In spite of modern scepticism regarding the poisonous properties of the toad, Shakspere, who seems to have known everything, was absolutely correct in speaking of the toad as having “sweltered venom.”
Round about the cauldron go,
In the poisoned entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone
Days and nights has thirty-one
Sweltered venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i’ th’ charmèd pot.
The poison is excreted by glands in the skin of the back. L. Guthrie (H. W., xxviii. 484) tells a story of an Italian peasant, apparently dying of dropsy, whose wife, weary of the interminable length of his illness, thought to hasten his end by putting a toad into his wine.
The result was the man was completely cured.
“Quintessence of toads” figured largely in the therapy of Salmon’s Doron Medicon (1583), where it is commended as a “Specifick in the Dropsy.” Homœopathic experiments and poisonings have shown that this reputation is founded on fact. But the chief laurels of Bufo have been won in the treatment of epilepsy. B
ojanus has cured many cases; and no medicine has served me better in the treatment of this disease. Few people who have witnessed a characteristic epileptic seizure can have failed to notice the curiously toad-like aspect assumed by the subject. The epileptic seizure and the status-epilepticus give the clearest correspondence to the Bufo range of action. Again, epilepsy is often found among the effects of self-abuse in the young, and Bufo provokes the tendency to the practice, and even causes impotence. The Indian women of Brazil are aware of this last property, and administer the venom to their husbands in food or drink when they wish to free themselves from their marital attentions.
Bufo causes low grades of inflammatory action, fetid exhalations and discharges. (I have removed the fetor in hopeless cases of cancer with this remedy.) Guernsey commends it in panaritium where the pain runs in streaks, all the way up the arm. Also when the fingers have been injured and look black, with pains running in streaks up the arm. E. E. Case has reported a cure with Bufo cinereus of “epistaxis daily for several weeks with flushed face, heat and pain in forehead > by the bleeding; there was also easy perspiration in general, apt to be offensive, especially on the feet.”
According to Lippe Bufo is especially indicated in epilepsy when the attacks occur during sleep at night. The patient may or may not be awakened by the attack; if not, when he does awaken he will have violent headache. Epileptic symptoms are by nose-bleed; congestive;