ALOE: Aloe Vera, Aloe Ferox, Aloe Barbadensis, Aloe Socotrina
Also known as: Bombay aloe, moka, Turkey aloe, Zanzibar aloe, Barbados aloe, First-aid plant, medicine plant
Parts used: bitter juice/gel, powder of the leaf or root, leaves
Meridians/Organs affected: structural, digestive, liver, heart, spleen, skin
Properties: mucilaginous, laxative, bitter, vulnerary, emollient, demulcent, astringent, emmenogogue, cell proliferant, antiviral, anti-carcinogenic, antibacterial, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcer, cholagogue, tonic, anthelmintic, alterative, anti-fungal, anti-tumor
Aloe is a member of the liliaceae (Lily) family. It is a spiny-edged, hard, green-leaved perennial that grows from a rosette. It has a spike of yellow (sometimes orange) flowers that can get two to three feet tall and is found most often in subtropical to tropical areas although it can be found in almost every household in the world now. It takes little effort to grow and so does well as a house plant. There are roughly 200 species of aloe and all are medicinal. The one most used, however, is referred to as 'true aloe' and in Latin is Aloe Barbadensis.
The name aloe actually comes from Arabic and means 'bitter, shiny substance'. Aloe is also one of those plants widely used throughout history. It has been found in the tombs of pharaohs as they considered it to be a 'plant of immortality'. Cleopatra must have thought so as she used it quite often on her skin to protect her from the harsh desert climate. It was also used by the Egyptians in the embalming process. Aloe in Greek history dates back to 400 BC, and ancient hieroglyphics have been found with pictures of aloe plants scattered among them. The English knew of it at least a century before the Chinese (no doubt due to their global holdings at the time) and the Americas didn't really pay attention to this plant until the 1950's when they discovered its use for burns. Dioscorides stated it was effective for anything from kidney issues and constipation to burns and skin complaints. Columbus also touted its healing uses. Marco Polo discovered the Chinese using it for skin issues and stomach problems and the Spanish conquistadors found the Indians in Central America using it for kidney issues, dysentery, burns, ulcers, intestinal complaints, prostatitis, longevity and sexual prowess. In Cuba it is used for colds when mixed with sugar and rum and in Columbia it is used to repel insects. In Java, aloe juice is massaged into the scalp to stimulate hair growth and the Japanese have used it as a treatment for radiation burns since WWII as they found it heals burns more rapidly than any other method.
Aloe leaves contain a gel-like substance that has been found to soothe burned or inflamed areas. It is interesting to note that burn victims are prone to staph infections and penicillin or some other massively produced antibiotic is often given to them to stop this from happening while they heal (thus making them more prone to other infections due to poor intestinal bacteria). Aloe has been used by many cultures for burn victims to keep them from getting staph infections as it has been proven effective against staph many times over as well as being effective against herpes simplex 1 & 2, and pseudomonas aeruginosa (bacteria that cause pneumonia, urinary tract infections, etc.) Honey is the only other acceptable alternative in its place in the alternative spectrum. They work so well together for a few reasons-they keep the tissue moist and restore lost fluids in the body and they also work to soothe and heal damaged tissues. As they are both antibacterial they keep bacteria in check as the body heals. Any way you look at it there is a win win. :) (Plus they smell nice so you don't stink..also an added bonus in my opinion).
Jethro Kloss said aloe is one of the best body cleansers, removing toxins from the colon, stomach, kidneys, bladder, spleen and liver. He used it extensively for such things. Aloe is 99.5% water, the other .5% is a mixture of mucopolysaccharides (which show action similar to hyaluronic acid) and anthraquinone glucosides that are cathartic in nature. Again this explains why it works so well for burns/radiation, hemorrhoids, poison ivy, insect bites, psoriasis, etc. It is also a nutritive plant containing calcium, chromium, cobalt, iron, manganese, magnesium, potassium, selenium, silica, sodium, tin, zinc and the vitamins A,C,D,E and B Complex as well as cinnamic acid, phosphorus and a host of amino acids. The juice is considered to be a yin tonic and important in Asian cultures for the liver, the female reproductive system and regulating pitta digestive types. The powder has been used for pink eye, tinnitus, irritability, constipation, blood in the stool, headaches, liver disorders, ulcers and more. Many in the medical world would tell you not to take it internally for any length of time (excess intake is said to cause electrolyte imbalances, griping pains and possible heart issues) so just be aware of their opinions on the matter.
This herb should not be used by pregnant women as it can stimulate the uterus. If choosing to use an aloe product make sure it is 95-97% pure aloe as there are ALOT of adulterated products out there. READ LABELS!
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