as copper and iron pyrates, zinc blende, cinnabar and galena, as well as in petroleum products.

Retrieving sulphur from the earth has a few different methods; in the United States, a process called the Frasch Process was commonly used until the 1970’s.  Pipes are inserted into holes drilled into the ground, through which superheated steam is pumped down to the sulphur deposits; liquefying the yellow colored element. This is made possible because sulphur has a very low melting point.  The molten sulphur is then pumped out through additional sets of pipes to be deposited onto wooden blocks where, once cooled, the sulphur returns to a solid state.  While this process was highly successful, it could also be expensive; which is why in the 70’s, a more popular method of obtaining sulphur was through byproduct recovery from oil and natural gas. 

Uses for sulphur

Early applications for sulphur were associated with religious rites.  It was also beneficial for fumigation purposes by the Greeks and the Romans.  The element is an essential mineral for all living things; it makes up .25% of the weight of an average human.  It is found in virtually every cell of the human body as it aids in the construction of all body parts. 

The sulphur is the body has many functions.  Its presence provides protection against environmental threats such as pollution.  Sulphur slows the aging process, assists in optimal liver function, aids in food digestion and in converting it to energy, helps with blood clotting and keeps the skin elastic.  Our bodies do not manufacture sulphur, but the amount that we need is well provided for in the foods we eat.  Eggs, meats, dairy products, fish and garlic all maintain the levels of sulphur in the body without the need for supplementation.

When sulphur is taken internally as a supplement, it can have a mild laxative effect.  Excess amounts of the element are not considered to be unhealthy or dangerous as any amounts not needed by the body will simply pass out of the body through urination.  There are some people who experience adverse reactions to sulfites and sulfa drugs, however, and should not take any type of sulphur supplement. 

Most common applications of sulphur are external.  It is thought to be beneficial for several skin disorders, including eczema, dermatitis, diaper rash and scabies.  Used in soap, cream or ointment form, the mineral is also helpful in clearing up acne by dissolving whiteheads and blackheads.  People who suffer from arthritis have reported a decrease in the pain after soaking in natural sulphur hot springs.  The symptoms may also be relieved by taking sulphur supplements, although this should be done only under the direction of their physician.

Thanks to our ancestors, the yellow element has proven to be just as beneficial in today’s medical world as it was when it was first discovered centuries ago, as uses for sulphur continue to be applied in different methods that offer relief from a variety of complaints.