"Natural Healing with Herbs for a Healthier You"
by Gertrude Baldwin

[History] [Location] [Chemical Constituent] [Medicinal Qualities] [Contra-Indications] [Known Herbal Formulas] [Dosages & Applications] [Personal Experiences] [Endnotes]
Botanists agree that Aloe Vera plant originated in a dry, warm climate of Africa. “Reliable sources, however, indicate that the Aloe originated in South Africa, and long before the Christian era spread along the routes into Egypt, crossed the Mediterranean and Red Sea and then into Spain, East India, China, West Indies, South America -into all of the warmer areas of the Western Hemisphere.  Everywhere the healing properties of the plant were recognized and often exalted to mystic proportions.”26

     Aloe vera continues to growing in many tropical areas of the world today, but it can only flourish in colder climates if brought inside during cold weather. It can not survive freezing ground temperatures.  Vital nutrients can be lost and damage can occur at temperatures of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below.  It can flourish in temperatures as great as 104 degrees F. It even handles severe drought conditions.  But whatever you do, do not over water and drown your plants. The roots should not stand in the water.  In the United States, Aloe Vera grows commercially in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, in California and Florida, and in unique greenhouses in Oklahoma.27  Internationally it grows in Mexico, India, South America, Caribbean, Australia, and Africa.28 Because Aloe vera grows best in warmer climates, the colder parts of Europe were slower to learn of its medicinal values.  It grows nicely in Spain, Portugal, and Italy.29

      Aloe vera belongs to the lily family called Liliaceae. Some of the other plants that are related to the Aloe vera would include the onion, garlic, asparagus and turnip. Another name for Aloe Vera would be Aloe barbadensis Miller.30  The word ‘aloe’ is believed to be derived from an old Arabic word ‘alloeh’ which means ‘shining, bitter substance’, while ‘vera’ in Latin means true. This species of Aloe remains the most effective for medicinal values.31

     The Aloe vera plants appear like succulent cactus plants. It is a perennial plant that grows tall, tubular, and yellow flowers in the spring. The firm, sturdy, three sided leaves can grow up to 20 inches long and 5 inches across.32  The leaves grow in a rosette pattern.  A full-grown plant may take 3 to 4 years to reach maturity. The Aloe Vera has the ability to stop any wounded leaf from losing water and nutrients.  It is a self healer due to the special chemicals and physical properties involved. The hard green outer leaf has the strongest potency of nutritional content in the gel.   The Aloe vera leaf consists of four layers. It includes the rind, sap, mucilage, and parenchyma or gel.  The newer growth in the center of the plant is protected by the more mature leaves. The Aloes produce tiny miniature plants called pups.