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J Ethnopharmacol. 2009 Jul 30;124(3):404-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2009.05.037. Epub 2009 Jun 6.

Antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and mutagenic investigation of the South African tree aloe (Aloe barberae).

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Research Centre for Plant Growth and Development, School of Biological and Conservation Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal Pietermaritzburg, Private Bag X01, Scottsville 3209, South Africa.



In recent times, many products ranging from aloe drinks to aloe gels, powders, capsules, and creams have appeared on the commercial market prepared from different aloe species including Aloe barberae. These products are used in ethnomedicine to treat various conditions including gastrointestinal disorders, insect bites, skin burns and other skin injuries by traditional communities.


This study was aimed at evaluating the antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory activities as well as genotoxic effects of different extracts of Aloe barberae.


Organic and water extracts of the upper stem, young bark, mature bark, leaves and roots of the South African tree aloe (Aloe barberae) were evaluated for their antimicrobial [gram-positive (Bacillus subtilis and Staphylococcus aureus), gram-negative (Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae) bacteria as well as the fungus Candida albicans], anti-inflammatory (COX-1 and COX-2) and mutagenic properties (Ames test). Thin layer chromatography (TLC) was used to compare the phytochemical profiles of different extracts of Aloe barberae.


The petroleum ether (PE) and dichloromethane (DCM) extracts of the mature bark, leaves and roots exhibited good activity against all the bacteria and fungus Candida albicans with minimum inhibitory concentrations (MIC) ranging from 0.195 to 1.56 mg/ml. All the PE extracts evaluated showed a high activity (>70%) in both COX-1 and COX-2 assays. Apart from the organic extracts of the root with consistently good activity (>70%), all the remaining extracts showed moderate activity (40-69%) in COX-1 assay. The PE extracts also showed a dose dependent increase in activity. Ultraviolet (UV) spectrum of the leaves and root EtOH extracts indicated the presence of compounds that could absorb UV light (wavelength: 190-820 nm). None of the extracts had a mutagenic effect in the Salmonella/microsome assay against a tester strain, TA98.


Activity observed in the bark, leaves and roots of Aloe barberae validates its use in commercial herbal products, ethnobotany and ethnoveterinary medicine by South African communities and small scale farmers to treat various conditions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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