Aloe Vera is referred as the "Miracle Plant" and also known as "wand of heaven" by the native Americans. From being an antiseptic,
anti- inflammatory and a cure for heart burns to helping relieve the symptoms of severe illnesses like cancer and diabetes, to being a beauty aid
and nourishes health, this ancient Indian herb has it all. Known for centuries for its unique medicinal properties, it has been rediscovered, recognized and for its health benefits.
Aloe is grown USA, Mexico, India, South America, Central America, Australia and Africa. It is commonly called Miracle plant, Healing plant, Plant of immortality, Fountain of youth. Aloe species are frequently cultivated as ornamental plants both in gardens and in pots being highly decorative.
Latin - Aloe barbadensis Mill, Aloe vera (L.) Burm. f.
Family- Aloeaceae, Xanthorrhoeaceae
English - Aloe vera ( Barbedolsaloes), Indian aloe
Hindi - Ghritkumari (घृत
Sanskrit - Kumari
Tamil - Kattalai
Kannada - Kathaligidi
Telgu - Kalabanda
Marathi - Korafad
Bangla - Kumari
Gujarti - Kunwar
Arabic - Mussavar
Chinese -: 芦荟
Ancient records of the Egyptians, Arab, African, Asians and Americans have discussed the different uses and pathological
cases in which Aloes were administered. Aloe was cultivated in Egypt thousands of years ago and was used by the people of the Mediterranean at least 400 years
before Christ. Aloe is also mentioned in the Bible's New Testament.
Aloe was also mentioned in ancient Chinese transcripts. It was employed medicinally for eczematous skin conditions in China and India under the name
Luhui in China and Musabbar in India. The Greeks knew Aloe through the Indians. The Greek physician Peter Pedanius Dioscoriades wrote about Aloe in his
medicinal plant collection materna medica. Aloe was first illustrated in the Codex Aniciae Julianae which was written around the year 512 A.D. by
Dichotomous. Aloe was also mentioned in the writings of the Latin writer, Aurelius Celsus, who wrote a book about medicine and called it De Medicina, which appeared for the first time in the year 1378. In America, Aloe was mentioned in Columbus journals.
There have been mentions of the Aloe plant in the Rig Veda, which is the earliest book of natural medicine dating BCE
4,500 and BCE 1,600. In Rig Veda, Aloe Vera is specifically recommended for the reproductive system, liver
and dealing with worms when injected or consumed. External uses included healing of wounds." A complete detail about its medicinal uses was also
found in Papyrus ebers, an Egyptian document written in BCE 1,550. There were around 12 formulae given in this book to mix the Aloe Vera gel with other agents to solve skin and internal disorders. The early Egyptians revered aloe and called it the 'Plant of Immortality'.
This may account for stories of its use by the two Egyptian Queens, Nefertiti and Cleopatra. They were both renowned for their beauty and were said
to bathe in its juices. Cleopatra's handmaiden is also said to have mixed it into skin lotions to enhance her mistress's loveliness.
Aloe vera belongs to the family Liliacae and nearly there are about 150 species in Aloe vera. The common varieties are:
Aloe Barbadensis Miller, Aloe Saponaria, Aloe Chinensis, Aloe Variegata, Aloe Forex, Aloe Lalifolia and Curacao Aloe. Of these the most popular is Aloe Barbadensis Miller which has most therapeutic value and referred to as True Aloe .
Aloe is a stem less or very short-stemmed succulent plant growing to 80-100 cm tall, spreading by offsets and root sprouts.
The leaves are lanceolate, thick and fleshy, green to gray-green, with a serrated margin. The flowers are produced on a spike up to 90 cm tall, each flower pendulous, with a yellow tubular corolla 2-3 cm long Its thick leaves contain the water supply for the plant to survive long periods of drought. These leaves have a high capacity of retaining the water.
When a leaf is cut, a orange yellow sap drips from the open end which has a very strong laxative effect. When the green
skin of a leaf is removed a clear mucilaginous substance appears that contain fibers, water and the ingredients to retain the water in the leaf.
This is called Aloe gel, found inside the fleshy leaves, works as a topical treatment by hydrating the skin and forming a protective
barrier. This gel is 99 percent water with loads of amino acids, lipids and sterols.
Aloe vera plant has the ability to survive for long periods without water. The Aloe Vera plant has double the photosynthetic properties of other plants. Because of this, it needs more exposure to
sunlight than regular plants. It has thick layers around the leaves that protect it from drying out. Constant sun exposure is a very important when
growing Aloe Vera. Aloe Vera is a succulent, and as such, stores a large quantity of water within its leaves and root system. The Aloe Vera root is very thin. The
plant likes to search for water. Over watering will cause the thin roots to become saturated and rot.
