A comparative study of three Aloe species used to treat skin diseases in South African rural communities

J Altern Complement Med. 2013 May;19(5):425-8. doi: 10.1089/acm.2012.0087. Epub 2012 Dec 5.


Objectives: Aloe species have been noted to be a miracle cure used by indigenous people of southern Africa. Geographically, each of the three Aloe species-Aloe arborescens, Aloe excelsa, and Aloe ferox-has a specific habitat. Although some species overlap in geographical regions, the species most abundant in a region is most often utilized by indigenous people. All three species display similar curative properties, aiding in wound healing, cures against other skin ailments, and some systemic conditions.

Results: All three Aloe species indicated high inhibitory activity against all gram-positive bacteria under investigation. The ethanol extract was most effective and inhibited all gram-positive bacteria and two gram-negative bacteria (i.e., Proteus vulgaris and Escherichia coli).

Conclusions: All fungal species under investigation were successfully inhibited by both the boiled water as well as the ethanol extract, substantiating the traditional usage of this species.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aloe* / classification
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antifungal Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Dermatomycoses / drug therapy*
  • Developing Countries*
  • Enterobacter aerogenes / drug effects
  • Escherichia coli Infections / drug therapy
  • Fungi / drug effects
  • Gram-Positive Bacterial Infections / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Phytotherapy / methods*
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Proteus Infections
  • Proteus vulgaris
  • Rural Population*
  • Skin Diseases, Bacterial / drug therapy*
  • South Africa
  • Wound Healing / drug effects


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Antifungal Agents
  • Plant Extracts