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Sabila - Medicinal Uses 0708

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 6 months ago
Sabila - Medical Plant
by Paul Kwak


Description and Rationale


The purpose of this project is to develop the quality of life of the people in the Philippines. Since the Philippines has lack of medical science or is very expensive to apply for most of the common dwellers, I had an idea about having a medical plants in indoors that could help to cure common external wound or some skin diseases caused by ultra violet rays from the sun(eg. sun burns). This plant is called Sabila which has scientific name of Aloe barbadensis miller liquid but is commonly known as aloe. This plant was originally imported from South Africa, and now introduced either accidentally or deliberately to people in the Philippines.



The benefits that could be gained for having Sabila in the house are treatment of acne, pimples and psoriasis, analgesic properties for inflammation of skin, helps reduce high blood pressure, anti-aging properties, heals insect bites minor burns and sunburns, arthritis, diabetes, helps prevent cancer and tumors, eases constipation, antifungal, antiviral, antiparasitic and antibiotic properties.


However, would Sabila bring only benefits for people? Is this plant competes with other plants for their resources and kill other plants to survive? Moreover, is it easy for the people in the village to cultivate the plant? How does this plant affect the people’s livelihood that depends on growing plants or cultivating plants? Are there any side effects after using Sabila for cure?


Luckily, the recent observation tells us that people have no disregard nor discomfort having Sabila at their houses or surroundings. In fact, the plant actually helps the villagers by providing extracts which is used as a cure for diseases and wounds without side effects. Moreover, having a plant in the house provided higher oxygen levels and better quality of oxygen for people.


The initial purpose of this project will be to research the biology and ecology of Sabila through a search of the literature, internet and interviews with people living in the village in Cogeo (Most of the villagers are able to speak English). Moreover, I will plant some full grown Sabila and its seeds to see whether the plants can adapt to the environment. I will give the instructions to the villagers in order to take care of the plant favorably. These initial findings will help guide the experimental phase, where key variables in the Sabila’s survivability and usefulness will be further explores.

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Common Names and Synonyms


Aloe vera is also called sabila. To botanist and garden enthusiasts, it’s also known as the cape aloe, since it has sharp leaves and reddish-brown spines along its edges (palm-like succulent plant) which look similar to a cape. Other synonyms include dilang buwaya (Philippines); aloe barbadensis miller liquid (US); and Kumari (India).


Kingdom: Plantae (plant)

Phylum: Magnoliophyta (flowering plants)

Class:  Liliopsida (family of lily)

Order:  Asparagales (stem)

Family:  Asphodelaceae (vascular plant)

Genus:  Aloe (shining bitter substance)

Species: Aloe vera (true plant)


There are many types of sabila flowering plants that science has not described. As a result, they are given a common name and an acronym designation until a new scientific name for the plant is described. An example is the Barbados aloe, ALVE2, believed to be a family of Aloaceae.


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Morphology and Physical Description


The plant can grow to a maximum of 80cm or around 4 feet tall. The body shape of the Barbados aloe is long and shrubby. The leaves are arranged as follows: two major parts leaf epidermis, the inner leaf gel and the rind, which is the outer protective layer and is smooth and rubbery. Right below the thick green rind are the vascular bundles which consist of three types of tubular structures. The xylem transports water and minerals from roots to the leaf and the phloem transports starches and other combined materials to the roots. The third sticky layer is called anthraquinones, where the vascular stacks are connected to the inner surface of the rind and have the highest beneficial aloe elements. The fourth innermost and major portion of the leaf is the spongy parenchyma and lacunar mesophyll, making gels. Moreover, this is the water storage for Barbados aloe.



The leaves grow in spiral shape to form a rosette (shape of a rose) formation. The leaves narrow off to form spear-like edges with thorny ridges along the spine.

Additionally, the leaves seem adapted to protect and guard themselves from enemies such as insects and humans who want to get the extract from the plant.



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Getting Food


Barbados aloe is a plant which has chloroplasts to perform photosynthesis with the sunshine. It mostly feeds on the energy from the sun rather than from water. Still, this plant requires some supply of water to survive. Furthermore, Barbados aloe gets some crucial nutrients from the soil.

“The species requires well-drained sandy potting soil in moderate light such as the sun. It may not be consumed naturally. If planted in pot or other containers ensure sufficient drainage with drainage holes. The use of a good quality commercial potting mix to which extra perlite, granite grit, or coarse sand are added is recommended. Alternatively, pre-packaged 'cacti and succulent mixes' may also be used. Potted plants should be allowed to completely dry prior to re-watering. During winter, A. vera may become dormant, during which little moisture is required. In areas that receive frost or snow the species is best kept indoors or in heated glasshouses.”




In the tropics such as Philippines, there is excessive growth of the Barbados aloe since the conditions successfully suit the plant by having lots of sunshine and less amount of rain.


