This section is from the book "An Experimental History Of The Materia Medica", by William Lewis.
Dolichos Pharm. Edinb. Dolichos prurient Linn. Cacara pruritus Rumph. Amb. S Tizo-Lobiumy Browne. Couhage, or Cow-itch. Cadjuct, Bengalis.
This is an herbaceous plant, of the papilionaceous tribe, growing in the East and West Indies. It bears pods, densely covered with sharp hairs, which have the property of penetrating the skin, and causing a most troublesome itching. This quality, with us, is only employed in performing mischievous tricks; but in the West Indies, the cow-itch is given internally as a very efficacious anthelmintic. The most particular account of the use of this remedy is contained in Mr. Bancroft's Hist. of Guiana, and it is confirmed by a letter in the Medical Comment. Vol. II. p. 82.
The manner in which it is employed, is to mix the hairy matter scraped off from the pods, with syrup or melasses, into a thin electuary, of which a tea-spoonful is given to a child two or three years old, and double the quantity to an adult. The dose is exhibited in the morning, failing, for three successive days, after which a dose of rhubarb is given. Its effects are repre-sented as remarkably powerful and certain, without the least dangerous consequence. The spiculas seem by their mechanical action either to excite the peristaltic motion of the intestines, or to irritate and annoy the worms themselves. Neither a tincture nor decoction of the cow-itch were found to possess the least anthelmintic power.
A particular botanical description of the plant by Mr. Kerr is given in the Medical Comment. Vol. II. "p. 202.
Mr. Chamberlaine, surgeon, of London, published A practical 'Treatise on the Efficacy of Stizolobium or Couhage, internally administered, in Diseases occasioned by Worms, of which the fourth edition is dated 1785. In this, he confirms by several cases the efficacy of this remedy, and gives directions for its exhibition. Mr. Chamberlaine has lately favoured me with a letter, in which he says, "that he can add from the most certain proofs, that the couhage is as deleterious to both the tape worm and ascarides, as to the common round worms, or teretes."