One of the oldest therapeutic plants known to mankind, aloe vera is a very short-stemmed or stem-less plant, with thick and fleshy greyish-green coloured leaves and yellow flowers, and is bitter in taste with a pungent aftertaste. The plant is slimy, mucoid by nature and cold in action, which is why it is used in Ayurveda to cool excess body heat and to treat phlegm body humors. The extract of the Aloe Vera plant plays an important role in medicine and healthcare, and is available in the form of cream, gel, lotion, liquid, spray and capsule.
There are over 240 different species of Aloe, growing mainly in the dry regions of Africa, Asia, Europe and America. Of the 240+ species of Aloe, only four are recognized as being of nutritional value to humans and animals. Aloe barbadensis miller (Aloe Vera species) is the top of these four. Thus, any aloe-based product you use should be made from barbadensis miller species.
Aloe vera facts
- Aloe vera contains saponinwhich acts as a natural cleanser.
- It has the ability to penetrate through all layers of tissue. This is arrived from the lignums in Aloe Vera.
- Works as a local anesthetic to relieve pain both on the surface and deep into the surface including joint and sore muscle pain.
- It is bactericidal when it is maintained in high concentration for several hours in direct contact with the bacteria.
- It is viruscidal when in direct contact in high concentration for long periods of time.
- It is fungicidal under the same conditions.
- It is a hemostatic agent. Reduces bleeding both topically and below the surface.
- It is antipruritic, reducing the itching and rashes from stinging plants & insects.
- It is anti-inflammatory. Its action is similar to that of a steroid, but with no side effects. All clinical studies report extensive anti-inflammatory activity.
- It provides a wide range of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, Mucopolysaccharides and mucoprotein. Mucopolysaccharides are very important for bodily function. One of the functions is that it protects each cell of the body against the invasion of organisms such as bacteria, fungus and virus. The body slows down the production or completely eliminates this at puberty, therefore we have to obtain the Mucopolysaccharides from our foods. About the only foods that has any substantial amount of Mucopolysaccharides and mucoprotiens are the crustaceans and deep-sea cold water fish.
- It dilates capillaries, increasing blood supply in the area to which it is applied.
- Proteolytic enzymes break down and digest dead tissue and dead cells in all areas where applied, hastening the degenerative phase of healing and allowing a more rapid healing.
The Aloe Vera extract is extremely beneficial for patients who have lost a large amount of blood. In fact, even a small amount of Aloe Vera extract helps in the healing of wounds. It dissolves easily in blood and multiplies the effectiveness of the blood in a body. Records tell us that Alexander the Great (356–323 BC) used this quality of Aloe Vera for healing battle wounds suffered by his soldiers. Egyptian queen and legend, Cleopatra, used this herb extract for entirely different reasons, as an agent for skin care.
The extract is made by grinding the plant’s leaves and is extremely popular and appreciated in cosmetology. Its extract contains calcium, amino acids, sodium, nitrogen and vitamins. The plant’s properties find expression in several cosmetic products in the form of creams, gels, lotions, cleansers, moisturizers, anti-ageing products, acne and pimple creams, and hair lotions. It is an important ingredient in health drinks and can also be taken as a dietary supplement. Listed below are some of its uses:
- Influenza or Flu: Researchers at Texas A&M University are developing an Aloe Vera nose spray that can effectively treat influenza. Aloe Vera leaves are put through a series of complex extraction steps to produce a chemically pure powder, which is combined with the flu vaccine. The special carbohydrate in the plant’s leaves is perfect for forming the gel-like substance needed to act as a carrier for the vaccine.
- Acidity: Fresh Aloe Vera juice when taken in a dose of 10ml to 20ml, two or three times a day, is a good cure for relieving acidity.
- Burns: The juice extracted from the plant’s pulp is applied to burnt skin as it acts as a soother and healer.
- Swelling: Mix some turmeric powder in Aloe Vera pulp and heat the paste slightly; apply it to the affected part for instant relief.
- Hair loss: Aloe Vera is considered to be one of the best treatments for hair loss. It has anti-inflammatory properties that prevent hair loss and are even beneficial for curing Alopecia. Moreover, the herb is very effective for hair growth. It also maintains the pH balance of the scalp and helps in cleaning of pores. Aloe Vera juice, coconut milk and wheatgerm oil can be mixed and applied to the scalp for combating dandruff.
- Skin care: A miracle worker on skin, Aloe Vera is used for treating wounds and cuts, burns, blisters, rashes, fungal infections, pain and inflammation. This wonder herb is a very common ingredient in moisturizer creams, which help reduce pigmentation, freckles, sunburn, dark spots, acne, and dry and patchy skin. Its creams are good for allergies and skin eruptions. For people suffering from eczema and psoriasis, Aloe Vera offers relief from reducing pain and itching. It also keeps ageing at bay.
- Stomach disorders: The juice of Aloe Vera helps in curing ulcers, heartburn and other digestive disorders. It also keeps the digestive system healthy by playing the role of a laxative that helps in controlling bowel movement.
- Vigour and strength: It is recommended to take Aloe Vera pulp with milk twice a day for renewed energy levels.
- Female disorders: The herb is beneficial for the healthy working of the uterus, and especially helps in regulating menstrual flow.
According to recent research, Aloe Vera can also be used as a food preservative. Aloe Vera gel can be used as an edible coating to prolong the quality and safety of fresh fruit and vegetables. The gel does not affect food taste or appearance, and acts as a safe, natural and environmentally-friendly alternative to conventional synthetic preservatives.
Did You Know
- Aloe vera plant literally "sucks up" the toxins.
- The color and taste of Aloe vera changes with the seasons. This does not change the efficiency of the product.
- It takes approximately 10 pounds of aloe leaves to make 1 gallon of 100% Aloe vera juice.
- Native Americans applied the fresh gel from the Aloe Vera leaves to their hair, applied water and would get some sudsing effect.
- The thick, clear gel inside the leaf contains over 75 different key nutritional compounds.
- The manner and the place of manufacturing aloe vera products is extremely important! The gel of the Aloe plant, when exposed to oxygen for a prolonged time (about four hours) oxidizes - rendering it worthless.
- The benefits from aloe vera products are rendered useless unless from harvesting to manufacturing the finished product, the entire process has been completed within four hours. If it takes longer then the product might not have any nutritional value.
- Purchase aloe vera products manufactured by companies that grow the plant themselves and manufacture at the site and not from those who buy it in bulk.
- Aloe vera may become the preservative for fresh fruit and vegetables
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