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Agave Americana

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

of Homoeopathy.)

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

company quarters.

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

growing worse.

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

verify it.

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.)