The Health and Medical Use of Aloe vera
by Lawrance G Plaskett, PhD, FRSC

Dr Lawrance G Plaskett has a formidable academic background: he graduated from Cambridge University, UK, in Natural Sciences, and he has spent the last forty years in various research posts, specialising in biochemistry, nutrition and medical research. He approached the writing of this book with a determination to discover if any good scientific and medical investigations had been carried out, and published, which showed that Aloe vera had genuine healing properties. He found in fact that hundreds of scientific papers had been published over the years by researchers all around the world: almost the whole of this large body of work contained only positive reports on the effectiveness of Aloe.

Dr Plaskett makes two powerful statements in his Preface: one to practitioners in holistic and complementary medicine (amongst whom he is pleased to be counted) and the other to the orthodox medical and scientific profession, to which he still belongs. Firstly: "To the holistically minded non-scientist I can say - Here, why not look at this science - it has something real to say - it has investigated this subject of Aloe with a rigor which holism and the Alternatives do not have. It has succeeded in proving something which you believed in anyway. Now you can believe in it even more. Probably it can achieve more than even you thought it would be able to do." And secondly: "Again, to the orthodox I can say - This is your very own orthodox science yet it has proved in this case that something about an aspect of herbal medicine - something you have been doubtful about - is very, very right - probably more than you ever thought possible. That may be frightening because it is outside the orthodox medical training - something which has nothing to do with pharmaceutical companies or operating theaters - but it calls for your urgent attention - most seriously so. It does not call upon you to believe in mysterious energies or philosophical systems that are outside the comprehension of science - this is fully comprehensible within science itself. Indeed, it is your very own orthodox science which in this case has proved out what you never expected it to prove - that this long renowned herb could be the most potent tool in your own armory of weapons against disease."

In the first five chapters of the book Dr Plaskett describes the nature and properties of the Aloe plant, the methods of growing, caring for and harvesting the plants, the methods of processing Aloe to preserve its properties intact and guarantee the quality of the finished product, the constituents of the inner leaf gel, and a contribution to the debate on the preparation of products using the inner leaf gel alone or the whole leaf. In Chapter Six he discusses in detail the biological activities of Aloe, and their effects on named conditions, as gleaned from over two-hundred research reports and biomedical publications which have appeared in reputable medical and scientific journals. In Chapters Seven to Nine Dr Plaskett describes the fundamental nature of human cells, the workings of the human immune system, and the way that Aloe interacts with and influences the body's immune system. Chapters Ten to Twelve detail the research which establishes Aloe as a powerful medicine, how Aloe may influence inflammation and healing, and how Aloe may initiate a cascade of changes in the body with beneficial consequences. In Chapter Thirteen Dr Plaskett discusses the importance of selecting the appropriate Aloe product, the areas where Aloe will be of only limited use, and some guidance on dosage of Aloe products. Finally, there is a short bibliography of scientific references to the literature on the immunostimulant action of Aloe.

This is a powerful book, written with great conviction, by a renowned academic and an experienced senior scientist with excellent qualifications and background in this field. His contribution to the Aloe literature is timely and will be welcomed by all who are working in the Aloe business, and those therapists and users who need to know more than the anecdotes tell them about the way that Aloe works.

The Health and Medical Use of Aloe vera by Lawrance G Plaskett, PhD, FRSC
Published by Life Sciences Press (Tacoma, WA, USA) in January 1998. ISBN : 0-943685-21-4 [Hardback, 129 pages]

Review by Jane Davis
AloeVera Company UK
February 1998