Aloe vera (Barbados aloe) is an intensely bitter herb that controls fungal infection, is anti-inflammatory, and promotes healing. It also destroys intestinal parasites and stimulates the uterus.
Ethno Medicinal Uses of Aloe vera
Administered to people: Used internally for chronic constipation (especially following iron medication), poor appetite, digestive problems, and in colonic irrigation. To prevent griping in laxative formulations it is usually combined with Foeniculum vulgare or Tamarindus indica. (Brown)
Used externally for burns, scalds, sunburn, wounds, eczema, and to prevent nail biting. (Brown)
Leaves are cut as required from two- or three-year-old plants. The sap is drained from cut leaves and used fresh, or evaporated to a brown crystalline solid for the preparation of creams, decoctions, lotions, pills and tinctures. (Brown)
Caution: Not given to pregnant women or to patients with haemorrhoids or irritable bowel syndrome. Leaves are a strong purgative and require great care with dosage. (Brown)
Growing Aloe vera
Aloe vera is a clump-forming perennial, freely suckering, with dense rosettes of thick, spiky, grey-green leaves, red-spotted only in specimens. Tubular, yellow flowers are borne in summer.
Plant in well-drained soil in full sun. A.vera rarely set seed. Propagate by offsets at any time. Mealybug may attack pot plants.
Genus: Aloes are native to southern Africa, Arabia, and the Cape Verde Islands. The genus comprises about 325 species of tender, evergreen, perennials, shrubs, trees, and climbers, many of which are hard to tell apart. Aloe vera is native to southern and northern Africa.
Aloes vary greatly in size but all are architectural plants with thick, spiky foliage, often glaucous or patterned, and bold spikes of colourful flowers that attract insects and nectar-feeding birds.
There are approximately 130 Aloe species in southern Africa and about 50 are used medicinally and magically. (SANBI)
This monograph contains details of Aloe vera as per the references cited below. If you can provide any additional information, photos or reliable use records, or spot any errors, please leave a comment below or in The Muthi Flora of southern Africa Facebook group
Arnold, T.H., Prentice, C.A., Hawker, L.C., Snyman, E.E., Tomalin, M., Crouch, N.R. and Pottas-Bircher, C. (2002). Medicinal and magical plants of southern Africa: an annotated checklist. Strelitzia 13. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.
Brown, D. (1995). Encyclopedia of Herbs and Their Uses. Dorling Kindersley Limited, London.
Seed plants of southern Africa: families and genera. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria