FROM scanty and rather scattered data we have tried to picture Tarentula cubensis – the rotten specimen of the Cuban tarentula, which is such a marvellous remedy in a number of septic conditions;but we do not seem to have attacked the better known Tarentula of our Materia Medica. It is a very interesting and very unique remedy, suggested in most difficult conditions – nervous and mental especially; and like all the other drugs of Homoeopathy, priceless where it fits.
Tarentula suggests violence and torment. Without specific power to damage parts or organs after the manner of many of our remedies, it can violently torment both body and mind in a manner utterly subversive to decency and behaviour as regards the unhappy victim, and perplexing and alarming to friends and attendants. Tarentula, therefore, becomes a powerful remedy in spasms, and in hysteria with its “protean manifestations”, as Clarke puts it.
After this spider bite, the victim sings and dances, with extravagant behaviour and complete loss of control, and is only to be cured, and cured again and again in its annual recurrence of symptoms, by music and dancing – so we are told.
And not only is this drug amazingly sensitive to music, but it can be even physically affected by colour: “an unpleasant colour may cause anguish of heart”.
Tarentula has the sudden changes of mood of Crocus, but its gaiety and laughter turn to sudden spitefulness; to a paroxysm of insanity, in which she will strike herself and others, tear and rend and destroy. Sudden violent, or sly destructive movements are absolutely characteristic, and unique to this drug – so far as our knowledge goes. And then the patient may be sorry and apologize: “Couldn’t help it!”
She “feigns sick” as the Repertory has it; feigns paroxysms; feigns fainting and insensibility; yet looks furtively round to see that she is being observed, and to note the effect she is producing. Incredible quickness: jumps out of bed and smashes something before she can be prevented.
Tormented, again, with frightful restlessness: especially of arms and legs.
Then, Fear: indefinite fears; fears of something going to happen; of danger from something that does not exist; sees terrible things that are not there.
The urinary symptoms suggest Cantharis. The skin, its septic troubles – abscess, anthrax, etc., remind one of Tarent. cub.
Many of our most consulted Materia Medicas have shirked Tarentula; but CLARKE has much that is interesting to say about the drug.
To condense, he says, inter alia “Tarantism” is a dancing mania, set up in persons bitten by the Tarentula, or who imagine themselves bitten. The cure is music and dancing. And he gives striking cases of such cures, which bring out the cardinal features of Tarentula: Dark red, or purplish swelling of skin and tissue. Choreic movements; restlessness; apparent imminent choking: relief by music, which first excites, then relieves; periodicity – return of symptoms annually on the date of the bite.
The restlessness is particularly noticed in lower extremities, with desire to cry; must keep moving, though walking aggravates all the symptoms. Many of the mental symptoms, “which almost exhaust the protean range of hysteria,” were in connection with sexual disorders.
NASH says, This spider poison has like other spider poisons very positive nervous symptoms. It acts on uterus and ovaries, and on the female sexual organs generally. “In cases of hyperaesthesia or congestion of these organs, which set up a general hysterical condition, states simulating spinal neurasthenia, sensitive and painful back, excessive restlessness, and impressibility to excitements, music especially. Twitching or jerking of muscles in conjunction with other troubles, should always call to mind this remedy.” “This remedy is not as thoroughly understood as it should be.”
FARRINGTON says: The bitten part becomes swollen and discoloured, lymphatic glands enlarged. By conveyance of the poison to the neck, the cellular tissue there is affected, giving rise to a swelling of a dark red or purplish hue. Choking seems eminent, when epistaxis appears, with dark clots, and relieves the symptoms. Evidence of cerebral congestion is given by the violently throbbing carotid arteries; but with all this there is a pale, earthy hue to the face. Nervous symptoms are present in all the spider poisons, but Tarentula applies, more than other members of the group, to hysteria. Music starts her acting like one crazy; when there are no observers she has no hysterical attacks. As soon as attention is directed to her, she begins to twitch.
Has a reputation for cancer of tongue, etc., and for “fibrous tumours, abdominal, with discharge of pale blood from uterus”.
Desire to eat with intense thirst: constant desire for large quantities of cold water. Or loss of appetite.
Desire for raw articles.
Disgust for bread, for roasted meats.
Muscular contractions of epigastrium.
Many of the digestive symptoms are peculiar, because of the sympathetic pains, neuralgic or congestive, which accompany them, or arise, on sides of head, face, ears, teeth, malar bones.
BLACK LETTER SYMPTOM
NOTEWORTHY, DIAGNOSTIC, OR ITALICIZED SYMPTOMS
Great excitement caused by music; one hour after it, general and copious perspiration.
paroxysms of insanity; strikes head, pulls hair; complains; threatens, scratches herself; restlessness; her clothes annoy her; restless legs; threatening words of destruction and death; comes out of attack with severe headache; eyes wide and staring.
