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Growing Aloe: 7 Medicinal Aloe Plant Uses… For More Than Just Sunburns

You CAN easily cultivate your own aloe vera plant. This “plant of immortality,” as affectionately dubbed by the Egyptians 6,000 years ago, has a rich history of various cultures and personalities who used the plant’s moist middle in a plethora of practical uses. Like Cleopatra who applied the gel to her body as part of her beauty regimen, the ancient Greeks who used it to cure everything from baldness to insomnia to the Native Americans who called aloe vera the “Wand of the Heaven.”

It doesn’t hurt that aloe vera produces at least six natural antiseptics, which are able to kill mold, bacteria, funguses, and viruses. In fact, the plant is so powerful that researchers and scientists are looking into its potentent medical uses.

From all-around health elixirs to simple beauty aids, I present 10 of the most widely used medicinal aloe plants around the world… and for much more than just sunburns.  I was surprised myself that aloe can be used to balance sugar, aid digestion, help with asthma.. and a host of other conditions.

As always, I ask you to consult your doctor before using aloe in any health remedy.

  • Common Names
  • Aloe Vera Gel
  • Botanical Name
  • Aloe vera
  • Syn. Aloe barbadensis
  • Family

Growing Aloe – Gardening Basics

I suggest you sow your aloe seeds in greenhouse conditions.  Use a pot or a deep flat filled with Cactus mix.  Sprinkle seed on surface and cover with 1/8 inch of sharp, coarse sand or grit.  Lacking sand or grit, you can cover with cactus mix.  Tamp well and water once or maybe twice daily, keeping warm and somewhat shaded. A shaded bench in the greenhouse is ideal–we’re looking for filtered light here, not heavy shade.

Purchase aloe seed US

Purchase aloe seed UK

Important Growing Information:

DAYS TO GERMINATION: It takes about about 3 weeks for the little succulent leaves to push up through the cactus potting grit.

SOWING:Grow seedlings closely together for 3 months or so, then individuate to pots.

LIGHT PREFERENCE: Aloes do best in a shaded greenhouse or indoors on the windowsill with a northerly or easterly exposure

SOIL REQUIREMENTS: Keep warm, somewhat shaded and water a bit sparingly (once every three days), allowing the surface to dry out between waterings.


Flower Arrangements or Edible Flowers

Several Aloes have flowers with nectar that can be consumed. Among the sippable blossoms are A. ferox and A. marlothii. A. zebrina has edible flowers and buds after being boiled. In Angola they are pressed into cakes.A. greatheadii flower buds are a delicacy after being boiled in three changes of water. There is no report on the edibility of Aloe vera flowers. But since that plant is medicinal, I would not eat them.

7 Types of Medicinal Aloe Plants

Aloe excelsa (Zimbabwe Aloe)

Family:  Asphodel (Asphodelacea)
Hardiness:  22 degrees F.
((Zimbabwe Aloe) Perennial tree Aloe to 14 feet tall, native to Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa.  Trunk is crowned by a large rosette of sword-like leaves each measuring as long as 3 feet.  Rosette gives rise to a flaming candleabra of orange-red flowers.  Plant is antimicrobial, digestive aid, and used to treat diabetes.

Aloe cryptopoda (Twerkleur Aloe)

Family:  Asphodel (Asphodelacea)
Hardiness:  Protect from frost.
(Twerkleur Aloe) Perennial succulent native to the western cape of South Africa.  Protect from frost.  Consisting of robust rosettes of tapered, sword-like leaves, the plant gives rise to multiple upright racemes crowned by large red inflorescences. The plant makes a purplish-red dye for woolens.  Medicinally, used for treating constipation and venereal disease.

Aloe castanea (Cat’s Tail Aloe)

Family:  Asphodel (Asphodelacea)
Hardiness:  to 20 degrees F
(Cat’s Tail Aloe)  Small tree Aloe to 12 feet tall native to S. Africa. The rosette gives rise to multiple, fuzzy, orange racemes that curve like a cat’s tail. I couldn’t really find any other uses for Cat’s Tail Aloe, beyond the normal skin remedy… but it was so gorgeous and unusal, I just had to include it!

