Aloe Vera is quite an incredible medicinal plant full of nutritional benefits. It is a succulent plant and part of the lily family (Liliaceae), the same family that garlic and onions belong to. Different parts of the plant are used for different purposes and aloe vera has both internal and external applications.
The incredible Aloe Vera needs no introduction. Its benefits are well-known, which is why it has earned a permanent place in many a household. Be it a sunburn or a bad case of acne, aloe vera is a treatment you can always rely on.
Aloe Vera is also known as medicinal aloe, and its common names are Lily of the Desert, Burn Plant, and Elephant’s Gall. It belongs to the family of succulent plants in the genus ‘Aloe’. The origin of this burn plant is believed to be in Sudan and has been used for more than 6,000 years. The great virtues of this plant have been recognized by many civilizations, including the Egyptians, Spanish, Persians, Greeks, Italians, Africans, Japanese, and Indians. It grows best in warm and dry climates and is densely found in India, Africa, and other arid zones. This species has a wide usage in herbal medicines.
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Aloe Vera contains over 200 active components including vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, polysaccharide, and fatty acids – no wonder it’s used for such a wide range of remedies! The bulk of the aloe vera leaf is filled with a clear gel-like substance, which is approximately 99% water. Humans have used aloe therapeutically for over 5000 years.
The list of benefits and effects for this miraculous plant are many.
Aloe Vera contains many vitamins including A, C, E, folic acid, choline, B1, B2, B3 (niacin), B6. Aloe Vera is also one of the few plants that contains vitamin B12. Some of the 20 minerals found in Aloe vera include: calcium, magnesium, zinc, chromium, selenium, sodium, iron, potassium, copper, manganese.
Aloe vera is used in a wide range of health products, like diet supplements, juices etc. It’s rich in anti-oxidants which means it helps cut out free radicals in the body and boost your immunity. It’s also a good source of protein so it helps muscle development and gives you copious amounts of energy. There are countless studies that prove how effective aloe vera is for weight-loss, but it should be consumed regularly and over a long period of time for it to really work.
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Beverages made from aloe vera juice possess natural detoxifying properties that effectively cleanse the digestive system and the circulatory system. As the absorption level of nutrients accelerates, it results in better blood circulation and also improves the health. When the blood is oxygen-rich, it automatically provides nutrients within the cells more proficiently. These healthy cells ensure your body’s ability to ward off infections, thereby strengthening your immune system. It has the capability to neutralize harmful bacteria; its rejuvenating properties work within your body to keep it fresh and active throughout the day. Many studies have shown that these antitumor and immunomodulatory properties are due to aloe vera polysaccharides.
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. There are about 22 amino acids that are necessary for the human body and it is said that 8 of these are essential. Estimates of the amino acids found in aloe range from 18-20 amino acids, with all 8 essential amino acids. Aloe vera also includes quite an impressive range of fatty acids. Aloe contains three plant sterols, which are important fatty acids – HCL cholesterol (which lowers fats in the blood), campesterol, and B-sitosterol. All are helpful in reducing symptoms of allergies and acid indigestion. Other fatty acids include linoleic, linolenic, myristic, caprylic, oleic, palmitic, and stearic.
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Aloe vera contains something called proteolytic enzymes which repairs dead skin cells on the scalp. It also acts as a great conditioner and leaves your hair all smooth and shiny. It promotes hair growth, prevents itching on the scalp, reduces dandruff and conditions your hair.
Aloe vera helps in strengthening your immune system; the use of aloe gel also destroys cancerous tumors effectively. Aloe vera polysaccharides contain some effective macrophages that produce huge volumes of nitric oxide, which has antitumor potential. In naturopathy, there are innumerable methods of cancer prevention and the aloe vera-based one has proven to be one of the most successful ones.
Aloe vera is a well-known adaptogen. An adaptogen is something that boosts the body’s natural ability to adapt to external changes and resist illness. It is thought that aloe’s power as an adaptogen balances the body’s system, stimulating the defense and adaptive mechanisms of the body. This allows you an increased ability to cope with stress (physical, emotional and environmental stress like pollution).
Aloe Vera contains 12 substances, including B-sisterole, which can help to slow down or inhibit inflammation. This may be able to help with painful joints due to stiffness and help improve joint flexibility.
Aloe vera gel has a protective effect against radiation damage to the skin.
When aloe vera gel is applied to a cold sore a few times a day, it eases the discomfort and helps speed the healing process. It’s also safe when consumed by mouth, so there is no need to worry about swallowing this natural treatment. Aloe vera has antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties that accelerate healing and reduce pain associated with cold sores — or any sores on the mouth.
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The use of aloe latex as a laxative is well-researched; the anthraquinones present in the latex create a potent laxative that increases intestinal water content, stimulates mucus secretion and increases intestinal peristalsis, which are contractions that break down food and mix the chyme.
Some evidence in humans and animals suggests that aloe vera is able to alleviate the chronic hyperglycemia and perturbed lipid profile that are common among people with diabetes and are major risk factors for cardiovascular complications. This add natural diabetes cure to the list of aloe vera benefits.
Aloe vera has been used for skin ailments since ancient times. The pure inner gel extracted from the aloe leaf is the best natural remedy for skin abrasions and it also helps to diminish the symptoms of aging skin conditions. Many skin care and personal care products, toiletries, and cosmetics include aloe extract.
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.