In RE: pill, I saw a few interesting things:
Songs and other poems, Third Edition, enlarged, by Alexander Brome (page 147), 1668 (Poem under consideration was written in 1643?)
I recall reading in the book, Grandfather’s Book of Country Things by Walter Needham and Barrows Mussey, a description of saving bile from butchered animals and rolling it into tiny, bitter pills for medicinal use. Possibly as a purgative; I forget.
ASSA-FOETIDA, (yes, that is how it appears on one of my recently-purchased containers.) It is best described (in my mind) to others as smelling like “heavy, fermented human sweat”. It is sulfurous, but not as pungently so as skunk.
Well, I have to modify that statement. I brought the package into the office here, and I guess it is as pungent as skunk. It pervades. Powerful. It must keep it in an airtight, closed container, preferably of glass. Even so, it pervades.
The best, in my opinion, comes in boxes from India as rectangular lozenges, maybe an inch, by two-and-a-half, by four looking like the rosin that is used on violin bows, and is wrapped in what appears to be a bay leaf. I am told it is a betel leaf. To use it in this form, it is necessary to chip it off much like one might chip flint. It usually works best when used in baghar (frying spices in hot oil to release their fragrance and aroma).
It is known phonetically as “heeng” or “hing”. “Devil Shit,” I have been told, is a translation from Samskrt. Onomatopoeia, indeed!
I heartily recommend it to those of strong constitution and adventurous spirit. Definitely not for the faint of heart!