Aloe ferox (Cape Aloe)

Family: Lily (Liliaceae) (most taxonomists now narrow the family designation down to Asphodelaceae)
Hardiness: Protect from frost, but the mature plants actually will withstand some frost.  Excellent in potted culture, where the plant nicely sizes itself to the pot and requires little water and only as much light as is afforded by the usual window.  Perennial succulent native to South Africa.  In its wild habitat or in the frost-free garden,  will attain great size and flower taller than a human, in erect, candle-like clusters, bright red.  Most highly esteemed of all medicinal aloes–source of the anthroquinone laxative known as aloe-emodin, a yellow powder that resides in a layer below the skin of the leaf and is extracted by boiling or tapping, a substance so puckeringly bitter that it really has no equal anywhere among all the bitters in the natural world.  Small doses are used as an ingredient in stomach medicines, aperitifs and the ages-old formula known as “Friar’s Balsam.”

Aloe marlothii (Mountain Aloe)

Family:  Asphodel (Asphodelacea)
Hardiness:  to 20 degrees F
(Mountain Aloe)  Large, single-stemmed succulent to 15 feet tall, native to South Africa, Swaziland, Botswana, and Mozambique.  The rosette produces a candleabra of up to 30 racemes of orange, tubular inflorescences.  Native remedy against tapeworm.

Aloe Ellenbeckii

Native to Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya, this is a choice Aloe in that it contains copious amounts of healing mucilage and is not bitter.  The bitter aspect would of course be indicative of aloe emodin, which normally resides in the underlayer of the skin, and is a stomachic and laxative of great repute.  The mucilagenous aspect is watery mucilage, soothing, full of immune potentiating polysaccharides, aloe “gel” if you will.  Really only good when used fresh from the plant–doesn’t come through in commercial products all that well, even when preservatives are thrown in.  Very Zen of the Aloe, really, to be good in the moment but useless as an afterproduct.  I can only imagine how many lives the plant has saved in the deserts of Africa, as all one needs to do to receive a lifegiving draught of neutral, watery mucilage is to pick a leaf, worry it gently between the fingers, then suck it dry through the largest and most convenient orifice. Excellent medicinal for acid stomach, ulcers, acid reflux, chemotherapy.

Aloe ellenbeckii and indeed most aloes prefer full to part sun and fast draining soil.  This one is more cold tolerant than many, but does not withstand hard frost.   Responds well to occasional watering, although daily watering will melt it like Dorothy’s ill-tempered witch. The tubular flowers are orange with pale green tips and occur frequently, even on plants that are only a couple of years old.  Will form a strong colony if planted outdoors in a frost free area.  Will give much pleasure if planted indoors in a pot.  Unlike many Aloes, which have owey spines, the toothed margins of this plant are kind to the touch, and never hurt anybody, that I know of.

Aloe dichotoma (Quiver Tree)

Aloe, Quiver Tree (Aloe dichotoma) Tree aloe native to South Africa, hardy to 25 degrees F, with populations in the Northern Cape region as well as Namibia.  A rare (CITES listed) and expensive specimen plant that can be found in open gardens in the Southwestern US, and is kept as a potted curiosity by the most descriminating collectors of aloes.  The plant forms a flaring trunk covered in a dark yellow bark that, with maturity, peels off in segments.   Elegantly tapered branches are topped by succulent rosettes of aloe leaves, with butter yellow flowers produced in winter.  The hollow branches were used by native peoples to hold hunting arrows, and the roots of this interesting succulent tree were used for treating asthma and TB. Quiver Trees have been known to live for several hundred years.  The plant prefers dry, rocky soil and full sun to part shade, and can be readily grown as a potted specimen.

Aloe maculata (Soap Aloe)

Family:  Asphodel (Asphodelacea)
Hardiness:  Protect from frost.
(Soap Aloe, Zebra Aloe) Fat succulent widely distributed throughout South Africa.  Variable.  This plant has the distinction of not needing a well-drained soil–It will even grow in muck.  Small to medium-sized, the stubby leaves with characteristically dried tips are covered with h-shaped spots.  Eventually, the plant will make a short trunk, giving rise to branched stalked topped by outsized pom-poms of orange or red.  Locals use the sap as soap.  Ok, soap is not considered a type of remedy … unless you regard your skin as the largest organ of your body, with your cells absorbing nutritients that come from the things you use on it.

Medicinal Uses & Benefits of Aloe Vera Gel

  • Medicinal Uses: * Acne * African * Ayurvedic * Beauty * Burns * Constipation * Cuts & Wounds * Dental/Oral Care * Facial Care * Insect/flea Bites * Pet * Skin Care * Sunburns * Wrinkles
  • Properties: * Analgesic * Anti-inflammatory * Antibacterial * Antifungal * AntiViral * Cathartic * Depurative * Emollient
  • Parts Used: Juice of the inner leaf
  • Constituents: amino acids, anthraquinones, enzymes, hormones, lignin, minerals

How to Use: Aloe

The leaf mucilage (gel) has a cooling and healing influence–the gel of Aloe Vera and may be used interchangeably for it. The gel contains glycoproteins that have a cell-proliferating, hydrating and protective effect on the skin when applied externally and are very soothing to the intestines if taken internally.

