This section of the book is from "The Complete Herbalist" by Dr. O. Phelps Brown. Also available from Amazon: The Complete Herbalist: The People Their Own Physicians By The Use Of Nature's Remedies.
Every animal seems to be a nest for other animals, and man is no exception to the rule. There are five varieties of intestinal worms, all more or less familiar to every one of my readers.
1. Ascaris lumbricoides. -- This worm resembles the common earth worm, and is supposed to belong to the same species. It varies in size from four to eighteen inches in length; it also varies in color, having in some instances a whitish pink hue, and in others a dull, dirty-yellow color. It feeds on the chyme found in the intestines, upon absorption from which the growth of the human system depends. They are generally found in the smaller intestines.
2. Ascaris vermicularis. -- This worm is sometimes improperly called the thread-worm, for there is another variety more like a thread than this. It is commonly called the maw-worm, and is the smallest known. The male is exceedingly small, but the female is about half an inch long. It is very slender, and about the size of small sewing-thread. From the fact that it inhabits the rectum chiefly, it is often called the seat-worm. This is the animal so troublesome and annoying to children, but is occasionally also found in adults. The child infested with them runs about during the day apparently well, but when night comes it complains of itching in the rectum, which is sometimes excessively annoying.
3. Tricocephalus dispar. -- This is the long thread-worm, from one to two inches in length, but sometimes reaches a length of four inches. It is like a small thread, except at the posterior extremity, where it is enlarged. It is not so often found as the others. It is of light color. The male is smaller than the female, and differs little in shape. It is common to all parts of the intestinal canal.
4. Toenia solium or vulgaris. -- This is the common tape-worm. Of this family there is but one variety in the United States, though there is another peculiar to other parts of the world. It varies greatly in length and size. The ordinary length is from seven to fifteen feet, but it sometimes arrives at the enormous length of one hundred feet. It is of a flat, ribbon-like shape, about one-quarter of an inch in breadth in the largest places, and tapers to almost a mere thread at the canal extremity. Its color is whitish or yellowish; and it is made up of numerous segments or joints, which are most distinct and perfect at a distance from the head. These segments resemble a gourd-seed, and are four-sided. The head is smaller than most of the body, with a small point in the centre with openings. It is supposed that this animal can exist or reproduce itself if but a single joint exists, but this is doubtful unless the head exists. When the head is evacuated the remainder will decay and be also expelled. This animal is hermaphrodite, and impregnates itself. It inhabits the small intestines. Persons affected with this worm frequently pass joints, but it often remains in the body for a long time without its presence being thus revealed.
5. Tonia lata, or bothriocephalus latus. -- This is the broad tape-worm, and does not exist in this country unless imported. It is found in Central and Western Europe. It is much broader, and the joints are shorter than in the common long tape-worm. The joints are more perfect, well developed, and thrown off in connected rows, and by a cavity in the centre, and not in the border of the joints. It varies in length from one to twenty feet.
Almost every variety of symptoms is found to result from the irritation that worms produce in the human system. The symptoms, however, occur mostly in children, and are generally produced by the long, round, or common worms. The abdomen is prominent, full or bloated; the appetite variable and capricious; sometimes deficient and sometimes voracious. The breath is usually offensive, the tongue has a white-coated appearance, and often the upper lip will be much swollen. The eye-lids also swell often, sometimes so much that the child can barely see; and occasionally swollen patches will present themselves in other parts of the body. Children troubled with worms are apt to pass restless nights, and frequently start in their sleep. Paleness around the mouth, extending up the sides of the nose, is another common symptom. Itching of the anus is the most common and only particular effect produced by the small worms. St. Vitus' dance and epilepsy often result from verminous irritation, but the latter is usually harmless when properly treated. A dry, choking cough is a symptom peculiar of worms. Itching of the nose is a common symptom, and the child is almost incessantly rubbing that member.
The symptoms of tape-worm are somewhat peculiar, and deserve a brief notice. Persons of all ages are subject to them, but they are most common to middle age. The disturbance they occasion is that of great uneasiness and distress, which often, sooner or later, destroys the general health. Uneasiness in the head, sometimes pain, slight giddiness and ringing in the ears, are the symptoms most complained of. The twitching of the muscles, especially those at the mouth, and a pinched, contracted appearance of the nostrils, accompanied with itching, are peculiar symptoms of tape-worm. The appetite is variable, the eyelids swollen, the breath offensive, etc., and other symptoms common to other worms are present also in tape-worm. Nausea occurs at times, with ejections of frothy mucus. The patient grits his teeth in sleep; and the abdomen seems full, with contraction of the navel. After a night's sleep there is a sensation of an animal moving about in the bowels, accompanied by darting pains, which subside after eating. The patient becomes weak and nervous, and finally, worn out with excitement, gets hypochondriacal and even deranged. Of course, the most unequivocal symptom is a discharge of joints of the worm.
TREATMENT. -- This varies with the symptoms of each case. If convulsions exist, the first step should be to subdue these by brisk friction and warm applications along the spine and abdomen. Anti-spasmodics in these cases should be given; also sweating drinks. If these symptoms are relieved, the compound powder of senna and jalap may be given with pink and wormwood in sufficient doses to produce free evacuations of the bowels. This is to be repeated for two or three days, and is usually successful. It is equally reliable in the treatment of the long thread-worm. The powder is composed of three drachms each of the above herbs decocted in a pint of water; dose, a tablespoonful. It produces sometimes alarming symptoms, but these, however, are harmless and of short duration. Pinkroot and wormwood are good remedies, however, given in any form. The melia azedarach, or the Pride of China, given in decoction, is a favorite remedy; so also is the burr of the red cedar, the efficacy depending upon the turpentine it contains. Santonine in doses of three or five grains is efficacious, and very serviceable because it is tasteless, and therefore readily administered. Blue vertain is a good remedy, and for this reason my "Restorative Assimilant" is so efficient for the expulsion of worms. Seat, or maw-worms are best expelled by injections of moderately strong salt and water, or soap-suds. Turpentine in emulsion also makes an efficient injection.
For tape-worm various remedies are used. Kousso, pumpkin-seeds, and turpentine have each a good reputation. Male Fern, however, is the most specific remedy that can be used. It is certain to dislodge the distressing enemy.
My "Male Fern Vermifuge" is without doubt the best vermifuge ever compounded and offered to the public. It instantly expels the minor worms, and the tape-worm is quickly dislodged by it. It is composed of such articles as make it applicable to every variety of worms, and it is veritably infallible in its effect. (See page 469.)
I admonish all persons to avoid eating pork that is not well cooked, for it is an established and indisputable fact that tape-worm is caused by eating raw pork, provided that it is not in a healthy condition. That which is commonly known as "measly pork" contains the germs of tape-worm and should not be eaten unless thoroughly cooked. Tape-worm is most prevalent among the peasants of Central Europe, being they subsist largely on raw pork.