- 1 Forms And Uses of Aloe Vera
- 1.1 Aloe Vera Leaf | Parts, Chemical Components And Uses
- 1.2 Aloe Vera Extract | Theories On Its Healing Properties
- 1.3 Aloe Vera Oil | With Rich Healing Properties
- 1.4 Aloe Vera Latex | Medicinal Uses And Potential Side Effects
- 1.5 Aloe Vera Juice | Benefits And Tips On Making It At Home
- 1.6 Aloe Vera Supplements | Reasons To Take Them
- 1.7 Aloe Vera Lotion | Tips for Buying
Forms And Uses of Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera Leaf | Parts, Chemical Components And Uses
We know by now that aloe vera owes its medicinal properties to its leaf, which explains why the leaf is one of the most popularly marketed products from the plant. Aloe vera leaf looks like a dagger growing from the base in a rosette pattern. A fully-grown aloe vera plant can range in sizes from 1 ½ to four feet in height with an average of 15 leaves. The leaves of mature aloe measure over three inches in width from the base, weighing over three pounds each.
The leaf is composed of four layers, namely rind, sap, mucilage gel and the aloe vera gel. The rind is the protective outer layer of the leaf while the sap is the layer of gooey bitter fluid, which serves as protection for animals. The mucilage gel is the layer usually filleted to reveal the inner gel.
One major part of the leaf is the clear, gel-like substance, which makes up the plant’s parenchyma. The gel has a distinctive vegetable odor, known to be unpleasant for some people. The gel makes the plant hold moisture for a very long period. Being a member of the plant class Xerophytes (with other members such as agave, cactus and yucca), aloe vera plant has the ability to totally shut its stomata, avoiding water loss and enduring long periods without water. For some reason, when the leaf is sliced, its wounds heal fast.
The use of aloe vera leaf in traditional medicine began way back 3,500 years ago. Traditional physicians and herbal healers have long noted the therapeutic benefits of this desert lily. Ancient drawings of this succulent plant have been discovered in the walls of Egyptian temples, thought to be important to the embalming process. Even Alexander the Great was known to have occupied Socotra Island in 4th Century BC to acquire the unique violet dye secreted by a certain Aloe grown there.
Aloe vera leaf has remarkable medicinal properties. Scientists have found more than 150 active nutrients in its leaf gel. These compounds seem to work synergistically to provide healing and therapeutic benefits. The ten nutritional ingredients of aloe leaf include amino acids, enzymes, anthraquinones, minerals, vitamins, monosaccharide, polysaccharides, lignins, salicylic acid, saponins and sterols.
Our human body needs 22 amino acids and almost all of these protein-building blocks are produced by the body except for 8 amino compounds, which the body gets only from food we take. These eight essential amino acids are found in aloe vera and include leucine, isoleucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, valine, tryptophan and threonine. Aloe vera also contains numerous non-essential amino acids including alanin, arginine, cysteine etc.
Found inside the sap of aloe vera leaves are the 12 anthraquinones, a type of phenolic compound, which causes stimulating effect on the digestive tract and antibiotic properties. Enzymes serves as a catalyst for proper digestion while its plentiful vitamins and minerals fuels the enzymes to break down nutrients efficiently. The main enzymes found in aloe vera gel include amylase, bradykinase, catalase, cellulase, lipase etc.
All of these important chemical constituents inside the aloe vera leaf make it one of the most popular herbs today. It is quite common to see drugstores and grocery stores selling aloe vera products for different health purposes. Even in California, there is a growing market of aloe vera users either for skincare or for therapeutic purposes.
Aloe Vera Extract | Theories On Its Healing Properties
The extract from the plant is another popular product made from it. However, exactly how aloe vera extract works externally in maintaining healthy skin or wound healing has not yet been well established.
Aloe extract is made by pounding the whole leaves. The most common preparation is aloe vera liquid extract, which is pure 100% aloe vera, extracted to a water and glycerin base for a more convenient application with any water-soluble skincare product such as lotions, creams, hair shampoo, etc. It is believed that this becomes effective due to the synergistic effect of aloe vera’s components, which means that the whole is more than the sum of its parts. For many years, numerous companies tried to extract particular components such as acemannan, from aloe vera. The healing benefits were uncertain and reports came out of adverse effects in patients taking large amounts of acemannan extracted from aloe vera.
There are two theories that explain the healing properties of aloe vera. One is that if it is applied on the skin, the chemical components of aloe vera increase regeneration of cells at a very fast rate. The second theory is that the enzymes from the extract cause chemical changes, which can boost healing. Aloe vera has also become a conventional treatment for burns. According to studies, its anti-microbial properties were demonstrated when combined with silver sulfadiazine, a potent antiseptic used to treat extensive burns. The anti-bacterial properties of aloe vera extract in cream base worked better than silver sulfadiazine using agar well diffusion studies.
