Spanish Fly Drops: Aphrodisiac or Poison?

Spanish fly drops have become popular around the world as a powerful aphrodisiac for men and women. However, specialists have found they can harm your health - why? Find out here!
Spanish Fly Drops: Aphrodisiac or Poison?
Franciele Rohor de Souza

Reviewed and approved by the pharmacist Franciele Rohor de Souza.

Last update: 22 November, 2022

Spanish fly drops are known on the market as a “natural Viagra” because of their supposed aphrodisiac effects. According to popular literature, a few drops of this “love potion” elevate women’s mood for intimacy and enhance erection in men.

However, evidence warns that this substance is hazardous to health. It contains a toxic chemical compound called “cantharidin”, which specialists associate with damage to the urinary tract and digestive system. Interested in learning more about it? Just keep reading!

What are Spanish fly drops?

Spanish fly drops and other products distributed as “Spanish fly” are supplements that promise to improve the quality of our sex life due to their aphrodisiac capacity. Historical data tells that figures such as King Ferdinand “the Catholic” used this remedy as a sexual invigorator.

Currently, although markets distribute supplements under this name, none of them contain the real Spanish fly extract. The reason? One of its components, cantharidin, causes negative health effects. The original formula is obtained from the insect Lytta vesicatoria, also called “blister beetle,” which causes blisters on contact with the skin.

The beetles are crushed and combined with drinks or sweets to promote the sensation of heat in the body and swelling in the genitals. However, these reactions are due to an inflammatory process that sometimes leads to fatal outcomes.

A spanish fly.
The substance cantharidin comes from an insect that has negative health effects. Its venom causes blisters on human skin.

Dangers of the Spanish fly

A recent case report reported in Acta Médica Portuguesa warns of the dangers of cantharidin. According to the publication, people have reported intoxication by this substance on multiple occasions and symptoms include the following:

  • Digestive hemorrhage
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting blood
  • Pain when urinating
  • Blood in the urine
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Kidney failure
  • Convulsions
  • Coma

In the case cited, a 51-year-old patient developed severe intoxication after consuming a formulation of tea containing Spanish fly. They specifically reported a burning sensation in the mouth, diarrhea, and hematuria (blood in urine). Also, the diagnosis revealed acute kidney damage and atypical neurological symptomatology.

Spanish fly drops today

Spanish fly drops and any product containing cantharidin aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). While the substance is the subject of research, it isn’t approved for use under any circumstances. In fact, this government entity doesn’t recognize any over-the-counter natural aphrodisiac as safe or effective.

Even so, as we’ve discussed, there are products on the market that supposedly contain “Spanish fly”. These preparations usually don’t contain original cantharidin due to its potential risks. Instead, they contain ingredients such as maca, ginseng, and ginkgo Biloba, which are also marketed as natural aphrodisiacs.

Discover: Low Sex Drive and Its Impact on Relationships

Alternatives to improve sexual performance

Professionals in urology or gynecology should look into sexual health problems. Although there are many aphrodisiac products that promise almost miraculous effects, the truth is that most of them are ineffective. Some of them are even dangerous.

However, there are some healthy habits that can contribute to improving sexual performance in a natural way. Their practice contributes to prevent sexual dysfunctions and, in general, to maintain well-being.

Physical exercise

Regular physical exercise is beneficial for the sexual health of both men and women. A study published in Sexual Medicine Reviews associated exercise with greater sexual arousal and satisfaction in women. In addition, a study in Sexual Medicine states that this habit improves erections and reduces the risk of male impotence.

Why does it cause these effects? Specifically, exercise improves blood flow to the genitals, reduces stress, and increases energy levels. In addition, it also strengthens self-esteem, which has links to a satisfying sex life.


Massages don’t solve sexual health problems. Even so, they’re an adjuvant to improve intimate life as a couple. Their practice not only reduces stress and tension, but also stimulates erogenous zones.


Strange as it may seem, sunbathing is beneficial to improve sexual performance. A study published in the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology determined that 30 minutes of sunlight stimulates testosterone production in men with low sexual desire. In turn, it helps to increase up to 3 times their sexual satisfaction.

Healthy and balanced nutrition

One aspect that you shouldn’t neglect when it comes to improving sexual health and performance is nutrition. Sexual Medicine Reviews reported that models such as the Mediterranean diet help reduce erectile dysfunction disorders in men.

Meanwhile, another publication in the same journal made similar findings in women. Researchers believe that metabolic syndrome and obesity -associated with poor diet- explain some cases of sexual dysfunction in both men and women.

Mediterranean diet
The Mediterranean diet is postulated as an adequate dietary model to prevent defects in sexual function.

Also read: Compulsive Sexual Behavior

What to remember about Spanish fly drops

Despite their fame as a natural aphrodisiac, specialists consider Spanish fly drops dangerous to health. These specialists don’t approve of their use and there are warnings of serious side effects after consumption. Although products are still distributed under its name, they probably don’t contain the extract obtained from the species Lytta vesicatoria.

If there are sexual health problems, it’s essential to consult the appropriate professional, whether a urologist, gynecologist or sexologist. There are many safe and effective ways to treat both male and female dysfunctions. However, a professional must review each case on an individual basis.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.