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Name: Gene Staver
Portage WI 53901 (Zone 5a)
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gasrocks
Sep 12, 2016 8:15 AM CST
I get visitors who do not know a lot about succulents. They point to a plant and ask what's that. An Aloe I reply. Oh, I have to get one of those, I have lots of skin problems. My first question: I have been told that only Aloe Vera ( I do not have one) has medicinal properties and not all Aloes. True? 2nd question: Given the poor conditions that they would probably give their Aloe, I would assume that production on a regular basis is not possible. True? 3rd question: Wiki says there is no proof that Aloe Vera does any good, makes a difference. Thoughts on that? Gene
[Last edited by gasrocks - Sep 12, 2016 8:21 AM (+)]
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Name: Der Thomaskantor
Massachusetts (Zone 6b)
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bwv998
Sep 12, 2016 8:32 AM CST
Answer to question one from my own research:

Well, there are over 500 species of aloe. It's true that Aloe Vera has medicinal properties, but there are other Aloe species, many which grow in South Africa, that also have medicinal properties.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/p...

In reality, these aloe species are rarer, and you may never come across them.

Question three:

Aloe Vera juice (the real thing), soothed my stomach when I had GERD. A lot of things have no "scientific proof", yet they do help. Whether they really are carcinogenic, I have no clue!
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Hamwild
Sep 12, 2016 9:24 AM CST
Not that this answers any of your questions, but I've seen it recommended a lot for burns (even soothing the skin on hamsters.... yes, I have hamsters Hilarious! ).

I've also seen some form of Aloe Vera liquid (in a pharmacy aisle; to drink) at Wal-Mart along with Agave nectar. I'm not sure what purpose that serves to be honest.
Name: Baja
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Baja_Costero
Sep 12, 2016 9:41 AM CST

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Aloe vera makes a gel which is useful for skin ailments. Eating the juice of true Aloe vera is, like Hamwild points out, a little confused. I guess you will find your bowels mobilized, but I don't think it's particularly healthy.

There are two plants which have historically gone under the name Aloe vera. The true species (yellow flowers, spotless adults) makes the gel that you can use for your skin. The other plant (now called Aloe officinalis) (usually orange/coral flowers, spots on the leaves of adults) works as a medicine you can eat. So there may be some confusion among older gardeners as to what the "true" Aloe vera is, and what are its properties. These are the two most common medicinal aloes in cultivation.

I strongly recommend against consuming any aloe that you cannot identify as a medicinal form. Many Aloe vera plants in cultivation are mislabeled, as people seem to think that any aloe is Aloe vera. I know this because I spent some time sorting out the plants in the database here under that entry. For the record, there are actually poisonous aloes, not that you would typically find them very often in cultivation, but something to bear in mind in a big-picture way.

There are other medicinal aloes. The most common (and most harvested for commercial production) is Aloe ferox, a big single-stemmed tree aloe from South Africa. I have also heard of Aloe arborescens used this way. In many places the people living in an area use whatever aloe they have locally as medicine, without discriminating too much, but this does not strike me as a good idea in the garden, especially when you have the choice to grow/find an aloe with the right properties.
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Sep 12, 2016 10:11 AM (+)]
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Name: Thijs van Soest
Mesa, AZ (Zone 9b)
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mcvansoest
Sep 12, 2016 10:40 AM CST
I have seen Aloe extract listed as an ingredient in some laxatives - forget which ones - which would confirm Baja's comment about mobilized bowels. I have used Aloe vera gel - even just the thick juice directly pressed from a fresh cut leaf - to treat sun burn. I would like to echo Baja's comments about being careful to only use products from plants you know the proper ID off and can determine if it is a plant that has medicinal properties - while there might not be many Aloes that are poisonous or just not good to use, it only takes one to make for a really bad experience.

And while most people probably can tell an Aloe from an Agave, if you cannot, using an Agave by mistake can make for some very unpleasant time, the juice of many Agaves causes very serious skin rashes in most people that can linger for weeks after the exposure. It is like eating wild mushrooms: you need to know what you have before you consume/use it.
Name: Paul
southern California
Zone 8B/9A
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cahdg6891
Sep 12, 2016 4:02 PM CST
The only medicinal aloes I am aware of are Aloe vera/barbadensis and Aloe ferox. I have both and think they work about the same for external use. Aloe ferox gets much bigger and has pretty sharp thorns so not really houseplant material Hilarious!

