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.
For a particular account of aloes as a purgative, see volume II. page 523. That this medicine has a powerful influence in promoting menstruation, we have sufficient proof in the united testimony of ages, and its almost universal employment for the purpose at the present time, both in regular and irregular practice. Of the numerous compounds used in the treatment of amenorrhoea, aloes is generally one, if not the most prominent of the ingredients. it is supposed by some to act simply as a purgative, through its irritant influence on the lower bowels. I have myself no doubt that its operation on the uterus is as direct as upon the colon and rectum. There is good reason to believe that it operates on both parts through the circulation. Absorbed into the blood,'and circulating through the system, it affects especially those parts which are peculiarly susceptible to its influence; and the uterine system bears, in this respect, the same relation to it as the mucous membrane of the alimentary canal. A strong proof of this is, that it often appears to act as an emmenagogue, without any purgation, or observable irritation of the bowels. it is, however, peculiarly applicable to cases in which amenorrhoea is accompanied with constipation. As it is both locally and generally somewhat stimulant, it should not be used in plethoric conditions of the system, or active congestion of the uterus; but may be given in all other cases of amenorrhoea.
There are two modes of exhibiting it, one in full purgative doses, the other in small doses frequently repeated. When the menstrual period is at hand, it will probably prove most efficient if given in the former method, so as to operate energetically on the bowels; in the dose, for example, of from ten to twenty grains. Thus given, it sometimes brings on an immediate flow of the menses. But, in general, it is best administered in small and repeated doses, so as to operate not more than once or twice daily, and to sustain a moderate but prolonged effect upon the pelvic viscera. it may be used in this manner for months, if necessary, being suspended if found to produce great irritation of the rectum. The dose, for this purpose, is from one to three grains, which may be repeated twice or three times daily. it is most frequently given in combination with iron or myrrh, or with the two jointly. For an account of the forms in which it is exhibited, see page 530. The following are the officinal combinations given with a view to the emmenagogue effect:- Compound Decoction of Aloes (II. 531); Pills of Aloes and iron (II. 531); Pills of Aloes and Myrrh, or Rufus's pills (II. 530); Compound Pills of Rhubarb (II. 520); Powder of Aloes and Canella, or hiera picra (II. 531); Tincture of Aloes and Myrrh, or the old elixir proprietatis (II. 531); and Tincture of Rhubarb and Aloes, the old elixir sacrum or sacred elixir (II. 520). The powder of aloes and canella, or hiera picra, is a good deal used among the lower classes as an emmenagogue. it owes all its properties of this kind to the aloes it contains; as the canella is in but small proportion, and acts only as an aromatic addition.