The real aloe vera belongs to the affodillas / grasslands. There are more than 200 species of the genus Affodillas. Originally probably at home on the Arabian Peninsula, they are now also found in the Mediterranean area and in India.
The main cultivation area today is Mexico. It is one of the oldest and today very well-known medicinal plants. It is also called desert lily.
The Aloe ferox is a stately plant that can grow up to 5 m high. At the top of the strong stems grows a wreath of lancet-like, fleshy leaves that can grow up to 50 cm long. At the edge are purple-coloured spines, in the middle grow long, cylindrical flower clusters, the single flower can grow up to 3 cm long, mostly pale pink.
The special thing about the wild aloe vera is that it can go for months without water. Its fleshy leaves can store a lot of water, which the plant uses during periods of drought. The ability of the aloe to store large amounts of water is due to a gel-like structure inside the leaves. This gel not only stores water, but also helps the plant to close injuries on the bark.
Medicinally used plant parts
The bitter juice is collected, which drains off when the leaves are cut. One layers the leaves in a container and collects the juice (Aloe latex). This is then thickened, usually in a water bath.
When it cools down, the juice solidifies and is sold. In its pure form, which is hardly ever used, it is added to drops, pills or suppositories which are sold as laxatives. The gel from the inside of the leaf is not used as a medicine.
A yellow juice is pressed out of the outer parts of the leaves (bark), also called aloe latex or aloe juice. It contains aloin and aloe emodin, both of which taste very bitter. Inside the leaf (aloe vera gel) there are simple and multiple sugars, water-soluble vitamins, amylase, alkaline phosphatase, lipase and salicylic acid, the polysaccharide acemannan.
The amino acids (protein building blocks) contained in the plant are vital (essential), but cannot be produced by the body itself and must be supplied from outside with food. They are leucine (promotes healing), isoleucine (improves the immune system and promotes muscle growth), valine (strengthens the nerves) and lysine (promotes the formation of collagen in the skin, improves its elasticity and is said to slow down ageing processes). Contained enzymes are said to aid digestion and render so-called free radicals harmless.
Small amounts of essential oils like saponins, tannins and salicylic acid have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects. Sterols can help to lower cholesterol levels naturally. The active ingredients aloin A and B contained in the leaf bark of the aloe have a strong laxative effect, unfold their effect in the large intestine and can be a component of laxatives, usually together with other laxatives. Due to the bitter substances they contain, both active ingredients can also stimulate bile secretion. Aloin A and B have a strong irritant effect.