Aloe Vera – The Basic Facts



The plant genus Aloe has a history of economic and medicinal use that spans thousands of years and is the source of some of the oldest known herbal medicines. The name “aloe” comes from the Greek (alo), supposedly derived, in turn, from the Hebrew allal or the similar Arabic word alloeh, both meaning bitterdia tribute to the taste of the leaf exudate. The name aloe is also commonly applied to various products derived from the plant.

The specific epithet vera in the botanical name Aloe vera is Latin for truth (hence the common name “true aloe”) and was first applied to the plant by Linnaeus (1753) as the name of a variety within a species, which he named Aloe perfoliata. Fifteen years later, two other botanists independently raised the variety to a full species level: Philip Miller, in his book The Gardeners Dictionary, referred to the plant as Aloe barbadensis —a name that may have been accepted as correct had Nicolaas Laurens Burman named it Aloe vera in his Flora Indica, published at least ten days earlier. Publication precedent dictates that the earlier nomenclature of Burman be accepted, and thus the current nomenclature is ascribed to him and Linnaeus as Aloe vera (L.) Burm. f. Nevertheless, many continue to use the name Aloe vera barbadensis Mill.


There is a long history of aloe vera being used in popular and traditional medicine. Treatment of stomach tumours, constipation, colic, skin diseases, amenorrhea, worm infestations, and infections are just some of the uses of this plant in traditional Indian medicine. In Trinidad and Tobago, it is employed in the treatment of hypertension, and in Mexican American communities, it is utilised in the management of type 2 diabetes mellitus. The treatment of various fungal diseases is the most common application in traditional Chinese medicine. Aloe vera is one of the few herbal medicines that are commonly used in Western society. It has also found widespread use in the cosmetic, pharmaceutical, and food industries. When it comes to health, the therapeutic claims made for the topical and oral application of aloe vera cover a wide range of conditions; however, only a small number of these claims have been the subject of rigorous clinical investigation. Skin conditions, the management of burn and wound healing, constipation, diabetes mellitus, and gastrointestinal disorders are some of the conditions for which clinical trials of aloe vera have been conducted.

Egyptians, Assyrians, people in the Mediterranean, and people in the Bible all used aloe a lot. A clay tablet from about 2100 bce in Mesopotamia is the first reliable record of aloe being used as a healing plant. However, the first detailed depiction of the plant’s medicinal value is found in the Papyrus Ebers, an Egyptian document dated at ca. 1550 bce, that sets out multiple aloe-containing preparations for the treatment of external and internal ailments.

The Aloe vera plant is described in detail in the Greek Herbal of Dioscorides (ca. 70 ad), and its use is promoted for the treatment of wounds, hair loss, genital ulcers, and haemorrhoids. Aloe vera was officially listed as a purgative and skin protectant by the U.S. pharmacopoeia in 1820 and was clinically used in the 1930s for the treatment of radiotherapy burns to the skin and mucous membranes. Until today, aloe has been an important part of traditional medicine in many countries, including China, India, the West Indies, South Africa, and Japan.

Current usage

Making extracts from aloe vera, which is one of the few herbal medicines that are widely used in the West, is one of the world’s largest botanical industries. Aloe vera is one of the few herbal medicines that are widely used in the West. In 2004, the International Aloe Science Council put out a report saying that the raw aloe material was worth 125 million US dollars and that finished products with aloe were worth 110 billion US dollars. The cosmetics industry, the food industry, and the pharmaceutical industry all make use of aloe vera. The cosmetics and toiletries industries use it as a base material for a wide variety of products, including skin moisturisers, soaps, shampoos, sun lotions, makeup creams, perfumes, shaving creams, bath aids, and many others. Bittering agents and functional foods, such as health drinks, are both made with aloe, which is used in the food industry to produce functional foods. There are pharmaceutical products available for both oral consumption and topical applications (such as gels and ointments) (tablets and capsules).

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Chemistry of Aloe Species, 2000

Herbal medicine: biomolecular and clinical aspects, edited by Iris F. F. Benzie and Sissi Wachtel-Galor, came out in 2011.

David Heber, Physicians’ Desk Reference for Herbal Medicines, 2000

Amazon book: American Herbal Pharmacopoeia: Aloe Vera Leaf, Leaf Juice, and Inner Leaf Juice, 2012.