Aloe Vera

David McCluggage, D.V.M., C.V.A.

The best source of aloe vera is a freshly cut leaf from an organically grown aloe vera plant. The juice can be extracted by simply squeezing it out of the tip of the leaf. Alternately, a whole leaf may be placed into a food processor and then the juice can be pressed out of the pulp created by the food processor.

The active properties of aloe include barbaloin and isobarbaloin. Aloe has purgative, cholagogue, anti-inflammatory, vulnerary, and anthelmintic effects. Aloe powder is a strong purgative and can be effective with constipation. Scientific studies have shown that aloe is highly effective when applied topically to burns, especially in the early stages following the burn. As a vulnerary, it speeds wound healing and cell growthDavis, RH: Aloe vera, hydrocortisone, and sterol influence on wound tensile strength and anti-inflammation. J of Am Podiatric Medical Assoc, 84(12), December, 1994, pp 614-619..

Aloe is said to have tonic effects similar to the Chinese herbal product Rehmannia 6 (a Kidney Yin tonic)Tierra, M: Planetary Herbology, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, 1988, p. 170..

Recently, some companies have begun marketing aloe as an immune enhancing herb. Some of these companies claim to have developed cold processing (and other secret or proprietary) techniques that extract individual components from the aloe vera juice. Two of these products are called Acemannon and Manopol. In some conditions, these products can be very helpful. Normally, we recommend that the juice of the plant be used.

The main uses for aloe include:

  • Wound management
  • Burns
  • Constipation
  • Treating bowel disorders where there is inflammation
  • Immune boosting
  • Anti-inflammation