Krantz aloe; Aloe Arborescens
A fine example of another African plant that has gained popularity and respect worldwide for its medicinal properties. In fact it was only after it was used to treat irradiation burn victims of Hiroshima that its healing properties received attention from the West. Extracts from the leaves have been widely investigated since then and shown significant wound healing, anti-bacterial, anti-ulcer, anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, hypoglycaemic and also alopoeic activity. The leaves have also been found to have purgative properties and relieve x-ray burns.
Although the Aloe Vera is the better-known aloe, Aloe Arborescens is the most widespread. Native to South Africa and widespread in nearly all the temperate zones of the world, it has never been exploited industrially, a characteristic that makes it genetically very strong and resistant. Aloe arborescens is one of approximately 130 Aloe species native to southern Africa. It is possibly the most widely cultivated aloe in the world and can be seen grown in gardens in many cities around the world.
Aloe arborescens is in fact a large, much-branched shrub. It is distributed mainly over the eastern, summer rainfall areas of South Africa, occurring from the Cape Peninsula through KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Limpopo province and further north into Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi. It can be found growing at sea level right up to the tops of mountains.
Recorded Medicinal history:
Aloe has been used as a folk medicine for centuries all over the world. The name aloe is from the Greek alsos and refers to the bitter juice from the leaves of these plants. It is probably derived from the earlier Arabic word alloeh or the Hebrew word allal, both meaning bitter. The Latin word arborescens means tree forming or tree-like.
Ancient Egyptian papyrus and Mesopotamian clay tablets describe Aloe as useful in curing infections, treating skin problems and as a laxative. Cleopatra was said to include Aloe cream in her beauty regimen and Hippocrates and Arab physicians used Aloe. It was carried to the Western Hemisphere by Spanish explorers. Legend has it that Alexander the Great captured the island of Socotra to secure its Aloe supplies to treat his wounded soldiers.
Aloe is popular in both traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. African traditional healers chose the Aloe Arborescens as the aloe best representing African traditional medicinal plants as seen in the Pretoria Botanical gardens.
Aloe Arborescens is regularly used to treat livestock such as calves and chickens, domestic animals as well as humans. It is a convenient first-aid treatment for burns, wounds, abrasions, cancer sores and digestive tonic. There is growing experimental evidence for its use as an antiviral and an adjuvant cancer treatment due to its immune modulating effects.