Aloe Vera: Properties and benefits
Aloe vera is a plant with surprising properties, its benefits on the skin are recognized by modern medicine so much so that this plant is the main ingredient of many cosmetic products
Aloe vera, botanical name Aloe Barbadensis Miller, is a succulent plant belonging to the Xanthorrhoeaceae family. Often called the miracol plant, aloe vera is a plant with many therapeutic properties recognized also by the scientific community.
Aloe vera was known since ancient times for its healing properties and for the benefits on human health. We find references to this plant also in the Bible and in very ancient documents. In these writings their use for healing purposes has been handed down to the ancient populations of Egypt and India.
- Chemical Composition
- Teeth and Gums
It is surprising how the use that is made of aloe vera in gel today corresponds to the use that the ancients made of it. Some finds found near Baghdad testify that as early as 2.000 BC. the use of the plant was known to the people of that period.
The varieties of this plant are many, about 420. Those who most use to humans, due to their medicinal properties, are the Aloe Barbadensis Miller, commonly referred aloe vera and the arborescens.
In Indian medicine it is used for skin diseases, for constipation, for infections and for the treatment of colic. In Chinese medicine, however, it is used to fight fungal diseases. In the West, the plant often appears as the main ingredient in many cosmetic skin care products.
|Chemical Composition for 100 gr of aloe vera|
The active ingredients of aloe vera are made up of cathartic anthraquinones, known as true disease exterminators, have the same effect as antibiotics but with less toxic effects.
Vitamins: vitamins B1 , B2 , B6 , vitamin C , beta-carotene , vitamin J and folic acid.
Amino acids: Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan, Valine, Aspartic and glutamic acid, Arginine, Alanine, Glycine, Histidine, Proline, Serine and Tyrosine.
The leaves of the plant also contain saponins, lignin, aloin, cinnamic acid, anthracene and many other substances. The complete composition of the gel and its properties have not yet been clarified but its beneficial effects on the human body are sure.
Aloe Vera: Properties and Benefits
Stimulates the Immune System
Recent studies have shown that aloe vera can significantly prolong the life of cancer patients. It seems that it even manages to stimulate their immune system. ( 1 )
This property was confirmed in an experiment carried out on human cancer cells. An extract of aloe vera and lecithin was injected into the diseased cells. The results confirmed the link between the plant and the activation of the immune system.
The treated cells activated a part of the immune system which, in turn, produces substances that attack cancer. It also appears that aloe vera promotes the growth of normal cells.
The plant is a traditional remedy for diabetes mellitus in many parts of the world such as Latin America and the Arabian Peninsula. According to a 2011 study, the plant is able to relieve chronic hyperglycemia and the perturbed lipid profile, two characteristic factors of diabetes mellitus. In the study, 72 diabetic women were given a spoonful of aloe vera gel for 6 weeks.
After the test the levels of blood glucose and triglycerides were significantly decreased . ( 2 )
According to some studies, aloe emodin would apply anti-cancer and anti-viral properties. Its ethanolic extract would also be active against herpes viruses.
Recent studies regarding the aloin A contained in the aloe vera, has shown its anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcer and anti-tumor properties. According to the first experiments, it seems that the plant is also able to reduce the size of tumors and increase the survival rate of sick patients. ( 3 )
Aloin is a yellow resin with varying shades and is present on the outside of the leaves but not in the gel. In contact with air and light this resin oxidizes, taking on a dark color.
According to the research, the other components of the plant that have anticancer properties are glycoproteins and polysaccharides. ( 4 )
The anti-tumor properties of this substance, as previously written, are manifested through the stimulation of the immune system.
A new study has examined the therapeutic properties of aloe-hemodyne, a compound found in leaves. According to the first results it seems that this compound is able to slow down the growth of breast cancer. However, further studies are needed to confirm or not this interesting property. ( 5 )
The products made from aloe vera can provide a great help for the restoration of health. Its intake is recommended in case of digestive problems, inflammation of the stomach, hiatal hernia, gastritis, reflux and gastric ulcer.
The aloe vera juice has been successfully used to treat gastroesophageal reflux. According to scientific research, the plant helps fight pathogens that cause intestinal problems. ( 6 )
You can also take tablets or drops throughout the day. However, it should not exceed 0,5 grams. In higher doses the plant has laxative effects.
Aloe and aloin are widely used as active ingredients in laxative preparations. Often in combination with other substances such as cascara and senna.
A study conducted in Nigeria on rats examined it found that the gel extracted from the plant is capable of alleviating constipation. ( 7 )
The Mayo Clinic recommends using the plant for constipation but sparingly. The guidelines suggest that a dose of 0,04 to 0,17 g of dried juice is more than enough for this purpose.
The cinnamic acid present in this plant has useful properties to expel the excess gas that is formed in the intestine.
Aloe vera contains over 6 antiseptic agents which is why it is very effective in the treatment of fungi, bacteria and viruses.
The boron contained in the plant allows our body to improve the absorption process of calcium. At the same time it allows to avoid the dispersion of magnesium. These properties of boron prove useful in the prevention of osteoporosis and arthritis.
Aloe Vera Protects the Skin
Aloe vera protects the skin from gamma rays and UV ones and has other effects beneficial to the skin. With aging, the skin tends to become drier and loses its elasticity. This makes the skin more prone to wrinkle formation. According to several studies, the plant is able to stimulate collagen production, keeping the skin elastic and fighting the appearance of wrinkles. ( 8 )
Aloe vera also has excellent moisturizing properties, useful in the treatment of dry skin. According to studies, in fact, the plant, if applied to the skin, increases its water content and hydrates it naturally. For this purpose the gel can be extracted and applied directly to the skin until it is completely dry. ( 9 )
Who does not have this possibility can buy the ready-made gel, the important thing is that the gel is present in a percentage between 90 and 100%.
