DESCRIPTION

Aloe Vera Barbadensis Miller (family: Aloaceae / Liliaceae), otherwise known as Aloe Vera, is one of about 250 species of Aloe. It is a succulent plant and belongs to the lilly family. It looks like a cactus, it reaches a height of about 60 cm to 1 meter and can reach two meters in length. The leaves are thick, fleshy, with high water content, which are joined at the stem of the plant forming a rosette. The underside of the leaf is convex and has a light pink color at the end of the leaf. Leaves have a triangle form, their color is greenish grey and at their outline have small white spines with a distance of 10—20mm. Aloe Vera plants blossom during spring and summer with orange-yellow flowers.

Studies have shown that the gel of aloe is rich in mucopolysaccharides, which are absolutely essential to the human body. Our body produces these sugars during the first 10 years of our life and after that we need to receive these sugars by external sources. The sugars of aloe have immunomodulatory activity and act complementary to the immune system. It helps on combating viral infections and the treatment of burn wounds and other skin disorders. It can also control blood pressure and has very good anti-inflammatory effect.

Aloe Vera can be cultivated on well-drained, sandy potting soil and bright, sunny conditions. Temperatures below 0  and wind can destroy aloe plants. Planting of aloe should be done in soils with good drainage. The distance between the plants should be  from 70 cm to 140 m. The best season to plant aloe is from March to July.

WATERING

Watering should be made in small quantities and at regular intervals. Otherwise, the plant may be forced to evolve its roots to deeper layers and thus creating a secondary root system will delay the development of the plant.

CARE

Organic formulations are used to fertilize the plants, once or twice a month except winter months. It is very important to prevent weed growth. We can achieve this by removing weeds regularly, between the sheets and the base of the plant. The flowers must be cut because then the plant grows with more energy.

PROPAGATION

The plant propagation can be done in two ways, by sexual or asexual. By the first way, Aloe vera can be grown from seeds of plant’s flowers, following a specific procedure. The second way involves the reproduction which is done by planting suckers which are readily produced by the mother plant. The plant starts to produce its own offshoots during the second year and can produce from 10 to 30 shoots per year.

Aloe can be used in many forms. It can be used as a gel, ointment, jelly, juice, resin (latex), powder, beverage, syrup, tincture, remedy.

HISTORY

Aloe is known in many cultures with different names (China: harmonious drug, Arabs: Lily of the desert, Japan: no need for a doctor, etc.), many of which show legends about its beneficial action. The earliest reference to the use of Aloe is a Sumerian slab which was  found in the city Nippur in Mesopotamia and it is dated around 2000BC. The origin of the word probably comes from the Arabic word ¨alloeh¨ which means bitter and bright substance. It is not clear the origin of aloe. Some people argue that it probably comes from South Africa and others from North. On the other hand, some people claim that Aloe came from Yemen according to some documents in Egypt and Mesopotamia. However, it is known for its medicinal uses in ancient civilizations such as Egypt, Mesopotamia, Arabia, Greece, Rome, China and Japan. It is said that Cleopatra was so beautiful due to the use of aloe. Moreover, the Egyptians used it in the process of embalming because of its antimicrobial and antifungal properties. Alexander the Great used it to heal the wounds of his warriors (356 – 323BC). The Romans used the Aloe as well. There are reports that Columbus used Aloe to heal the wounds of mercenaries during his trip to the discovery of “New Worlds”. Important position held in the Chinese culture in medical treatments. In the book Shi – Shen Aloe is described as “Harmony Method”. During the middle ages, people used aloe as a treatment for jaundice, gastrointestinal infections, migraine, tooth decay and ulcers. Aloe appeared in Europe in the 16th century, when Spanish Jesuits monks spread the use of the plant in areas that had not yet grown. With colonialism, cultivation and uses of aloe spread throughout Europe. Today the countries that cultivate Aloe is the USA, Venezuela, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Israel, South Africa, China, Thailand, India and Australia. In Europe production of Aloe exist in Spain, the Canary Islands, Portugal and Italy.