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The Barbados aloe reproduces as most plants do, using pollen from their flowers. Barbados aloe has floral traits and a reproduction system that favors allogamy which describes the fertilization of an ovum from one individual. The pollen is mostly carried by the wind or insects from the male flower to a female flower for pollination. In captivity, the most successful breeding has occurred in sunny areas with soil that has the ability to efficiently absorb the water. Though Barbados aloe has a root that might perform vegetative propagation which is the asexual way of reproduction for plant, there is no information about it.


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Environmental Factors


The Barbados aloe is tropical. It lives in sunny parts of the land which have the temperatures of 25° to 31°C. It is best adapted to tropical soil with a pH range of 6.1 to 7. Because the 95% of this plant is water, it can survive during the drought quite well. Still, it requires water about of two hundred to four hundred milliliters per day.

There are several insects such as fungus that may use the Barbados aloe as a host (parasitism), in order to get their nutrients from the extract. However, the insects end up continuously harming the plant. Fortunately, there are no diseases related to this plant and has no competitions with other plants since it can survive in bad situation such as lack of water or severe winter conditions such as cold temperature.



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Origin and Distribution


The Barbados aloe is originally from Eastern and Southern Africa, around the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. Later it was introduced by the business companies in the North of Africa, the Arabic peninsula, China, Gibraltar, Mediterranean countries and the West Indies for the trade of skin products and cosmetics, and is very favored in most of the countries. At present, it is cultivated in Aruba, Bonaire, and the United States by many companies and people. It has been able to survive and thrive in a variety of tropical environments at 25° to 30°C high temperature.


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Importance to People


In most of the places in the Philippines, this plant has been introduced from its native range, probably by traders from other countries. It has also introduced to other Asian countries as well.

“The Aloe Vera plant is world renowned for its healing benefits.  Many people refer to it as “the burn plant” because it is widely used for relief of minor burns, included those caused from the sun.  The outside of the leaf is smooth and rubbery to touch and inside is the Aloe Vera "gel" that is so highly regarded. The gel appears to contain wound suppressant that accelerates the rates of healing of injured surfaces. Scientists have found that the Aloe Vera "gel" is a diverse mixture of antibiotic, astringent, coagulating agent or process of liquid turning into soft solid mass, pain inhibitor, cell growth stimulator and scar inhibitor.”




In the mid-1970s, Dr. Davis discovered that aloe extracts can be used for anti- inflammation, wound healing and anti-aging. Even before, ancient Egyptians used aloe to mummify their dead bodies so that they can preserve the corpse from decomposing.


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Survivability and Endangered Status


The resilience of the Barbados aloe is high or low depending on the atmosphere. It has a minimum population doubling time of 4 to 5 months. There are about 23 aloe species found in Philippines such as aloe wildii. The average life span of this plant is about 4~9 years. The sabila is now being considered an invasive alien species in the Philippines, due to its tolerance for a high temperature range of climate conditions and food as well as a lack of predators


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Potential Solutions


Is the aloe vera’s presence in the Philippines, especially in Cogeo good or bad? It has been established at this point by this researcher that the aloe vera is an invasive species in Cogeo but doesn’t interfere nor compete with normal planting practices or other plant species. It is simply an introduced species that proved to be a valuable new resource for people. Further research and field studies about the ecology and cultivation of this plant are necessary before determining if aloe vera is an asset or liability to the cultivating efforts of the poor families living in the area. There seem to be several promising livelihood possibilities that may be able to benefit the poor families living around Cogeo. Below are 3 possibilities with an analysis of the advantages and disadvantages for each. Along with each possibility is a current status report of progress made to date on each of the possibilities. 


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Possibility 1


From an article called Treating Acne with Aloe Vera, which is dated on Tuesday, August 15, 2006, from “http:www.yourhealthmagazine.com”, there was information about how the extract from aloe treats destroyed or spoiled human skins. After I read this article I thought about having homemade aloe vera gel which can be function as anti-inflammatory for the skin. Since the Philippines have extremely hot temperature, I thought it would be good solution to help people when they burn their skin. In order to accomplish this product, I had further research and found the recipe. Below are the steps to make gel out of aloe vera.



Slice off an outer leaf of an aloe.

Use knife or vegetable peeler to peel the leaf.

Put the extract into a blender.

Add 500mg powdered vitamin C and 400 IU vitamin E to preserve the gel.

Blend thoroughly.

Place in a sterilized, clean glass jar.


Apply several times a day to cuts, wounds, or burns/skin irritations.


After I made the homemade aloe vera gel, the next day, I made my action to prove this experiment is efficient on people. First, I used on a normal skin whether the gel still has some effect on the skin or not. Then I used on mosquito bites, external wound and acne.





