back Cantharis

Synonym.- Cantharis Vesicatoria.

Common name.- Spanish Fly.

Preparation.- Tincture made from the dried flies by digesting in alcohol.


Cantharis acts especially upon the mucous membranes and upon the skin. Its decidedly most important action is upon the mucous lining of the urinary tract, through which the drug is eliminated, where it produces conditions ranging all the way from an irritation to a violent destructive inflammation, either of a part or of the whole tract. The mucous membrane of the whole gastro-intestinal tract is involved in a violent inflammation, especially the lower bowel. On the skin the irritative action of Cantharis results in an erysipelatous form of inflammation, and vesicular conditions in general, even sloughing blisters. Farrington says that the "irritating property of Cantharis is the foundation stone of the whole proving." The chief characteristic of this drug is its constant urging to urinate, scanty discharge and violent cutting, burning pains before, during and after the discharge.


Mind. - Anxious restlessness, ending in rage. Constant, complete, furious, almost frenzied delirium (Bell., Hyos., Oenan.. Stram.).  Insolent and contradictory mood (Bry., Nux v.).

Head.- Vertigo. Scales on the scalp; enormous dandruff (Bad., Mez.) ; hair falls out when combing (Calc. c, Graph., Natr. mur., Nitr. ac, Sep., Sulph.).

Eyes. - Eyes protruding; fiery, sparkling, staring look.  (Bell., Hyos., Stram.).  Eyes yellow (Cinch., Chel., Podo., Iodi., Plumb.); objects yellow.

Face.- Expression of extreme suffering (Ars.).  Death-like look during and after the pains (Verat. alb.).

Mouth.- Tongue thickty furred; red edges. Sublingual glands swollen and red.  Tongue and back of mouth in part excoriated, in part covered with small blisters.  Dryness in the mouth.  Burning pain in the mouth (Acon., Ars., Caps.).  Lockjaw, with grinding of the teeth.

Throat. - Burning sensation in the throat (Ars., Caps., Merc, cor.); feels "on fire."  Throat inflamed, and covered with plastic lymph. Throat swollen (Bell., Merc, Kali bi.).  Constriction and intense pain at back of throat.  Aphthous ulcers in back part of fauces and on right tonsil.  Swallowing very difficult (Bell., Hyos., Stram.).

Stomach. - Intense thirst, with burning pain in throat and stomach (Ars., Iris, Phos., Mez., Verat. alb.).  Appetite diminished.  Disgust for food.  Eructations, frothy; sour; sour mucus; tinged bright red. Nausea and vomiting (Ant. tart., Ipec.).  Acute pain in region of stomach and bladder, with such exquisite sensibility that the slightest pressure produces convulsions.

Abdomen.- Great distension and tenderness of the abdomen (Bell.).  Violent burning pain through the whole intestinal tract (Ars.).  Cutting in abdomen (Acon., Ars.).  Incarceration of flatus under short ribs.

Stool and Anus.- Tenesmus in rectum.  Passage of pure blood from anus and urethra.  Violent burning in anus after diarrhoea (Ars., Bry.).  Pain in perineum, seemingly arising from the neck of the bladder. With stool, cutting in abdomen; after stool, shivering (Merc).  Stool: blood and mucus (Merc.); slimy, bloody, white, or blood-streaked mucus (Merc. cor.), like scrapings from intestines (Colch.) ; pure blood.

Urinary Organs. - Cutting and contracting pains from ureters down to penis; pressure on glans relieves a little.  Dall pressure in region of the kidneys.  Violent-pains in the bladder, with frequent urging; intolerable tenesmus.  Tenesmus of the bladder (Merc. cor.).  Violent burning, cutting pains in the neclc of the bladder, extending to navicular fossa of urethra.  Passage of blood from urethra.  Violent burning, cutting pains in urethra before, during and after urination (Ant. tart., Can. sat.).  Urine scalds him; passed drop by drop (Acon., Bell.).   Urging to urinate with burning sensation in urethra.  Fruitless effort to urinate (Nux v.).  Urine passes in thin, divided stream (Can. sat.). Retention of urine, causing pain.

Urine red, as if mixed with blood (Acon., Carb. v.); dark-colored (Acon.); bloody (Ars., Millef.) ; turbid; scanty (Digit.); at night cloudy, like mealy water, with white sediment (Calc. c, Colch.). Burning in excretory ducts of vesicular seminales, during and after coition.

