A Supplement to Clarke's Dictionary of Practical Materia Medica

by Peter David Fraser

     
 

 

Cerastes cerastes

Cerastes cerastes

Horned Viper, Saharan Horned Viper, Horned Desert Viper.

Found in Northern Africa and Arabia

 

The tincture of the venom is diluted and succussed.

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Subphylum: Vertebrata

Class: Reptilia

Order: Squamata

Suborder: Serpentes

Family: Viperidae

Subfamily: Viperinae

Clinical

Heart disease

Menopause

Renal failure

Characteristics

Cerastes is a small genus of vipers found in North Africa and the Middle East. C. cerastes is a larger member of the genus found in the deserts of North Africa and Arabia. Although the genus is known as horned vipers only members of C. Cerastes and C. gasperettii have the distinctive horns over the eyes and they are not found in all members of either species. They seem to be more common in those snakes that live in sandy deserts and less so in those living in more rocky areas. The snakes sink themselves into the sand by vibrating their bodies and wait buried until prey comes close enough to strike. When burying themselves or moving through the sand the scales of the snake make a rasping sound. The horns may have a role in keeping sand out of the eyes or may break up the outline of their heads and so act as camouflage. The snakes also mate while buried in the sand. They are nocturnal animals spending the day buried in the sand if possible and if not in abandoned mammal burrows or sheltered under rocks. They also lay their eggs in these crevices and burrows. In Greek and medieval mythology the Cerastes is a horned serpent whose outstanding quality is an extremely flexible spine.

The venom of the Horned Viper is complex, thirteen toxins have been identified, and the composition varies considerably in different individuals. Historically they are much feared in the areas that they are found but there are very few, if any, recorded fatalities. Yet Schneemann et al describe two cases of bites from captive snakes in Europe that, even with prompt treatment with specific antivenoms, resulted in life threatening conditions. Initial local swelling was followed by coagulopathy, increased fibrinolysis, thrombocytopenia, micro-angiopathic haemolytic anaemia and acute renal failure. The venom has both haemorrhagic and coagulating effects that in some circumstances may counteract each other.

The remedy was proved by Uta Santos-König in Vienna with 6 female and 3 male provers.

The strongest physical symptoms in the proving were centred on the heart with palpitations, racing and the peculiar sensation as if the heart were gently squeezed in a hand. There could also be weakness of the heart, as if barely beating. Heart symptoms can be accompanied by fear.

The toxicology shows an affinity not just to the circulation but also to the kidneys. Jaundice and small pimples and blisters, particularly on the face were common indicating that the liver to has an affinity to the remedy. It is a strongly right sided remedy.

The mental symptoms showed a particular tendency for a natural gentleness and modesty to become pathological in "blind accommodation and weak willed indifference". Or for the contrary state of rebelliousness, inflexibility and irritability to arise.

The dreams gave a range of imagery and feeling around the power of female sexuality. In the positive place there was a sense of personal power and beauty that was enjoyed and which was admired by other women and respected by men. At the other extreme the power invokes the jealousy and envy of other women and the fear and hatred of men.

These issues together with the hot flushes indicate that it is another of the snake remedies that will be useful at the climacteric.

Like Bungarus fasciatus, another nocturnal snake, it does not have the aggravation in the morning after sleep but is rather better in the morning and worst during the afternoon.

Artistic correspondences

Peculiar sensations

Head pain as if being knocked out with a pan.

Facial features stiff, as if paralysed.

Sensation of smelling dog excrement.

Sensation as if a hand is gently squeezing the heart,

Stitching in chest as from tiny needles.

Sensation of electric shocks originating in solar plexus.

Modalities

< right side

< afternoon (tiredness)

> morning

< cold (headache)

< bending (back pain)

Relations

Compare

Other snakes.

