On the Vesicating Properties of the Potatoe Fly

John Gorham
1810 The Medical and physical journal  
Xt is well known, that the only substance in common use among the physicians of this country, lor the purpose of raising blisters on the skin is the cant'naris, or meloe vesieatorius, a native of the countries bordering on thq Mediterranean, and imported into the United States, often through the medium of (Sreat Britain.* The expence attendant on this mode of procuring it is undoubtedly great, and the possibility of obtaining, at all times, a constant supply, necessarily depends on the
more » ... ce of numerous contingent circumstances, rarely within the control pf the medical practitioner. Hence the physicians of Ame-. rica have acknowledged the importance of cultivating a more intimate acquaintance with those indigenous productions, which, from the activity of their preparations, and the easy modes of acquiring them lor immediate use, are capable of being substituted for foreign medicines, and,' consequently, of rendering them independent of those accidents and contingencies, whose occurrence, not many years since, was a source of embarrassment, and even of distress to the ipembecs of the medical profession on this side the atlantic. Among the small number of domestic medicines,' whose active virtues have entitled them to a placc in our materia medica, we may rank the Lytta Vitt.Ha, or potatoe fly, an insect, which, at certain seasons of the year, makes its appearance on the potatoe vine, and whose effects, when applied to the human system, are perfectly analogous to those of the Spanish cantharis. The discovery of its peculiar properties was the result of accident, and it was first employed in the practice of medicine, by Dr. Isaac Chapman, of Bucks-county, Pennsylvania, whose conclusions, drawn from a partial investir gation of the subject, mav be found in a paper published in the 2nd volume of the New-York Medical Repository. In this, confining himself merely to a history of the effects, resulting from its external application, he is perfectly silent on its peculiar habits and modes of existence, and xery limited in his description of its entomological characters. From this concise memoir we learn, that at the prosper season of the year, it abounds in immense quantities on the potatoe plant, is easily procured and prepared for medicinal purposes, by the immersion pf the vessel, in which
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