See small figures hovering before her eyes.
Hysteria with bitter belchings.
They sing, dance, cry; extreme gaiety.
Ludicrous and lascivious hysteria; had to be restrained by force.
Visions of monsters, animals, frighten him; of different things not present, faces, insects, ghosts.
Feigned paroxysms; feigns fainting and insensibility; looks sideways to observe the effect on those around her.
Taciturn, irritable; desire to strike himself and others.
Extreme disposition to laugh and joke.
Laughs, runs, dances, gesticulates; sings till hoarse and exhausted.
Sadness, grief, moral depression are not only the almost constant symptoms of the sting, but are present, in a striking manner, during different provings of the medicine.
Fear which could not be stopped; tried to find a cause and leaves others to think there is one; really there was none.
Constant fear that something would happen to prevent my finishing a thing; would start and hastily change my position, through fear that something would fall on me; walking, would stop and throw head to one side, through fear of striking against some imaginary object suspended a few inches above my head.
Great desire to be alone, with fear of being alone.
Changeable mood; from gaiety to sadness; from fixed ideas to uneasiness of mind.
Does not understand questions; does not know the persons she sees every day; cannot say her prayers.
Fits of nervous laughter; desire to joke, play, laugh.
Great excitement caused by music; later general copious sweat.
Sudden fox-like destructive efforts, requiring utmost vigilance to prevent damage; followed by laughter and apologies.
Threatening words of destruction and death.
Suddenly sprang away from attendants, swept ornaments from mantelpiece; said she was sorry but could not help it.
Very mischievous and destructive, amusing and cheerful.
Attacks of hystero-mania daily about the same hour; first quarrelsome and despondent, suddenly a state of great exhaltation, hits and abuses everyone, destroys whatever she can lay hold of, tears her clothes, laughs and sings; mocks aged people with their age; if restrained becomes violent; attacks end in a comatose sleep.
Jumps from bed, destroying whatever she could get hold of; so quickly that she could not be prevented.
Headache as if a quantity of cold water were poured on head and body.
Intense headache, as if thousands of needles were pricking brain.
Pain in occiput, as if struck by a hammer, extends to temples.
Burning, scorching heat in occiput.
Pain in right maxillary nerve, with tickling sensation in stomach.
It seems as if a living body were moving or tingling in the stomach, with tendency to ascend to throat.
Diabetes – constant craving for raw articles. Disgust for meat; polyuria.
Involuntary micturition when coughing, laughing, making any effort.
Precordial anxiety, tumultuous beating of heart.
Pain, shooting pain in heart and arteries of left chest, extending to left arm; the contact with dress is very painful.
Tumours about the vertebral column.
Strange fancies in regard to colours.
Anguish of heart if they see an unpleasant colour.
Precordial anxiety; tumultuous beating of heart; trembling and thumping, as if from a fright.
Precordial anguish; movement of heart not felt. Constant want of air. Heart ceases to beat and patient fears to die.
Right pupil much dilated, left contracted. Loss of visions in right eye, till dilated pupil contracted.
Face expressed terror.
Face pale earthy, contrasting with nearly purple neck.
Burning and sweat in palms of hands.
Pain in lower jaw as if all the teeth were going to fall out.
Onanism; violent nymphomania.
Intense, unbearable pruritis vulvae.
Terrible pruritis, as of insects creeping and crawling.
Outer parts, as if worms or insects were boring and crawling.
Itching, burning, formication, ecchymosed spots. Painful vesicular and especially pustular eruptions.
KENT who has no lecture on Tarentula, gives a case exemplifying one phase of its action: “Rolling from side to side to relieve the distress is a characteristics of Tarentula. A man with inveterate constipation, who had used physics till they would no longer serve, was encouraged by his daughter to wait for further action until the proper remedy could be recognized, as advised by the doctor. In his distress he rolled from side to side, on the bed, wailing, “Oh dear me”. Tarentula quieted him. Two days later he had a normal stool, and thereafter had no difficulty.”
A couple of years ago a patient in the Children’s Ward of our London Hospital, suffering from chorea, was making little or no progress. During the doctor’s rounds this girl appeared shy and demure: but the Ward Sister said that she was “very foxy”. When she thought no one was looking she would suddenly start tearing up books and destroying such toys as lay within her reach.
Further observation led to the discovery that she was unusually sensitive to music: when the wireless was turned on, she would jump about and dance. Tarentula was given with success.
The following case from The Homoeopathician for October 1913 illustrates the potentialities of Tarentula hispania, where symptoms, especially the marked mental symptoms match.
INSANITY-TARENTULA HISPANIA BY A.W. MCDONOUGH, M.D., U.S.A.
