Aloe vera

Chinese: 芦荟

Pinyin: Lú Huì

Parts used: Concentrated dry product of leaf juice

TCM category: Purgative herbs that drain downward

TCM nature: Cold

TCM taste(s): Bitter

Meridian affinity: Large intestineLiver

Scientific name: Aloe vera

Other names: Aloe vera

Use of aloe vera (Lu Hui) in TCM

Please note that you should never self-prescribe TCM ingredients. A TCM ingredient is almost never eaten on its own but as part of a formula containing several ingredients that act together. Please consult a professional TCM practitionner, they will be best able to guide you.

Preparation: Collect leaf juice and dry it. Or cook the leaf juice with the same amount of water for 2 to 3 hours, filter the mixed juice to create a concentrated thick and sticky texture. Dry the final product.

Dosage: 0.5 - 2 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Clears Heat. Cools the Liver and clears Heat in the Liver. Eases constipation and kills parasites.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which aloe vera may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Constipation Headache Impaired vision Intestinal parasites Ringworm Hemorrhoids Fever Dizziness Abdominal pain

Contraindications*: This herb should not be used by pregnant or menstruating women nor should it be used by those with Cold weak Spleen and Stomach.

Common TCM formulas in which aloe vera are used*:

Key TCM concepts behind aloe vera (Lu Hui)'s properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), aloe vera are plants that belong to the 'Purgative herbs that drain downward' category. The herbs in this category are those whose main purpose is to treat constipation. The fact they're 'purgative' means that they do so by removing excess Heat in the Intestines and/or Stomach. As such all herbs in this category are Cold in nature, in order to cool the Heat.

Furthermore aloe vera are plants that are Cold in nature. This means that aloe vera typically help people who have too much "heat" in their body. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Those who have too much heat in their body are said to either have a Yang excess (because Yang is Hot in nature) or a Yin deficiency (Yin is Cold in Nature). Depending on your condition aloe vera can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Aloe vera also taste Bitter. The so-called "five elements" theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Bitter ingredients like aloe vera tend to have a cleansing action on the body by clearing heat, drying dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what organs and meridians they target. As such aloe vera are thought to target the Large intestine and the Liver. In TCM the Large Intestine receives the "impure" parts of the digested food from the Small Intestine, absorbs the remaining fluids and excrete the remainder as feces. The Liver on the other hand is often referred as the body's "general" because it is in charge of regulating the movements of Qi and body fluids. It also takes a leading role in balancing our emotions.

Research on aloe vera (Lu Hui)

A review of academic literature notes that Aloe Vera's inclusion in many hygiene and cosmetic products is due to its "moisturizing emollient effect".1

A. vera is effective on wound healing by both oral and topical routes of administration.2

Aloe vera improves wound healing and inhibits inflammation.3

Sources:

1. Eshun K, He Q (2004). "Aloe vera: a valuable ingredient for the food, pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries--a review". Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 44 (2): 91–6. doi:10.1080/10408690490424694.

2. Davis RH; Leitner MG; Russo JM; Byrne ME (1989). Wound Healing, Oral & Topical Activity Of Aloe Vera. J Am Podiatr Med Assoc Vol 79, Number 11, P559-62.

3. Davis RH; Donato JJ; Hartman GM; Haas RC (1994). Anti-Inflammatory & Wound Healing Activity Of A Growth Substance In Aloe Vera. Department Of Biomedical Sciences, Pennsylvania College Of Podiatric Medicine. J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 84(2):77-81.

Use of aloe vera (Lu Hui) as food

Aloe vera are also eaten as food. It is used as an ingredient in dishes such as Aloe Vera sabzi.