Sabila | Aloe vera Herbal Medicine

Sabila uses, health benefits, side effects, warnings.of use.

Sabila is one of the oldest known herbal medicine that can be traced back in ancient Egypt. Sabila plant was depicted on stone carvings and in Eber's papyrus in 16th Century BCE, found in burial grounds of deceased pharoahs..

Sabila was historically used to heal wounds and treat various skin conditions, Aloe was also taken orally as a laxative. Nowadays, aloe extract is still popularly used as a home remedy for skin problems such as psoriasis, burns, sunburns, insect bites and others. Sabila can be found in many skin products such as lotions, gels and sunblocks. Other folkloric uses include treatment of arthritis, asthma, diabetes, epilepsy and osteoarthritis.


Scientific Name: Aloe barbadensis,

Sabila is a herb that grows in warm climates and is widely distributed in Philippines, India, and Africa. Sabila is widely used as traditional herbal medicine in China, Japan, Russia, South Africa, the United States, Jamaica, Latin America and India. Sabila is frequently cited as being used in herbal medicine for its anti-inflammatory, regenerative, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal and healing properties.

Sabila is a herb that grows up to 35 cm in height with green leaves. Sabila leaves are about 6 cm wide that grows up tapering with spiny margins. Sabila flower grows erect from the herb to as much as twice the height of the plant. Sabila flowers are yellow to red yellow in color that grows to about 2cm.

Sabila Medicinal Uses

Sabila in Traditional and Folkloric Medicine For Skin Problems

Sabila is traditionally used to treat the following skin conditions

  • skin burns,
  • scalds,
  • scrapes,
  • sunburn
  • wounds
  • psoriasis and others

Sabila juice or the fleshy leaf is applied directly to the affected skin, providing relief and believed to improve healing.

Sabila is used for treatment of hair related problems

  • Dandruff,
  • Thinning and falling hair,
  • Baldness.

Fresh Sabila juice or sap are massaged to the affected scalp and let it stay for a few minutes before washing.

Sabila, Herbal Medicine For Conjunctivitis, Stomachic, Hemorrhoids and Diabetes

  • Sabila is used in conjunctivitis, Aloe leaf juice is applied to the outer eyelid
  • In small doses, Sabila is considered stomachic tonic; in large doses, as purgative.
  • For hemorrhoids, Sabila cuticle from its leaves is used as suppository for hemorrhoids
  • In some Ariabian regions, Sabila is used to treat diabetes.

Science Based Health Benefits from Sabila

Sabila Mechanism of action in disease prevention

Sabila has several active constituents and most of them have therapeutic implications for disease prevention and treatment through the modulation of various biological and genetic activities. The possible mechanisms of actions of Sabila are described as follows:

  1. Sabila has aloe emodin (AE), aloin (barbaloin), anthracene, and emodin found to be relevant to cancer prevention owing to the activation and inactivation of molecular pathways associated with them.
  2. Sabila  function as an antioxidant through free radical and superoxide radical-scavenging activities and anti-inflammatory activities via inhibition of prostaglandin E2 production from arachidonic acid and also inhibition of various transcription factors and the activities of enzymes including lypoxygenase and cyclooxygenase.
  3. Sabila shows antimicrobial activity by rupturing bacterial cell walls. Earlier studies have reported the anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties of Sabila gel.


Sabila has Anti Leukemic Function through its Anti-Mutagenic Activity

A study that isolated di(2)-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP) from Sabila found that Sabila exhibited growth inhibition against three leukemic cell lines and reduced AF-2-induced mutagenicity. DEHP was considered the active principle responsible for the anti-leukemic and anti-mutagenic effects in vitro.

Extracts of Sabila Linne have been found to exhibit cytotoxicity against human tumour cell lines.


Sabila has Wound Healing, Anti-cancer and Immune stimulation Activities

Study isolated a major carbohydrate fraction from the gell of Aloe vera leaf. It has been claimed to accelerate wound healing, immune stimulation and have anti-cancer and anti-viral effects. Study showed acemannan an extract found from Aloe vera stimulate cytokine production, nitric oxide release. The production of cytokines IL-6 and TNF-alpha were acemannan dose-dependent. The results suggest acemannan may function, in part, through macrophage activation.


Aloe Vera, Promotes Bone Regeration and Formation (osteoformation)

Studies suggest that acemannan, a polysaccharide extracted from Aloe vera gel, could affect bone formation.  Acemannan could function as a bioactive molecule inducing bone formation by stimulating BMSCs proliferation, differentiation into osteoblasts, and extracellular matrix synthesis. Acemannan extracted from Aloe vera could be a candidate for natural biomaterial for bone regeneration.


Aloe Vera for Biochemotherapy: An effective suport for Chemotheraphy

Study showed percentage of both objective tumor regressions and disease control was significantly higher in patients concomitantly treated with Aloe than with chemotherapy alone. Study suggest Aloe may be beneficial to use with chemotherapy to increase efficacy in terms of both tumore regression and survival time.

Sabila as Antigenotoxic :

Study showed antigenotoxic potentials of aloe and suggests a potential use in prevention of DNA damage caused by chemical agents.

Aloe-emodin / Anticancer / Antiproliferative :

Study sh owed aloe-emodin inhibited cell proliferation and induced apoptosis in two human liver cancer cell lines, but with different antiproliferative mechanisms. Results suggest aloe-emodin may be useful in liver cancer prevention.

Aloeride / Immunostimulatory Activity :

Study characterized a new immunostimulatory polysaccharide, Aloeride, from commercial Sabila juice

Sabila Preparations, Usage and Side Effects

Sabila Preparation and Usage

Sabila leaves contain a clear gel that is often used as a topical ointment.

The green part of the Aloe leaf that surrounds the gel can be used to produce a juice or a dried substance (called latex) that is taken by mouth.

Sabila Warnings and Side Effects

  • Use of topical Sabila is not associated with significant side effects.
  • A 2-year National Toxicology Program (NTP) study on oral consumption of non-decolorized whole leaf extract of Sabila found clear evidence of carcinogenic activity in male and female rats, based on tumors of the large intestine. According to the NTP, from what is known right now there is nothing that would lead them to believe that these findings are not relevant to humans. However, more information, including how individuals use different types of Sabila products, is needed to determine the potential risks to humans.
  • Abdominal cramps and diarrhea have been reported with oral use of Sabila.
  • Diarrhea, caused by the laxative effect of oral Sabila, can decrease the absorption of many drugs.
  • People with diabetes who use glucose-lowering medication should be cautious if also taking Sabila by mouth because preliminary studies suggest aloe may lower blood glucose levels.
  • There have been a few case reports of acute hepatitis from Sabila taken orally. However, the evidence is not definitive.

Sabila Herbal Medicine: Useful References

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Article last reviewed: 09.30.2016