Habitat & Cultivation : Originating from eastern and southern Africa, aloe vera is found in its natural habitat in tropical regions and is widely cultivated globally. (Aloe vera plants cultivated as potted plants typically exhibit low anthraquinone content.) The propagation of aloe vera involves the detachment of small rooted plantlets. Harvesting the gel and bitter liquid involves cutting the leaves and draining them as needed.
Related Species : Cape aloes (A. ferox) is used in herbal medicine as an irritant laxative. Many other Aloe species are also useful medicinally.
- Anthraquinones (aloin, aloe-emodin)
- Aloectin B
- Heals wounds
- Stimulates secretions of bile
- Healing properties : Substantial research conducted since the 1930s in both the United States and Russia has revealed that the transparent gel from aloe vera possesses remarkable healing properties for wounds, ulcers, and burns. It forms a protective layer over the affected area, expediting the healing process. Aloectin B, present in the gel, plays a role in stimulating the immune system, contributing to its therapeutic action.
Traditional & Current Uses
- Beauty treatment : Aloe vera has a long history as a skin lotion – Cleopatra is said to have attributed her beauty to it.
- Western remedy : In the West, aloe vera first became popular in the 1950s when its ability to heal burns, in particular radiation burns, was discovered.
- First aid : Aloe vera is an excellent first aid remedy for burns, grazes, scalds and sunburn. A leaf, broken off, releases soothing gel, which may be applied to the affected part.
- Skin conditions : The gel is useful for almost any skin condition that needs soothing and astringing, and will help varicose veins to some degree.
- Ulcers : The protective and healing effect of aloe vera also works internally, and the gel can be used for peptic ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome.
- Laxative : The bitter yellow liquid found in the leaves, known as bitter aloes, contains anthraquinones with potent laxative properties. These compounds induce the contraction of the colon, typically resulting in a bowel movement within 8-12 hours after ingestion. In lower doses, the herb’s bitter qualities act as a digestive stimulant. However, at higher doses, bitter aloes exhibit both laxative and purgative effects.