Being a holistic physician, I believe in the concept of real food and natural remedies. And I always love to search the simplest ways to live a healthy and happy life. It is simply amazing to explore the therapeutic properties of various herbs and plants.
Aloe Vera is one of my all-time favorite plants because of its numerous healing and health boosting properties. Among the commonly used herbs and plants, Aloe Vera has been the subject of many scientific studies over the last few years regarding various claimed therapeutic properties. According to NIH, Aloe Vera’s use can be tracked back 6,000 years to early Egypt, where the plant was depicted on stone carvings. It is also known as “wonder plant” or “plant of immortality”. It has been used for years to treat the variety of conditions such as burn, wounds and skin irritation.
Aloe Vera has some amazing healing and therapeutic properties. There are two substances from the Aloe Vera used in health products nowadays. One is clear gel and the other is yellow latex. Aloe gel is used topically and works great in treating various skin conditions such as burns, frostbite, cold sores. Apart from topical application, it can be used orally for treating fever, osteoarthritis, and bowel diseases. And it is beneficial for the various system of our body.
Here are some great benefits of Aloe Vera.
Aloe Vera in Dermatology
According to a systemic review that summarized 40 studies in 2009 that involved using Aloe Vera for dermatological purposes, it was found that Aloe Vera can be effective for treating genital herpes, psoriasis, human papilloma virus, seborrheic dermatitis, aphthous stomatitis, neurosis, lichen planus, frostbite, burn, wound healing and inflammation. It can be used as a biological vehicle and anti-microbial and anti-fungal agent. It is also used as a candidate for photodynamic therapy of some kind of cancer.
Apart from this:
- Aloe Vera provides rapid relief from itching and burning associated with severe radiation dermatitis and skin regeneration.
- It treats sun burn and acts as a protective layer on the skin and helps retain its moisture.
- Aloe Vera is a great moisturizer and has amazing soothing properties. If you have oily skin, you can use Aloe Vera as the moisturizer. It absorbs so fast and gives an instant fresh look to your skin.
- Aloe Vera also helps in treating acne. It has great antibacterial properties and contains vitamin and minerals. Thus it can be used in treating acne and helps in reducing scarring.
Aloe Vera helps in treating burns
According to the University of Maryland Medical center, Aloe Vera gel (made from the central part of the aloe leaf) is a common household remedy for treating minor burns and cut. In one study, burn sites treated with aloe healed completely in less than 16 days compared to 19 days for sites treating the site with silver sulphadiazine.
However, other studies show mixed results. At least one study found that aloe delayed healing. As such, it is best to use aloe for treating minor cuts and burns. It should never be applied to open wound sites.
Aloe Vera for hair and scalp
Aloe Vera works great for the hair and scalp. It helps in treating various routine hair and scalp problems. Such as:
- Aloe Vera contains proteolytic enzymes which repair dead skin cells on the scalp.
- It has nourishing properties, thus it also acts as a great conditioner and leaves your hair smooth and shiny. It also provides nutrition to the scalp and promotes hair growth.
- Because of its great antibacterial and antiviral properties, it keeps scalp disease free and helps in treatment of dandruff and itchy scalp
Aloe Vera for digestion
Aloe Vera is good for digestion and helps in treating IBS (inflammatory bowel disease). According to a study reported in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences, aloe is considered “safe” and few studies have investigated the efficacy of aloe Vera in the treatment of IBS.
In this study, 33 patients with constipation predominated refractory IBS into on 8-week treatment course with aloe Vera including a weekly follow up for evaluating treatment efficacy. In each session, a new aloe Vera bottle would be given to patients, with 30 ml of Aloe Vera juice administered twice daily. Results showed that aloe can reduce abdominal pain and discomfort as well as the consistency of stool in these patients. Though more data is needed to conclude that can be used as effective treatment.
Aloe helps in treating skin reactions after radiation therapy
According to a report from the American Cancer Association, aloe has been reportedly used since the 1930s for skin reactions from radiation therapy. Healthcare providers continue to suggest the use of aloe gel for soothing radiation therapy induced skin rashes. However, more scientific studies are needed to confirm this.
Aloe Vera for teeth and gums
Aloe Vera has gained popularity as an active ingredient in tooth gel. It is used to cleanse and soothe teeth and gums and it has proven equally effective to tooth paste to fight cavities.
According to a study published in the May-June 2009 issue of General Dentistry, Aloe Vera tooth gel is intended to perform the same function as toothpaste which eliminates disease-causing bacteria in the mouth. The study compared the germ-fighting capability of an aloe Vera gel to two commercially popular tooth paste brand and concluded that Aloe Vera gel was just as effective and in some cases more effective than the commercial products at controlling cavity causing organism.