Aloes are pretty good with poor conditions, mine only get watered a few times a year during the summer and are in partial shade and stay fat and green. Aloe vera throws off offsets like mad. The only thing they don't like out here is full summer sun. They shrivel and turn bronze and just look miserable.

Aloe vera works amazingly well for sunburn and also for different minor skin conditions I have found. Aloe ferox too!
Name: Gene Staver
Portage WI 53901 (Zone 5a)
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gasrocks
Sep 12, 2016 4:05 PM CST
But I am I Wisconsin and talking to someone not familiar with succulents. I just assume they will not have a lot of luck growing Aloe Vera, at east not enough growth to be harvesting pieces. Just trying to give then realistic expectations. Gene
Name: Paul
southern California
Zone 8B/9A
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cahdg6891
Sep 12, 2016 8:52 PM CST
Aloe vera is easy to grow. Just give it a sunny window or put it outside when it is warm, an occasional drink of water in spring and summer, no water in cold weather and don't let it freeze and it will take off. Keeping them in a big pot helps too, the small plants you buy at a nursery or market are just babies, a mature plant is many times larger. Put them in a large pot and you will have a big plant with plenty of leaves to use.
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Sep 13, 2016 2:07 PM CST

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cahdg6891 said:Aloe vera throws off offsets like mad. The only thing they don't like out here is full summer sun. They shrivel and turn bronze and just look miserable.


They do that here, too, in our mild climate. But as soon as it rains in the fall or winter, they come right back. So I have accepted the bronze shrivel as part of their cycle and actually nothing at all to be concerned about beyond aesthetics. All my Aloe veras are growing in day long sun. I think our months-long drought every summer does play a role too.

cahdg6891 said:Keeping them in a big pot helps too, the small plants you buy at a nursery or market are just babies, a mature plant is many times larger.


A big pot does get in the way of ease, for people like Gene who have to ferry their plants to protection every winter. But I would agree that a big pot is better if your goal is to have leaves to harvest. Not enormous, like maybe 3 gallon size (10"), with good drainage, to start with. The spotted medicinal aloe (A. officinalis) is a smaller plant and perhaps more portable in a container.
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Sep 13, 2016 3:37 PM (+)]
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Name: Laurie b
Western Washington (Zone 7b)
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lauriebasler
Sep 15, 2016 2:01 AM CST
When my sisters and I were little girls we got some sort of skin thing, it looked like ring worm, but cultures did not come back with any diagnosis. We had these lesions all over us, and we tried some new and expensive prescription every week, all summer long. Then we went to California, and an Uncle took one look at us, got out this huge old Aloe Vera plant and rubbed it on every sore. It worked. We were cured that night. I don't think it helps all skin issues, but some definitely.
Name: Karen
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plantmanager
Sep 15, 2016 9:46 AM CST
That is fascinating, Laurie! It must have seemed like a miracle after trying all those expensive prescription meds!
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Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Sep 15, 2016 8:41 PM CST

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Yes! I think it's pretty clear that Aloe vera is actually medicine. Maybe not for everybody, but when it works it's great.

It strikes me as informative that true Aloe vera is actually incapable of setting viable seed, thus of growing true from seed. It can only be propagated from offsets. This feature (and the lack of variation among cultivated plants) probably has to do with its domestication over the course of four millennia. Which was not due to human interest in ornamental horticulture, I can promise you. Hilarious!
Name: Gene Staver
Portage WI 53901 (Zone 5a)
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gasrocks
Sep 15, 2016 8:44 PM CST
Last time I was in Laredo Texas looking for agates, I saw acres and acres of Aloe Vera plants. Gene

lindalee1000
Jan 11, 2018 7:14 PM CST
I love aloe vera as a houseplant and for its medicinal attributes. I use the variety with the healing properties.

Thumb of 2018-01-12/lindalee1000/f33be2

Name: Laurie b
Western Washington (Zone 7b)
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lauriebasler
Jan 12, 2018 12:36 AM CST
It did feel like a miracle, to us and what mattered to us. We were not allowed to swim in and pools at the motel 6's we stayed at across three states. We made up for lost time on the way home.
Name: Kristi
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pod
Jan 12, 2018 7:29 AM CST
Fun to read thru this new/old thread.

