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Aloe ferox: The healing power of Aloe

Some species of Aloe have long been used in traditional medicine. These include the well-known Aloe vera or true Aloe, probably originating in Arabia, and the South African Aloe ferox or Cape Aloe you see here. Most Aloe used commercially is harvested from wild plants in eastern South Africa; small quantities of Cape Aloe are also farmed. Freshly cut leaves of both species of Aloe yield a yellowish, slightly sweet and unpleasant-tasting juice that dries to a resinous, bitter solid. Taken in small quantities, this Aloe latex acts as a muscle relaxant and laxative. Since ancient times, it has been used by humans and animals alike as a laxative and deworming agent. Caution must be used when taking Aloe latex, however, since an overdose may result in intestinal bleeding or even death.

The pulp inside of the Aloe leaf also has useful properties. This Aloe gel has a soothing and moisturizing effect on the skin, and is often added to skin creams and lotions. Traditional healers in many countries have long used Aloe to treat burns and other skin injuries. Freshly cut Aloe leaves are placed, inside down, on the area to be treated, or the freshly squeezed juice applied to the injury. Some people may have allergic reactions to Aloe, however.

It was once common in Germany to have a potted Aloe plant in the home so that this useful household remedy would always be close at hand.

Audio file download
Aloe ferox: The healing power of Aloe (MP3, 746 KB)

Audio production and copyright: Soundgarden Audioguidance GmbH
Text: Ehrentraud Bayer, Botanischer Garten München-Nymphenburg

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