Follows well

Causation

Menopause

Symptoms

Mind
Head
Eyes
Ears
Nose
Face
Teeth
Mouth
Throat
Appetite
Stomach
Abdomen
Stool & Anus
Urinary
Male
Female
Respiratory
Chest
Heart
Neck & Back
Limbs
Upper Limbs
Lower Limbs
Generalities
Skin
Sleep
Dreams
Fever

Mind

Soft, gentle, devoted and accommodating. Modest humble feeling, without need for expression. Happiness and gentleness replacing resistance and rebellion.

Joy and gentleness becomes blind accommodation and weak willed indifference.

Irritable, impatient and inflexible. Depressed and disheartened.

Feeling of clarity. Urge to do housework.

Fear from heart symptoms.

Head

Stabbing pain in forehead and neck when cold. Stabbing pain over left eye. Feels like being knocked out with a pan. Sensation of heat. Dizziness and nausea on moving the head quickly. Dullness around forehead.

Eyes

Difficulty focussing, vision fades to infinity. Twitching of right eye.

Ears

High pitched tone in left ear, hissing or buzzing.

Nose

Burning before sleep. Burning with clear discharge. Right nostril stuffed up. Congestion alternating with clear coryza. Sensation of smelling dog excrement. Sneezing lasting 30 minutes.

Face

Features stiff, as if paralysed. Itching around lower jaw, spots like mosquito bites. Skin blemishes between eyebrows and around mouth. Red blisters on forehead, painful from pressure. Yellow discolouration.

Teeth

Mouth

Tongue painful with impression of teeth on right side. Open sore in the right corner that burns when touched.

Throat

Appetite

Increase of appetite. Loss of appetite. Decreased urge to smoke. Desire for sweets.

Stomach

Intense vomiting at night. Pain at night.

Abdomen

Burning that extends to chest. Sensation of electric shocks originating in solar plexus. Redness in evening. Distension.

Stool and Anus

Constipation. Watery diarrhoea at night.

Urinary Organs

Increased urge to urinate, < evening.

Male Sexual Organs

Female Sexual Organs

Prickling around genitals. Vaginal itching.

Respiratory Organs

Chest

Oppressive feeling in chest. Pressure on chest. Stitching in chest on inhaling, as from tiny needles. Itching and redness of right nipple, with sensitivity to touch.

Heart

Stitching pain in lower heart region. Pressure and pain above the heart, after exercise, frightening. Can barely feel the heart beating. Palpitations with nausea. Tachycardia. Racing as from strong coffee. Sensation as if a hand is gently squeezing the heart, before falling asleep.

Neck and Back

Lower back pain, < bending.

Limbs in general

Ice cold hands and feet.

Upper Limbs

Lower Limbs

Stitching pain in left knee, > movement. Right knee swollen.

Generalities

Stitching pains. Restlessness with heart palpitations. Flu like symptoms. Hot flushes and cold sweats in the evening. Sensitivity to cold alternating with sensation of heat. Tiredness. Feeling of dead quietness. Feeling refreshed in the morning.

Skin

Small itchy pimples and blisters.

Sleep

Difficulty falling asleep. Light sleep, waking often. Waking at 4 a.m. Tiredness in the afternoon.

Dreams

Of sexuality. Being provocatively dressed and arousing the envy and hatred of other women, but also of being admired. Of her mothers rage and sexual jealousy. Of shame and anger around sexuality. Of beautiful and powerful women. Of the importance and beauty of clothes. Of shoes and shopping. Of places that belong to her but to which she has no access. Of lovely flowers, tender beauty and complete happiness. Of being pregnant Of the Star of Bethlehem. A man buried up to his neck. Of being fearful of losing a car key. Of a fear of heights. Of cats with deep wounds.

Fever

Fever. Sweating even though cold.

Authorities

Uta Santos-König Proving of Cerastes cerastes - The Horned Viper.

M. Schneemann, R. Cathomas, S.T. Laidlaw, A.M. El Nahas, R.D.G. Theakston and D.A. Warrell Life-threatening envenoming by the Saharan horned viper (Cerastes cerastes) causing micro-angiopathic haemolysis, coagulopathy and acute renal failure: clinical cases and review QJM 2004 97(11):717-727