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What is Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera is a stemless or very short-stemmed succulent plant growing to 60-100 cm tall, spreading by offsets. The leaves are thick and fleshy, green to grey-green, with some varieties showing white flecks on their upper and lower stem surfaces.The margin of the leaf is serrated and has small white teeth. The flowers are produced in summer on a spike up to 90 cm tall, each flower being pendulous, with a yellow tubular corolla 2–3 cm long.

There are over 250 species of aloe grown around the world. However, only two species are grown today commercially, with Aloe barbadensis Miller and Aloe aborescens being the most popular.

Introduction

The Aloe vera plant has been known and used for centuries for its health, beauty, medicinal and skin care properties.The name Aloe vera derives from the Arabic word “Alloeh” meaning “shining bitter substance,” while “vera” in Latin means “true.” 2000 years ago, the Greek scientists regarded Aloe vera as the universal panacea. The Egyptians called Aloe “the plant of immortality.” Today, the Aloe vera plant has been used for various purposes in dermatology.

History

Aloe vera has been used for medicinal purposes in several cultures for millennia: Greece, Egypt, India, Mexico, Japan and China.Egyptian queens Nefertiti and Cleopatra used it as part of their regular beauty regimes. Alexander the Great, and Christopher Columbus used it to treat soldiers’ wounds. The first reference to Aloe vera in English was a translation by John Goodyew in A.D. 1655 of Dioscorides’ Medical treatise De Materia Medica.By the early 1800s, Aloe vera was in use as a laxative in the United States, but in the mid-1930s, a turning point occurred when it was successfully used to treat chronic and severe radiation dermatitis.

Early records of Aloe vera use appear in the Ebers Papyrus from the 16th century BC,and in Dioscorides' De Materia Medica and Pliny the Elder's Natural History – both written in the mid-first century AD.It is also written of in the Juliana Anicia Codex of 512 AD.

The plant has been used therapeutically for many centuries in China, Japan, India, Greece, Egypt, Mexico, and Japan.

  • Family Name : Liliaceae
  • Botanical Name : Aloe barbadensis miller
  • Common Name(s): Chinese Aloe, Indian Aloe, True Aloe, Barbados Aloe, Burn Aloe, First Aid Plant
  • Indian Name(s): Ghritkumari, Gwarpatha, Gheekawar

Components and properties

Aloe vera contains 75 potentially active constituents: vitamins, enzymes, minerals, sugars, lignin, saponins, salicylic acids and amino acids.

Amino Acids

Aloe vera contains 19 of the 20 known amino acids, which are necessary for our organism.
The human body can produce only 12 of the 20 amino acids and our body cannot produce the other 8 and they have to be consumed via food. These are known as essential amino acids.

Aloe vera contains 7 of the 8 essential amino acids:

  • Isoleucine
  • Leucine
  • Lysine
  • Methionine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Threonine
  • Valin

Aloe vera also contains 12 non-essential amino acids:

  • Alanine
  • Arginine
  • Asparagine
  • Cysteine
  • Glutamic acid
  • Glycine
  • Histidine
  • Proline
  • Serin
  • Tyrosine
  • Glutamine
  • Aspartic acid

Amino acids are important elements involved in the construction of proteins and muscle tissue.
The missing amino acids on this list is Tryptophan. Recent research on aloe show that it contains even Tryptophan. In any case, aloe vera is a great source of amino acids!

Anthraquinone

These 12 anthraquinone are found only in aloe vera juice. They promote the functioning of the digestive system; they have analgesic, antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties.

  • Aloe emodin
  • Aloetic acid
  • Aloin
  • Antracin
  • Antranol
  • Barbaloin
  • Chrysophanic acid
  • Emodin
  • Ethereal oil
  • Cinnamonic acid ester
  • Isobarbaloin
  • Resistannol

In high concentrations, anthraquinones can be toxic, but aloe vera juice contains ideal amounts of these compounds.

Enzymes

Aloe Vera contains 8 enzymes:

  • Aliiase
  • Alkaline phosphatase
  • Amylase
  • Carboxypeptidase
  • Catalase
  • Cellulase
  • Lipase
  • Peroxidase

Enzymes help break down sugars and fats from food and thus improve digestion and absorption of nutrients.

For external use enzymes reduce inflammation and pain and accelerate the healing of wounds.

Hormones

Aloe vera contains two hormones:

  • Auxin
  • Gibberellin

Auxin and Gibberellin help heal wounds, prevent inflammation and infection.
Gibberellin acts as a growth hormone that regenerates cells and stimulates their growth.

Lignins

Lignins are plant fibers which are used to connect and support, and give the strength to plant. Lignins in Aloe Vera penetrate deep into the skin and introduce other medicinal ingredients of aloe vera into our skin.

Salicylic acid

Aloe vera contains salicylic acid - natural painkiller which also has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.
Aspirin is nothing other than salicylic acid in chemical form.  Aloe vera has the effect of aspirin, but operates in a gentle manner and has no adverse effects on health.

Saponins

Saponins, found in aloe vera, have a cleansing and antiseptic effect. They have anti-microbial properties and protect against bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Sterols

Aloe vera contains four plant sterols:

  • Cholesterol
  • Campesterol
  • Lupeol
  • Sitosterol

Sterols have anti-inflammatory properties. Lupeol also has antiseptic and analgesic effects.

Vitamins

From the moment of conception, your body uses vitamins. They are essential for the normal functioning of cells, tissues and organs. We get vitamins from food, with a few exceptions (such as vitamin K and biotin, which are formed in the intestines).
Aloe vera contains the following vitamins:

  • Vitamin A (Beta-Carotene)
  • Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
  • Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
  • Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
  • Vitamin B5
  • Vitamin B6 (Pyridoksin)
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Kolin
  • Folate

Vitamins A, C and E have antioxidant properties and neutralize free radicals. Group B vitamins and choline are responsible for the metabolism. Vitamin B12 is responsible for the formation of red blood cells, while folic acid is necessary for proper cell development.

Minerals

Minerals are inorganic substances which constitute 4-5% of the human body.
Minerals are necessary for preserving the delicate balance of cellular ionic liquids, building bone tissue and blood cells, the electrochemical activity of nerve cells and the regulation of muscle tone.
Many minerals were found in aloe vera, to name only the top 10:

  • Calcium
  • Chrome
  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Manganese
  • Potassium
  • Phosphorus
  • Sodium
  • Zinc

Sugars

Aloe vera contains two monosaccharides, glucose and fructose, which have anti-inflammatory effects.
Aloe is also a rich source of polysaccharides. Polysaccharides are found in every cell of our bodies. However, our body ceases to create them after the age of ten. After that, we are completely dependent on external sources of polysaccharides. 
From the leaves of aloe vera a special ingredient called acemannan is obtained. 
Acemannan deserves special mention. This polysaccharide has antiviral and immune-stimulating properties.
Acemannan plays an important role in the body, stimulating macrophages to produce interferon and interleukin, which stop the growth of viruses. 
Macrophages deeply cleanse the body and destroy the smaller particles of toxic metals and cancer. Acemannan also lubricates joints and protects the bowel wall against the "leaky gut" syndrome.

In addition to these compounds aloe vera leafs contain some compounds still unknown to science. Secrets of aloe vera are just waiting for you to uncover them.

Benefits of Aloe Vera

There are a wide variety of health benefits of aloe vera.

Heart

Among all the health benefits of aloe vera juice, perhaps none are more promising than the benefits of aloe vera juice on the cardiovascular system.

  • Aloe vera decreases LDL “bad” cholesterol levels and reduces triglyceride levels while increasing blood HDL, or “good” cholesterol.This is very significant, as many natural remedies for cholesterol control work effectively at lowering LDL levels but do not always increase HDL levels. Therefore, using aloe vera juice to balance your total cholesterol ratio is uniquely beneficial.
  • Aloe vera juice helps lower blood pressure and improve overall heart health in a number of ways: Because aloe vera juice contains a high amount of vitamin C, it enhances circulation and strengthens veins and arteries.
  • Other nutrients in aloe vera juice help to dilate the capillaries and boost blood oxygenation, thereby offering therapeutic benefits on the cardiovascular system.
  • Stabilizes heart rhythm and reduces occurrence of chest pain (angina) attacks.
  • The detoxifying properties of aloe vera help to cleanse the blood of impurities, which in turn will encourage the healthy growth of new blood cells, and will even act to increase the size of your blood vessels. All of this contributes to a healthier heart, both short term and long term.

Reduces Inflammation

Many chronic diseases, including Type II diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and arthritis and even cancer, are caused by inflammation. Aloe vera juice has anti-inflammatory properties, which reduces inflammation in the body.
It’s also been noted that aloe vera juice can help bring the body into an alkaline state, further helping to soothe symptoms caused by an overly acidic state.

Aids in Digestion

This is one of the oldest uses of Aloe vera, apart from the external uses of the gel.

Aloe vera juice is often touted for its ability to help with digestive issues, including irregularity, both diarrhea and constipation, indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome, and heartburn. The reason it works is because of its cleansing effect on the digestive tract. It not only works on the colon and bowels, but the entire length of the digestive tract, helping to keep it functioning properly.

Detoxification

It’s no surprise that aloe vera juice can detoxify the body.

Along with its rich nutrient content, aloe vera has antibacterial and anti-viral properties. For this reason, aloe vera juice gets rid of toxic substances in the contents of the stomach and the intestines by quickly moving them down the tract and out of the body. Not only that, the gelatinous juice absorbs toxins and renders them inactive by binding with them.
The detoxifying action of aloe vera juice is not limited to the digestive tract. Regular use ensures generalized elimination of circulating toxins in the body.

