Aloe vera, A. ferox
Inside the fleshy leaf of the Aloe vera plant is a clear gel that has been used for millennia in cultures across Greece, Egypt, Mexico, India, Japan and China. Nefertiti and Cleopatra enjoyed aloe vera gel as part of their beauty regimes, and Alexander the Great and Christopher Columbus used it to treat soldiers’ wounds ranging from cuts and scrapes to burns, insect bites and psoriasis. Aloe vera juice will calm an upset digestion. Aloe ferox, or bitter aloe, is valued as a laxative and as a treatment for arthritis.
The fleshy leaves contain 75 useful substances, among them vitamins (including the antioxidants A, C and E, as well as vitamin B12, folic acid and choline; enzymes (including bradykinase, which helps to reduce excessive inflammation when applied topically), minerals (calcium, selenium, magnesium – to name a few), sugars, lignin, saponins, salicylic acids and amino acids. Anthraquinones provide its laxative effect.
Many of Aloe vera’s wide spectrum of uses have yet to undergo controlled studies. Chat to your doctor if you’re considering using aloe.
- Aloe vera is used as an anti-inflammatory agent to treat skin conditions such as psoriasis, dandruff, mouth ulcers and genital herpes.
- May soothe skin burns and iritation caused by radiation therapy (1, 2, 3).
- Soothes sunburnt skin (add a cup or two of the juice to tepid bathwater).
- Aloe stimulates collagen and elastin in the skin, making the skin more elastic and less wrinkled.
- May help in the healing of acne.
- May relieve fungal irritations.
- Taken orally, it eases constipation and may also help to relieve asthma, diabetes and HIV infection.
- Studies suggest Aloe vera may reduce cancer tumour growth (4).
- Bitter Aloe ferox is recommended for its laxative properties and to relieve a sluggish digestive system.
- Aloe ferox’s anti-inflammatory action subdues arthritic pain.
Flora Force Products containing Aloe
Domestic & culinary uses
In South Africa, aloes are used in marmalade, jams, pickles and preserves.
Aloe vera is a shrubby succulent plant that originated in the Arabian Peninsula, but is now cultivated almost worldwide. Over the past decades the use of Aloe ferox, indigenous to South Africa, in the traditional pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry has blossomed. Aloes make excellent low-maintenance accent plants and are easiest to grow in warm climates almost anywhere in the country. Plant in soils with good drainage, mulch regularly and the plants will thrive. Give adequate water during the growing season.
1. Roberts DB, Travis EL. Acemannan-containing wound dressing gel reduces radiation-induced skin reactions in C3H mice. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 1995;32: 1047–52.
2. Sato Y, Ohta S, Shinoda M. Studies on chemical protectors against radiation XXXI: Protective effects of . Aloe arborescens on skin injury induced by x-irradiation. Yakugaku Zasshi. 1990;110: 876–84. [PubMed].
3. Byeon S, Pelley R, Ullrich SE, Waller TA, Bucana CD, Strickland FM. Aloe barbadensis extracts reduce the production of interleukin-10 after exposure to ultraviolet radiation. J Invest Dermtol. 1988;110: 811–7.
4. Peng SY, Norman J, Curtin G, Corrier D, McDaniel HR, Busbee D. Decreased mortality of Norman murine sarcoma in mice treated with the immunomodulator, acemannon. Mol. Biother. 1991;3:79–87. [PubMed]