Aloe vera (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Aloe vera (L.) Burm.f.

Protologue: Fl. ind.: 83 (1768).


  • Aloe perfoliata L. var. vera L. (1753),
  • Aloe barbadensis Miller (1768).

Vernacular names

  • Barbados aloe, Curaçao aloe (En)
  • Indonesia: lidah buaya
  • Malaysia: lidah buaya (Peninsular), bunga raja raja (Sabah)
  • Philippines: sabila (Tagalog), dilang-buwaya (Bikol), dilang-halo (Bisaya)
  • Thailand: waan faimai (northern), waan hang chorakhe, haang takhe (central)
  • Vietnam: lô hội, lư hội, nha dảm.


Origin unknown; some authors presume the Macaronesian region, others prefer Arabia. At present A. vera is widely distributed throughout the tropics and subtropics. It was already common in India in the first Century AD. A. vera is grown as a pot plant and ornamental throughout Malesia.


The fresh yellow leaf juice is often used as a laxative or purgative and refrigerant. Externally, it is often used to treat burns, wounds, abrasions, skin diseases, irritations and alopecia. Fresh A. vera has a multitude of medicinal applications in South-East Asia. The leaf sap or juice is applied externally to treat pimples, blackheads or cuts. The sap mixed with other ingredients to mask its bitter taste is taken in Indonesia against asthma and to treat coughs. In the Philippines, similar mixtures are taken to cure dysentery and kidney problems or against dyspepsia. In Indo-China, the fresh leaf juice is considered purgative, anthelmintic, depurative and an emmenagogue. In Papua New Guinea, the juice is used internally to treat stomach ulcers. The leaf gel or peeled leaves are generally externally applied to treat skin afflictions and as a poultice on contusions or as a general refrigerant. The gel may also be applied externally on haemorrhoids. It is furthermore used as a hairwash to promote hair growth and as a general cosmetic to improve the complexion and to smoothen the skin. Sometimes the peeled leaves are eaten to relieve sore throat and coughs and as a mild laxative. A. vera is the source of the "Curaçao aloe" drug, which is used as a purgative, vermifuge, emmenagogue and stomachic. The aloe drugs ("jadam") used in Malaysia and South-East Asia are mostly imported. "Jadam" is used as an aperient, but it is also put on wounds and swellings, and daubed on the abdomen in the case of fever and after confinement. Furthermore a dye can be obtained from the dried leaf sap.


  • A perennial shrub, with very short stem, taproot 5-10 cm long with many secondary roots in the upper soil, freely suckering and forming dense groups.
  • Leaves about 16, erect to slightly spreading, narrowly triangular, 40-50 cm × 6-7 cm, upper surface grey-green to pale green with few to many spots, lower surface generally lighter, margin with firm deltoid pale teeth of 2 mm.
  • Inflorescence simple or sparsely branched, 60-100 cm tall, racemes 30-40 cm × 5-6 cm, densely flowered.
  • Flowers with yellow, orange or red perianth, stiffly pendulous, anthers and stigma exserted.

The long history of cultivation has led to various selections that are sometimes given formal ranking.