Strengthens the Immune System

Aloe vera juice can help strengthen your immune system due to its antibacterial and antiseptic properties, as well as helping it on a molecular level.
Aloe vera juice contains polysaccharides, important components of a healthy immune system, so you are not only helping it by keeping things cleaner on the inside, you are providing it with nutrients it needs so that you’ll feel your best in the short term, and help ward off diseases and illnesses over time.

Helps in Weight Loss

  • By aiding the stabilization of metabolic rate, reducing lipid levels and helping burn fat.
  • Aloe vera juice has a natural laxatives ,it forces food out of colon faster preventing constipation ,detoxifying the body and reduce body weight.
  • Aloe vera contains anti oxidants which increases metabolism and reduce body mass index(BMI) by converting carbohydrates and fats into energy rather storing them in body.
  • Aloe vera stimulates production of collagen ,that promotes muscle development.
  • Aloe vera is packed with vitamin A, B, C, E which help to burn calories and reduce fat.

Arthritis

Arthritis is defined by the inflammation in the joints which pose a problem in moving around. It can lead to stiffness, pain, swelling and redness in the joints.

  • Aloe Vera plant contains natural sterols.  They have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body similar to that of actual steroidal drugs.  The only difference is that the natural plant sterols don’t have the same negative side effects. 
  • Aloe Vera Juice contains an enzyme known as bradykinase which aids in pain management.  Furthermore the natural juices do contain an aspirin-like substance known as salicylic acid which is another pain relief compound further reducing inflammation.  Another advantage of salicylic acid over synthetic aspirin is the fact that it doesn’t cause stomach problems.

Aloe vera as an a Disinfectant, Antibiotic, Germicidal, Antibacterial, Antiseptic, Antifungal and Antiviral

Aloe vera contains 6 antiseptic agents: Lupeol, salicylic acid, urea nitrogen, cinnamonic acid, phenols and sulfur. They all have inhibitory action on fungi, bacteria and viruses and help to heal infections on the body, inside or out, as well as ulcers and wounds.

  • Helps in healing burns
  • Used topically for blistering
  • Helps to heal fungus
  • Contributes to the healing of herpes
  • Great for insect bites
  • Works well for skin injuries
  • Gently works for vaginal infections
  • Works to heal skin sores
  • Used to help heal urinary tract infections

Aloe Vera- Secret of Beauty

Aloe Vera is suitable for all skin types including highly sensitive skin. You must have seen and used various skin care products which contain the Aloe gel. It is the most common remedy for all skin problems.

  • Soothe Sunburn

    With anti-inflammatory and cooling properties, Aloe Vera gel is the perfect remedy for sunburned skin. It provides a protective layer to the skin which helps retain moisture.

  • Moisturize

    For a moisturizer that doesn’t leave a greasy film on your face, look no further than Aloe Vera. It softens the skin without clogging pores.

    Aloe Vera gel can also be used as an aftershave treatment as it will both hydrate the skin and help heal razor burn and small nicks.

  • Fight Aging

    As it is rich in vitamins C and E and beta carotene (a pre-cursor to vitamin A), Aloe may have some anti-ageing qualities. Its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, and its ability to lighten blemishes, also help it take years off your face.

    Furthermore, Aloe Vera can be taken in supplement form to fight aging, with some research finding that it increases the body’s production of collagen and improves skin elasticity in just 90 days.

  • Reduce Acne and Infection

    Those with acne may want to try Aloe Vera’s gentle cleansing and antimicrobial properties to treat their pimples. This healing gel works on several levels.

    Its antibacterial, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties protect the skin from bacteria and other pathogens which lead to infection and inflammation. It contains substances – gibberellins and polysaccharides – that stimulate the growth of new cells, while glycoproteins reduce the inflammation and redness.

    As an astringent, Aloe Vera reduces pore size, which helps keep out excess sebum, dirt, and microbes.

    In Ayurvedic medicine, Aloe is also used to treat psoriasis and eczema.

  • Lighten Blemishes

    Because of its abilities to speeds up skin cell reproduction, fight inflammation and reduce redness, Aloe Vera is a great natural treatment for acne scars and stretch marks.

  • Hair

    Aloe Vera is useful for all hair types, especially for dry and damaged hair. Regular use of aloe vera in your hair packs; make your tresses smooth, soft and damage-free.

    Aloe Vera helps in increasing the blood circulation to the scalp, and delivering several important vitamins and minerals. It contains proteolytic enzymes which repair dead skin cells on the scalp.

    According to Diane Gage, author of Aloe Vera: Nature’s Soothing Healer, the main protein in hair (keratin) has a chemical makeup similar to that of Aloe Vera, which means this healing gel rejuvenates hair while giving it more elasticity. By improving elasticity, you will prevent breakage of the delicate hair strands.

