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[[File:Spanish Fly.jpg|thumb|Spanish Fly]]
 
[[File:Spanish Fly.jpg|thumb|Spanish Fly]]
  
Commonly found throughout southern Europe, parts of Central Asia and Siberia, the '''Spanish Fly''' '''''(Lytta vesicatoria)''''' is actually a beetle. They are signified by the secretion of '''Cantharidin''', which is common among almost all male species of the '''blister beetle''' family (Meloidae).  
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Commonly found throughout southern Europe, parts of Central Asia and Siberia, the '''Spanish Fly (Lytta vesicatoria)''' is actually a beetle. They are signified by the secretion of '''Cantharidin''', which is common among almost all male species of the '''blister beetle''' family (Meloidae).  
  
 
The '''Spanish Fly''', and some of its related species, were earlier used for the preparation of medicines by conventional apothecaries. '''Cantharidin''', a toxic, defensive chemical found in the '''blister beetle''', had been used for over a thousand years as a sexual stimulant. In concentrated amounts, the chemical causes severe '''blistering'''. It is potent enough to cause serious complications and is fatal above a certain dosage.
 
The '''Spanish Fly''', and some of its related species, were earlier used for the preparation of medicines by conventional apothecaries. '''Cantharidin''', a toxic, defensive chemical found in the '''blister beetle''', had been used for over a thousand years as a sexual stimulant. In concentrated amounts, the chemical causes severe '''blistering'''. It is potent enough to cause serious complications and is fatal above a certain dosage.
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The poisoning due to '''Cantharidin''' is a cause for concern among many animals, especially horses. Beetles feed on leaves and at times move to crop fields that grow livestock ('''alfalfa'''). Horses are known to be very sensitive against the blistering chemical secreted by '''Spanish Fly''' beetles within the median lethal dose (LD<sub>50</sub>), roughly around 1mg/kg of the horse’s body weight. The Great Bustard - a large, flightless bird found in Morocco, Europe and East Asia - is known to become intoxicated due to Cantharidin poisoning from ingesting blister beetles.  
 
The poisoning due to '''Cantharidin''' is a cause for concern among many animals, especially horses. Beetles feed on leaves and at times move to crop fields that grow livestock ('''alfalfa'''). Horses are known to be very sensitive against the blistering chemical secreted by '''Spanish Fly''' beetles within the median lethal dose (LD<sub>50</sub>), roughly around 1mg/kg of the horse’s body weight. The Great Bustard - a large, flightless bird found in Morocco, Europe and East Asia - is known to become intoxicated due to Cantharidin poisoning from ingesting blister beetles.  
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According to research, Cantharidine causes the release of '''serine proteases''', the enzymes responsible for the breakdown of peptide bonds in proteins. Once absorbed through the lipid membranes by the epidermal cells, Cantharidin triggers a chain of reactions that ultimately leads to acantholysis (loss of cellular adhesion and connections) and blistering of the skin.  
 
According to research, Cantharidine causes the release of '''serine proteases''', the enzymes responsible for the breakdown of peptide bonds in proteins. Once absorbed through the lipid membranes by the epidermal cells, Cantharidin triggers a chain of reactions that ultimately leads to acantholysis (loss of cellular adhesion and connections) and blistering of the skin.  
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There are no scars left after the lesions heal. It has been known to be beneficial against '''cutaneous leishmaniasis''', a disease caused by single-celled parasites transmitted by the bite of a phlebotomine sandfly. Laboratory studies and reports also suggest that Cantharidin may be beneficial in fighting cancer cells. The positive feedback may be due to PP2A inhibition.  It can also be used to cure water warts (''molluscum contagiosum'') and other related infections if used in correct diluted dosages.
 
There are no scars left after the lesions heal. It has been known to be beneficial against '''cutaneous leishmaniasis''', a disease caused by single-celled parasites transmitted by the bite of a phlebotomine sandfly. Laboratory studies and reports also suggest that Cantharidin may be beneficial in fighting cancer cells. The positive feedback may be due to PP2A inhibition.  It can also be used to cure water warts (''molluscum contagiosum'') and other related infections if used in correct diluted dosages.
  
=== Use as an Aphrodisiac/Sexual Stimulant- Science or Myth? ===
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=== Use as an Aphrodisiac/Sexual Stimulant- Science or Myth ?===
 
Several aphrodisiacs claim to contain '''Cantharidin''' from '''blister beetles'''. It is supposed to rapidly arouse sensual and erotic feelings among both males and females. However, the reality is that most products are fake and contain water.
 
Several aphrodisiacs claim to contain '''Cantharidin''' from '''blister beetles'''. It is supposed to rapidly arouse sensual and erotic feelings among both males and females. However, the reality is that most products are fake and contain water.
  
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== Culinary  and Other Uses ==
 
== Culinary  and Other Uses ==
The '''Spanish Fly''' was consumed as a food item in parts of North African countries, especially Morocco. The sale of the spice blend consisting of green beetles - the ''"ras el hanout"'' - was banned in the 1990s. The beetles were occasionally used along with a mixture of spices, sugar, hashish, dry fruit pastes and the peels of certain fruits, to make the African jam-spread ''Dawamesk''.
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The '''Spanish Fly''' was consumed as a food item in parts of North African countries, especially Morocco. The sale of the spice blend consisting of green beetles - the ''ras el hanout''- was banned in the 1990s. The beetles were occasionally used along with a mixture of spices, sugar, hashish, dry fruit pastes and the peels of certain fruits, to make the African jam-spread ''Dawamesk''.
 
Blister beetles, along with the herb wolfsbane (''Aconitum'') and human excrement were the key ingredients in the world’s first stink bomb made in ancient China.
 
Blister beetles, along with the herb wolfsbane (''Aconitum'') and human excrement were the key ingredients in the world’s first stink bomb made in ancient China.
  

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