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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|
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.
In reality, these aloe species are rarer, and you may never come across them.
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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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 ).|
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.
Sep 12, 2016 9:41 AM CST
|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.
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.
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 |
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!
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|
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.|
Sep 13, 2016 2:07 PM CST
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.
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.|
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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Sep 15, 2016 8:41 PM CST
|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.
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|