    Aloe Vera has alkaline properties which help to maintain the pH level of the scalp and hair. This keeps the hair moisturised and helps the hair to retain natural moisture. This leads to further hair growth.

    Aloe Vera is widely used for curing dandruff since the ancient times. Due to its property of enzymatic breakdown of skin cells and antifungal properties, it helps to reduce dandruff from the scalp. It also heals scalp diseases like psoriasis and seborrhoea.

  • Diabetes 

    Aloe vera is one of the most effective means when it comes to regulating blood sugar naturally.
    Aloe vera has strong hypoglycemic ability, and it is beneficial for patients diagnosed with both IDDM (insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus) and NIDDM (non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus).

    Aloe vera is packed with glucomannan, a soluble dietary fiber (polysachharide), and thus reduces glucose levels. To be more precise, this hemicellulose component acts as a hypoglycemic substance and reduces blood sugar efficiently.

    Anthraquinones, organic phenols with distinctive aroma, and lectins, proteins that bind carbohydrates together, are some of the compounds found in aloe vera that reduce blood glucose and regulate its level.

    Aloe vera can reduce blood sugar by 50 % within 2 months.

    It cleanses the body and eliminates excess glucose in the bloodstream.

    Aloe vera has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that keep us safe from ulcers, wounds, infections and other diabetes-related conditions.

    It stimulates the secretion of insuline, and thus alleviates the symptoms of diabetes.

    Aloe vera is all-natural, meaning it causes no side-effects in the treatment of diabetes.

  • Cancer

    Although no one is yet proposing that Aloe vera is a cure for cancer, it is clear from research conducted throughout the world over the past thirty years that Aloe vera and, in particular, certain specific substances in the plant - have very dramatic and impressive anti-cancer effects. Aloe vera has been demonstrated to enhance the immune system's response to cancer, promote the growth of new and healthy cells, and reduce the overall viral load within the body thereby revitalizing the body in its fight against the cancer.

    When radiation and chemotherapy are necessary, Aloe vera helps to minimize the damage done to the body by these treatments, which destroy healthy cells - particularly immune system cells - crucial to the body's recovery. The use of Aloe vera enables the body to heal itself from cancer and the damage done to it by conventional treatment: the immune system is boosted, tumors shrink, metastases are reduced so the cancer does not spread, and new healthy cells begin to grow.

  • HIV-AIDS

    AIDS, or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, is a chronic condition caused by the human immunodeficiency virus, HIV. HIV attacks the immune system and destroys the white blood cells that fortify against disease, slowly weakening the body and its ability to fight off dangerous infections. AIDS is a potentially life-threatening pandemic, affecting an estimated 33.2 million people worldwide. There is no cure for AIDS, but a variety of drugs and lifestyle changes are used to control and slow progression of the virus.

    According to research conducted throughout the world over the past decades, Researchers have found out that true aloe vera (barbadensis milla specie), have the power to stop the mutation of HIV into full blown aids. Apart, it stimulated the immune system and also helps to build new cells. When the immune system is strong, it can fight the virus itself, and scientists believe that aloe vera use may cure the disease if used consistently over a long period of time. Not just ordinary, but quality aloe vera juice product.

    Though the clinical findings suggest potential therapeutic benefits of aloe vera on AIDS patients, it does not constitute a cure for the virus. However, these studies did produce positive findings when exposing aloe vera’s immune-building properties to immunodeficiency diseases.

  • Liver and Kidney Tonic

    Liver problems can be improved with the daily consumption of pure aloe vera juice. Aloe vera assists the liver in neutralizing acids into neutral salts.  It reduces build up and helps remove old build-up. Also, it continuously help the liver do its job and to offer it strength to rebuild and to perform its functions optimally.

    Aloe vera juice can supply nutrients to the kidney. It can stimulate antioxidant reaction and contribute to blood and oxygen transportation in the body.
    Aloe vera helps excrete the wastes and toxins from the body. It can lower the risk of kidney stones, because aloe vera can prevent oxalates from coming into the body.

    Aloe vera juice is really beneficial for kidney patients, but they should drink it within a moderate amount.

  • Menstrual Problems

    According to Ayurveda, Aloe Vera is one of the best treatments for menstrual disorders like irregular periods, pain during the periods and hormonal imbalance during menopause etc.

Side effects

  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding

    Oral aloe is not recommended during pregnancy due to theoretical stimulation of uterine contractions, and in breastfeeding mothers, it may sometime causes gastrointestinal distress in the nursing infant.

  • Aloe vera gel may cause redness, burning, stinging sensation and rarely generalized dermatitis in sensitive individuals. Allergic reactions are mostly due to anthraquinones, such as aloin and barbaloin. It is best to apply it to a small area first to test for possible allergic reaction.