The Spider’s web has been used as a remedy from ancient times. Tela araneae has been experimented with on healthy persons. It very rapidly lowers the frequency of the pulse rate. In some it has produced:
«a calm and delightful state of feeling, followed by a disposition to sleep. The most delicious tranquillity, resembling the action of opium and followed by no bad effects.»
Twenty grains given to an old and infirm asthmatic produced «slight but pleasant delirium.» Muscular energy is increased, could not be kept in bed, but danced and jumped about the room all night.
In cases of febrile depression, deficient animation or indifference to surrounding objects, the exhibition of eight or ten grains of cobwebs was often followed by exhilaration: the eyes sparkled. The countenance assumed a temporary life and, though the course of the disease might not be changed or the danger averted, more respite was obtained than is gotten from wine, opium or anything else within my knowledge.
«In spasmodic disorders of various kinds in asthma in periodic headaches in general restlessness and muscular irritability, its good effects are often signal. The cobweb gives sleep, but not by narcotic power, tranquillity and sleep here appear to be the simple consequence of release from pain and irritation.»
Planets: Mecury, Moon.
Tela araneae acts on arterial system. The pulse is full, strong, and compressible. Lowers pulse rate frequency. Cardiac sleeplessness increased muscular energy. Excitement and nervous agitation in febrile states. Dry asthma, harassing coughs, periodic headaches with extreme nervous weakness. Obstinate intermittents.
Masked periodical diseases, hectic, broken down patients. Symptoms come on suddenly with cool, Clammy skin. Numbness of hands and legs when at rest. Continued chilliness.
Asthma. Intermittents. Sleeplessness.
Dr. Chapman writes of Tela araneae: «I have cured some obstinate intermittents, suspended the paroxysm of hectic fevers.
Overcome morbid vigilance from excessive nervous mobility and quieted irritation of the system from other causes and particularly as connected with protracted coughs and other chronic pectoral disorders.»
Dr. Gillespie of Edinburgh, «cured an obstinate intermittent with cobweb after other means had failed.»
Dr. Jackson writes: «I think I may venture to say that it prevents the recurrence of febrile paroxysms more abruptly and more effectively, than bark or arsenic or any other remedy employed for that purpose with which I am acquainted: that like all other remedies of the kind, it is only effectual as applied under a certain conditions of habit, but that the condition of susceptibility for cobweb is at the same time of more latitude than for any other of the known remedies.»
«If the cobweb,» says Dr. Jackson, «was given in the time of perfect intermission, the return of paroxysm was prevented, if given under the first symptoms of a commencing paroxysm, the symptoms were suppressed and the course of the paroxysm was so much interrupted that the disease, for the most part, lost its characteristic symptoms.
If it was not given until the paroxysm was advanced in progress the symptoms of irritation, viz., tremors, startings spasms and delirium, if such existed as forms of febrile action, were usually reduced in violence, sometimes entirely removed. In this case sleep. calm and refreshing, usually followed the sudden and perfect removal of pain and irritation.
Vomiting, spasms and twisting in the bowels, appearing as modes of febrile irritation, were also usually allayed by it, there was no effect from it where the vomiting or pain was connected with real inflammation.»
The changes induced on the existing state of the system, as the effect of its operation, characterize it as powerfully stimulant:
(1) Where the pulses of the arteries are quick, irregular and irritated, they become calm, regular and slow. After the cobweb had passed into the stomach: the effect is moreover accompanied, for the most part with perspiration and perfect relaxation of the surface.
(2) When the pulses are slow, regular and nearly natural they usually become frequent small, irregular, sometimes intermitting. (3) Languor and depression characterize the disease, sensation of warmth and comfort are diffused about the stomach and increased animation is conspicuous in the appearance of the eye and countenance.
Dr. Jackson likewise effected perfect cures with it in some troublesome spasmodic disorders and gave it with the most marked benefit in dry, irritating coughs, usually termed nervous. In the advanced stage of tuberculosis it procured a respite beyond his expectation. He also found it useful in restraining a troublesome hiccough.
Remembering the fame of Mygale avicularia in chorea we may well expect this other spider to be of use «in some troublesome spasmodic affections.»
Dr. Thatcher cites the following case from a paper of Dr. Jackson’s: «W. Sands has been afflicted for many years a distressing asthma, which has proved fatal to his father and two sisters. The complaint being hereditary and aggravated by malformation of the thorax, no remedy gave any permanent relief, nor did change of climate procure any alleviation of symptoms.
For a considerable time back he has never been able to lie down in bed on account of a sense of suffocation, but is obliged to be supported half sitting by pillows and is seldom able to sleep.
He swallowed nearly a scruple of the spider’s web, he swallowed it at bed time and to his utter astonishment enjoyed sound and uninterrupted sleep all night, a blessing to which he had been an entire stranger above six years.
Since he began with the cobweb thinks his health is improved, the cough has entirely abated, but whenever the remedy is omitted the complaint returns.»
Dr. Oliver found that by the use of this remedy a patient laboring under organic disease of the heart and hydrothorax obtained great relief and refreshing sleep, who had not before slept for three nights.
Another, under similar affection, experienced uncommon relief from the same prescription. To one suffering much pain from cancer it afforded ease and comfortable sleep.
A patient in tuberculosis pulmonalis being affected with distressing agitation of mind and nervous irritation, it answered like a charm and soon induced great sleep like a moderate dose of opium.
Anshutz. Boericke. Clarke.