Aloe Vera (Aloe vera)

Perennial
A. barbadensis. Mill.
Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Aloe Vera
Aloe vera
Aloeaceae

The leaf extracts are used in skin-care cosmetic products[238, 254].

Plants have been grown indoors in pots in order to help remove toxins from the atmosphere. It is also unusual in that it continues to release oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide in the dark, making it very suitable for growing in bedrooms[259].

  • Medicinal Use

    Aloe vera is a fairly well known herbal preparation with a long history of use. It is widely used in modern herbal practice and is often available in proprietary herbal preparations[K]. It has two distinct types of medicinal use. The clear gel contained within the leaf makes an excellent treatment for wounds, burns and other skin disorders, placing a protective coat over the affected area, speeding up the rate of healing and reducing the risk of infection[254, K]. This action is in part due to the presence of aloectin B, which stimulates the immune system[254]. To obtain this gel, the leaves can be cut in half along their length and the inner pulp rubbed over the affected area of skin[K]. This has an immediate soothing effect on all sorts of burns and other skin problems[K].

    The second use comes from the yellow sap at the base of the leaf. The leaves are cut transversally at their base and the liquid that exudes from this cut is dried[4]. It is called bitter aloes and contains anthraquinones which are a useful digestive stimulant and a strong laxative[254]. When plants are grown in pots the anthraquinone content is greatly reduced[254].

    The plant is emmenagogue, emollient, laxative, purgative, stimulant, stomachic, tonic, vermifuge and vulnerary[4, 21, 46, 57, 61, 165, 176]. Extracts of the plant have antibacterial activity[218].

    Apart from its external use on the skin, aloe vera (usually the bitter aloes) is also taken internally in the treatment of chronic constipation, poor appetite, digestive problems etc[238]. It should not be given to pregnant women or people with haemorrhoids or irritable bowel syndrome[238, 243]. The plant is strongly purgative so great care should be taken over the dosage[238].

    The plant is used to test if there is blood in the faeces[61].

    This plant has a folk history of treatment in cases of cancer[218].

  • Edible Use

    Leaves – cooked[105]. Very bitter, they are an emergency food that is only used when all else fails[177]. A gel in the leaves is sometimes used as an ingredient of commercial jellies[183].

    Seed[105, 183]. An emergency food used when all else fails[177]. It is very unlikely that the seed will be produced in Britain[238].

  • Cautionary Notes

    None known

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – sow spring in a warm greenhouse. The seed usually germinates in 1 – 6 months at 16¡c. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots of very well-drained soil when they are large enough to handle. Grow them on in a sunny part of the greenhouse for at least their first two winters. If trying them outdoors then plant them out in early summer to allow them to become established before the winter, and give them some protection from the cold in winter[K]. Division of offsets when available, usually in spring. The plants produce offsets quite freely and they can be divided at any time of the year as long as it is warm enough to encourage fresh root growth to allow re-establishment of the plants[K]. Pot up and grow on in the greenhouse until established.
Requires a well-drained soil and a very sunny position[1]. Plants are tolerant of poor soils[200]. If trying to grow this plant outdoors then it will need the sunniest and warmest area in the garden plus some protection from winter cold (a glass frame perhaps)[K]. This species is not very cold-hardy outdoors in Britain, it is best grown in a pot placed outdoors in the summer and put in a greenhouse for the winter[1]. It grows very well in a sunny windowsill[K].
Europe – Mediterranean.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.