Herb Reference Guide

Aloe

History

Aloe is one of the most commonly used medicinal plants of all time. The genus is native to Africa, and is very common in South Africa's Cape Province. Aloe has been widely cultivated throughout the world and especially in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, in the United States. Although Aloe Vera is a tropical plant, the root can survive freezing air temperatures, so long as the ground is not frozen and the root destroyed. One of the first recorded accounts in our understanding of Aloe can be found in the Greek Herbal of Dioscorides (41 A.D.-68 A.D.). This master of Roman pharmacology developed his knowledge and skill as he traveled with that great empire’s armies.

Function

As is the case with many medicinal plants, the function depends on the form in which the plant is delivered. Aloe vera products are made from the juice, the gel, the whole leaf and come in tablets, capsules, juices, gels, topical ointments, lotions, and all of these various parts are used in over hundreds of topical body care products. Aloe gel and juice are considered demulcent, and have soothing properties for the skin. Aloe also contains a group of plant chemicals called Anthraquinones. These are known to aid in the elimination process. A group of plant chemicals called Polysaccharides is also present in Aloe although only found in preparations using the Whole Leaf, since these immune supporting chemicals are not found in the inner gel or juice, but in the "skin" or outer parts of the plant. In summary, Aloe encourages intestinal activity, support the body's natural elimination processes, and soothes the intestinal tract, mucous membranes and skin.

Uses of Aloe

Disclaimer

This information in our Herbal Reference Guide is intended only as a general reference for further exploration, and is not a replacement for professional health advice. This content does not provide dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Accordingly, this information should be used only under the direct supervision of a qualified health practitioner such as a naturopathic physician.

Active Constituents

amino acids, anthraquinones, enzymes, minerals, vitamins, lignans, monosaccharide, polysaccharides, salicylic acid, sapponins, and sterols

Parts Used

  • Juice, gel, leaves

Important precautions

Regarding products for bowel regulation containing Aloe: Do not use if you have or develop diarrhea, loose stools, or abdominal pain because Cape Aloe may worsen these conditions and be harmful to your health. Consult your physician if you have frequent diarrhea or if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.

Additional Resources

Nurten Ozsoy, Eda Candoken, Nuriye Akev; Antioxidative activity, total phenols, flavonoids, ascorbic acid, ?-carotene and ?-tocopherol in Aloe vera.
Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2009 Apr-Jun; 2(2): 99-106.

Soyun Cho, Serah Lee, Min-Jung Lee, Dong Hun Lee, Chong-Hyun Won, Sang Min Kim, Jin Ho Chung; Ann Dermatol. 2009 February; 21(1): 6-11.

Thomas E Merchant, Christina Bosley, Julie Smith, Pam Baratti, David Pritchard, Tina Davis, Chenghong Li, Xiaoping Xiong Radiat Oncol. 2007; 2: 45.