In a discussion at the Paris Academy of Medicine, on the treatment of albuminuria, reported in the French journals, the question of the employment of the tincture of cantharides was raised by M. Lancereaux, who declared that he had obtained good results from its administration in this disease and in uræmia. This assertion provoked the protestations of M. M. Germain-Sée and Dujardin-Beaumetz. According to Sée, the experimental lesions, produced in animals by the injection of cantharidin, contra-indicate the therapeutic use of that substance in renal affections. This reason is perhaps not sufficient to condemn absolutely the use of cantharides; although it is known that the best way to produce a glomerulitis is to inject under the skin of an animal a few milligrammes of cantharidin. It does not, moreover, prove that the same substance, administered in suitable doses, cannot act in a useful manner on the kidney; for it is possible, that, as Lancereaux affirms, this stimulation produces in some cases of nephritis a beneficial effect. He is so deeply impressed with the efficacy of the tincture in Bright's disease, that he states no one dies of uræmia during his hospital service, an assertion borne out by the testimony of his internes. The treatment advocated by Sée and Beaumetz is chiefly dietetic, composed largely of milk, fruit and vegetables, with such symptomatic medication as occasion may demand. The iodides of strontium and calcium especially, with cardiac stimulants, form their main reliance. The question is, they claim, whether the effect which can be obtained by more certainty and at less risk by other means, compensates for the dangers to which the use of cantharides exposes the patient. In any case, in an old nephritis with hypertrophy of the heart, it does not appear that there is anything to hope from this drug which can only aggravate the renal lesions.
J Cutan Genito-Urin Dis.
Cantharides in the Treatment of Albuminuria. Arch Dermatol. 1993;129(1):126. doi:10.1001/archderm.1993.01680220142036