Acne and Scarring
The aloe vera gel can do wonders when it comes to acne and scarring connected to it. To treat this ailment you can mix a spoonful of gel with a few drops of lemon and use it all to massage the skin of the face. This procedure works best if applied on the face the night before bedtime.
According to studies this treatment for acne works thanks to antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of the plant. The lightening properties of lemon instead act on any scars reducing their visibility. ( 10 )
Other studies attribute these plant properties to the presence of auxins and gibberellins. also, according to research, the polysaccharides of the leaves, by stimulating cell growth, accelerate the healing process and prevent scarring . ( 11 )
The plant is widely used in the treatment of sunburn thanks to its soothing and anti-inflammatory properties. Its gel can be applied directly to areas sunburned.
According to studies, the gel’s anti-inflammatory properties soothe the redness caused by UVA rays. Applied on the skin it creates a protective layer capable of retaining moisture and thus accelerates the healing. ( 12 )
According to a report by the American Journal of Dermatological Surgery and Oncology, convalescence after surgery is significantly reduced if treated with aloe vera.
A sample of people with acne have undergone surgery to resolve the problem. After the surgery, bandages were applied to their faces: a normal medication was applied to one half of the face, while an aloe gel compound was used in the other half .
The half treated with aloe vera cured 72 hours earlier than the other.
The author of the report, dermatologist Dr. James Fulton, claims to treat any wounds with this plant because it greatly accelerates the healing of the tissue.
Teeth and Gums
A study conducted in India shows that aloe vera gel can be used to keep teeth and gums healthy.
To arrive at this discovery, Indian researchers experimented with the result of the effect of aloe vera gel and compared it with those of traditional toothpastes.
Based on the results obtained, it was found that aloe vera gel is no less than traditional toothpastes in eliminating bacterial microflora and plaque, with the difference that it does not have an abrasive effect on tooth enamel.
In addition, this gel reduces any pain caused by infections or inflammation of the gums, thanks to the anti-inflammatory properties of anthraquinones.
A 2014 study suggests that aloe vera extract is a viable and safe alternative to chemical based mouthwashes. The ingredients of the plant, including vitamin C, can block effectively the onset of plaque. ( 13 )
Aloe Vera gel
The leaves contain, in their internal part, a sort of gelatinous substance which we will call gel to which are attributed powerful therapeutic properties . It is a completely natural substance with beneficial properties.
The gel is used in soft drinks which are commonly called aloe vera juice. These are produced by diluting the gel with water and mixing everything with citric acid and preservatives.
The gel products are available in both liquid and dry forms.
In America, the fresh gel extracted from this plant is known as the most popular folk remedy in the country for burns and scalds. Aloe is also called the first aid plant, as it also has moisturizing and emollient properties.
Aloe gel Stabilization
The aloe vera gel , being made up of polysaccharides and water, is an extremely unstable substance. Its active ingredients will deteriorate rapidly. Therefore, very accurate extraction and storage processes are necessary.
For this reason, the modern food industry has patented numerous stabilization and concentration processes.
Among these, there is a particular type of freeze-drying which allows the aloe gel to be concentrated 200 times (200: 1), stabilizing it in the form of a powder. Thus, the gel of aloe vera can be inserted into swallowable formulations. It is available for sale in capsules and tablets. In this way the taste problem that is not pleasant at all.
Contraindications of Aloe vera
There are many people who ask for information on how to find the plant and how to prepare DIY drinks with its leaves.
Be careful, because aloe vera leaves are very rich in aloin, which is a powerful anthraquinone drug. The effects of this substance are not yet fully known. If taken in excess it can cause serious damage such as abdominal cramps, diarrhea, red urine, hepatitis and can even cause abortion.
It is therefore advisable to buy the aloe vera juice already prepared (always make sure of the quality) and deprived of aloin.
With topical use this plant can give rise to redness, burning and dermatitis on sensitive subjects. It is therefore recommended to apply it first on small areas of the skin to check its tolerability.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women should refrain from consuming or using products derived from this vegetable, including gel.
Individuals with Crohn’s disease, colitis and hemorrhoids should not consume aloe vera products. They could have side effects like abdominal cramps and diarrhea.
The plant latex is also considered dangerous according to several studies for consumption. It can cause gastrointestinal problems and, in high doses, can be fatal.
Aloe Vera Curiosity
The plant was used by the ancient Egyptians in their embalming processes. For millennia the plant has been used for medicinal purposes by different cultures: Egypt, Greece, India, Japan, China and Mexico. Cleopatra and Nefertiti, Egyptian queens famous for their beauty, used the plant as an integral part of their aesthetic treatments.
In 1862 an Egyptian papyrus dating back to 1500 BC was found. Thanks to this discovery, it was discovered that the plant and its properties were already known and appreciated even then. It was also used by Greek and Roman doctors.
In the Ebers Papyrus, one of the oldest medical texts dating back to around 1550 b.C., there are some recipes based on this plant for the treatment of various ailments and ailments.
The Knights Templar used to consume a drink based on aloe vera and palm wine to which they attributed energetic and healthy properties.
Aloe vera grows wild on dry and calcareous soils but can also be grown by seeds or offshoots.
Maybe not everyone knows that
Already Dioscorides, in the 1 st century after Christ, described in his works the medicinal properties of aloe vera gel. Treatment of boils, sore throat, gingivitis, hemorrhoids were just some of the pathologies for which the use of this plant was recommended for healing.
According to historical documents, Christopher Columbus and Alexander the Great used it to heal the wounds of soldiers.
The name aloe derives from the Arabic term Alloeh which means bright bitter substance.
Aloe Vera: Properties and Benefits
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