The Supreme Healing Power of Aloe Vera

by Jenifer Hunt



Cleopatra and Alexander the Great had more in common than their high-profile jobs and “type A” personalities. It’s believed they both appreciated the healing properties of the aloe vera plant long before modern science began proving its benefits.

Aloe vera (L.) Burm ., a member of the lily family, is a spiky, succulent perennial plant indigenous to Africa. It has long been regarded as one of nature’s most useful healers. Ancient records reveal the plant was used medicinally in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. Egyptians referred to aloe vera as “the plant of immortality” and used it for embalming and bathing. Records confirm the Greek physician Dioscorides used the plant to treat mouth infections, sores and wounds in the first century.

“Aloe is truly a ‘super food’, and has been for over 4,000 years—modern science is just catching up,” said Barb Apps with Lacey, Wash.-based Aloecorp.

Aloe’s triangular, fleshy leaves contain a wealth of biologically active substances. Its laxative effects are attributable to a group of chemicals known as anthraquinones, including aloin, barbaloin, aloe-emodin and aloectic acid. So potent an irritant laxative is aloin, it is an official drug in the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP) and is removed from gel preparations. The inner gel contains polysaccharides including acemannan, a biopolymer thought to be responsible for many of the plant’s wound healing, antiviral and immune-stimulating properties.

“Much of aloe’s biological activity is attributed to polysaccharides,” said Bill Pine, vice president of sales and marketing with DeSoto, Texas-based Improve USA. “Aloe vera is composed of almost 200 different biologically active substances. The major molecule is the polysaccharide mannose, which is thought to be responsible for directing the synergistic activity of a vast array of compounds.”

In addition to polysaccharides, aloe contains simple sugars, proteins, amino acids, vitamins, minerals and glycoproteins. “Research has shown there are many small molecular weight components, including glycoproteins, that play a significant role in the overall medicinal effects associated with aloe,” said Ken Jones, director of research and development at Aloecorp. “It is likely these components work in synergy, resulting in overall enhanced and diverse effects, in contrast to purified extracts from aloe. It should be understood that purified extracts of aloe usually target one specific biological activity rather than the full scope of physiological effects demonstrated by whole aloe.”

Consumers appear to be quite willing to try new product applications featuring aloe. According to the market research firm SPINS, the U.S. market for products containing aloe vera was more than $30 million for health and mass market channels (excluding Wal-Mart, 52 week data ending October 2006). Sales of aloe vera ingredients in health food channels grew by almost 10 percent, outpacing sales in the mass market, where SPINS attributes a decline in sales to a lack of branding, positioning and quality.

101 Uses for Aloe

Aloe vera already has a well known place in many homes. “It’s a common practice to have a potted aloe plant as a ready and helpful remedy for a myriad of everyday uses, such as for cuts, burns, injuries, etc.,” said Gene Hale, executive director of the Irving, Texas-based International Aloe Science Council (IASC).


// $(‘.main-article-content img’).jcaption();

$j(‘.main-article-content img’).addcaption();


var loc = window.location.pathname;var nt=String(Math.random()).substr(2,10);document.write (‘‘);

« Previous1234Next »



$j(“.emailpop”).colorbox({width:”550px”, height:”500px”, iframe:true});




//window.disqus_no_style = true;

(function() {

var SHORTNAME = ‘insidecosmeceuticals’; // Your website’s shortname on Disqus

var dsq = document.createElement(‘gascript’); dsq.type = ‘text/javagascript’; dsq.async = true;

dsq.src = ‘’ + SHORTNAME + ‘/embed.js’;

(document.getElementsByTagName(‘head’)[0] || document.getElementsByTagName(‘body’)[0]).appendChild(dsq);


Scroll to Top