It’s used in traditional Indian medicine for constipation, skin diseases, worm infestation, infections and as a natural remedy for colic. In Chinese medicine, it’s often recommended in the treatment of fungal diseases, and in the Western world, it has found widespread use in the cosmetic, pharmaceutical and food industries.
In fact, the manufacturing of aloe vera extracts is one of the largest botanical industries in the world.
Aloe, whose Arabic name ‘saber’ symbolizes patience, is used in many cultures for different purposes. The first documented use of aloe was from the ancient Egyptians. Around 1500 B.C., the Egyptians recorded use of the herbal plant in treating burns, infections and parasites. The Mahometans hung aloe over their doorway in order to protect the residents inside. Also known as ‘lily of the desert’ and ‘the plant of immortality’, historical evidence shows that the aloe plant emerged in the warm, dry climates of Africa. This plant grows approximately two feet high and is composed of long, spiky, thick, lance-shaped, green leaves which bloom in a rosette shape and flourish in warm environments. The leaves, which hold the majority of the desired product, can grow up to eighteen inches high and two inches wide.
Aloe is thought to heal epithelial tissue, which is defined as a layer of cells, which covers the body. Skin, therefore, is the body’s largest organ and is most benefited by the healing properties of aloe. Aloe is well reputed for the medicinal value of the sap found within its leaves. This sap, a thick, mucilaginous gel, is made up of a variety of amino acids, primarily alanine. The predominant properties of aloe are a result of the activity of amino acids on the skin. When topically applied, the gel that is contained within the leaves of the aloe plant has traditionally been shown to accelerate wound-healing time and alleviate burns. It also helps to lessen the risk of infection during the healing process. Worldwide, many civilizations such as the Greek, Roman, Persian, Indian, Japanese, and Russian, extolled the medicinal uses of aloe. When taken internally, this plant has been used for centuries for treating stomach disorders, kidney ailments and hyperglycemia. Aloe gel has also been used to treat a variety of skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, allergic reactions and insect bites.
The cuticle, which covers all parts of the plant, is able to absorb moisture easily while preventing its rapid evaporation. If a leaf became separated from the parent plant, it can be laid in the sun for weeks without becoming completely shriveled. Even when dried out from heat exposure, it will, if submerged in water, become plump and fresh in a few hours. This succulent plant is able to hold substantial amounts of water in its leaves, keeping the plant hydrated and its water requirement low. This feature helps it to survive in warm climates and is also beneficial with regards to skin hydration.
Aloe is able to moisturize the skin by bringing oxygen to the surface and increasing the synthesis as well as the strength of the skin tissue. Aloe improves the skin’s ability to hydrate itself, aids in the removal of dead skin cells and has an effective penetrating ability which all contribute to create an overall healthy aesthetic.
What Are the Aloe Vera Benefits?
Aloe vera produces two substances used for medicine: The gel is obtained from the cells in the center of the leaf, and the latex is obtained from the cells just beneath the leaf skin.
Most people use aloe gel as a remedy for skin conditions, including burns, sunburn, frostbite, psoriasis and cold sores, but there is a host of other aloe vera benefits. Aloe gel is used for treating osteoarthritis, bowel diseases, fever, itching and inflammation.
It’s also used as a natural remedy for asthma, stomach ulcers, diabetes and for soothing side effects of radiation treatment. Aloe latex is used to naturally treat depression, constipation, asthma and diabetes.
Aloe Vera Nutrition Facts
Aloe vera is one of approximately 420 species of the genus Aloe; the botanical name of aloe vera is Aloe barbadensis miller, and it belongs to the Liliaceae family. It’s a perennial, xerophytic, succulent plant that’s green and has triangular, fleshy leaves with serrated edges. The geographic origin of aloe vera is believed to be in Sudan, and it was later introduced in the Mediterranean region and most other warm areas of the world, including Africa, Asia, India, Europe and America.
Aloe gel is the clear, jelly-like substance found in the inner part of the aloe plant leaf. Aloe latex comes from just under the plant’s skin and is yellow in color. Some aloe products are made from the whole crushed leaf, so they contain both gel and latex.
Aloe vera is considered to be the most biologically active of the Aloe species; astonishingly, more than 75 potentially active components have been identified in the plant, including vitamins, minerals, saccharides, amino acids, anthraquinones, enzymes, lignin, saponins and salicylic acids. It provides 20 of the 22 human-required amino acids and eight of the eight essential amino acids.
Aloe vera contains many vitamins and minerals vital for proper growth and function of all the body’s systems. Here’s an easy explanation of aloe vera’s active components:
- Aloe vera contains antioxidant vitamins A, C and E — plus vitamin B12, folic acid and choline.
- It contains eight enzymes, including aliiase, alkaline phosphatase, amylase, bradykinase, carboxypeptidase, catalase, cellulase, lipase and peroxidase.
- Minerals such as calcium, copper, selenium, chromium, manganese, magnesium, potassium, sodium and zinc are present in aloe vera.
- It provides 12 anthraquinones — or compounds known as laxatives. Among these are aloin and emodin, which act as analgesics, antibacterials and antivirals.
- Four fatty acids are present, including cholesterol, campesterol, beta-sisosterol and lupeol — all providing anti-inflammatory results.
- The hormones called auxins and gibberellins are present; they help with healing wounds and have anti-inflammatory properties.
- Aloe vera provides sugars, such as monosaccharides (glucose and fructose) and polysaccharides.