Male Organs. - Drawing in spermatic cord while urinating. Painful swelling of the glans. Gangrene.  Painful priapism (Copaib., Tereb.).  Strong and persistent erections;  painless and without voluptuous sensations ; with sore pain along urethra.  Sexual desire increased;  disturbing sleep.

Female Organs.- Swelling and irritation of vulva (Asaf.).  Inflammation of the ovaries, with cutting and burning. Pruritus, with strong sexual desire. Miscarriage.  Violent itching in the vagina (Coni., Merc).  Menses too early and too profuse (Calc. c.; Nux v.); blood black or scanty.

Respiratory Organs. - Voice low, with sensation of weakness of respiratory organs.  Stitches in chest (Bry., Phos., Kali.c), particularly in right side.  oExudation within the pleura; dyspnoea; palpitation; scanty urine: tendency to syncope.

Heart. - Palpitation of the heart.  oPericarditis, with effusion; pulse feeble, irregular ; tendency to syncope.

Back.- Pain in the loins, kidneys and abdomen, with such pain on urination that he could not pass a single drop without moaning and screaming.  Pain in loins, with incessant desire to urinate.

Upper Limbs. - Stitches in right axilla, extending into chest.

Lower Limbs.- Ulcerative pain in soles of feet; could not step. Tearing in limbs ; relieved by rubbing.

Generalities.- Weakness, prostration; faintness.  Haw and sore pain in the whole body, internally and externally. Over-sensitiveness of all parts (Cinch.).  Convulsions, with dysuric and hydrophobic symptoms (Stram.).

Skin.- Erysipelatous inflammation, forming blisters (Rhus tox.). Tearing and ulcerative pains. oBurns before blisters form.

Compare. - Acon., Apis, Ars., Bell., Camph., Can. sat., Caps., Copaiba, Kali bi., Phos., Merc. cor., Nitr. ac, Sabina, Sulph., Tereb.

Antidotes.- Acon., Camph., Laur., Puls. Oil (according to Hering) increases the bad effects of Cantharis.


THERAPEUTICS. The clinical value of Cantharis in diseases of the urinary organs is well known, it being often er indicated in that class of affections than any other drug. This fact, however, leads to its abuse, Cantharis often being prescribed on general principles, when a careful study of the case would show that some other drug was indicated.  The violent irritation of the urinary tract with intense inflammatory symptoms, together with pain in the back, and the characteristic urine, leads to the successful use of Cantharis in all acute and chronic inflammations of the urinary system.  Cystitis; Nephritis; Bright 's disease; inflammatory strangury; renal calculi; hematuria, etc., where the symptoms are of a violent character, there being usually intense tenesmus, constant urging to urinate, with scanty bloody urine, etc.  The same class of symptoms may indicate Cantharis in gonorrhoea when the suffering is excruciating, chordee, bloody urine, etc. Gangrene of the sexual organs in both sexes.  The inflammatory action of Cantharis is always intense, and violently destructive in its character, so that it may be indicated in gangrene of any organ or part, following any inflammatory disease.  Of other sexual diseases Cantharis may be indicated in spermatorrhoea, accompanied by great irritation of the urethra and prepuce. In the female in nymphomania, where the sexual desire becomes a perfect frenzy, which cannot be controlled.  A sexual mania may also occur in the male, violent painful erections, excessive uncontrollable desire.  Ovaritis with distressing cutting, burning pains. Puerperal metritis, especially with sexual mania; gangrenous tendency.  Puerperal convulsions.  Sterility.  Cantharis may be the remedy in a violent gastritis or enteritis (interstitial) with extreme burning pain, tympanitis, great sensitiveness, dysuria.  Diarrhoea and dysentery; stools like scrapings from intestines (Colch.), mucous or bloody, violent cutting, burning pains, chilliness after stool, tendency to collapse.  Tonsilitis or pharyngitis, the chief symptom being great burning, as if the throat were on fire. Aphthous ulceration of throat. Diphtheria.  Cantharis is also to be thought of in violent inflammation of serous membranes, especially in pleurisy and pericarditis during the stage of exudation, great dyspnoea and characteristic burning pains. Also peritonitis with symptoms already mentioned. Ulceration and erosion of internal parts, gangrenous tendency, symptoms of collapse. Cantharis is an excellent remedy in vesicular erysipelas when blisters form and where intense burning pain in the eruption is the chief indication. The same is also true in other vesicular eruptions, especially eczema. Cantharis is useful in burns when blisters form. May be used as a lotion largely diluted.  Cantharis may be useful in typhoid fever where the tympanitis is great, intense burning pains and dysuria.

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