Aloe Vera has many uses medicinally that date back hundreds of years. It is most commonly used in skin preparations, from shampoo, deodorants, toothpaste to after sun. Most commonly available in gel or liquid form, it can also be ingested and can be useful to help heal oral and gastrointestinal problems. Gel can be used directly from the leaves if the plant is home grown.
Common conditions that Aloe Vera can help are:
The true aloe vera plant is called Aloe Barbadensis Miller, otherwise called the Curacao aloe, and is the most medicinally potent of the 300 (and more) varieties found around the world. Belonging to the lily family and related to the onion, garlic and asparagus, evidence supporting the early use of aloe was discovered on a Mesopotamian clay tablet dating from 2100 BC. The aloe plant is between 99 and 99.5% water, with an average pH of 4.5. The remaining solid material contains over 75 different ingredients including vitamins, minerals, enzymes, sugars, anthraquinones or phenolic compounds, lignin, saponins, sterols, amino acid sand salicylic acid.
The plant contains many vitamins, excluding vitamin D but including the important antioxidant vitamins A, C and F. Vitamins B (thiamine),niacin, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), choline and folic acid are also present. When taken orally, several of these biochemical catalysts, such as amylase and lipase, can aid digestion by breaking down fats and sugars. One important enzyme, a carboxy-peptidase, inactivates bradykinins and produces an anti-inflammatory effect. During the inflammatory process, bradykinin produces pain associated with vasodilation and, therefore, its hydrolysis reduces these two components and produces an analgesic effect. Sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, manganese, copper, zinc, chromium and iron are all found in the aloe plant. Magnesium lactate inhibits histidine decarboxylase and prevents the formation of histamine from the amino acid, histadine. Histamine is released in many allergic reactions and causes intense itching and pain. When taken orally, sugar (manose & glucose) bind to receptor sites that line the gut and forma barrier, possibly helping to prevent ‘leaky gut syndrome’. Aloe Vera also contains Anthraquinones, in large amounts these compounds exert a powerful purgative effect, but when smaller they appear to aid absorption from the gut, are potent antimicrobial agents. Saponins form 3 per cent of the gel and are general cleansers, having antiseptic properties. Plant Sterols include Campesterol, f3 Sitosterol and Lupeol andSallcylic acid which is an aspirin-like compound possessing anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Aloe vera gel provides 20 of the 22 necessary amino acids required by the human body and seven of the eight essential amino acids which the body cannot synthesise.
One word of warning with the use of Aloe Vera. It can be problematic for people with a Salicylate Sensitivity.
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