Aloe gel is most powerful when squeezed directly from the leaf, as it quickly loses its potency through oxidation in storage.

aloe plant skin care

Aloe gel skin care: Aloe vera gel is an indispensable part of your herbal dispensary. The leaf juices of the aloe plant have important medicinal uses making aloe one of the most respected medicinal plants found in many gels, creams and lotions. Modern researchers have identified several reasons why aloe gel spurs wound healing: It has antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral compounds that help prevent wound infections. It also has immune-stimulating and anti-inflammatory compounds, and it stimulates collagen synthesis and skin regeneration after a burn. Aloe gel contains vitamins C and E, plus the mineral zinc. Aloe vera gel is soothing, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial – helps healacne, improve the appearance of wrinkles, and hydrate damaged skin. Applying a thin layer of aloe vera gel will help ease discomfort caused by painful skin irritations, and acne.

Aloe Juice Uses and Side Effects: Aloe juice is also thought to improve digestion and cleanse the digestive tract. Many believe that aloe juice stimulates insulin production and prevents high triglycerides. Aloe juice has a long history of use for diabetes that has recently show promise in studies, but keep in mind that these internal uses of aloe have much less of a proven basis in scientific fact than the external use in gel form. Make sure that any Aloe juice products you consume have not be sourced from outer leaves which can contain dangerous chemicals.

Aloes is the term used for the evaporated liquid exuded from the cut leaf bases of Aloe ferox, the Cape Aloe, and Aloe vulgaris from North Africa. Strong doses have a drastic effect and should never be given during pregnancy. The use of Aloes in herbal medicine is limited due to these side effects and the wide availability of safer alternatives.

Aloe vera gel for Pet care : Aloe will bring cooling relief to fleabites, reducing itching and scratching and is safe to use on dogs and cats. It also has immune-stimulating and anti-inflammatory compounds. Acemannan, a chemical compound found in Aloe Vera as a powerful immunostimulant in animals, particularly in cats.

Preparation Methods & Dosage :The freshest aloe is of course, from your own plant. Apply aloe gel directly to skin for cooling relief to dry, itchy skin, minor burns and rashes. Commercial aloe skin care products (containing stabilized aloe) rarely, if ever, pack the therapeutic punch of fresh aloe because they no longer contain any tannins, and are mostly adulterated with alcohol. You can also incorporate aloe in homemade lotions, and use it as a carrier for essential oils. Add a few drops of Chamomile and/or Lavender oil for burns and scalds.

Aloe Remedies

Ayurvedic Medicine ayurvedic medicineaCalled kumari meaning virgin, aloe is used internally in Ayurveda to restore youthful vitality and as a female tonic.

Aloe Side Effects: Drug aloes is a strong purgative that should be used very cautiously and not to be used during pregnancy or while nursing. Aloe bitters and aloe juice should not be taken internally during pregnancy. The laxative compounds in aloe are passed into mother’s milk, so nursing mothers should avoid internal use of aloe.4


This information in our Herbal Reference Guide is intended only as a general reference for further exploration, and is not a replacement for professional health advice. This content does not provide dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Accordingly, this information should be used only under the direct supervision of a qualified health practitioner.

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One comment on “Growing Aloe: 7 Medicinal Aloe Plant Uses… For More Than Just Sunburns

  1. Pingback: Sunburn Remedy: Soothe The Heat With This 3-Part Home Remedy | The Food Reality Blog

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This entry was posted on May 13, 2015 by in MEDICINAL PLANTS AND HERBS and tagged , , , , , .
C Katt Krespach, NTP

C Katt Krespach, NTP

C Katt Krespach, NTP is a nutritional therapist and long time activist with a passion for healing arts and social entrepreneurship, …working in both areas for over a quarter of a century. Her site has a worldwide following. is her newest project and coaches brick-and-morter business owners into global social entrepreneurship. She is an author, public speaker, and entrepreneur. You can get Katt’s free edible flowers e-book here and also watch a short documentary on how she overcame neuropathy, significant weight gain, and more with easy, natural and healing mindsets. Follow Katt on Facebook, Wordpress, Twitter, and Instagram.

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