Background: Constipation is the most common gastrointestinal complaint all over the world and it is a risk factor of colorectal cancer. In this study, the efficacy of aqueous leaf extract of Aloe ferox Mill. was studied against loperamide-induced constipation in Wistar rats.
Methods: Constipation was induced by oral administration of loperamide (3 mg/kg body weight) while the control rats received normal saline. The constipated rats were treated with 50, 100 and 200 mg/kg body weight/day of the extract for 7 days during which the feeding characteristics, body weight, fecal properties and gastrointestinal transit ratio were monitored.
Results: The extract improved intestinal motility, increased fecal volume and normalized body weight in the constipated rats, which are indications of laxative property of the herb with the 200 mg/kg body weight of the extract showing the best efficacy.
Conclusion: The effect of the extract compares favourably well with senokot, a standard laxative drug. These findings have therefore, lent scientific credence to the folkloric use of the herb as a laxative agent by the people of the Eastern Cape of South Africa.