This section is from the book "Materia Medica And Therapeutics: An Introduction to the National Treatment of Disease", by John Mitchell Bruce. Also available from Amazon: The pharmacology and therapeutics of the materia medica.
The inspissated juice of the leaf of Aloe vulgaris. Imported from Barbadoes.
Characters.-In yellowish-brown or dark-brown opaque masses; breaks with a dull conchoidal fracture; has a bitter nauseous taste, and a strong disagreeable odour; dissolves almost entirely in proof spirit, and during solution exhibits microscopically numerous crystals. Usually imported in gourds.
Substances resembling Aloes: Guaiacum, Scammony, and Catechu, all destitute of bitter taste.
Aloe Socotrina-Kopntrirm Aloes.-The inspissated juice of the leaf of one or more undetermined species of Aloe. Produced chiefly in Socotra, and shipped to Europe by way of Bombay.
Characters.-In reddish-brown masses, opaque, or translucent at the edges; breaks with an irregular or smooth and resinous fracture; has a bitter nauseous taste, and a strong but fragrant odour; dissolves entirely in proof spirit, and during solution exhibits microscopically numerous minute crystals.
Composition.-Aloes contains: (1) Aloin C17H18O7, an inodorous body, with a taste at first sweet, afterwards intensely bitter; partly crystallising in small colourless needles, partly amorphous and then called aloetin; readily soluble in hot water, the heat converting the crystalline into the amorphous form.
(2) Aloe resin, a brown translucent body, insoluble in water.
(3) Gallic acid, in small quantity. (4) A volatile oil, the source of the odour of aloes. (5) Various less important bodies.
Dose.-Of either kind of aloes, 2 to 6 gr.
a. Of Aloe Barbadensis:
Enema Aloes. 40 gr.; Carbonate of Potash, 15 gr. ; Mucilage of Starch, 10 fl.oz. For one enema.
Extractum Aloes Barbadensis. Aqueous. 1 1/4 in 1. Lose, 1/2 to 2 gr.
Pilula Aloes Barbadensis. Aloes, 2; Hard Soap, 1; Oil of Caraway, 1/8; Confection of Roses, 1. Dose, 4 to 8 gr.
b. Of Aloe Socotrina:
Enema Aloes. Prepared as from Barbadoes Aloes.
Extractum Aloes Socotrinae. Aqueous. 2 in 1. Dose, 1 1/2 to 3 gr.
From Extractum Aloes Socotrince is prepared:
Decoctum Aloes Compositum.-Extract, 120 gr.; Myrrh, 90 gr.; Saffron, 90 gr.; Carbonate of Potash, 60 gr.; Extract of Liquorice, 1 oz.; Compound Tincture of Cardamoms, 8 fl.oz.; and Water to make 30 oz. 4 gr. in 1 fl.oz. Dose, 1/2 to 2 fl.oz.
Extractum Aloes Socotrince is also an ingredient of Extractum Colocynthidis Compositum. 1 in 2 1/4 nearly.
Pilula Aloes Socotrinae. 1 in 2. Dose, 5 to 10 gr.
Pilula Aloes Et Assafoetidae. Equal parts of Aloes, Assafcetida, Hard Soap, and Confection of Roses. 1 in 4. Dose, 5 to 10 gr.
Pilula Aloes Et Myrrhae. Aloes, 2; Myrrh, 1; Saffron, 1/2;
Confection of Roses, 2 1/2. 1 in 3. Dose, 5 to 10 gr.
Tinctura Aloes. 1 in 40. Dose, 1 to 2 fl.dr.
Vinum Aloes. Nearly 2 gr. in 1 fl.dr. Dose, 1 to 2 fl.dr.
Aloes acts upon the stomach and intestines as a bitter and purgative. The former effect is fully described under Calumbae Radix, page 181. As a purgative, aloes is peculiar in acting chiefly upon the colon. Ten to fifteen hours or even more after an ordinary dose, rarely sooner, a soft formed or lightly relaxed motion is passed. Very large doses may not act more quickly, but much more violently, with pain, straining, and possibly bleeding from the rectum. Aloes is thus the slowest of all purgatives. The presence of bile is believed to be required to insure the action of the purgative aloin, and the drug is, in turn, a stimulant of the biliary flow. The pelvic circulation generally, as well as that of the rectum, is excited by aloes, which may cause haemorrhoids and haemorrhage from the bowel, increased uterine activity, menstruation, possibly menorrhagia, and even abortion if given in large doses, in certain subjects, or repeatedly.
Aloes is used as one of our most valuable purgatives in suitable cases. It is especially indicated in habitual constipation due to languor of the colon, with low atonic dyspepsia and hypochondriacal despondent feelings. It improves instead of deranging digestion, and gains instead of losing its activity by repetition; its laxative effect is of a natural character, if its griping action be covered by carminatives as in most of the officinal preparations. It must, however, be avoided in irritable states of the rectum, haemorrhoids, menorrhagia, and pregnancy, unless given with care. Aloes is an ingredient of almost all the compound pills in ordinary use for habitual constipation, e.g. of rhubarb, colocynth, and gamboge; and the extract is also given with extract of belladonna, nux vomica, sulphate of iron, or quinia, as a dinner-pill. The compound decoction is perhaps the best preparation of the drug, being particularly-valuable in the constipation of children with hard motions, vermes, indigestion, acidity, and derangement of the general health.
The action of aloes on the pelvic circulation constitutes it a uterine stimulant, and it is given with success as the Aloes and Myrrh Pill in the amenorrhoea of young women, so often associated with chronic constipation and dyspepsia. The Aloes and Iron Pill is perhaps the most valuable of all remedies in the anaemia, amenorrhoea, and constipation of girls at and after puberty. Enema Aloes is anthelmintic.
Aloin enters the blood and tissues, and is excreted at least in the milk.