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Medicinal Plant Aloe (घृत कुमारी )  (Page 1)


  Common Name
  History of Aloe
  Aloe Species
  Aloe  Plant
  Chemica l Constituents
  Aloe  as Medicinal Herb
  Aloe Vera Health Benefit
  Aloe Vera products
  Sarees made from Aloe Vera fibre
  Aloe Side Effects
  Modern Research


     Aloe Vera plant

   Aloe Vera is the oldest medicinal plant ever known and the most applied medicinal plant worldwide. The first written records about the use of aloe Vera were found on over 6,000 years old clay tablets found in Mesopotamia. Today Aloe Vera is one of the most studied plants worldwide.

  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 Vera is as old as civilization and throughout history it has been used as a popular folk medicine. It is believed to be effective in treating stomach ailments, gastrointestinal problems, skin diseases, constipation, for radiation injury, for its anti-inflammatory effect, for wound healing and burns, as an anti-ulcer and diabetes. It is also known as "lily of the desert", the "plant of immortality", and the medicine plant with qualities to serve as alternate medicine.

   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.

Common Name

Latin  -          Aloe barbadensis Mill,  Aloe vera (L.) Burm. f.
Family-         Aloeaceae,  Xanthorrhoeaceae
English -       Aloe vera ( Barbedolsaloes), Indian aloe
Hindi -          Ghritkumari (घृत कुमारी), gwar-patha
Sanskrit -      Kumari
Tamil    -       Kattalai
Kannada -     Kathaligidi
Telgu       -    Kalabanda 
Malayalam-   Kattuvala 
Marathi    -    Korafad
Bangla     -    Kumari
Gujarti     -    Kunwar
Arabic     -    Mussavar
Chinese  -:   芦荟

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 plant is also known as "lily of the desert", the plant of immortality , and the medicine plant with qualities to serve as alternate medicine. Aloe vera is commonly used in many cosmetic products and the rise of natural and organic beauty may constitute a new opportunity for this plant.

   History of Aloe

  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.

   Egyptians, who have a long relationship with Aloes, still grow the plants around graveyards to symbolize the patience which is to be exercised during the long suffering from losing the deceased person.

  Aloe Species

 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 Plant

   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. These ingredients give this  "gel" its special qualities as they are known now for many centuries. Among the uses for this gel are acceleration of  wound healing, use on skin burns, moisturizing dry skin and it is taken internally for peptic ulcers or gastritis.

  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 Vera gel
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. In fact, the National Center for Biotechnology Information uses all the buzzwords we look for in pricey skin care products to describe its benefits: collagen-building, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, moisturizing and anti-aging.

   Aloe Vera gel

   Aloe is one of the most widely-used ingredients in high-grade skin care products. Aloe soothes the skin, hydrates it, nourishes it, accelerates the regeneration of new skin tissue. (In fact, simply removing the gel from a living aloe vera leaf and placing the raw gel on your face is far superior to even the most expensive eye cream or skin care product on the market. Aloe also enhances skin health when used internally. Drink more aloe and your skin glows!.

  Farmers find fortune in  aloe vera

  A group of enterprising farmers in the semi-arid Maungu to township in Voi discovered that they can make a living from farming aloe.The aloe plant that grows well in arid and semi arid areas has now proved to be the wonder crop for these farmers. Their efforts have slowly begun to pay dividends.

   Aloe vera for Constipation:  The outer skin of the Aloe Vera plant - often called CAPE ALOE - is a strongly laxative herb. It is also very, bitter and unpleasant in taste and used only occasionally.

  Chemical Constituents

  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 19 of the 20 amino acids required by the human body and 7 of the 8 essential amino acids (that the body cannot make), Aloe Vera contains also contain useful enzymes like Amylase, Bradykinase, Catalase, Cellulase, Lipase, Oxidase, Alkaline Phosphatase, Proteolytiase, Creatine Phosphokinase, Carboxypeptidase. Most of these are beneficial to human metabolism.


   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.

How to make Aloe Vera Soap at home

Aloe vera soap is very effective at treating burns, wounds and acne. It is soothing and moisturizing.

Ingredients used to preparation in Aloe Vera Soap are: (a). 7.5 oz mineral water (b).. 3 oz lye (caustic soda) (c). 1.5 lbs extra virgin olive oil (d) 0.4 oz beeswax (e) 1.8 oz aloe vera juice (f) 0.18 oz mint essential oil

Method: 1. Wearing gloves and goggles, pour mineral water into a large saucepan. Add lye slowly, stirring gently until it is dissolved. 
2.Heat the lye mixture between 120 to 140 degrees F.
 3.. Also, in a separate saucepan, heat olive oil to between 120 degrees F and 140 degrees F, stirring in beeswax slowly.
4.. Remove olive oil mixture from heat. Add lye mixture to olive oil mixture, stirring slowly.
 5. Stir nearly, every 15 minutes or so, until the mixture thickens and congeals. (It will have a texture similar to that of light mayonnaise.) 
6. Stir in aloe vera juice and essential oil. Stir well for 1 minute with a spoon (not to create foam).
7.Pour into a greased or paper-lined soap mold. Gently tap mold to remove any air bubbles.
 8. Cover with a blanket or towel and let stand for 2 days. Uncover and let stand for an additional day if the mold is very large. 
9.Turn soap out of the mold. , then cut into bars as desired..Now dry the bars at least for 1 month to drying uniformly.


   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.


Alloy Plant of immortality
  The healing properties of this plant have been recognized in Eastern and Greco-Roman civilizations. Ancient Greeks are known to have used it for treating burns and wounds. Egyptians called it ?the plant of immortality' and included it in the funerary gifts that they buried with the dead. The fleshy aloe Vera leaf contains a translucent gel which is used medicinally.
   Research has revealed that this succulent plant contains no less than 75 valuable constituents such as vitamins, minerals and amino acids. No other natural product contains a large number of nutrients beneficial to humans. 

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