Aloe contains two classes of Aloins : (1) nataloins, which yield picric and oxalic acids with nitric acid, and do not give a red coloration with nitric acid; and (2)
barbaloins, which yield aloetic acid (C7H2N3O5), chrysammic acid (C7H2N2O6), picric and oxalic acids with nitric acid, being reddened by the acid.
Major chemical constituents of Aloe Vera Gel consists primarily of water and polysaccharides
(pectins, hemicelluloses, glucomannan, acemannan, and mannose derivatives). It also contains amino acids, lipids, sterols (lupeol, campesterol, and β-sitosterol), tannins, and enzymes . Mannose 6-phosphate is a major sugar component.
Aloe Vera contains many vitamins including A, C, E, folic acid,
choline, B1, B2, B3 (niacin), B6. Aloe Vera is also one of the few plants that contains vitamin B12. Some of the 20 minerals found in Aloe Vera as: calcium, magnesium,
zinc, chromium, selenium, sodium, iron, potassium, copper, manganese.
Aloe Vera is relatively easy to care for in cultivation in frost-free climates. The species requires well-drained sandy potting soil in moderate light. If planted in pot or other containers ensure sufficient drainage with drainage
holes. The use of a good quality commercial potting mix to which extra perlite, granite grit, or coarse sand are added is recommended. Alternatively, pre-packaged 'cacti and succulent mixes' may also be used. Potted plants should be allowed to completely dry prior to re-watering. During winter,
Aloe may become dormant, during which little moisture is required. In areas that receive frost or snow the species is best kept indoors or in heated glasshouses.
Climate : Aloe is grown in warm tropical areas and cannot survive freezing temperatures. Hot climate suits the growth of
Aloe Vera plants. Growing Aloe Vera plants in warm climates make them flourish and widely spread. Plant your Aloe Vera in full sun. During the winter months, the plant will become somewhat dormant. During this period watering should be minimal, allowing the soil to become completely dry.
Soil: Aloe Vera can be cultivated on any soil for 'dry land management', sandy loamy soil is the best suited for it. The soil should be moderately fertile and fast draining as Aloe Vera plant it self contains lot of water and it will wilt if the soil is not fast draining.
;Manures and fertilizers: The crop responds well to the application of farm yard manure and compost. During the first year of plantation, FYM @20 t/ha is applied at the time of land preparation and the same is continued in subsequent
years. Besides vermicompost @2.5 tonnes/ha can also be applied.
Propagation: Aloe Vera is generally propagated by root suckers by carefully digging out without damaging the parent plant and planting it in the main field.
It can also be propagated through rhizome cuttings by digging out the rhizomes after the harvest of the crop and making them into 5-6 cm length cuttings with a minimum of 2-3 nodes on them. Then they are rooted in specially prepared sand beds or containers.
The plant is ready for transplanting after the appearance of the first sprouts. The process of cultivating Aloe Vera involves the following process:
The ground is to be carefully prepared to keep free from weeds and the soil is ideally kept ideally slightly acidic.
The soil should be supplied supplement in the form of ammonium nitrate every year. The plants are set spaced out by 31 inches in rows and between the rows. At that rate, about 5,000 plants are
set per acre. An 8 - 12 inch aloe pop would take about 18 - 24 months to fully mature.
The plants, in a year's time, would bear flowers that are bright yellow in colour. The leaves are 1 to 2 feet long and are cut without causing damage to the plant, so that it lasts for several years.
Plant protection: Aloe is known to be infected by fungus causing leaf spot disease. This affects yield and quality of the gel adversely. The disease can be controlled by spraying recommended fungicides.
The crop can be harvested 4 times a year. At the rate of 3 leaves cut from each plant, about 12 leaves are
the harvest per plant per year. On an average, the yield per acre annually is about 60,000 kg. Plants start yielding after eighteen months. Yield could be as high as 40 tones of thick fleshy leaves from one hectare plantation.
The leaves cut off close to the plant are placed immediately, with the cut end downwards, in a V-shaped
wooden trough of about 4 feet long and 12 to 18 inches deep.
The wooden trough is set on a sharp incline so that the juice, which trickles from the leaves very rapidly, flows
down its sides, and finally escapes by a hole at its lower end into a vessel placed beneath. It takes about a quarter of an hour to cut leaves enough to fill a trough. The troughs are so distributed as to be easily accessible to the cutters.
The leaves are neither infused nor boiled, nor is any use afterwards made of them except for manure. When the vessels receiving the juice become filled, the latter is removed to a cask or reserved for evaporation. This may be done at once, or it may be delayed for weeks or even months.
The evaporation is generally conducted in a copper vessel; at the bottom of this is a large ladle, into which the impurities sink, and are from time to time removed as the
boiling goes on.
As soon as the inspissations has reached the proper point, which is determined solely by the experienced eye of the workman, the thickened juice is poured into large gourds or into boxes, and allowed to harden.