1912. March 14th Miss P., a rather delicate girl of 18 years, tall and slender, with a sort of sallow complexion, called for treatment two months prior to her high-school graduation; had evidently been overworking. Headache intense for past week; frontal and occipital; increases after study; walking. Pain behind eyes. Toward evening feels worse all over. Sensitive to cold. Very irritable. Coughs frequently; increases when quiet. Better in warm room. Desires sweet things. Perspiration scant. After carefully working out the case with a repertory gave Sepia 200. Result was splendid. She had no further trouble until October, when in a runaway with a horse, though not hurt, she was badly frightened.
December 12th. Amenorrhoea. Loss of appetite. Constipation. Very chilly, but feels increase in a close room. Cross and difficult to get along with: increases with heat; increases with cold; decreases when quiet. Headache when awakening. Desires cold. Stomach sensation of a load after eating. Because Sepia had formerly done good gave Sepia. As the remedy did nor work to the satisfaction of the family, she did not return for a second prescription, but went to an old school doctor. With the aid of an osteopath he treated her for amenorrhoea until the middle of February 1913. Under the osteopathic and allopathic treatment she had become very nervous, pale, and restless, and had emaciated from 103 lb. to 78 lb. The allopath advised her to go west for her health. The osteopath said she was almost insane. She was taken to Iowa City to a nerve specialist. He pronounced her in fair condition, but said she must eat to get some strength. From the first she had refused to eat. He gave her strong stomach stimulants, similar to those she had been taking, but on the fourth day of his treatment she became so unmanageable that I was again summoned. I accepted the case only on condition that I might ask the aid of Dr. W.G. Allen, of Barnes City, whom I knew to be an accurate prescriber, homoeopathically and with whom I felt assured of ability to cure the girl. Uncontrollable. The family could do nothing with her. Exalted; restless. Wanted everything to be in motion. Chased the cat from under the stove; “Oh, I can’t bear to see the lazy thing” Ordered her step-father to chase himself around the house and not sit around all day. She was determined to do all the work, but everyone must move, and move rapidly. Insisted on serving at table; loaded the dishes full, but would eat nothing herself; feared she would get fat. Hurries; walks rapidly; must be active every minute; took up her school books and began to work on physics and geometry; forced her music teacher to give her lessons; practised for hours at the piano. Cross, hateful; appeared “possessed of the very old Nick”. Sleep impossible; would not go to bed before midnight; didn’t want to take time to go to bed. Never tired; feels “strung up” constantly. Cannot relax. Aversion to odour of heat. Chilly; sensitive to cold. Weeping inclination constant; weeps much. Craves salt; heaps it on any small bite of food she eats. Craves and eats much chocolate candy. Would take the raw juice of lemon “to keep down the fat.” Nose bleed; bright red from the right nostril. Skin sallow. “Strawberry tongue.” Albumen in abundance in urine. Pulse 67, temperature 96.8, when standing; as soon as sits pulse drops to 60. From our study of the case with the repertory, choice appeared to be between Natrum mur. and Sulph., but choice was difficult.
Sulph. 200 was selected. It did but little for her; it appeared merely to check the downward progress, but she made no improvement. As Dr. Allen was called to Rochester, I dreaded his departure, but he was glad to escape. After a few days gave Natrum mur. 200, as Sulph. appeared to be almost useless. The case remained unchanged. She continued to “run things high.” from early morn to midnight. Refused to eat. Was terrible to live with. Fearful of getting fat, though she weighed only 67 lb. and was dreadful to behold. Again studying the case, beginning with the rubric REFUSES TO EAT, Arsenicum alb. was in all the symptoms. Gave Arsenicum 200 It dispelled her restlessness, warmed her, and helped. After a few days she became worse again Reporting the case to Dr. Kent, his telegram soon came: “Give the patient Tarentula hisp. 10m.” It suited exactly, and I hadn’t seen the picture, plainly as it had presented!
Tarent. hisp. Three hours later her condition was completely changed. Instead of driving her mother from the room, not allowing her to touch her, she wanted to be with her mother every minute, as would almost any sick child. Thoroughly relaxed, she was quite a different person. Gradual improvement form the dose of Tarent. Hands and feet became very dry and scaly about four weeks after beginning Tarentula. After five weeks Dr. Kent advised Tarent. hisp. 50m., About four weeks after the skin scaled and became natural, fine fuzzy hair three-quarters of an inch scaled and became natural fine, fuzzy hair three-quarters of an inch long appeared on the entire body except the palms and soles, but at present writing the face has cleared, the hair having entirely disappeared. She now appears perfectly well, but strength and flesh not fully restored.
This is a rare case, such as will not frequently be observed in private practice. It again illustrates the wonderful power of the potentized remedy when the exact similimum is used. But for Tarentula hispania this patient must have died in an asylum.