Health Benefits of Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera or A. Vera is a plant common in most countries during the present era, though its origins can be traced to the northern Africa region. It is a succulent plant with a waxy outter structure and a gel-like inner structure.
Aloin, a chemical found in the gel of the Aloe Vera plant is a toxic chemical both when ingested or applied topically (to the skin). It has been linked to cancerous behavior in tissues when tested on male and female rats and causes various side effects when ingested or applied in large amounts in humans.
Although Aloe Vera has been treated as the godsend for all cosmetics it’s actually quite weak as both a moisturizer and a conditioner. Aloe Vera gel has water retention properties but when the gel is thinned out or crushed it loses those properties in favor of its stiffness. Furthermore it’s actually quite toxic in large quantities which they seem to brush over quite a bit.
|Parts used:||resin, gel extracted from the leaf|
|Constituents:||Hydroxyanthracene derivatives of the anthrone type (principally barbaloin); 7-hydroxyaloin isomers, aloe-emodin, chrysophanol and their glycosides; chromone derivatives (aloesin and its derivatives aloeresins A and C, and the aglycone aloesone. Gel: glucomannan (a polysaccharide), steroids, organic acids, enzymes, antibiotic principles, amino acids, saponins, minerals.|
|Actions:||latex: cathartic, laxative, emmanogogue, digestive stimulant
Gel: immune system stimulant, skin healing, anti-irritant, moisturizing, anti-cancer
Traditionally Aloe Vera gel is used as a soothing topical application for sunburns and minor burns, abrasions, acne, psoriasis, shingles and even cold sores. The gel can be squeezed directly from the fresh leaf and applied directly to affected areas. Its skin repair qualities on burns, and sub burns is truly remarkable – healing occurs quickly and without scarring. In fact, aloe vera is also used to reduce scarring and stretch marks. Aloe vera shows even seems to protect the skin against the immune suppressant effect of ulta violet rays of the sun – thus it is not only an excellent ‘after sun care’ ingredient, but may also be useful as a protective sunscreen lotion. It is an excellent additive for cosmetic preparations as it can moisturize and rejuvenate the skin by stimulating synthesis of elastin and collagen.
External application of aloe gel penetrates the skin directly and produces a soothing, pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effect on arthritic joints and tendonitis.
For internal use Aloe Vera latex preparations are usually mixed with antispasmodic herbs to reduce the cramping effect of its laxative action. Used by itself it would produce a rather cathartic and cramping effect. Aloe vera latex also stimulates the uterus and promotes menstrual flow. Pregnant women should avoid the use of Aloe vera as a laxative.
Internally high quality Aloe vera juice preparations can stimulate the immune system. Laboratory studies on mice have shown Aloe to be effective in the treatment of certain types of cancer and HIV, and further studies are on the way.
Aloe juice seems to have an overall healing and balancing effect on the digestive system, improving absorption of nutrients and eliminating toxins. This improves overall cell nutrition and activates the body’s own healing powers. It can relieve gastro-intestinal problems associated with peptic or duodenal ulcers, improve regularity and enhance energy levels. It is also used to soothe colitis and irritable bowel syndrome. In fact many chronic conditions have a prominent digestive imbalance component, which triggers secondary symptoms due to malabsorption and subsequent cellular malnutrition. Aloe vera juice can help to restore balance to the digestive system.
Furthermore, aloe vera juice seems to have a beneficial effect on the liver and kidney. It appears to reduce levels of blood lipids that can clog up the arteries and lead to coronary heart disease. Aloe vera also seems to be able to reduces blood sugar levels, which can make it a useful nutritional supplement for diabetes sufferers.
Do not use Aloe Vera based laxative during pregnancy. Aloe Vera juice may also be adulterated or contain levels of aloin above what would be deemed safe during pregnancy.
If you are on prescription medication consult with your health advisor regarding possible interference reactions between internal use of Aloe Vera and other medicines.
The quality of Aloe vera gel or juice very much depends on the production process and some aloe vera products currently on the market have little or no medicinal value. Research your source carefully before spending a lot of money on what may essentially turn out to be an inert substance. Whole leaf extractions are recommended. Look for the International Aloe Science Council certificate for assurance on content and purity.
Grow your own
Everybody should have an Aloe Vera plant growing on their kitchen window sill. It is the best instant burn remedy you can have at hand. Growing Aloe Vera is easy, as it is a very undemanding plant. Just don’t over-water it and protect it against freezing temperatures. It loves the sun, but will grow in semi-shade as well. It does not need particularly rich soil. Well draining, sandy soil will do.
When making your own skin care preparations and you want to incorporate the healing benefits of Aloe vera, you can use the gel to replace all or a portion of the amount of liquid your recipe calls for. However, be aware that unprocessed Aloe vera gel is not very stable and won’t keep long, so make small batches only, store it in the fridge and use up quickly. For maximum benefit of Aloe Vera as an ingredient of skin care preparations such products should contain at least 20-40% of gel. Or simply cut off a leaf and rub it straight on the skin.