Cape aloes may be used as a bitter tonic and an ingredient in several herbal bitters preparations, although it is more commonly used for its internal cleansing action.
Caution/Safety: The Botanical Safety Handbook classifies cape aloes as Class 2b Herbs not to be used during pregnancy and Class 2d Herbs Contraindicated in intestinal obstruction, abdominal pain of unknown origin, or any inflammatory condition of the intestines (appendicitis, colitis, Crohn's disease, irritable bowel syndrome, etc.); in kidney dysfunction; in menstruation; and in children less than 12 years of age; not for use in excess of 8 to 10 days.
Cape aloes (also known bitter aloes) are a palm-like succulent plants that is native to the Cape Region of South Africa. The yellow latex or sap, located just under the outer leaf, is drained and then dried to produce the powdered herb.
To prepare cape aloes herb, or aloes bitters as it is known in the regions of harvest, 1/3 to 1/2 of the large leaves are cut near their bases and the bitter yellow sap, or latex, is drained from the leaves into large plastic-lined pits. The sap is then boiled slowly and reduced, allowing it to harden into a brown crystalline form as it cools. After the sap has been removed, the cape aloes leaves may be sold to facility for make aloe gel from the mucilage. Tappers, as the cape aloe leaf harvesters are called, harvest plants once every two or three years depending on weather conditions. A small amount of the leaf is left attached to base. This allows the wound to seal, protecting the plant from disease and insects.
Constituents of Note: A number of active compounds and their derivatives are present in cape aloes with the hydroxyanthracene derivatives (most notably aloins A and B) present at 13 to 25%.