April 2005|Volume 2|Issue 4


Cantharis... an Aphrodisiac

Dr. (Sr). Vida Olivera


Dr. (Sr) Vida Olivera, Reader, is the Head of the Dept. of community medicine, Fr Muller Homoeopathic Medical College, Mangalore. She has thirty years of Clinical experience and ten years of teaching experience. She is an examiner for post Graduate and under graduate students of Homoeopathy. She has presented scientific papers at Kathmandu, Nepal, Shimla and Himachal Pradesh.

Cantharis is widely used drug in summer, since it has got special affinity to urinary tract organs.

History and Background

Cantharis Vesicatoria popularly known as the Spanish fly and blister beetles belong to the species the family Cantharidoe. The flies, originally perhaps, natives of spain and Italy are also found in France, Hungary and Russia.

Traditionally used for warts, baldness, arousing the libido and inducing miscarriage. The greek “Father of Medicine” Hippocrates, advocated Spanish fly for dropsy in the 5th century B.C. Marquis De Sade the 18th century French man, infamous for his perverse sexual practices, gave his victims Spanish fly as an aphrodisiac.The active principle is Cantharidin (C10 H12 O4 )

The remedy Cantharis, proved by Hahnemann in 1805 giving us 105 symptoms, left to others to reprove it and has now more than 1651 symptoms in Allen’s encyclopedia. The whole live beetles are killed by heating. They are then macerated in alcohol and left to stand for 5 days, before being filtered, diluted and succussed.

Cantharin when applied to the skin produces a burning pain, hyperaemia, vesicles which tend to coalesce and terminate in sloughing and ulceration. When applied to the chest the lungs become pale and anaemic. Prolonged application to abdomen results in peritonitis. When taken internally it has power of causing irritation of stomach, gastro enteritis, nausea, vomiting & purging. It produces congestion of kidneys and irritation of bladder, pain in the urethra and glans penis.

Key uses

Cantharis is widely used in Urinary tract infections with burning, cutting pains and passes in drops. This remedy also useful for high libido and burns and scalds.

  • UTI Complaints
    Burning Cystitis and Urinary Tract Inflammation are the main disorders for which Cantharis is used. Tenderness in the area of kidneys, renal colic, kidney inflammation such as nephritis and pyelonephritis are eased by this remedy. The symptoms calling for this remedy are constant urgent desire to urinate, with violent spasmodic pains in the lower abdomen. Urine is scanty, hot and bloody and is passed in, drop by drop, with violent cutting pains in bladder and urethra. There may be urine retention.
  • Excessive libido
    Uncontrollable inappropriate sexual arousal due to inflamed genital area following urinary tract infection. Sexual fantasies may be strong enough to disturb sleep.
  • Burns and scalds
    Cantharis is prescribed for sun burns and for blisters and for skin blisters that resemble burns. symptoms better from cold application on the affected area and worse by warmth and touch.
  • Insect Bites & Stings
    Sharp pain at the site of a sting or bite which has a black center. Anger, restlessness, excitability may be evident after the bite or the sting. Symptoms are better by cold applications and worse by warmth and coffee.
  • GIT Complaints
     Violent burning pain, distended abdomen, diarrhoea accompanied by a scalding sensation. There may be urge to empty the bowel while urinating. Better from warmth, bending double. Worse during urination, drinking.
  • Throat complaints
    In Pharyngitis and Diphtheria it is of service. when a sensation of burning is a prominent symptom, the throat feels as if on fire and the food and drink are ejected when swallowing is attempted.

It has been employed in Pleurisy when there is profuse serous exudate with dysphoea, cough, palpitation and a sensation of extreme heat and burning in the chest. The perspiration is profuse and urine is scanty. Cantharis has been employed locally and internally in burns and inflammation of the eyes. 

In the female, we find menstruation too early and dark with great soreness of the breasts. The ovaries are inflamed, with burning pains, extreme sensitiveness to touch and with aggravation at menstruation. It is to be thought of in puerperal metritis, especially with mania of a sexual type. 

Other physical symptoms eased by this remedy include loss of appetite, great thirst but no desire to drink.
Mental problems alleviated by cantharis include an excessive desire for sexual intercourse, fits of rage, irritability leading to violence, severe anxiety, screaming and insolence.

“Burning” seems to run through the Cantharis pathogenesis in a very striking way. Another marked feature of the remedy is its effect in increasing the secretions of membranes. Cantharis expels moles, dead foetus, placentae, promotes fecundity (Guernesy).

The complaints are worse from drinking, from coffee; drinking cold water, whilst urinating, after urinating, from touch and better by rubbing, from warm applications.

Coffee of Cruda is incompatible with cantharis

References :

  • Materia Medica by Willard Ide Pierce
  • Mat. Medica, Therapeutics & pharmacology by Alexander L. Black wood.
  • A Dictionary of Practical Materia Medica by John Henry Clarke
  • A Study in Materia Medica by N.M. Choudhuri
  • Synopsis, Toxicology and Materia Medica -Forest David.


Dr. (Sr). Vida Olivera
Head of the Dept. of community medicine
Fr Muller Homoeopathic Medical College
Fr. Muller Road
Mangalore –575 002