In connection to this study, pure aloe vera extract showed the following percentage as bactericidal against some common bacteria. Sixty percent of aloe vera extract was potent against Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Streptococcus pyogenes and Streptococcus agalactiae. At 70%, it is bactericidal against S. aureus and in 80% in E. coli. At 90%, it is effective against Candida albicans and Streptococcus faecalis.
With these significant findings on aloe extract, many naturopathic doctors and even conventional doctors have begun using aloe vera as a vital part of their treatment programs. Many burn trauma centers from California to Florida are even using aloe vera to treat burn patients.
The extract is organically processed and is usually available in many forms. An excellent extract from aloe vera should be derived naturally and free of any form of additive processing. That is to say that pure aloe vera extract should be free of salt, sugar, wheat, corns, colors, preservatives and other additives. A potent extract could support the body’s defense mechanisms.
Aloe Vera Oil | With Rich Healing Properties
Aloe vera has been used for many centuries and has been a popular herb among great personalities in history. Claims suggest that Queen Cleopatra even used it to achieve softer and smoother skin. On the other hand, the Arabs and Greeks were also believed to apply aloe vera in order to reduce perspiration and enhance their scent. Today, aloe vera is commonly used in cosmetic and skincare products as well as home-ready solutions-for example, in preparations such as juice, gel and oil. However, among these forms, the most potent is that of aloe vera oil. If you want to have flawless skin, free from skin problems like acne and allergies, then what better treatment than Cleopatra’s rumored solution of aloe oil?
Aloe vera oil is derived from a macerated aloe vera plant and infused with essential base oil such as almond, soybean or apricot, which result in an aloe oil extract. It is rich in astringent, is anti-inflammatory, emollient, anti-fungal, antiviral and antibacterial, and all of that makes it a great remedy for different skin problems. Due to these notable therapeutic properties, it is widely used for aromatherapy, which is not only used for relaxation of the body and mind, but also provides double benefits of skin health and beauty.
Aloe vera oil has a wide variety of uses. It can be used as a treatment for numerous skin diseases including eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, ulcers and acne. It can also stimulate skin cell regeneration, as it is an excellent moisturizer. The different enzymes in aloe oil cause significant reduction of inflammation, swelling and itchiness. Besides its effectiveness in treating different skin diseases, it also has a unique cooling effect that can help alleviate pain from superficial wounds.
In aromatherapy, aloe vera massage oil has remarkable healing and rejuvenating qualities that make it an excellent choice to use alone or as another ingredient when mixing carrier oil blend or massage oil for aromatherapy. Its astringent qualities, along with the presence of Vitamin C and E plus zinc, could stimulate epidermal regeneration and skin repair. Hence, aloe oil massage will keep your skin free of rashes and cuts and may nourish the skin. The oil provides a soothing feeling for the skin, keeping it moist and preventing skin dryness and flaking during dry weather.
In addition, aloe vera oil is rich in anti-oxidant qualities that prevent skin damage due to radiation. It contains Aloe-emodin, which is a unique compound effective in getting rid of the virus that causes shingles and cold sores. The oil is also a good hair care agent due to its Vitamin E, panthenol and keratin. It does not only serve as a hair conditioner but also strengthens each strand and the scalp. Regular use could reduce hair fall and boost hair growth.
Aloe vera oil is available in many health food shops and is often combined with various ingredients for many expensive creams in the market. In California, for instance, several chemical laboratories concentrate on producing aloe oil to meet the demands of the public. But being a consumer, always be on the safer side and choose natural products that contain a higher percentage of aloe oil extract than synthetic additives.
Aloe Vera Latex | Medicinal Uses And Potential Side Effects
Aloe vera latex is one of the medicinal parts of aloe vera, present in the plant’s outer leaf. It is yellowish in color with a distinct bitter taste and is often called the aloe vera aloin. This substance is considered an herbal laxative, which can be used in treatment of stomach-related complaints and other digestive tract problems.
The dried and powdered latex has been used as a laxative by different cultures around the world. The first recorded use of aloe vera in the treatment of laxative was by the Arabs during the 6th Century BC. Later on, it spread to different Caribbean Islands, mainly in Barbados. Due to the erroneous account of biologists in the 17th Century that the plant was a native in the island, they thought up aloe vera’s scientific name, which is Aloe barbadensis.