Selected sources

  • Ahmad, F.B. & Holdsworth, D.K., 1994. Medicinal plants of Sabah, Malaysia. Part II. The Muruts. International Journal of Pharmacognosy 32(4): 378-383.
  • Akao, T., Che, Q.M., Kobashi, K., Hattori, M. & Namba, T., 1996. A purgative action of barbaloin is induced by Eubacterium sp. strain BAR, a human intestinal anaerobe, capable of transforming barbaloin to aloe emodin anthrone. Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin 19(1): 136-138.
  • Backer, C.A. & Bakhuizen van den Brink Jr, R.C., 1963-1968. Flora of Java. 3 volumes. Noordhoff, Groningen, the Netherlands. Vol. 1 (1963) 647 pp., Vol. 2 (1965) 641 pp., Vol. 3 (1968) 761 pp.
  • Bailey, L.H., 1947. The standard cyclopedia of horticulture. 3 volumes. MacMillan, New York, United States. 3639 pp.
  • Beppu, H., Nagamura, Y. & Fujita, K., 1993. Hypoglycaemic and antidiabetic effects in mice of Aloe arborescens Miller var. natalensis Berger. Phytotherapy Research 7: S37-42.
  • Brown, W.H., 1951-1957. Useful plants of the Philippines. Reprint of the 1941-1943 edition. 3 volumes. Technical Bulletin 10. Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Bureau of Printing, Manila, the Philippines. Vol. 1 (1951) 590 pp., Vol. 2 (1954) 513 pp., Vol. 3 (1957) 507 pp.
  • Bruneton, J., 1995. Pharmacognosy, phytochemistry, medicinal plants. Technique & Documentation Lavoisier, Paris, France. 915 pp.
  • Bunyapraphatsara, N., Jirakulchaiwong, S., Thirawarapan, S. & Manonukul, J., 1995. The efficacy of Aloe vera cream in the treatment of first, second and third degree burns in mice. Phytomedicine 2(3): 247-251.
  • Bunyapraphatsara, N., Yongchaiyudha, S., Rungpitarangsi, V. & Chokechaijaroenporn, A., 1996. Antidiabetic activity of Aloe vera L. juice. II. Clinical trial in diabetes mellitus patients in combination with glibenclamide. Phytomedicine 3(3): 245-248.
  • Burkill, H.M., 1985-1997. The useful plants of West tropical Africa. Edition 2. 5 volumes. Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, United Kingdom. Vol. 1 (1985), Families A-D, 960 pp.; Vol. 2 (1994), Families E-I, 636 pp.; Vol. 3 (1995), Families J-L, 857 pp.; Vol. 4 (1997), Families M-R, 969 pp.
  • Burkill, I.H., 1966. A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula. Revised reprint. 2 volumes. Ministry of Agriculture and Co operatives, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Vol. 1 (A-H) pp. 1-1240. Vol. 2 (I- Z) pp. 1241-2444.
  • Busciglio, J.A., 1988. Anti inflammatory composition containing lidocaine and disphenhydramine. U.S. Patent 4, 748, 022 (Cl. 424 1951; A61k 35/78), 31 May 1988.
  • Carter, S., 1994. Aloaceae. In: Polhill, R.M. (Editor): Flora of Tropical East Africa. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, the Netherlands. 60 pp.
  • Cavallini, A., Natali, L. & Castorena Sanchez, I., 1991. Aloe barbadensis Mill. (= A. vera L.). In: Bajaj, Y.P.S. (Editor): Biotechnology in agriculture and forestry. Vol. 15. Medicinal and aromatic plants III. Springer Verlag, Berlin, Germany. pp. 95-106.
  • Cera, L.M., Heggers, J.P., Robson, M.C. & Hagstrom, W.J., 1980. The therapeutic efficacy of Aloe vera cream (Dermaide Aloe) in thermal injuries: two case reports. Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association 16(5): 768-772.
  • Chithra, P., Sajithlal, G.B. & Chandrakasan, G., 1998a. Influence of Aloe vera on the glycosaminoglycans in the matrix of healing dermal wounds in rats. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 59(3): 179-186.
  • Chithra, P., Sajithlal, G.B. & Chandrakasan, G., 1998b. Influence of Aloe vera on the healing of dermal wounds in diabetic rats. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 59(3): 195-201.
  • Collin, C.F. & Collin, C., 1935. Roentgen dermatitis treated with fresh whole leaf of Aloe vera. American Journal of Roentgenology, Radium Therapy and Nuclear Medicine 33: 396-397.
  • Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, 1948-1976. The wealth of India: a dictionary of Indian raw materials & industrial products. 11 volumes. Publications and Information Directorate, New Delhi, India.
  • Davis, R.H., Kabbani, J.M. & Maro, N.P., 1987. Aloe vera and wound healing. Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association 77(4): 165-169.
  • Davis, R.H., Leitner, M.G., Russo, J.M. & Byrne, M.E., 1989. Wound healing, oral and topical activity of Aloe vera. Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association 79(11): 559-562.
  • de Padua, L.S., Lugod, G.C. & Pancho, J.V., 1977-1983. Handbook on Philippine medicinal plants. 4 volumes. Documentation and Information Section, Office of the Director of Research, University of the Philippines at Los Baños, the Philippines.
  • Dharma, A.P., 1981. Indonesische geneeskrachtige planten [Indonesian medicinal plants]. De Driehoek, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. 168 pp.
  • Duke, J.A., 1985. Handbook of medicinal herbs. CRC Press, Inc., Boca Raton, Florida, United States. 677 pp.
  • Farkas, A., 1963. Topical medicament containing Aloe polyuronides for treatment of wounds and burns. U.S. Patent 3, 360, 510 (Cl. 107 58 ) Sept 10, 1963.
  • Forster, P.I. & Clifford, H.T., 1986. Aloeaceae. Flora of Australia 46: 66-70.
  • Fujita, K., Teradaira, R. & Nagatsu, T., 1976. Bradykinase activity of aloe extract. Biochemical Pharmacology 25(2): 205.
  • Grieve, M., 1994. A modern herbal. Tiger Books International, London, United Kingdom. 912 pp.
  • Grimaudo, S., Tolomeo, M., Gancitano, R.A., d'Alessandro, N. & Aiello, E., 1997. Effects of highly purified anthraquinoid compounds from Aloe vera on sensitive and multidrug resistant leukemia cells. Oncology Reports 4(2): 341-343.
  • Grindlay, D. & Reynolds, T., 1986. The Aloe vera phenomenon: a review of the properties and modern uses of the leaf parenchyma gel. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 16(2-3): 117-151.
  • Gutierrez, H.G., 1980-1982. An illustrated manual of Philippine materia medica. 2 volumes. Natural Research Council of the Philippines, Tagig, Metro Manila, the Philippines. Vol. 1 (1980) pp. 1-234, Vol. 2 (1982) pp. 235-485.
  • Heggers, J.P., Pelley, R.P. & Robson, M.C., 1993. Beneficial effect of Aloe in wound healing. Phytotherapy Research 7: S48-55.
  • Heyne, K., 1950. De nuttige planten van Indonesië [The useful plants of Indonesia]. 3rd Edition. 2 volumes. W. van Hoeve, 's Gravenhage, the Netherlands/Bandung, Indonesia. 1660 + CCXLI pp.
  • Hikino, H., Teruraki, S. & Kawanishi, H., 1986. Method of treating hypoglycemia using aloes polysaccharides. U.S. Patent 4, 598, 069.
  • Hikino, Y., Takashi, M., Murakami, M., Konno, C., Mirin, Y., Karikura, M., & Hayashi, T., 1986. Isolation and hypoglycemic activity of arboran A and B, glycans of Aloe arborescens var. natalensis leaves. International Journal of Crude Drug Research 24(4): 183-186.
  • Holdsworth, D.K., 1977. Medicinal plants of Papua New Guinea. Technical Paper No 175. South Pacific Commission, Noumea, New Caledonia. 123 pp.
  • Holdsworth, D.K., 1991. Traditional medicinal plants of Brunei Darussalam. Part I. Bukit Udal. International Journal of Pharmacognosy 29(4): 245-250.
  • Holdsworth, D.K., 1992. Medicinal plants of the Gazelle Peninsula, New Britain Island, Papua New Guinea. Part I. International Journal of Pharmacognosy 30: 185-190.
  • Huxley, A., Griffiths, M. & Levy, M., 1992. The new Royal Horticultural Society dictionary of gardening. 4 volumes. The MacMillan Press Ltd., London, United Kingdom. 3353 pp.
  • Ishii, Y., Tanizawa, H. & Takino, Y., 1994. Studies of aloe. IV. Mechanism of cathartic effect (3). Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin 17(4): 495-497.
  • Jamieson, G.I., 1984. Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis Mill.). Queensland Agricultural Journal 110(4): 220.
  • Jeppe, B., 1974. South African aloes. 2nd Edition. Purnell, Cape Town, South Africa. 150 pp.
  • Lewis, W.H. & Elwin Lewis, M.P.F., 1977. Medical Botany. Plants affecting man's health. John Wiley & Sons, New York, United States. 515 pp.
  • Lissoni, P., Giani, L., Zerbini, S., Trabattoni, P. & Rovelli, F., 1998. Biotherapy with the pineal immunomodulating hormone melatonin versus melatonin plus Aloe vera in untreatable advanced solid neoplasms. Natural Immunity 16(1): 27-33.
  • Mansfeld, R., 1986. Verzeichnis landwirtschaflicher und gaertnerischer Kulturpflanzen (ohne Zierpflanzen) [Register of agricultural and horticultural plants (withouth ornamentals)]. 2nd Edition, revised by J. Schultze Motel. 4 volumes. Springer Verlag, Berlin, Germany. 1998 pp.
  • Mortada, A., Hegazy, M.A., Hegazy, M.R. & Helal, M., 1976. Use of aloe extracts in the treatment of experimental corneal ulcers. Ceskoslovenska Oftalmologie 32: 424-427.
  • Morton, J.F., 1981. Atlas of medicinal plants of Middle America. Bahamas to Yucatan. Charles C. Thomas, Springfield, Illinois, United States. 1420 pp.
  • Nguyen Van Duong, 1993. Medicinal plants of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Mekong Printing, Santa Ana, California, United States. 528 pp.
  • Oldfield, S. (Compiler), 1997. Cactus and Succulent Plants - status survey and conservation action plan. IUCN/SSC Cactus and Succulent Specialist Group, IUW, Gland, Switzerland & Cambridge, United Kingdom. 222 pp.
  • Perry, L.M., 1980. Medicinal plants of East and Southeast Asia. Attributed properties and uses. MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States & London, United Kingdom. 620 pp.
  • Pételot, A., 1952-1954. Les plantes médicinales du Cambodge, du Laos et du Vietnam [The medicinal plants of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam]. 4 volumes. Centre National de Recherches Scientifiques et Techniques, Saigon, Vietnam.
  • Quisumbing, E., 1978. Medicinal plants of the Philippines. Katha Publishing Co., Quezon City, the Philippines. 1262 pp.
  • Raina, M.K., 1982. Aloe. In: Atal, C.K. & Kapur, B.M. (Editors): Cultivation and utilization of medicinal plants. Regional Research Laboratory, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Jammu Tawi, India. pp. 368-374.
  • Reynolds, G.W., 1966. The Aloes of Tropical Africa and Madagascar. The Trustees the Aloe Book Fund, Swaziland. 537 pp.
  • 1219.Reynolds, G.W., 1982. The Aloes of South Africa, 4th Edition. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, the Netherlands, 538 pp.
  • Reynolds, T., 1985. The compounds in Aloë leaf exudates: a review. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 90: 157-177.
  • Rodriguez Bigas, M., Cruz, N.I. & Suarez, A., 1988. Comparative evaluation of Aloe vera in the management of burn wounds in guinea pigs. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery 81(3): 386-389.
  • Roy, A.K., 1979. Some new leaf spot diseases in India. Geobios 6(1): 36-37.
  • Saito, H., Ishiguro, T., Imanishi, K. & Suzuki, I., 1982. Pharmacological studies on a plant lectin, Aloctin A. II. Inhibitory effect of aloctin A on experimental models of inflammation in rats. Japanese Journal of Pharmacology 32(1): 139-142.
  • Siegers, C.P., von Hertzberg Lottin, E., Otte, M. & Schneider, B., 1993. Anthranoid laxative abuse - a risk for colorectal cancer? Gut 34(8): 1099-1101.
  • Suzuki, I., 1981. Anti inflammatory agent. Eur. Pat. Appl. 2 873 (CI A61k 35/78), 01 Apr. 1981.
  • Sydiskis, R.J., Owen, D.G., Lohr, J.L., Rosler, K.H. & Blomster, R.N., 1991. Inactivation of enveloped viruses by anthraquinones extracted from plants. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 35(12): 2463-2466.
  • Syed, T.A., Ahmad, S.A., Holt, A.H., Ahmad, S.A., Ahmad, S.H. & Afzal, M., 1996. Management of psoriasis with Aloe vera extract in a hydrophylic cream: a placebo controlled, double blind study. Tropical Medicine and International Health 1(4): 505-509.
  • Thamlikitkul, V., Bunyapraphatsara, N., Riewpaiboon, W., Therapong, S., Chautrakul, C., Thanaveerasuman, T., Nimitnon, S., Wongkonkatape, S., Riewpaiboon, A. & Tenambergen, E., 1991. Clinical trial of Aloe vera Linn for treatment of minor burns. Siriraj Hospital Gazette 43: 413-416.
  • Tran Dinh Ly, 1993. 1900 Loai cay co ich o Viet nam [1900 useful plant species in Vietnam]. Hanoi, Vietnam. 544 pp.
  • van Schaik, A.H., 1994. Growing Aloe vera for gel production: report on four years of agricultural research on Aruba. Department of Agronomy, Wageningen Agricultural University, the Netherlands & Department of Agriculture, Husbandry and Fisheries, Aruba, Dutch Caribbean. 58 pp.
  • Wijnands, D.O., 1983. The Botany of the Commelins. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, the Netherlands. 232 pp.
  • Wijnands, D.O., 1989. De correcte citering van Aloe vera en Aloe succotrina [The correct citation of Aloe vera and Aloe succotrina]. Succulenta 65(3): 69-71.
  • Yongchaiyudha, S., Rungpitarangsi, V., Bunyapraphatsara, N. & Chokechaijaroenporn, A., 1996. Antidiabetic activity of Aloe vera L. juice. I. Clinical trial in new cases of diabetes mellitus. Phytomedicine 3(3): 241-243.
  • Zhang, L. & Tizard, I.R., 1996. Activation of a mouse macrophage cell line by acemannan: the major carbohydrate fraction from Aloe vera gel. Immunopharmacology 35(2): 119-128.

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  • Aloe (Medicinal plants)


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