From London's Ghost Acres

Aloes consist of the congealed juices of aloe plants. The British Pharmacopeia (1867) makes the distinction of two different types of aloes: Barbadoes Aloes and Socotrine Aloes, whereas the Compendium of Domestic Medicine (1865) focuses solely on Socotrine Aloes. Barbadoes Aloes are made from the congealed juices of Aloe vulgaris (more commonly known as Aloe vera) and are imported from Barbados. Socotine Aloes are the congealed juices from a variety of different aloe plants. These aloes are produced in Socotra (an island off the coast of Yemen), and then shipped from Bombay to the rest of Europe.

Aloes were primarily used to treat digestive ailments in both adults and children, due to their ability to act as a carthartic (purgative) and as a gentle laxative. Aloes could also be prescribed to women suffering from decreased menstrual discharges, but should not be given to women who are pregnant as it could trigger a miscarriage.

In both the British Pharmacopeia (1867) and A Compendium of Domestic Medicine (1865), focus is given to the oral administration of aloes and their purgative qualities. Only one instance of a topical application is recorded: an anthelminic ointment from the Compendium, used to treat parasitic worms.

The use of topical aloe vera has no associated dangerous side effects, however, oral admiration of aloes can cause sever cramps, diarrhoea, and can increase the risk of intestinal cancers. (

British Pharmacopoeia 1867

Barbadoes Aloes Aloe barbadensis

The thickened or congealed (insipissated) juice from the leaf of Aloe vulgaris (aka Aloe vera and is imported from Barbados [1]


“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 under the microscope numerous crystals. Usually imported in gourds.” Given in a dosage of 2-6 grains. [2]

Socotrine Aloes Aloe socotrinae

The thickened or congealed (insipissated) juice from the leaf of one or more species of Aloe. Produced in Socotra, and shipped to Europe from Bombay. [3]


“In redish-brown masses, opaque, or translucent at the edges; breaks with an irregular or smooth and resinous fracture; has a bitter taste, and a strong but fragrant odour; dissolves entirely in proof spirit, and durin solution exhibits under the microscope numerous minute crystals.” Given in a dosage of 2-6 grains. [4]

Preparations of Aloes

  • Compound Decoction of Aloes: extract of socotrine aloes [5]
  • Enema of Aleos: aloes [6]
  • Extract of Barbadoes Aloes: barbadoes aloes, in small fragments [7]
  • Extract of Socotrine Aloes: socotrine aloes in small fragments [8]
  • Pill of Barbadoes Aloes: barbadoes aloes, in powder [9]
  • Pill of Aloes and Assafoetida: socotrine aloes, in powder [10]
  • Pill of Aloes and Iron: barbadoes aloes, in powder[11]
  • Pill of Aloes and Myrrh: socotrine aloes [12]
  • Pill of Socotrine Aloes: socotrine aloes, in powder[13]
  • Tincture of Aloes: socotrine aloes, in coarse powder [14]
  • Wine of Aloes: socotrine aloes [15]

A Compendium of Domestic Medicine, 1865

Socotrine Aloes slow acting carthartic, gentle laxative. Also acts upon the uterine system in women, restoring/increasing menstrual discharge. Will also increase appetite and improve digestion.[16]

Socotrine aloes can be used to treat: constipation, appetite loss, flatulence, obstructed menses[17]

Aloe is included in "all those combinations which have enjoyed so much popular credit under the names of Antibilious and Dinner Pills."[18] "Aloe is also contra-indicated in pregnancy during its advance stages, or at any stage when there is a likelihood of miscarriage."[19]

Rarely given to children on its own. Because of the bitter taste aloe is often combined with liquorice-root, "perhaps there are few medicines to the taste of which children sooner become reconciled."[20]

Aloes can be given as part of the treatment for poisoning from preparations of lead.[21]

Remedies Containing or to be used with Aloes

  • The Aperient and Tonic Aloetic Pills: Contains Socotrine aloes. Two pills taken before dinner [22]
  • The Aloetic Pills:2-4 pills Contains extract of aloes. "taken in leucophlegmatic and strumous habits, when the alvine excretion is irregular"[23]
  • The Compound Cathertic Pills with Aloes: Contains Socotrine aloes. 2-3 pills taken sometimes at bed[24]
  • Dr. Ballie's Pils for Indigestion and Costiveness: Contain extract of aloes. One pill is to be taken an hour before dinner[25]
  • Assafoetida: can be combined with aloetics when treating hysterical complaints.[26]
  • Baume de Vie, or compound decoction of aloes: used to treat "hyterical and hypochondriacal affections," along with some spasmodic disorders. Does a lot of things to help out the stomach.[27]
  • Calomel: a purgative containing calomel used by Savory to illustrate the applications of calomel contains aloes in the form of Rufus' pill [28]
  • Extract (Aqueous) of Aloes: empties bowels[29]
  • Gum Myrrh: extract of aloes included in mixture used to "open the bowels in a suppression of the menses."[30]
  • Gum Scammony: combined with other purgatives, like aloes. Socotrine aloes included in a pill containing powdered scammony that is intended to be taken a bed time.[31]
  • Hiera Picra (Pulvis Aloes Cum Canellâ): warm cathartic, mostly used by women "in whom the bowel are indolent."[32]
  • Pil Cochiae (Fr: Pilues d'Aloes et de Coloquinte): Aperient given for "all common purposes."[33]
  • Pil Rufi (Fr: Pilules d'Aloes at Myrrhe): "well calculated for delicate females, especially where there is uterine obstruction." Also used as stomachic and purgative. Most likely this is Rufu's Pills, both contain aloes and myrrh[34]
  • Rhubarb, Turkey: extract of aloes are part of Dyspeptic Pill, used to treat dyspepsia accompanied by constipation[35]
  • Tincture of Aloes: stomachic and purgative[36]
  • Tincture of Aloes, Compound: stronger than tincture of aloes[37]
  • Tincture of Aloes and Myrrh: laxative, tonic, emmenagogue. Treats green sickness and other ailments specific to women.[38]
  • Tincture of Aloes, Ethereal: used with spasms or irregular nervous action, same as earlier tinctures just has ether[39]
  • Tincture of Steel, Muriated. Tincture of Perchloride of Iron: combined with aloes and antispasmodics = emmenagogue as well as helping in "leucophlegmatic habits"[40]
  • Wine of Aloes: stomachic, purgative. Treats chlorosis and dyspesia, and "affections of the mesenteric glands of children."[41] Savory's Aloetic Mixture for Children contains compound decoction of aloes and wine of aloes.[42]

Diseases Treated with Aloes

  • Costiveness, or Constipation: a compound aloetic pill can be used when the intestinal muscles are no longer functioning properly[43]
  • Gout: Socotine aloes are included in Dr. Cartwright's pills used as preventative measures[44]
  • Mensturation: purging with aloes one of the way to treat Retention of the Menses, and Chlorosis (green sickness)[45]
  • Water-brash: a compound decoction of aloes can be used, but Savory indicates that Dr. Jenner's Absorbent Lozenges provide more relief[46]

Medical Articles Containing Aloes

  • Aloetic Clyster: contains extract of socotrine aloes[47]

Prescriptions Containing Aloes


  • Antacid Draught (Another): compound decoction of aloes. Used to treat dyspepsia[48]
  • Chronic Gout: compound decoction of aloes [49]

Aperients and Cathartics

  • Aperient Aloetic Mixture: compound decoction of aloes, wine of aloes. "found very useful when we wish to expel worms from children" [50]
  • Aperient Pills: extract of aloes [51]
  • Aperient and Tonic Pills: extract of aloes[52]
  • Dr. Copland's Aperient Pills: extract of socotrine aloes [53]
  • Dinner Pills for the Dyspepsie of Old Persons: powdered socotrine aloes [54]


  • Anthelminic Ointment: powdered aloes[55]


  • Emmenagogue and Antispasmodic Mixture: compound tincture of aloes[56]
  • For Retention of the Menses: extract of aloes[57]


  1. General Medical Council of Great Britain, British Pharmacopeia, (London: Spottiswoode & Co.,1867), 30
  2. GMCGB, 30
  3. GMCGB, 31
  4. GMCGB, 31
  5. GMCGB, 96
  6. GMCGB, 110
  7. GMCGB, 113
  8. GMCGB, 113
  9. GMCGB, 234
  10. GMCGB, 234
  11. GMCGB, 235
  12. GMCGB, 235
  13. GMCGB, 235
  14. GMCGB, 319
  15. GMCGB, 366
  16. Savory, John. A Compendium of Domestic Medicine (London: John Churchill and Sons, 1865), 11.
  17. Savory, 12
  18. Savory, 12
  19. Savory, 12
  20. Savory, 12
  21. Savory, 178
  22. Savory, 13
  23. Savory, 13
  24. Savory, 13
  25. Savory, 13
  26. Savory, 23
  27. Savory, 30
  28. Savory, 36
  29. Savory, 62
  30. Savory, 76
  31. Savory, 77
  32. Savory, 79
  33. Savory, 116
  34. Savory, 117
  35. Savory, 126
  36. Savory, 152
  37. Savory, 153
  38. Savory, 153
  39. Savory, 153
  40. Savory, 163
  41. Savory, 168
  42. Savory, 169
  43. Savory, 225
  44. Savory, 235
  45. Savory, 246
  46. Savory, 261
  47. Savory, 297
  48. Savory, 307
  49. Savory, 308
  50. Savory, 311
  51. Savory, 313
  52. Savory, 313
  53. Savory, 313
  54. Savory, 314
  55. Savory, 316
  56. Savory, 328
  57. Savory, 328

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