This section is from the book "Smith's Family Physician", by William Henry Smith. See also: Natural Physician's Healing Therapies: Proven Remedies that Medical Doctors Don't Know.
A new remedy for tape worm, called Kousso, was introduced into Europe from Abyssinia, in the year 1850; which is said to have been more successful in its operation generally than Turpentine, and not so unpleasant to take. At first its cost was so high. (35 shillings sterling per ounce, and the dose half an ounce), that its use was confined to the rich, but the price is now low enough to bring it within the reach of every one. The dose for an adult is half an ounce of the dried flowers, mixed with half a pint of warm water, which should be taken on an empty stomach. It is best to pour boiling water on the drug, and to let it stand till cool enough to drink. The dose may be repeated, if necessary, a day or two afterwards. It is advisable to take an aperient the day before taking the Kousso.
Another remedy which has obtained considerable celebrity as a remedy for tape worm is the root of the Male Fern. It has been long in use, and has been generally successful, frequently where other drugs have failed. It is said to be less nauseous and irritant than Turpentine, more sure than Pomegranate, less bulky and less expensive than Kousso. The dose of the powder is from one to three drams, according to the age, and of the ethereal extract (Oil of Fern) from twelve to twenty-four grains.
The Guinea Worm is common in hot climates, where it is very troublesome; but as it is not known in temperate climates, it is not worth while to waste space in describing it.
The Tricina is of more importance, as, although only measuring one-thirtieth of an inch in length, it has frequently been very destructive to human life. These animals were first noticed in human flesh by Mr. Paget in the year 1835. They have been detected in the muscles of the eye, the tongue and even in those of the ear. They have their origin in the flesh of the pig, and when transferred to the human subject, sometimes multiply rapidly, increasing to millions. At Heldstadt, in Prussia, in October, 1863, 103 persons sat down to a feast of which sausage-meat formed a part. Within a month after the dinner 20 of these persons had died of, and more than 80 were then suffering from "trichi-niasis," which was distinctly traced to a certain pig from which the sausage-meat had been made. It appears to take from a month to six weeks from the time the live animal is swallowed by a human being till the disease begins to show itself.
The symptoms in the severer cases are feverishness and frequency of pulse, feelings of ill-health and depression, pains, and a sense of tightness in the limbs, resembling and sometimes mistaken for rheumatic pains, a general condition suggesting the suspicion of Typhoid fever, ill-smelling perspirations, stiffness of the limbs, contractions of the joints, great sensitiveness of the skin, swelling of the face and legs, occasionally general dropsy, and (in fatal cases) death by exhaustion.
There is no known remedy, as far as I am aware, specially applicable to these cases, distributed as the worms are through the muscles. Possibly impregnating the system with sulphur might have some effect. In the meantime people cannot be too careful in avoiding the risk of swallowing these creatures in pork. A certain amount of heat, that of boiling water, will kill them. Fresh pork should therefore never be eaten with any shade of redness in it, and salting or smoking alone without proper cooking should never be trusted to; and both the fat and lean of pork are to be suspected.
It may be mentioned that it has been noticed in various countries, that those persons accustomed to eat raw or underdone meat are more liable than others to tape worms.
A worm is also occasionally found in the human kidney. It is called the giant strongle (strongulus gigas). It varies in length from five inches to a yard, and is sometimes half an inch in diameter. There are no special symptoms of its presence, although it causes unpleasant feelings while in the kidney; bloody urine, retention of urine; and great suffering in its passage out of the body, either through the natural urinary channels, or by abscess and ulceration through the back.
But, in addition to those animals which have their natural habitation in the human body, there are others which, or their eggs or maggots, find their way there accidentally. Thus Dr. Elliot-son mentions a case of an infant who discharged from its bowels a dozen live maggots of the common fly. He also tells us of two different patients of his who each voided a living caterpillar. One of the patients was a woman who had been in the habit of eating cabbage-stalks while she was washing them for cooking, and doubtless swallowed some of the eggs. Another case is related of a boy, who, after a dose or two of Calomel and Jalap, passed a great many caterpillars, all alive and full of activity. He had been in the habit, when in the garden, of eating young cabbage-leaves. Till this habit began he had enjoyed good health. While the animals were within his bowels, he suffered severely; had lockjaw; and fell into a state resembling coma. When they were expelled he recovered perfectly. Centipedes have in like manner been vomited and passed by the bowels. But the most wonderful instance of this kind that ever was heard of, is related by Dr. Pickells, in the "Transactions of the King and Queen's College of Physicians in Ireland." A young woman of melancholy disposition and chlorotic appearance had been in the daily habit, from some superstitious motive, of drinking water mixed with clay taken from the graves of two priests who lived and died in the odor of sanctity. In this way she probably swallowed the eggs of the insects which subsequently issued from her body. In the course of about three years and a quarter she discharged, partly by vomiting, but chiefly by the bowels, upwards of 2000 beetles, and their maggots, most of them alive. Dr. Pickells counted more than 1300. Some of them ran off as soon as they were vomited, into holes in the floor. The patient had suffered severely from pain, gnawing, and a sense of creeping at the pit of the stomach, vomiting of blood, headache and convulsions; and was at length relieved by large doses of Oil of Turpentine."