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Common Name          :           Ghrita-kumari
Botanical Name         :           Aloe Vera
Family Namae           :           Liliaceae
Local Names             :           Ghee-kunwar, Ghi-kuvar, Gvar patha, , Kanya, Kumari
Part Used                 :           Leaves, Juice and Pulp

Habitat                    :           It is found throughout India.

Plant Description
Leaves large, succlent, subulate, sessile, 20-50 cm long & 5-10 cm wide. Aloe plants are characterized by stemless large, thick, fleshy leaves, lance shaped, sharp apex and a spiny margin. The color of leaves varies from species to species - grey to bright green, chocolate brown to black.


The word Aloe is derived from the Arabic word "alloeh", which means shiny & bitter. Aloe is believed to have been used to preserve the body of Jesus Christ. References to its use as a healing agent can be found in early Egyptian, Chinese, Greek, Indian and Christian literature. Legend says that it was the desire for Aloe plants that caused Alexander the Great to conquer the island of Socotra, where Aloe was cultivated in the fourth century B.C. Aloe Vera Leaf is also thought to have been one of Cleopatra's beauty secrets. The Greeks and Romans used the gel for wounds. In Africa, hunters sometimes would rub Aloe juice on their bodies to reduce sweating and to mask human scent. In India, it has been used by herbalists to treat intestinal infections, suppressed menses, and colic. Aloe Vera Leaf has been historically used for many of the same conditions for which it is still used today - particularly constipation and minor cuts & burns.

Aloe Vera is a virtual necessity as a healing plant, used to treat sunburns, minor burns, scrapes, ulcers, arthritis and constipation. This herb has healing, soothing and cleansing properties making it an ideal addition to any medicine cabinet. Aloe soothes the intestinal system too. Parents have even applied Aloe gel to the finger tips of children who bite their nails in order to get them to break the habit. The tissue in the center of the Aloe Leaf contains a gel which yields aloe gel (or aloe vera gel).

Active Ingredients

Major   :           Hydroxyanthraquinone derivatives (25-40%) viz., aloin (=barbaloin, a mixture of aloin A&B, the diastereoisomeric 10-C glucosides of aloe-emodinanthrone) and 7-hydroxyaloin isomers.

Minors :           Include aloe emodin, chrysophanol; chromone derivatives viz., aloeresin B(= aloesin, upto 30%) with its p-coumaryl derivatives aloeresins A&C, and the aglycone aloesone.

The leaves contain barbaloin, isobarbaloin, chrysophanol glycoside and the aglycone, aloe-emodin. Primary chemical characteristics of this herb include aloins, anthraquinones, barbaloin, polysaccharides, and salicylic acids. Aloin, obtained from the gel in the leaf, are largely responsible for the plant's healing properties. The plant also contains vitamins B1, B2, B6 and C, niacinamide, choline, calcium, iron, lecithin, magnesium, manganese, potassium, sodium and zinc. The common name Aloe Vera includes the species Aloe ferex and Aloe ferox, which are used interchangeably with Aloe Vera.

Aloe Vera is widely used in modern herbal practice and is often available in proprietary herbal preparations. It has two distinct types of medicinal uses. The clear gel contained within the leaf makes an excellent treatment for wounds, burns and other skin disorders, placing a protective coat over the affected area, speeding up the rate of healing and reducing the risk of infection. This action is in part due to the presence of aloectin B, which stimulates the immune system. To obtain this gel, the leaves can be cut in half along their length and the inner pulp rubbed over the affected area of skin. This has an immediate soothing effect on all sorts of burns and other skin problems.
The second use comes from the yellow sap at the base of the leaf. The leaves are cut transversally at their base and the liquid that exudes from this cut is dried. It is called bitter aloes and contains anthraquinones which are a useful digestive stimulant and a strong laxative. When plants are grown in pots the anthraquinone content is greatly reduced.

The plant is emmenagogue, emollient, laxative, purgative, stimulant, stomachic, tonic, vermifuge and vulnerary. Extracts of the plant have antibacterial activity.

Apart from its external use on the skin, aloe vera (usually the bitter aloes) is also taken internally in the treatment of chronic constipation, poor appetite, digestive problems etc. It should not be given to pregnant women or people with haemorrhoids or irritable bowel syndrome. The plant is strongly purgative so great care should be taken over the dosage.

The plant is used to test if there is blood in the faeces.

This plant has a folk history of treatment in cases of cancer.

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