Mattioli’s Dioscorides illustrated by Cibo (Discorsi by Mattioli and Cibo)

Mattioli’s Dioscorides illustrated by Cibo (Discorsi by Mattioli and Cibo) Aloe (Aloe), ff. 143v-144

Aloe (Aloe), ff. 143v-144

Aloe produces large leaves similar to those of the squill. They are fat, not very wide, roundish and open at the bottom with some short spines at far, random intervals on both sides. Its stem yields a white flower similar to the anthericum, and a fruit like that of the asphodel. The entire plant, which is bitter to the taste, gives off a strong odor and grows out of only one root, like a stake driven into the earth. / It grows abundantly in India, from where its extracted juice is sent to us. It also grows in Arabia, Asia, in some seaside places and on islands like Andros. What comes from those places is not very useful for extracting juice but is very good for healing wounds when plastered on them. / There are two types of its extracted juice: the dregs of the most valuable plant seem sandy, while the other has a gelified consistency like the liver. The preferable type is the thick, pure one, without pebbles and sand, brilliant, reddish, breakable, similar to liver. It liquefies easily and is very bitter. Contrarily, the black type is of poor quality, and it does not melt easily. / If aloe is adulterated with rubber, it can be recognized by the flavor due to its bitterness, by its strong odor and because it does not crumble into fine grains when squeezed between the fingers. Some also adulterate it with acacia. / Aloe has astringent and hydrating properties. It induces sleep, firms the body and has a laxative effect. / If two spoonfuls of it are drunk with cool water or whey, it purges the stomach and put a stop to phlegm and vomiting blood. If three obols or one drachma of it is drunk, it alleviates jaundice. If it is taken with water or turpentine, or with cooked honey, it stimulates the intestines and provokes total purging if three drachma are consumed. / When mixed with other purgative medicines, it corrects them and makes them less harmful to the stomach. If dried and ground into powder, it heals wounds, treats ulcers (especially in the genital area) and heals lacerated foreskin in young boys. / When mixed with sapa, it cures both abscesses and sores on the bum, reduce hemorrhoids and stops bleeding. It helps heal whitlow. / Applied in a plaster with honey, it makes bruises disappear, soothes eyelid inflammation and relieves itching at the corners of the eyes. Applied to the forehead and temples together with vinegar and rose oil, it cures headache. Mixed with wine, it stops hair loss, and together with honey and wine, it alleviates mouth sores and ailments of the throat and gums.

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