This section is from the book "Botanic Drugs Their Materia Medica, Pharmacology and Therapeutics", by Thomas S. Blair. Also available from Amazon: Botanic Drugs, Their Materia Medica, Pharmacology and Therapeutics.
Aloes. The inspissated juice of the leaves of several species of aloe. Official in all but the Croatian and Servian standards.
Aloes belongs to the anthracene group, whose seat of action is mainly in the large intestine. The delayed action of aloes is supposed to be due to its requiring oxidation to become purgative.
Aloe Purificata (U. S. P., VIII) is to be preferred to other products. The Ninth Revision does not list it. Dose: 1 to 10 grains; average, 4 grains. Aloin is given in one-fourth the dose of aloes, or less; average dose, 1/4 grain.
In very small doses aloes is stomachic and, in larger doses, is purgative and emmenagogue. Its habitual use irritates the kidney, and produces a train of disagreeable gastric and abdominal symptoms.
Aloes is usually combined with other substances designed to modify its action, as its separate exhibition causes griping. Do not give to pregnant or nursing women.
Aloes effectively evacuates the lower bowel; but it is irritating in the case of hemorrhoids. Aloes and aloin enter into a host of formulae. It is effective, but is less used than formerly. It has been commended in a number of diseases in which other drugs are preferable; so they need not be discussed here. In my view, the long-continued administration of aloes or aloin is not justified.