Therapeutic uses of Aloe L. (Asphodelaceae) in southern Africa.

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Surrey TW9 3AB, United Kingdom.
Journal of Ethnopharmacology (Impact Factor: 2.94). 08/2008; 119(3):604-14. DOI: 10.1016/j.jep.2008.07.002
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Ethnopharmacological relevance: The African-Arabian succulent genus Aloe L. (Aloaceae/Asphodelaceae) is represented by approximately 120 infrageneric taxa in southern Africa, including A. ferox Mill., a species long used in commercial natural products.
Aims of the study: To assess the documented ethnobotanical knowledge and biocultural value of utility in the genus in southern Africa.
Materials and methods: A survey of over 350 multidisciplinary publications was undertaken.
Results: Local uses for medicine and wellbeing were identified for over half the species of Aloe occurring
in the Flora of Southern Africa region. The most frequently cited medicinal uses were the treatment of infections and internal parasites, digestive ailments and injuries. Numerous species were recorded for their social uses, notably as ingredients in tobacco snuff.
Conclusion: The exceptional infrageneric diversity of Aloe, and extensive therapeutic uses in southern Africa, indicate its cultural importance in the subcontinent. These factors highlight the need for the conservation of the species as well as their potential as a source of natural products.

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