This section is from the book "A Treatise On Therapeutics, And Pharmacology Or Materia Medica Vol2", by George B. Wood. Also available from Amazon: Part 1 and Part 2.
Though formerly recognized by the London and Edinburgh Colleges, mucuna has been discarded in the preparation of the British Pharmacopoeia. It consists of the bristles of the pods of Mucuna pruriens (Dolichos pruriens, Linn.), a perennial climbing plant of the West indies and other parts of intertropical America. The fruit, which is a dry pod shaped like the italic letter f, is thickly covered with short reddish-brown hairs, which are very hard and sharp at the point, and easily penetrate the skin when brought into contact with it. I once accidentally took a quantity of these hairs in my hand, and suffered considerably for some hours.
These spicula are supposed to possess anthelmintic properties, and to act on the worms mechanically, by wounding them. in experiments made out of the body, worms mixed with them have seemed by their motions to suffer severely, have died as if from the effects of the injury, and afterwards, examined by the microscope, have exhibited great numbers of these little spears penetrating their bodies, and sometimes passing through them. They have been chiefly employed against the roundworm, but are said to have proved successful in all the varieties. Dr. Küchenmeister, however, did not find them, in his experiments, to produce any effects on the tapeworm. (Dub. Journ. of Med. Sci., xv. 250; from Froriep's Tagsberichte.) The dose of cowhage is not precise. The ordinary method of exhibition is to mix the hairs, scraped from the pods, with molasses or syrup so as to form a semifluid electuary, of which a teaspoonful may be given to a child three or four years old, and a tablespoonful to an adult.