An herb entry from the Ancient Herbs and Modern Herbs book by James K. Sayre, Copyright, 2001. All rights reserved.

Aloe Vera - Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis) (Aloe officinalis) (Aloe arabica) (Aloe indica) - family: Liliaceae (Lily Family).

This is an evergreen perennial plant that may reach four feet high. It has a basal rosette of spiny thick fleshy leaves. The narrow-to-lance-shaped leaves may grow to two feet in length. In the summer it produces terminal spikes of tubular flowers of yellow, orange, red or purple. Following the flowers are triangular capsules which contain many seeds. There are two substances derived from the plant that have long been used medicinally. The first is the fresh clear gel that comes from cuts into the upper leaves. This gel has been used as a topical remedy for burns, cuts and other skin irritations. The second is the concentrated bitter yellow latex obtained from the base of the leaves. The bitter yellow aloe latex has also been used as a traditional remedy for constipation and used on warts. The plant's leaf sap (a clear gel) has been used medicinally since the time of the ancient Egyptians. Sap (Lu Hui) from leaves helps promote healing of cuts, burns, sunburn, wounds and other skin irritations. Aloe has been traditionally used as one of the Ayurvedic medicinal herbs. Modern Japanese (Kampo) use in the treatment of certain cancers. Approved by the German Commission E as a remedy for constipation. Modern America folk use as a topical remedy for arthritis, eczema, hangovers, hemorrhoids, herpes, psoriasis and shingles. Also, modern American folk use of the clear gel as a remedy for diabetes, diverticulosis, diverticulitis and peptic ulcers. Aloe is used in the manufacturing of modern cosmetics. Capsules of leaf material are currently being marketed in North America as a digestive aid. Aloe Vera is also currently being marketed in North America as a miracle cure for cancer. Note: yellow latex sap not to be taken internally in large quantities, as it is a violent purgative. Note: kidney and liver damage may result if latex is taken internally in large quantities. Note: avoid internal use if menstruating, during pregnancy or while nursing. Note: do not use internally if taking prescription medicine for high blood pressure or heart conditions. Note: do not use internally if suffering from gall bladder problems, kidney problems, liver problems or hemorrhoids. Note: long term internal use (for more than a couple of weeks) may lead to a potassium deficiency. Listed in the United States Pharmacopoeias from 1820 to 1990. Native to northern, eastern and southern Africa. Cultivated as an ornamental in North America.



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Web page last updated on 20 May 2003.