Aloe Vera is a succulent plant, which grows wild in tropical regions. Yet, due to its innumerable medicinal and nutritional benefit, it is also grown in thousands of households across the U.S.
Aloe Vera has been used for millennia, and according to an open access website of peer-reviewed journals and blogs, Biomed Central:
“Such extensive human use of aloe Vera is nothing new; historical sources suggest Aloe Vera trade routes were well-established in the Red Sea and Mediterranean regions as far back as the 4th century B.C … Over 500 species of aloes exist, spread over Africa, the Middle East, and various Indian Ocean islands.”
This plan is attractive and decorative, but its popularity is mostly due to the gel in its leaves, which treats various maladies and conditions. This gel can actually replace even the most popular commercial creams and lotions, as it is highly effective and completely natural.
It is estimated that the commercial success of this plant for cosmetic, pharmaceutical and food use worldwide is around $13 billion annually. As Medical News Today reports:
“Aloe Vera contains various powerful antioxidant compounds. Some of these compounds can help inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria … Aloe Vera definitely has some unique therapeutic properties, especially when applied as an ointment for the skin and gums.”
The gel has the highest levels of bioactivity and contains powerful antibiotic, disinfectant, antiviral, antiseptic, antimicrobial, antifungal, germicidal, and antibacterial properties.
The aloe Vera gel is high in beneficial compounds and phytonutrients, like choline, folic acid, vitamins A, C and E, B1, B2, B12 and B3 (niacin), as well as copper, potassium, chromium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, selenium, copper, and iron.
The aloe Vera gel is also a rich source of:
- Amino acids — It contains 18-20 of the 22 amino acids, known as the “building blocks of protein,” and all 8 of those considered essential for human health.
- Polyphenol antioxidants — They fight free radicals, and thus prevent infections and diseases, and slow down aging
- Fatty acids — Aloe contains plant sterols, such as campesterol and B-sitosterol, oleic, linoleic, linolenic, myristic, caprylic, palmitic and stearic acids.
Research has shown that this plant has 75 potentially active compounds, such as saponins, lignin, and salicylic acids and amino acids, and 12 anthraquinones, which are phenolic compounds or known as laxatives.
Aloe is also rich in campesterol, β-sisosterol and lupeol, and the hormones auxins and gibberellins, which are potent anti-inflammatories, and accelerate wound healing.
This beneficial plant also acts as an adaptogen, and helps the body to adjust to external changes and deal with physical, emotional, and environmental stress.
Adaptogens balance the system and stimulate the natural defensive ability of the body, thus fighting disease and illness.
“Aloe alkalizes the body. Disease cannot manifest in an alkaline environment. Most people are living and subsisting on mostly acidic foods. For great health, remember the 80/20 rule — 80 percent alkaline forming foods and 20 percent acidic. Aloe Vera is an alkaline forming food. It alkalizes the body, helping to balance overly acidic dietary habits.”
Topical and Internal use of aloe Vera
Aloe Vera is incredibly effective in the treatment of cuts, wounds, burns, psoriasis, and bug bites.
It also relieves pain and prevents itching as an antipruritic. It is a potent astringent, so it stimulates the contraction of the body tissues, and thus reduces bleeding from minor abrasions. Furthermore, aloe Vera reduces or prevents fever, and hydrates the skin, since it consists of 99 percent water.
According to Happy and Raw:
“Aloe increases the elasticity of the skin making it more flexible through collagen and elastin repair. Aloe is an emollient, helping to soften and soothe the skin.
It helps supply oxygen to the skin cells, increasing the strength and synthesis of skin tissue and induces improved blood flow to the skin through capillary dilation.”
Moreover, the Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry wrote that this plant helps the body to cleanse itself, and it accelerates the healing of burns in 9 days.
These are some other benefits of aloe Vera:
- Treats inflammation
- Detoxifies the body
- Regulates blood sugar
- Heals and relieves pain due to cancer cores
- Supports heart health due to the beta sitosterol content
- Strengthens the immune system due to polysaccharides
- Improves skin health, reduces wrinkles, and boosts the production of collagen
- Helps digestion; and treats constipation due to the compound aloin, or barbaloin
- Reduces dental plaque, and destroys plaque-forming bacteria and Candida Albicans
As a secondary benefit, it will also help you lose weight, as it improves digestion, detoxifies the body, treats constipation, and lowers blood sugar levels.
Growing Aloe Vera
Even though it is native to tropical areas, this plant can be grown even in Northern climates when the weather is warm.
The best thing about it all is that the process is extremely easy, and the baby plants are so plentiful, you can remove the new shoots often and pop them into separate pots. Always use pots with drainage holes to protect the plant from getting waterlogged.
The plant grows faster if its roots are not crowded, so you should leave several inches of space in between. Place the pots on a bright and sunny place, but not exposed to direct sunlight.
You should water the plant regularly, but leave 1 or 2 inches of top soil to become completely dry in between waterings.
Cut the individual leaves off when the plant grows large enough, but choose the ones closer to the ground. Slice off the little spines on the sides, and cut through the flat side of the leaf to expose and scrape off the gel.
You can also open the leaves and lay the exposed gel directly on the skin to enjoy its amazing healing properties. To prepare a delicious aloe Vera drink, add a few teaspoons of the gel in a small glass bowl and blend for a few seconds. Add fresh lime juice and enjoy.
There are many different Aloe Vera products on the market, so the International Aloe Science Council (IASC) created a certification in the early 1980s due to rampant abuse in the representation of numerous consumer products which claimed to contain at least a percentage but contain zero Aloe Vera.
Due to this, Happy and Raw addresses intake precautions:
“This plant is incredibly medicinal, yet there are some cautions against long-term use. Just because a little is beneficial, doesn’t mean that a lot is more beneficial.
This is an incredibly potent plant and should be used with a level of respect for its potency. Long-term use can lead to loss of electrolytes, especially potassium. Tip: Avoid taking aloe internally during pregnancy, menstruation, if you have hemorrhoids or degeneration of the liver and gall bladder.”
If you do not have it already, buy or grow an aloe Vera plant at home, and you will enjoy its plethora of benefits daily!