I keep Aloe barbadensis. It had multiplied and I put excess in ground. Temps dip into the teens and twenties here but rarely see extended periods of freezing temps. It has been frostbit or frozen back to ground. I leave the dead foliage and when springtime arrives, it puts on new growth. It has clumped, filling in nicely. It receives virtually no watering as it is in a raised bed under the greenhouse eaves. I have been fascinated to watch it develop. In summer with sun exposure it turns a sickly brown gold which I have assumed is sunburning.

I have used it and seen it used successfully on skin burns. It works to quickly ease the pain and turn the burned surface to a brown scar with little or no pain.

@gasrocks
Question 1 ~ yes there is a medicinal aloe. If you would like a start, remind me when you thaw and I'll gladly share a start.
Question 2 ~ I believe it would remain dormant during winter but would produce more offsets in your summer and provide enough growth to be used for medicinal topical use.
Question 3 ~ Wiki is only as good as the people who submit the info.

Interesting thread, thanks for starting it Gene and thanks too @lindalee1000 for reviving it and Welcome!
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Name: Adam Pope
Seattle WA (Zone 8b)
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BotanicallyBaked
Jan 12, 2018 7:32 AM CST
Ive heard that cultivated aloe isnt edible for some reason? truth or? im gullible as all get out..... Shrug!
Name: Thijs van Soest
Mesa, AZ (Zone 9b)
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mcvansoest
Jan 12, 2018 8:58 AM CST
As to cultivated Aloe not being edible, that is probably not quite true, given that I know plenty of people who cultivate their own Aloe vera and/or Aloe officinalis and consume it. However, you could think of commercial production of Aloe vera for e.g. inclusion in hand creams or other skin products where the producer uses pest or weed control products on the plants/field and at that point one might worry that consuming a piece of a plant from such a field might carry with it some of those chemicals as most do not just wash off, which may far outstrip the good of the Aloe in terms of the harm they might cause to your body.

lindalee1000, the plant in your picture looks more like a juvenile version of A. officinalis, than it looks like Aloe vera. Still a medicinal plant, but not actually Aloe vera. The actual Aloe that as its name has Aloe vera (also often named Aloe barbadensis) even when small has much fewer spots and tends to be a much less bright green than Aloe officinalis. Even in a pot Aloe vera will grow into a bigger plant than Aloe officinalis, and while both offset/clump, Aloe vera is significantly slower in that process.

Aside from plant size and color (when in good growing conditions - all bets can be off when both plants are stressed), the best way to distinguish between these plants is when they flower, look in the plant data base and you can see the obvious difference not just in flower color, but also in how the flowers are carried on the inflorescence.

And unfortunately, most 'Aloe vera' plants you can buy at nurseries and big box store garden departments or at the check out stand in some grocery stores are actually Aloe officinalis. Does not make them less useful for medicinal purposes, but it does help create a big issue when it comes to plant identification and also feeds into the widespread misuse of the term 'Aloe vera' to describe any Aloe plant.


AloeVeraCarebyKevin
Jun 14, 2018 9:24 AM CST
gasrocks said:I get visitors who do not know a lot about succulents. They point to a plant and ask what's that. An Aloe I reply. Oh, I have to get one of those, I have lots of skin problems. My first question: I have been told that only Aloe Vera ( I do not have one) has medicinal properties and not all Aloes. True? 2nd question: Given the poor conditions that they would probably give their Aloe, I would assume that production on a regular basis is not possible. True? 3rd question: Wiki says there is no proof that Aloe Vera does any good, makes a difference. Thoughts on that? Gene

Medicinal Aloes
The most common, and most potent, medicinal aloe is Aloe vera. Aloe perryi and Aloe ferox have medicinal properties, but are not as strong and effective as the Aloe vera. This type of aloe is also known as Cape aloe, Barbados aloe. and Curacao aloe.I will be adding this information to my website.https://kmd508.wixsite.com/aloeveracare
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Jun 14, 2018 4:18 PM CST

Moderator

Since we're getting into the names of the plants, some details here...

Aloe vera has different medicinal properties from Aloe ferox, also different from Aloe officinalis (or if you prefer Aloe vera chinensis). The different plants are cultivated for different uses, and different parts of them are used. It may be the gel (Aloe vera) or the juice (Aloe ferox) or something else. And Cape Aloe refers to Aloe ferox specifically, I think because of the Cape of Good Hope. Not that it's actually specific to the Cape any more than other aloes. Maybe that's just a very effective marketing term, I don't know. Smiling
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Jun 14, 2018 4:28 PM (+)]
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