Because of the increasingly (perhaps overly) effective laxatives that were made, the use of aloe vera latex reduced due to its often violent and unpleasant cathartic effects. Aloe latex is still recognized as a reliable drug by the U.S Pharmacopoeia, the official drug compendium of United States. OTC (Over-the-counter) drugs that use aloe vera continue to be sold in many drugstores. While it’s still a question whether or not aloe latex is a laxative itself, it contains aloin and anthraquinone glycosides: two compounds that are known to have a laxative effect.
Certain considerations should be watched out for when using aloe vera latex. Even if scientific studies support aloe latex use as a laxative, one should practice caution in its use compared to other laxative substances. The FDA does not approve the use of aloe vera for constipation and other bowel complaints due to its side effects such as abdominal griping. There is also no sufficient evident to back up its effectiveness and safety for constipation, inflammatory bowel disease and colitis.
If you prefer taking aloe latex, better consult your doctor as it is known to have drug interactions. Drugs that may interact with aloe vera include diuretic drugs, birth control pills, digoxin and chemotherapeutic drugs. Be warned that the long-term use of aloe vera latex may result to potassium depletion, which can cause muscle weakness and irregular heart rhythm. Abdominal cramping, diarrhea and low blood sugar levels have been reported along with the use of aloe latex. As such, this herbal supplement is best used under the supervision of a healthcare provider.
Aloe vera latex is widely used all throughout the world to improve bowel health and it comes in different forms and preparations. Aloe latex capsules are often prescribed in numerous fields of medicine. The active component, aloin, is extracted and then dried to come up with a yellow powder. It is then stuffed inside gel capsules. There are also aloe juices, which come in two types, the one using inner gel only, and the whole leaf juice. The inner gel is the common health drink, which can be drunk anytime. On the other hand, the whole leaf juice contains latex that is drunk by people suffering from constipation and bowel diseases.
Aloe Vera Juice | Benefits And Tips On Making It At Home
Aloe vera juice is derived from the leaf of Aloe barbadensis. The juice often sold in herb shops and health food stores can be used both externally and internally. Since aloe vera juice contains essential nutrients like Vitamin B complex, Vitamin C and other minerals, it offers a wide range of health benefits.
One of the many benefits of aloe vera juice is its effect in relieving digestive complaints. Since aloe juice aids in detoxifying the digestive tract, taking two cups of aloe vera drink per day may ease stomach pain. It may also fight harmful bacteria inside the gut and other forms of irritants and toxins that may cause digestion problems such as constipation, diarrhea and hyperacidity. Drinking aloe juice is also believed to help systemic blood circulation. This is highly beneficial for people with circulation problems in the extremities, such in the case of diabetics.
When used externally, aloe juice may even help in improving the skin. Many people use aloe vera gel from the leaf to treat minor burns or small cuts. Storing aloe juice for topical use as an astringent on the face and hands may help smoothen and tighten the skin, and eliminate pore-clogging excess oils. Aloe juice may also be used as an organic rub to relieve joint pain and muscle aches. Applying a minimal amount of aloe juice to the affected area and massaging it helps relax the muscles and alleviate mild arthritis on joints.
Aloe vera juice is commercially sold in different health shops and even in online stores. The volume may range from a quart to one gallon. However, if you have aloe vera plants in your garden, you can certainly make your own homemade aloe juice.
First, it is important to know that there are several varieties of aloe plants. Hence, make sure that the gel you’ll be extracting is from an Aloe barbadensis plant. The plant should be full-grown, about 3 to 4 years of age and should have grown outside all-year round in a suitable climate. Taking your starting material from such a plant enables you to enjoy the fullest health benefits of aloe vera.
When making your own juice at home, harvest the leaf and quickly remove the rind as well as the yellow part below the rind (aloin). This is the laxative part (latex) of aloe vera that, when ingested, causes abdominal cramping and diarrhea. After removing the rind and yellow layer, the clear, pure inner gel will be revealed. To prevent the inner gel from spoiling, you have to stabilize the inner gel and make it more palatable in the form of aloe juice. Place the gel inside the blender together with grapefruit or orange juice. You can add two tablespoons of aloe vera gel for every glass of your favorite fruit juice. Other people wash the newly harvested and prepared gel with diluted vinegar solution to get rid of any excess latex residue from the juice.
Many commercially sold aloe vera juices in the United States, particularly in California, combine other natural and healthy fruit ingredients such as apple, cranberry, peach and orange to improve the taste and enrich the nutrient content of the juice. Aloe juice can be bought either through your local health shops or via the Internet.