Aloe Vera as a strong laxative
Aloe Vera contains a strong laxative compound. Aloe latex is taken orally for treating constipation at one time.
According to a report from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, products made with aloe were one time regulated by US Food and drug administration as over the counter laxatives. In 2002, the FDA required that all OTC aloe laxative products be removed from the US market or reformulated because the companies that manufactured them did not provide the safety data necessary for continued approval.
Nutritional value of Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera belongs to Asphodelaceae (Liliaceae) family and grows mainly in the dry regions of Africa, Asia, Europe and America. In India, it is found in Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Gujrat, Maharashtra, and Tamilnadu. It is a perennial, Xerophytic, succulent plant that has green, triangular, fleshy leaves and serrated edges.
Aloe Vera is highly nutritional and contains 75 potentially active constituents: vitamins, enzymes, minerals, sugar, lignin, saponins, salicylic acids and amino acids.
- Aloe Vera is rich in anti-oxidant vitamins. Antioxidants protect the body from damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals. It contains Vitamin A, C, and E which are antioxidants, these vitamins neutralize free radicals. It also contains vitamin B12, folic acid and choline.
- Great source of minerals. It provides calcium, chromium, copper, selenium, magnesium, potassium, sodium and zinc. These enzymes essential for the proper functioning of various enzyme systems in different metabolic pathways.
- Enzymes. It contains 8 enzymes including aliiase, alkaline phosphatase, amylase bradykinase, carboxypeptidase, catalase, cellulase, lipase and peroxidase. Bradykinase has great anti-inflammatory property and reduces inflammation when applied locally, while others help in the breakdown of sugar and fats.
- It provides 12 anthraquinones which are traditionally known as the laxative. Aloin and emodin act as analgesics, antibacterials and antivirals.
- It also contains sugars such as monosaccharides and polysaccharides.
- It provides 4 fatty acid plant steroids cholesterol, campesterol, beta-sisosterol and lupeol. All these have anti-inflammatory properties and lupeol also has antiseptic and analgesic action.
- Hormones. Auxins and gibberellins have an anti-inflammatory action and help in wound healing.
How to grow aloe Vera plant
Nowadays aloe vera plants have become incredibly popular. It is one of the best plants for someone who is interested in growing their own superfood.
Though it is very easy to take care of an aloe plant still it requires few precautions. Here are important steps that you should keep in mind while growing an aloe plant at home.
Planting and selection of pot. Plant the Aloe Vera in a wide container with a well-draining mixing pot. Planters with the proper drainage hole in the bottom work best, as your plant will not grow if there is standing water in the pot.
Preparing the soil. Aloe Vera likes dry soil. Dr. Edward from the Global Healing Center recommended that it is best to using cactus potting soil mix for best results. When planting aloe Vera, make sure to position the plant so it is upright, and the base and roots are covered with soil. Give your Aloe Vera a space because the mother plant will offset the babies from the outer base.
Lighting. Proper lighting is another factor that helps for growing an aloe plant properly. Place it in indirect sunlight as aloe does fine in a south or east facing windows. Avoid direct sunlight or too shady areas. Aloe leaves will get dry out in too much sunlight and the plant will not thrive in shady areas. Additionally, be extra cautious during winter. Aloe can freeze if left outside in the winter.
Watering. Watering is also tricky for aloe plant. Avoid overwatering because when aloe is over watered, it begins to rot and eventually the plant dies. When watering the soil, it should feel not soaked. It is best to wait for a few extra days if you are not sure whether or not it’s time to water. During cooler weather, it needs less water.
Fertilizing. Aloe Vera does not need any specific fertilization, but if you wish to provide some extra food for your plant, you may use phosphorus-heavy, water-based fertilizer at half-strength. Keep a watch for garden pests as theymay affect the growth of a plant. Once the plant grows it produces offset also known as plantlets or babies that can be removed to produce an entirely new plant.
Because of all these reasons, it is must to talk with your health care provider before using it. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. Did you have used aloe for treating any illness? What was your experience with it? Please share with us.
- Aloe Vera
- Aloe Vera in dermatology
- Aloe Vera benefits
- Aloe Vera in treatment of refractory irritable bowel syndrome- trial on iranian patients
- How to make aloe vera gel from fresh aloe leaves
- Processing, food applications and safety of aloe products
- Aloe, University of Maryland Medical Center
- Aloe, American Academy of Nursing
- Absolute beginner’s guide to grow your own aloe at home