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NAT. ORD., Amaryllidaceae.
COMMON NAMES, American Aloe, Maguey, Century Plant.
PREPARATION.--The fresh leaves are pounded to a pulp and macerated with
two parts by weight of alcohol.
(We find the following concerning this little known
remedy in Volume I, 1851, of the North American Journal
1. Agave Americana or Maguey.--[Dr. Perin, U. S. A., stationed at Fort
McIntosh, in Texas, having many cases of scurvy to treat, and finding
the usual allopathic routine ineffectual, was led to make inquiry as to
the domestic remedies in use among the natives. Among others, his
attention was called to the Agave Americana or American Aloe, and he
reports to the Surgeon General the following cases in which it was the
drug relied on. We extract from the N. Y. Jour. Med.:]
Private Turby, of Company "G," 1st U. S. Infantry, was admitted into
hospital March 25th, in the following state: Countenance pale and
dejected; gums swollen and bleeding; left leg, from ankle joint to
groin, covered with dark purple blotches; leg swollen, painful, and of
stony hardness; pulse small, feeble; appetite poor; bowels constipated.
He was placed upon lime juice, diluted and sweetened, so as to make an
agreeable drink, in as large quantities as his stomach would bear; diet
generous as could be procured, consisting of fresh meat, milk, eggs,
etc.; vegetables could not be procured.
April 11th. His condition was but slightly improved; he was then placed
upon the expressed juice of the maguey, in doses of f. [Latin: ezh]ij.
three times daily; same diet continued.
April 17th. Countenance no longer dejected, but bright and cheerful;
purple spots almost entirely disappeared; arose from his bed and walked
across the hospital unassisted; medicine continued.
May 4th. So much improved so as to be able to return to his company
quarters, where he is accordingly sent; medicine continued.
May 7th. Almost entirely well; continued medicine.
Private Hood, "G" Company, 1st U. S. Infantry, was admitted into
hospital April 10th. His general condition did not differ much from
Private Turby's. He had been on the sick report for eight days; had been
taking citric acid drinks, but grew gradually worse up to the time of
his admission, when he was placed upon lime-juice until the 13th, at
which time no perceptible change had taken place. On that date he
commenced the use of the expressed juice of the maguey; same diet as the
case above described.
April 21st. General state so much improved that he was sent to his
May 22d. Well; returned to duty.
Eleven cases, all milder in form than the two just related, were
continued upon the lime-juice; diet the same. On the 21st of April they
exhibited evidences of improvement, but it was nothing when compared
with the cases under the use of the maguey.
Seven cases were under treatment during the same time, making use of
citric acid. On the 21st of April no one had improved, and three were
At this time so convinced was I of the great superiority of the maguey
over either of the other remedies employed that I determined to place
all the patients upon that medicine. The result has proved exceedingly
gratifying; every case has improved rapidly from that date. The
countenance, so universally dejected and despairing in the patients
affected with scurvy, is brightened up by contentment and hope in two
days from the time of its introduction; the most marked evidences of
improvement were observable at every successive visit. From observing
the effects of the maguey in the cases which have occurred in this
command, I am compelled to place it far above that remedy which, till
now, has stood above every other--the lime-juice.
This no doubt will appear strong language, but further experience will
The juice of the maguey contains a large amount of vegetable and
saccharine matter, and of itself is sufficiently nutritious to sustain a
patient for days.
This succulent plant grows indigenous in most parts of the State, and,
if I am correctly informed, in New Mexico and California. In Mexico it
is well-known as the plant from which they manufacture their favorite
drink, the "Pulque," and grows in great abundance. As it delights in a
dry sandy soil, it can be cultivated where nothing but the cactus will
grow; for this reason, it will be found invaluable to the army at many
of the western posts, where vegetables cannot be procured.
The manner in which it is used is as follows, viz.:--The leaves are cut
off close to the root, they are placed in hot ashes until thoroughly
cooked, when they are removed, and the juice expressed from them. The
expressed juice is then strained, and may be used thus, or may be
sweetened. It may be given in doses of f. [Latin: ezh]ij. to f. [Latin:
ezh]iij. three times daily.
It is not disagreeable to take, and in every instance it has proved to
agree well with the stomach and bowels.
After the leaves have been cooked, the cortical portion near the root
may be removed, and the white internal portion may be eaten; it appears
to be a wholesome and nutritious food. I have seen muleteers use it in
this way, and they seem to be very fond of it. I have been informed,
upon good authority, that several tribes of Indians in New Mexico make
use of it in the same manner. The use of the leaf in this way, I
believe, will ward off most effectually incipient scorbutus.
(In El Siglo Medico, 1890, Dr. Fernandez Avila reports
the case of a boy, aet. 8, who had been bitten by a
supposedly mad dog on Feb. 18. The wound healed up, but
on July 7th the boy developed all the symptoms of rabies
and on the 17th was so violent that he had to be tied and
had not tasted food for seventy-two hours as all remedies
failed to produce any effect, the doctor, having read
that Agave Americana was efficacious in such cases, and
having none of the tincture at hand, gave the boy a piece
of the plant itself which he greedily ate; it was given
to him as long as he would take it. On the 25th his
symptoms had all abated and he was dismissed cured.)
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