Aloe vera belongs to the family Liliacae and is mainly
cultivated for its thick fleshy leaves from which the yellow
resinous latex or yellow sap or anthraquinones (the bitter
yellow liquid between the leaf rind and gel) exudes and
can be used as a laxative or purgative. If it is not processed
properly it turned out to be poisonous. Nearly there are
about 150 species in Aloe vera and these species belong
to the succulent family like any other lilies or onions.
In India Aloe Vera has been referred to as "kumari
in Ayurvedic treatments where it was popularly used to treat
the sore eyes, abrasions and wounds.
Aloe is grown largely in South Texas, USA,
Mexico, India, South America, Central America, Australia and
COMMONLY CALLED AS
Miracle plant, Healing plant, Plant of immortality,
Fountain of youth.
- Aloe Barbadensis Miller,
- Aloe Saponaria,
- Aloe Chinensis,
- Aloe Variegata,
- Aloe Forex,
- Aloe Lalifolia and
- Curacao Aloe.
Of these the most popular is Aloe Barbadensis
Miller which has most therapeutic value and referred to as
True Aloe. After all the research, it has been
accepted that Aloe Barbadensis Miller is the best, as it is
the most consistent of all varieties.
Aloe is grown in warm tropical areas and cannot
survive freezing temperatures.
Aloe Vera can be cultivated on any soil for
'dry land management', sandy loamy soil is the best suited
Aloe Vera is generally propagated by root
suckers by carefully digging out without damaging the parent
plant and planting it in the main field. It can also be propagated
through rhizome cuttings by digging out the rhizomes after
the harvest of the crop and making them into 5-6 cm length
cuttings with a minimum of 2-3 nodes on them. Then they are
rooted in specially prepared sand beds or containers.
The plant is ready for transplanting after
the appearance of the first sprouts. The process of cultivating
Aloe Vera involves the following process:
- The ground is to be carefully prepared
to keep free from weeds and the soil is ideally kept ideally
slightly acidic. The soil should be supplied supplement
in the form of ammonium nitrate every year.
- The plants are set spaced out by 31 inches
in rows and between the rows. At that rate, about 5,000
plants are set per acre. An 8 - 12 inch aloe pop would take
about 18 - 24 months to fully mature.
- The plants, in a year's time, would bear
flowers that are bright yellow in colour. The leaves are
1 to 2 feet long and are cut without causing damage to the
plant, so that it lasts for several years.
- The crop can be harvested 4 times a year.
At the rate of 3 leaves cut from each plant, about 12 leaves
are the harvest per plant per year. On an average, the yield
per acre annually is about 60,000 kg.
- The leaves cut off close to the plant are
placed immediately, with the cut end downwards, in a V-shaped
wooden trough of about 4 feet long and 12 to 18 inches deep.
- The wooden trough is set on a sharp incline
so that the juice, which trickles from the leaves very rapidly,
flows down its sides, and finally escapes by a hole at its
lower end into a vessel placed beneath.
- It takes about a quarter of an hour to
cut leaves enough to fill a trough. The troughs are so distributed
as to be easily accessible to the cutters.
- The leaves are neither infused nor boiled,
nor is any use afterwards made of them except for manure.
When the vessels receiving the juice become filled, the
latter is removed to a cask or reserved for evaporation.
This may be done at once, or it may be delayed for weeks
or even months.
- The evaporation is generally conducted
in a copper vessel; at the bottom of this is a large ladle,
into which the impurities sink, and are from time to time
removed as the boiling goes on.
- As soon as the inspissation has reached
the proper point, which is determined solely by the experienced
eye of the workman, the thickened juice is poured into large
gourds or into boxes, and allowed to harden.
- Its thick leaves contain the water supply
for the plant to survive long periods of drought.
- These leaves have a high capacity of retaining
- When a leaf is cut, a orange yellow sap
drips from the open end which has a very strong laxative
effect. When the green skin of a leaf is removed a clear
mucilaginous substance appears that contain fibers, water
and the ingredients to retain the water in the leaf. These
ingredients give this "gel" its special qualities
as they are known now for many centuries. Among the uses
for this gel are acceleration of wound healing, use on skin
burns, moisturizing dry skin and it is taken internally
for peptic ulcers or gastritis.
- Aloe vera helps heal wounds,
- Aloe vera gel soothes burns,
- Aloe vera minimizes frostbite damage,
- Aloe vera screens out radiation,
- Aloe vera protects from lung cancer,
- Aloe vera eases intestinal problems,
- Aloe vera reduces blood sugar in diabetes
International Aloe Science Council (IASC)
is the certifying body of the Aloe industry.
Aloe Vera is among the few medicinal plants
by virtue of their extensive medicinal, nutraceutical and
other uses enjoy a major chunk of the market across the globe.
The major markets for Aloe Vera and its extracts are Australia,
US and the entire Europe. Despite the ideal climatic conditions
for the cultivation of Aloe Vera, we have not been able to
exploit the excellent potential of the miraculous medicinal
plant. The reasons are simple : lack of cultivation and processing
Given the exponentially growing demand for
it in the international market, Aloe Vera presents the finest
commercial opportunity among the various medicinal plants.
Also, India is among the few countries gifted with the unique
geographical features essential for cultivation of Aloe Vera
and other high potential medicinal plants. Yet, the country
has not realized and reaped the full potential of such plants.
The reason is simple: lack of the requisite expertise. Fortunately,
the technology is now accessible to individual and corporate
entrepreneurs to make the most of Aloe through mainstream
- Over dose of Aloe can cause diarrhea and
- People who are on steroids, pills for irregular
heart beat, diuretics, digoxin should not use Aloe.
- People with intestinal disorders, pregnant
and nursing mothers and children below 12 years should not
use Aloe / Aloe latex.