Aloe Vera is also known as: Lu Hui
OTHER NAMES: Barbados aloe; Curacao aloe; Aloe barbadensis; Aloe vulgaris; hsiang dan (elephant’s gall)
Aloe is a succulent stemless plant with erect juicy leaves 30-60 centimeters long, grayish green color, with spiny edges. The active herb is derived from the condensed juice of the fresh leaves and comes in irregularly shaped chunks about 2 centimeters thick, witn a waxy texture and varying in color from orange-brown to black. It is highly aromatic and has a sharply bitter taste, hence the Chinese name meaning “elephant’s gall”. The juice contains about 20% aloin compounds, which are split in the small intestine to yield emodin.
Aloe vera is native to Africa, India, West Indies, and the Mediterranean, but it is also widely cultivated now in Southeast Asia.
MEDICINAL PART: condensed juice of fresh leaves
Energy: very cold
Flavor: very bitter
Affinity: liver, stomach, large intestine
THERAPEUTIC EFFECTS: laxative; purgative; stomachic; emmenagogue; antiseptic; refrigerant; helps regulate blood pressure by clearing debris from veins and arteries (TCM: sedative to liver-energy)
INDICATIONS: Internal: chronic constipation and related skin problems; gastritis, ulcers, indigestion, abdominal pains, and heartburn; high or low blood pressure; headache, dizziness, and irritability due to liver inflammations; intestinal parasites (TCM: ascending liver-fire; excess heat in large intestine) External: premature balding; scrapes, burns, sunburns, skin blemishes, and frostbite; athlete’s foot; insect bites; acne; hemorrhoids
DOSAGE: Condensed juice purchased from Chinese pharmacy should be taken in the following dosages for internal use, mixed with a few ounces of water:
stomachic – 0.1-0.2 gram
laxative – 0.3-0.6 gram
purgative – 0.8-1.0 gram
If fresh aloe plants are available, freshly extracted juice is more potent and acts more swiftly. For internal use, adults should use the juice from about 15 grams of fresh aloe leaf, while children under twelve should use no more than 5 grams. Wash the leaf well under running water and scrape away the spiny edges. Cut it into small chunks and grind it to a fluid pulp in a mortar or electric blender. Line a clean bowl with a piece of cheesecloth, pour the pulp onto the cloth, wrap the cloth tightly around the pulp, and squeeze all the juice from the pulp through the cloth into the bowl. Keep the juice refrigerated in a glass jar and take it in two to three doses, on an empty stomach, any time of day or night. You can take it straight or diluted with a few ounces of pure water, plain or with a little honey. Smaller doses provide relief for the stomach ailments listed above, while larger doses can be used for chronic constipation. Aloe can be used for prolonged periods without losing its efficacy.
For external use, simply rub the freshly extracted juice, undiluted, directly onto the affected area of the skin. The juice will remain fresh and potent in the refrigerator for 4-5 days, after which it should be discarded. Freshly cut aloe leaves will retain their potency for up to a week in the refrigerator if well wrapped in cellophane.
CONTRAINDICATIONS: children with empty-cold constitutions (very pale, frail, prone to respiratory disorders) should not use aloe; adults should not exceed the daily dosages suggested above.
REMARKS: According to recent scientific research in Japan, fresh aloe juice contains elements that slow the growth and spread of cancerous cells. Although aloe is not regarded as a cure for cancer, it has definitely been shown to have potent preventive properties against its development when taken on a regular, long-term basis.
Since aloe does not lose its therapeutic efficacy with prolonged use, it is a very reliable remedy for chronic constipation.
For eczema, psoriasis, and similar skin afflictions, Chinese herbals recommend an external wash composed of a decoction of aloe and licorice, which should be used to cleanse the affected areas three times daily for 3-7 days.