This section is from the book "An Experimental History Of The Materia Medica", by William Lewis.
Millepedae Pharm. Lond. & Edinb. Centipedes & onifci quibufdam. Oniscus Afellus Linn. Millepedes, Wood-lice: an oblong infect, with fourteen feet, and its body com-posed of fourteen rings, rolling itself up into a round ball on being touched; found in cellars, and under stones and logs of wood in cold moist places; rarely met with in the warmer climates. Two sorts are commonly used indiscriminately; one large, of a dusky bluish-black or livid colour; the other smaller, flatter, thinner, of a pale brownish grey, and differing also from the former in the last division of the body being not annular, but pointed, and in the tail being forked. The first species is said to be the true officinal sort, though some have preferred the se-cond: but there does not seem to be any material difference between them in quality.
Millepedes have a faint disegreeable smell, and a somewhat brackish, sweetifh, unpleasant taste. They are celebrated as resolvents, aperients, and diuretics; in jaundices, asthmas, scrophulous and other disorders; but that their virtues are so great as they are generally supposed to be, may be justly questioned, at least when given in the customary doses. I have known two hundred taken every day for some time together, without producing any remarkable effect; in large doses, indeed, it is probable that their activity may be considerable; as they are said to have sometimes produced an universal heat and third with a pain in the region of the pubes(a), and sometimes a scalding of urine (b),
These infects may be commodiously swallow-ed entire, as they spontaneoufly contract them-selves, on being touched, in the form of a pill. In the shops they are commonly reduced into a powder; for which purpose they are prepared, by inclosing them in a thin canvas cloth, and suspending them over hot spirit of wine in a close vessel, till they are killed by the steam and rendered friable. Of the extraction of their active matter by menstrua, no direct experiments have been made: it is rather by expression, than on the principle of extraction or dissolution, thatheir virtues are commonly endeavoured to be obtained in a liquid form; though some liquors are generally added previously to the expression, partly to improve their virtue for particular intentions, partly to preserve the animal juice from corruption, and partly to render it more completely separable. The college of Edinburgh directs two ounces of live millepedes to be slightly bruised, and digested for a night in a pint of rhenish wine, after which the liquor is to be pressed out through a strainer.
(a) Frid. Hoffman, De mat. med. regn. animal, cap, 18. Opera omnia, fuppl. ii. par. iii. p. 157.
(b) Fuller, Pharmacopaeia extemporanea, sub Express milleped, fimp.
Millepedae praeparatae Ph. Lond. & Ed.