Aloe Vera Supplements | Reasons To Take Them
Aloe vera products come in different preparations, which range from drinks, juices, ointments and supplements. Aloe vera supplements are increasingly popular today, especially for people who are unable to plant aloe vera due to environmental factors. Aloe vera pills usually come either in soft gel capsules or in hard starch capsules, sold under different brand names. Unlike synthetic medicines, aloe supplement is quite inexpensive, safe and very convenient to use.
There are several benefits to using aloe vera capsules. While aloe juice is one of the most recommended ways of enjoying the plant’s benefits, it is not entirely convenient for everyone. Aloe vera supplements in capsule form offer beneficial and oftentimes, more effective options and can easily be used, especially when traveling. Unlike pure aloe gel that has an unpleasant taste, aloe capsules are tasteless. They may also be more effective compared to aloe vera drinks, some of which have been mixed with various flavorings and sweeteners just to make the liquid more palatable to the point of ineffectiveness.
In general, capsules have long shelf life, which is preferable for people who take aloe vera intermittently. They also do not need refrigeration. Aloe capsules are easier to use and they are better alternatives for people having difficulty swallowing tablets. Capsules can be opened and dissolved in water/juice for a drink. These can also be used topically – open one capsule, mix with coconut oil or cream and apply directly to the affected area. Certainly, an aloe vera capsule is not only limited to being used as it is, but it can also be used for topical applications, substituted for aloe juice and other products. This versatility makes it more convenient, particularly for busy people.
Because of varying manufacturers producing aloe vera supplements, consumers may have difficulty searching for the best brand of aloe capsules. While every brand claims to produce the best results, you should know what factors to look for when buying aloe supplements.
One point to consider would be the active ingredients that the product contains. To measure the product’s potency, the presence of polysaccharides should be in sufficient quantities. Also, check other ingredients such as unnecessary additives including colorings, stabilizers and preservatives. These are usually present in aloe juice so this is another reason to use capsules. In addition, capsules usually contain flow agents that may enhance the activity of encapsulated active ingredients. Two types of aloe capsule are available – a laxative and a non-laxative capsule. The laxative part of the plant is commonly extracted from the leaf, characterized by a bitter, milky yellowish fluid while the other one is extracted from the basal leaf layer.
Aloe vera supplements have various indications. The herb can be used as an effective antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral substance. Apart from its anti-inflammation properties, it accelerates skin healing by increasing blood flow to the skin. Because of its beneficial effects, aloe vera may contribute in the prevention of numerous health conditions and it can help in alleviating many diseases and ailments. Aloe capsule detoxifies, nourishes and normalizes food absorption and digestive tract. In general, it brings balance to overall health condition.
Aloe Vera Lotion | Tips for Buying
For many years, the only way people could harvest aloe extracts was to slice the plant’s leaf. It was not until the late 1960s that the development of stabilized aloe vera extracts started. Stabilizing aloe vera means preserving the plant’s medicinal parts in such a way that it can retain its biochemical activity long after harvest. In this way, gels and juices from aloe vera can be preserved, packed and sold in the market. Perhaps the most common stabilized aloe vera product in supermarkets, more so than the leaf or extract, is the aloe vera lotion, which is commonly used for its highly moisturizing and healing effects.
While still used to treat burns, aloe vera cream is also used topically to heal skin abrasions, athlete’s foot, acne, baldness, blisters, bruises, dry skin, muscle cramps, insect bites, psoriasis, skin ulcers and sunburn. Other people use it as aftershave or deodorant. Besides being a prime ingredient for skin creams and lotions, it is also combined in soaps, shampoos and other body creams. A few people have even reported aloe vera use in getting rid of pet fleas-not unbelievable when you consider that there are parts of the world where it is used to drive away termites.
While there are different brands of aloe vera lotion, not all creams are made equal. The first thing to consider when buying aloe vera creams or lotion is the composition. There are more than 200 aloe vera species around the world and some could be better for moisturizing skin while others contain effective wound-healing properties. Check the product for Aloe barbadensis Miller as it is the best variety of aloe vera. This species is used in many burn centers around the world. In fact, it is considered by many aloe purists to be the true aloe.
Besides checking the aloe vera species used in the product, check the types of additives being used. Naturally, almost everyone wants to buy 100% pure aloe vera cream and avoid additives if possible. In reality, many aloe products claim to be 99% pure, but this is not the case with lotions and creams. With aloe vera creams, the added additives could be a sign for good quality. Many top aloe vera products claim to combine over 10 additives working together to aid in relieving dry skin, inflammation, and skin itchiness, just to name a few.
In general, if you consider buying aloe vera lotion and cream, search for one that uses Aloe barbadensis as its base source of aloe extract as well as one whose added ingredients, such as essential oils, will add to the efficacy of the product. Keep in mind that buying sub-par lotion will also lead to sub-par results.