This section is from the book "An Experimental History Of The Materia Medica", by William Lewis.
Coccinella Pharm. Lond. Cochinilla pharm. Edinb. Coccus Cacti Linn. Cochineal: little wrinkled grains, of an irregular figure, convex on one side and flat or somewhat hollowed, on the other, externally of a dark red colour generally sprinkled with a whitish clammy powder, internally of a deep bright red. This substance, brought from Mexico and New Spain, supposed formerly the seed of a plant, appears to be an infect of the scarabaeus kind, found adhering to the leaves and branches of the opuntia or American prickly pear tree, and carefully preserved and cured by the natives. The male infects have wings, and are about the size of a flea: the females have no wings, and are larger; when full of young, they become torpid, and swell so as on first sight to resemble berries, in which state they are swept off with a pencil: if left till the young ones creep out, the parent dies, and its body becomes an empty husk.
The principal use of cochineal is as a colouring drug: it gives a fine deep durable red both to rectified and proof spirit, and a deep pur-plish crimson to water: neither the watery or spirituous infusions suffer any change of their colour on being infpiffated to the consistence of an extract. Cochineal has been sometimes used also in a directly medicinal view, and supposed to act as a mild corroborant and diaphoretic. It has a faint musty kind of smell, and a very flight bitterish roughish taste; both which are taken up, along with the colouring matter, by watery and by spirituous menstrua, and, though scarcely perceptible in the dilute tinctures or infusions, are very sensible in the infpiffated extracts, particularly in that made with spirit. Car-theufer observes, that the mucilaginous bitterish watery extract amounts to three fourths of the weight of the cochineal; and the balsamic bitter and moderately astringent spirituous extract, to nearly as much.