Related entry: Aranea Diadema.—Diadem Spider
The freshly spun web, free from dust, of the Tegenaria domestica, or common house-spider, or as often employed in this country, the web of Tegenaria medicinalis.
COMMON NAMES: Spider's web, Cobweb.
Source, History, and Preparation.—The medicinal species of spider, from which the web is obtained, are the Tegenaria medicinalis and Tegenaria domestica, belonging to the division Homogangliata, class Arachnida. The former are found in angles of walls, corners of fences, old houses, barns, etc., where they weave a large, angular, nearly horizontal web, at the upper part of which is a tube in which they keep themselves perfectly at rest, until the web has ensnared a fly or other prey. The field spider's web is said to be of no account, medicinally, while that of the house spider is considered very useful. It is the web of the latter that is preferred by the Homoeopaths who introduced spider-web into practice, and who employ it in a trituration. The common house-spider is brownish or blackish in color, and is found in dark places in cellars, dwellings, barns, etc. In Eclectic practice the tincture of the web has been preferred to the trituration. It may be prepared as follows: Cover 2 ounces of clean recently spun web with 1 pint of strong alcohol, and allow it to macerate 10 days. Filter. This remedy was introduced into Eclectic practice as a cure for intermittent fever. There are various opinions among physicians, as to the modus operandi of cobweb, some attributing it entirely to the control of the imagination, while others view it in a different light, and entertain favorable opinions of it as a powerful therapeutical agent.
Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—Febrifuge, sedative, and antispasmodic. Said to have been found useful in the cure of intermittents when all other agents have failed; also recommended in several nervous affections, to relieve pain, lessen spasmodic action, and cause sleep, without any deleterious narcotic influences. Dr. Robert Jackson used it in the delirium, pains, spasms, and subsultus, common in continued fevers, in dry, nervous coughs, hiccough, etc. It has also been reputed efficient in hysteria, periodical headache, chorea, asthma, morbid wakefulness and restlessness, and muscular spasms. For a series of cases in which this drug acted efficiently, see report of Dr. Pierce, Ec. Med. Jour., Nov., 1886. Of it he writes: "Its specific indications are: Masked periodical diseases in hectic broken-down patients; in all diseases that come up suddenly with cool, clammy skin and perspiration, and cool extremities; in nocturnal orgasm in either sex; numbness of the extremities when sitting still or lying down. It relieves spasms of arterioles, and stimulates capillary circulation. It relieves hyperaesthesia of the cerebro-spinal nerves and the great sympathetic, that depends upon debility. It is the greatest heart stimulant in the materia medica, and lobelia is only second to it." The dose is 5 or 6 grains, rolled up in the form of a pill, and repeated 3 or 4 times a day; or, preferably, specific Tela araneae in doses of from 1 to 10 drops. The web has been applied to fresh wounds to check hemorrhage, and used as a plug to the nostrils in cases of long-continued and obstinate epistaxis. The small silver-headed spider, given in a dough pill, is said to be a prompt and efficient cure for ague.
King's American Dispensatory, 1898, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D., and John Uri Lloyd, Phr. M., Ph. D.