ALOE: what you need to know
Affectionately dubbed the "Plant of Immortality" by the Egyptians more than 6,000 years ago, Aloe vera remains every bit as relevant today as it was in ancient times. The spiky, green gem has a rich history of use in various cultures who employed the plant’s moist middle for a wide variety of medicinal and cosmetic uses. Cleopatra applied the gel to her body as part of her beauty regimen.
Aloe vera is widely regarded as a medicinal because it is a natural antiseptic with the power to kill mould, bacteria, fungi and viruses. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, protects against sunburns, heals wounds and even works as a powerful laxative.
Aloes are abundant in Mediterranean and African gardens. There is a huge range of species and hybrids providing a kaleidoscope of growth forms, flowers and leaf variation. Unlike agaves, Aloes do not die after flowering, but gradually produce a trunk, becoming shrubs or small trees. Aloes typically produce their leaves singly and the centre of the rosette is usually hollow, reminiscent of a bromeliad.
The common species are Aloe arborescens ‘Variegata’, Aloe striata, Aloe variegate, Aloe ferox, Aloe aristate, Aloe ciliaris, Aloe hemmingii. Other names are Aloe Africana, Aloe barbadensis, Aloe capensis, Aloe Gel, Aloe Latex, Burn plant, Elephant’s Gall, Lily of the Desert, Miracle Plant, Plant of Immortality, Sabila.
Aloe is a cactus-like plant that grows in the hot dry climate. Aloe is a clump-forming, perennial succulent with basal rosettes of tapering, thick, succulent leaves, mottled green, later grey-green. Flower stems carry bell-shaped, yellow flowers in summer.
Aloe produces two substances; gel and latex, which are used for medicines. Aloe gel is the clear, jelly-like substance found in the inner part of the Aloe plant leaf. Aloe latex comes from just under the plant’s skin and is yellow. Some Aloe products are made from the whole crushed leaf, so, they contain both gel and latex.
Aloe vera is a succulent plant species of the genus Aloe. An evergreen perennial which originates from the Arabian Peninsula but grows wild in the tropics and sub-tropical and arid regions of the world. It is majorly cultivated for agricultural and medicinal purposes.
Aloe medications can be taken by mouth or applied to the skin. People apply aloe gel to the skin for conditions such as acne, dandruff, wound healing and many others. However, there is insufficient scientific evidence to back these claims.
To use Aloe vera, cut off the spiky top and sides as well as the white part of the leaf at the bottom. Then split the leaves lengthwise down the middle to release the gel inside. Wash the gel to get rid of dirt and the yellow latex you may see clinging to it. You can also buy aloe vera gel commercially — just to ensure the one you purchase is pure and not mixed with other ingredients.
Applications of Aloe vera
Aloe vera has been found useful in preventing and curing ailments and diseases such as:
- Scaly, itchy skin (psoriasis)
- Genital herpes
- Inflammation on skin or mouth
Taking Aloe latex or whole leaf extract by mouth is POSSIBLY UNSAFE at any dose as it can cause some side effects such as stomach pain and cramps. When applied to the skin, however, Aloe gel is LIKELY SAFE as a medicine or cosmetic.
Overall, the business of aloe vera is very profitable. A plant will last for at least 5 years, thus giving about 25-30 tons of leaves yearly from a 2-acre land. With additional selling and marketing, you can earn between USD 8000-10000 in profit a year.
According to a report published by Grandview Research, the global Aloe vera extract market size was valued at USD 1.60 billion in 2018 and is anticipated to expand at a CAGR of 7.6% during the forecast period (2019-2025). Growing awareness regarding the medicinal importance of Aloe vera in the treatment of diabetes, skin diseases has increased the demand for natural plants and organic cosmetics, including Aloe vera extracts.
Undoubtedly, Aloe vera is indeed worthy of its dubbed name – THE MIRACLE PLANT. If you are yet to get a pot of Aloe, I think it is high time you had got one for yourself as you can’t afford to have one. You could as well take it even a step further by venturing into the Aloe Vera business as it promises to be a profitable one especially now that the world is in the quest for a healthier, natural alternative to solving health problems.
Plant a flower today!🌹
Next on the floral series:
Hibiscus: what you need to know.