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The aloe1 bears a resemblance to the squill, except that it is larger, and has more substantial leaves, with streaks running obliquely. The stem is tender, red in the middle, and not unlike that of the anthericus.2 It has a single root, which runs straight downwards, like a stake driven into the ground; its smell is powerful, and it has a bitter taste. The most esteemed aloes are those imported from India, but it grows in the Asiatic provinces3 as well. This last kind, however, is never used, except that the leaves are applied fresh to wounds; indeed, these leaves, as well as the juice, are glutinous to a marvellous degree, and it is for this property that it is grown in vessels of a conical form, in the same way as the greater Aizoüm.4 Some persons make incisions in the stem to obtain the juice, before the seed is ripe, while others, again, make them in the leaves as well. Tearlike drops are also found adhering to it, which exude spontaneously: hence it is that some recommend that the place should be paved where it is grown, to prevent this juice from being absorbed.

Some authors have stated, that there is found in Judæa, beyond Hierosolyma, a mineral5 aloe, but that it is inferior to the other kinds, being of a darker colour and more humid than any of the rest. Aloes6 of the finest quality should be unctuous and shining, of a red colour, brittle, compact, like the substance of liver, and easily liquefied. That which is hard and black should be rejected; the same, too, when it is mixed with sand or adulterated with gum and acacia, a fraud which may be easily detected by the taste.

This plant is of an astringent nature, binding, and slightly calorific. It is employed for numerous purposes, but principally as a purgative,7 it being almost the only one of all the medica- ments which produce that effect, that is at the same time a good stomachic, and does not exercise the slightest noxious influence upon the stomach. It is taken in doses of one drachma, and, in cases of derangement of the stomach, it is administered two or three times a day, in the proportion of one spoonful to two cyathi of warm or cold water, at intervals, according to the nature of the emergency. As a purgative it is mostly taken in doses of three drachmæ; and it operates still more efficaciously, if food is eaten directly afterwards. Used with astringent wine, it prevents8 the hair from falling off, the head being rubbed with it the contrary way of the hair, in the sun. Applied to the temples and forehead with rose oil and vinegar, or used as an infusion, in a more diluted form, it allays head-ache. It is generally agreed that it is remedial for all diseases9 of the eyes, but more particularly for prurigo and scaly eruptions of the eye-lids; as also for marks and bruises, applied in combination with honey, Pontic honey in particular.

It is employed, also, for affections of the tonsillary glands and gums, for all ulcerations of the mouth, and for spitting of blood, if not in excess—the proper dose being one drachma, taken in water or else vinegar. Used by itself, or in combination with vinegar, it arrests hæmorrhage, whether proceeding front wounds or from other causes. In addition to these properties, it is extremely efficacious for the cure of wounds, producing cicatrization very rapidly: it is sprinkled also upon ulcerations of the male organs, and is applied to condylomata and chaps of the fundament, either in common wine, raisin wine, or by itself in a dry state, according as a mollifying or restrictive treatment is required. It has the effect, also, of gently arresting hæmorrhoidal bleeding, when in excess. In cases of dysentery, it is used as an injection, and where the digestion is imperfect it is taken shortly after the evening meal. For jaundice, it is administered in doses of three oboli, in water. As a purgative for the bowels, it is taken in pills, with boiled honey or turpentine. It is good also for the removal of hangnails. When employed in ophthalmic preparations, it is first washed, that the more gravelly portions of it may subside; or else it is put over the fire in a pipkin, and stirred with a feather from time to time, that the whole of it may be equally warmed.

1 The ancients probably included under this name several distinct species of the aloe. They were well acquainted, Fée says, with the Indian aloe, but probably not with that of Africa. As described by Pliny, he identifies it with the Aloe perfoliata of Linnæus: Desfontaines gives the Aloe umbellata.

2 See B. xxi. c. 68.

3 "Asia."

4 See B. xxv. c. 102. The aloe is still grown in large wooden vessels, in this country, at least; but only as an ornament.

5 He alludes to the bitumen of Judæa, much used by the Egyptians for the purposes of embalmment.

6 He is speaking of the prepared aloes of commerce.

7 It is still used for this purpose.

8 There is no foundation, Fée says, for this statement.

9 It would appear that it is still employed in India for this purpose, but it is no longer used in Europe.

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