Friday, December 07, 2007

My Aloe Vera Plant

Aloe, also written Aloë, is a genus containing about four hundred species of flowering succulent plants.

The genus is native to Africa and is common in South Africa's Cape Province and the mountains of tropical Africa, and neighbouring areas such as Madagascar, the Arabian peninsula and the islands off Africa.

The APG II system (2003) placed the genus in the family Asphodelaceae. In the past it has also been assigned to families Aloaceae and Liliaceae. Members of the closely allied genera Gasteria, Haworthia and Kniphofia which have a similar mode of growth, are also popularly known as aloes. Note that the plant sometimes called "American aloe" (Agave americana), belongs to Agavaceae, a different family.

Most Aloes have a rosette of large, thick, fleshy leaves. The leaves are often lance-shaped with a sharp apex and a spiny margin. Aloe flowers are tubular, frequently yellow, orange or red and are borne on densely clustered, simple or branched leafless stems.

Many species of Aloe are seemingly stemless, with the rosette growing directly at ground level; other varieties may have a branched or un-branched stem from which the fleshy leaves spring. They vary in colour from grey to bright green and are sometimes striped or mottled.

Uses of Aloe

Aloe species are frequently cultivated as ornamental plants both in gardens and in pots. Many Aloe species are highly decorative and are valued by collectors of succulents. Some species, in particular Aloe vera are purported to have medicinal properties.

Other use of Aloes include their role in alternative medicines (see Herbalism) and in home first aid. Both the translucent inner pulp and the resinous yellow exudate from wounding the Aloe plant are used externally to relieve skin discomforts and internally as a laxative. To date, some research has shown that Aloe vera produces positive medicinal benefits for healing damaged skin. Conversely, other research suggests Aloe vera can negatively affect healing (Vogler and Ernst, 1999). In homeopathic medicine aloe is used for hemorrhoids[1].

Some Aloe species have also been used for human consumption. For example, drinks made from or containing chunks of aloe pulp are popular in Asia as commercial beverages and as a tea additive; this is notably true in Korea.

External uses

Aloe is used externally to treat a number of skin irritations. It has antiseptic and antibiotic properties which make it highly valuable in treating cuts and abrasions. It has also been commonly used to treat first and second degree burns, as well as sunburns and poison oak, poison ivy, and poison sumac infections, and eczema. It can also be used as a hair styling gel and works especially well for curly or fuzzy hair.

Internal uses

Aloe contains a number of medicinal substances used as a purgative. The medicinal substance is produced from various species of aloe, such as A. vera, A. vulgaris, A. socotrina, A. chinensis, and A. perryi. Several kinds of aloes are commercially available: Barbadoes, Socotrine, Hepatic, Indian, and Cape aloes. Barbadoes and Socotrine are the varieties most commonly used for curative purposes[citation needed].

Aloes are the expressed juice of the leaves of the plant. When the leaves are cut, the juice that flows out is collected and evaporated. After the juice has been removed, the leaves are sometimes boiled to yield an inferior kind of aloes. The juice of the leaves of certain species, e.g. Aloe venenosa, is poisonous.

There have been very few properly conducted studies about possible benefits of aloe gel taken internally. One study found improved wound healing in mice. Another found a positive effect of lowering risk factors in patients with heart disease. Some research has shown decreasing fasting blood sugar in diabetic animals given aloe[2][3][4][5]. None of these studies can be considered to be definitive, and there are many false advertising claims for aloe.

Aloe has been marketed as a remedy for coughs, wounds, ulcers, gastritis, diabetes, cancer, headaches, arthritis, immune-system deficiencies, and many other conditions when taken internally. However, these uses are unsubstantiated; the only substantiated internal use is as a laxative. Furthermore, there is evidence of potential adverse side effects (for example, acute hepatitis[6]). Although some studies suggest that certain components of aloe such as aloe-emodin have genotoxic activity, human clinical trials and rodent carcinogenicity studies do not substantiate a genotoxic risk to humans when aloe products are consumed as directedBrusick D, Mengs U (1997). "Assessment of the genotoxic risk from laxative senna products". Environ Mol Mutagen 29 (1): 1-9 . PMID 9020301. .

On May 9, 2002, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a final rule banning the use of aloe and cascara sagrada as laxative ingredients in over-the-counter drug products.[citation needed]


Bob Johnson said...

Very informative post and beautiful image , see what you mean about the sharp edges, ouch.

Susanne in Key West said...

Thank you Bob for stopping by and commenting to my post!

Titania Starlight said...

I think the aloe vera plant is a wonderful healing gift. I have used it both externally and internally.

When living with my grandparents in Orlando in the summertime I would cut open a leaf and put it on my poor little sunburned nose.

When I was told I had acid reflux disease I refused to take the medication and asked if I could be give a month to try something on my own. He was a young doctor and was open to the idea.

I began to drink aloe vera juice. Not too much as it has a laxative effect but just a little in the morning and before bedtime. When I went back the swelling in my throat was gone as well as the excessive acid.

Aloe vera is good stuff. :o)

Susanne in Key West said...

Hi Titania,

thank you so much for your interesting comment to my Aloe Vera post.

David said...

The aloe vera plant provides a good subject - the leaves radiating from the centre. I got a photo the other day where one branch was broken, and the sun was sparkling on the sap coming out. The sparkles even turned out in the photo!



GMG said...

Amazing! I've heard and seen so much aloe vera stuff and thought had never seen the plant; needed to come here to find out that it had been on my way so many times...
Have a great weekend, Sue!

Susanne in Key West said...

Thank you David,

for visiting my blog and for your comment!

Susanne in Key West said...

Hi Gil

Thanks for your comment, I'm glad you liked my post and found your way finally to see the plant.:-)

Anonymous said...

very beautiful capture

Susanne in Key West said...

Thanks evlahos,

for this comment! I'm sure you have these Aloe plants also in Greece, right? :-)

Maria said...

I have come across this page on Aloe Vera which in my view is the most comprehensive and complete information on Aloe Vera and its benefits.

herbal shampoo said...

Great post. Your blog is very informative. Aloe Vera is a miraculous. Here you have given the complete information about the aloe vera.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin