Aloe vera (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
Introduction
List of species


Aloe vera (L.) Burm.f.


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

Synonyms

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.

Distribution

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.

Uses

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.

Observations

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

27, 36, 97, 104, 143, 190, 193, 198, 199, 201, 202, 204, 216, 222, 223, 250, 251, 275, 287, 322, 323, 332, 350, 378, 408, 426, 439, 508, 509, 510, 531, 570, 580, 585. 587, 597, 602, 603, 638, 659, 669, 679, 847, 869, 900, 978, 979, 1035, 1084, 1126, 1128, 1178, 1192, 1218, 1219, 1222, 1248, 1256, 1269, 1355, 1426, 1429, 1430, 1451, 1476, 1506, 1574, 1575, 1635, 1651.

Authors

N.O. Aguilar & M. Brink