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Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera

 

General Description

 

Aloe Vera is a plant supplement that can be applied externally as a cream, lotion or gel or taken internally in the form of a freeze-dried extract, liquid extract or a bottled juice.

 

The Aloe Vera is a type of succulent plant with fleshy thick leaves that grow in a rosette from the base of the plant. This plant is found everywhere in the world but it is native to Africa and is common in South Africa's Cape Province and the mountains of tropical Africa, and neighboring areas such as Madagascar, the Arabian peninsula and the islands off Africa.

 

The translucent inner of the Aloe plant is used externally to relieve skin discomforts and internally as a laxative. To date, some research has shown that Aloe Vera produces positive medicinal benefits for healing damaged skin.

 

Sources of the Supplement 

Aloes are grown all over the world and many people simply squeeze the gel from the plant that is in a pot on their windowsill directly on their wound, insect bite or burn.

 

There are several kinds of aloes that are used to make the commercial drinks, gels and solutions: Barbadoes, Socotrine, Hepatic, Indian, and Cape aloes. Barbadoes and Socotrine are the varieties most commonly used for curative purposes. The active ingredients of Aloe Vera are extracted from the mucilaginous flesh of the leaves, which are harvested whole and processed by hand.

 

The aloe that you find in creams and drinks is the expressed juice of the leaves of the plant. When the leaves are cut, the juice that flows out is collected and evaporated as well to make a more inferior kind of aloe that might end up as a base for other herbal supplements or in a cosmetic or hair product.

 

Some experts have speculated that Aloe Vera is native to the Canary Islands as it grows better on the islands than anywhere else. 

 

Common Uses

 

Aloe is used externally to treat a number of skin irritations. It has antiseptic and antibiotic properties, which make it highly valuable in treating cuts and abrasions. It has also been commonly used to treat first and second degree burns, as well as sunburns and poison oak, ivy, and sumac infections, and eczema.

 

Aloe contains a number of medicinal substances that allow it to be used as a purgative. You do not have to drink much more than an ounce to cause the bowels to release their contents. Drinking too much aloe in one go can also cause nausea and vomiting.

 

Aloe Vera is said to have many benefits including the treatment of -

 

  • Ulcers – Aloes are said to have a compound that help heal irritated internal tissues on the stomach walls
  • Constipation – Aloe Vera has a reputation as an effective laxative, so effective that the FDA has banned Aloe Vera for use in conjunction with cascara sagrada as it causes a genotoxic risk to humans
  • Diabetes – This is based on the idea that it is a low glycemic food that is a blood sugar stabilizer and claims that it cures or prevents diabetes are definitely not substantiated.  Still, you will find first person accounts that seem to span over decades that insist that aloe vera prevents and cures this.
  • Cancer – As a healthy food supplement aloe is often recommended in alternative regimes for cancer treatment, but there is no direct scientific link between aloe vera and a cure for cancer
  • Headaches – As aloe vera is a laxative, it may cure headaches caused by constipation as a toxic colon could be one of many causes of a headache
  • Weight Loss – As it does contain many components that qualify it as a purgative it could support the habits of bulimics or anorexics who binge and purge as part of maintaining extreme weight loss goals
  • Arthritis  - This is a wive’s tale that may or may have something to it, but nothing has been proven scientifically that aloes heal arthritis. The gel is supposed to have anti-inflammatory properties
  • Immunes system deficiencies – Aloe vera may improve the condition of the colon which may help the immune system as the purgative effect of taking it internally may remove parasites and mucus that might be having an indirect impact on immunity
  • Burns – When the gel is applied directly to the skin it is an effective and quick remedy for soothing the pain burns
  • Wounds  - The gel can be applied to reduce the appearance of scars left by wounds and it can also be used as a first aid cream to accelerate healing
  • Insect Bites  - The gel from the fresh leaves can ease the sting of an insect bite
  • Hemorrhoids – The fresh gel from the plant leaves does shrink these tissues.

 

Only four of the above claims, including the curing of the skin irritations and wounds, the laxative qualities and the curing of the hemorrhoids have been substantiated by any studies.  However this does not mean that there is not something to using aloe vera medicinally for other problems as the plant has been used to cure these ailments since before the time of Christ.

 

The historic use of aloe Before Christ  was widespread, with ancient sources citing it as a cure in China, India and Western Europe. A Babylonian clay tablet dated 2200 BC notes that aloe is a cure for intestinal problems. Aloe Vera was used by Alexander the Great as First Aid for his soldiers and as a beauty treatment by Cleopatra. In the Bible, Christ is taken down from the cross and wrapped in aloe and myrrh.

 

Of course always consult your doctor before using aloe vera internally. Unless you are allergic to it then you should have no problem using it externally.

 

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