The day after the experiment, I went to the people whom I used the gel and checked if the gel actually improved any of the condition. Fortunately, for acne, it actually improved in reducing the number of acne on his skin. Though there wasn’t much effect on normal skin and mosquito bites, still it made the skin softer. Sir Joy the person who had a mosquito bites said that “it was quite soothing and soft”. However, for the external wound, the boy who was supposed to meet me at eleven o’clock didn’t show up. Now I know that homemade aloe vera gel actually worked, I can introduce this scheme to the villagers in Cogeo





1. If the homemade aloe vera gel works efficiently or at least speed up the process of curing, people doesn’t have to buy expensive medicine to cure minor injuries. This can save a lot of money that goes out from a poor family to buy medicine.

2. Since a Christian worldview emphasizes better stewardship of God-given resources, the ability to utilize the aloe vera as a beneficial cheap medicine honors God through creativity, innovation, and resourcefulness.

3. It is fairly easy to get the materials to make this product except aloe vera.

4. When I tried these steps as it is written, it wasn’t hard to make the product.





1. Though aloe vera worth about 50 pesos, which isn’t such a burden to low class Pilipino, it is hard to find this plant in Cogeo. In order to get this plant, they have to go to a rural area or at least suburbia of the city. It may be hard for them since they might not have good transportation to transfer the plant from the country to city.

2. In order to make this product for other uses such as selling the gel for economic reasons would require continual cultivation of aloe vera.



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Possibility 2


While I was surfing the internet to find products made with aloe vera, I found an interesting article which was written on September 23, 2004. It was the product of the aloe vera hair conditioner from a site called “www.evitamins.com”. The site explained how aloe vera’s characters affect the condition of hair. Since aloe is efficient in hydrating and softening, when the pure extract form the aloe vera leaf is combined with few modifications and natural nutrients such as sodium chloride and corn oil, it could make a great hair conditioner.





1. If making aloe vera hair conditioner is successful, people can sell this product in fairly high price supporting their household. Moreover, they can use it instead of selling it.





1. Getting the natural ingredients other than aloe vera extract is hard or requires some money.

2. Though it makes a lot of money, it requires some skills to make this product.

3. In order to make this product, a lot of aloe vera is used. This may result in reducing the biodiversity of aloe plants.


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Possibility 3


With the tremendous growth rate of the aloe vera and the large numbers grow in the Philippines, we can use this new valuable resource to make an energy drink. In fact, I remember drinking aloe juice in Korea. There’s no requirement of much effort to make this product since it is easy.




Cut the cucumber and apple into pieces

Extract their juice by using a juicer or blender

Add lemon juice and aloe vera to the extracted juice

Stir the mixture

Serve chilled




1. Aloe vera juice is already proven by many scientists that it is a healthy drink that increases amino acid and support immune system which has the fob of fighting off invading pathogens or virus and preventing the growth and spread of cancers.



2. Though some people says that it is harmful when we daily consume the aloe juice but aloe vera juice is proven that it is alright to drink it daily.




1. Though it is safe to drink the juice from the brands and experts, because it is hard to remove all of the sap by the human hand which can have negative health consequences, especially for pregnant women, seniors and young children, I concluded that it is dangerous to make a homemade aloe vera juice to try on other people. Because of this reason I hit the wall since I can’t assure if my juice is safe to drink without an experiment.


2. There might be some possibility that some of the species of aloe vera might not be edible and causes side effects on humans.


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“Bible Based Nutrition” 2004 <http://biblebasednutrition.com/how.html>

“CMA.” 2008 <http://www.adaptogeno.com/productos/aloe_vera.asp>

“Colleage Term Paper.” 2005 <http://www.collegetermpapers.com/TermPapers/Science/Aloe_Vera.shtml>

“Crosswalk.” 2007 <http://bible.crosswalk.com/OnlineStudyBible/bible.cgi?word=aloes§ion=0&version=csb&new=1&oq=aloe>

“eVitamins.” 1999-2008 <http://www.evitamins.com/product.asp?pid=3290>

“HIPERnatural.” 2008 <http://www.hipernatural.com/en/pltsabila.htm>

“Mauritias Aloevera.” 2007 <http://www.mauritasaloevera.com/AloeVeraUse/Aloe-Vera-Habitat.htm>


“Pioneer Thinking.” 1999-2008 <http://www.ibiblio.org/pfaf/cgi-bin/arr_html?Aloe+vera>

“Plants For A Future.” 1997 <http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/aloe-000221.htm#Plant%20Description>

“University of Maryland Mecial Center.” 24 February, 2007 <


“USDA.” 4 May, 2008 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aloe>

“Wikipedia.” 1 May, 2008 <http://www.yeturubio-tech.com/aloe.htm>

“Yeturu Bio-Tech Limited.” 2005 <http://www.buzzle.com/articles/the-aloe-vera-plant.html>

Miclaus, Claudia. 10 Septermber, 2007 <

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