When aloe vera is applied topically to a wound it forms a seal over the damaged skin. This helps to stop the bleeding, protect against wound infection, provide essential nourishment to the traumatized tissues, stimulate the regeneration of skin cells and connective tissue, and accelerate the healing process. Aloe Vera gel also alleviates inflammation and swelling.
Stone carvings depicting the Aloe Vera plant show it was used in early Egypt. It was known as the “plant of immortality” and presented as a burial gift to deceased pharaohs. Aloe was one of the most frequently prescribed medicines in the 18th and 19th centuries and today in the U.S. it is one of the most commonly used herbs.
Aloe is mainly grown in the dry regions of Africa, Asia, Europe and America. There are over 240 different species of aloe. The Aloe Barbadensis Miller (commonly know as Aloe Vera) has the most nutritional & healing value.
Although scientists have discovered over 150 nutritional ingredients in Aloe Vera, there is no "single" magic ingredient. They all work together in a synergistic way to create healing and health giving benefits. The Aloe Vera leaf contains over 75 nutrients and 200 active compounds, including 20 minerals, 18 amino acids, and 12 vitamins.
The chemical components of Aloe vera include:
- Amino Acids: These components of protein are literally the building blocks of the body. Eight of the essential amino acids cannot be made by the body, but are found within the aloe plant. As well as in protein food items.
- Vitamins: Since the human body cannot store some of vitamins listed beow, it is necessary to supplement them through our diet.
The following is a list of the vitamins found in the Aloe Vera plant: Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Folic Acid, Choline, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3(niacin), Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12.
- Minerals: Adding naturally occurring vitamins and minerals to our diet is important for overall health.
This is a list of the minerals in the aloe plant: Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc, Chromium, Selenium, Sodium, Iron, Potassium, Copper, Manganese.
- Enzymes: Run your entire body & without them you would not be able digest or absorb food. For more about the critical functions of enzymes see my newsletter on this topic.
Here is a list of the enzymes found in the aloe plant & their benefits:
- Amylase: Breaks down sugars and starches
- Bradykinase: Stimulates immune system, analgesic, anti-inflammatory
- Catalase: Prevents accumulation of water in the body
- Cellulase: Aids digestion of cellulose
- Lipase: Aids digestion of fats
- Oxidase: Is any enzyme which catalyzes an oxidation-reduction reaction involving molecular oxygen ,O2, as the electron acceptor
- Alkaline Phosphatase: Is a hydrolase enzyme responsible for removing phosphate groups from many types of molecules
- Proteases: Hydrolyses proteins into their constituent elements
- Creatine: Phosphokinase found in muscles and aids muscle contraction
- Carboxypeptidase: A protease enzyme)
- Anthraquinines: Are important phytochemicals (natural plant compounds) found the sap of the aloe vera plant. Small doses appear to stimulate digestive secretions, bile flow, and the upper digestive system, while large doses can have a laxative effect. They have been linked to aloe vera's anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant and free radical scavenging properties.
- Lignans: Are dietary fibers that stimulate digestion. They work as carriers for other important substances by binding them and transporting them into even deeper skin layers.Aloe Vera is the only known substance which can penetrate the dermis layer of the skin.
- Monosaccharides & Polysaccharides: Are proven to have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, anti-fungal and immune-stimulating effects. They enhance digestion, bind a number of dangerous substances such as cholesterol and gall acid preventing them from entering the bloodstream. The saccharides found in aloe vera are: Acemannan, aldopentose, arabinose, cellulose, galactose, galacturonic acid, glucoronic acid, glucose, hexanoic acid, mannose, mannuronic acid, pentosan, rhamnose, uronic acid, and xylose.
- Salicylic Acid: Possesses anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. It also works as a pain killer, decreases fever and stops inflammation. Salicylic acid is a popular and well-recommended treatment for acne, psoriasis, keratosis pilaris and other skin conditions.
- Saponins: Have a cleansing and anti-septic effect. These substances are very important for the destruction of bacteria, virus, fungi and yeasts.
- Fatty Acids: Such as Sterols which chemically resemble cholesterol. This allows them to travel through your digestive tract, where they prevent real cholesterol from being absorbed into your bloodstream. Sterols have been shown to inhibit the absorption of cholesterol in the small intestine by up to 50%. This can lower LDL cholesterol by 14% or more. Aloe Vera also contains the fatty acids: Linoleic, Linolenic, Myristic, Caprylic, Oleic, Palmitic, & Stearic.
If the synergistic (various parts working together to produce an enhanced result) relationship between the elements found in the plant does not explain why Aloe Vera works, then nothing does. It is this synergistic relationship that explains why through the ages lay persons and physicians alike have proclaimed that Aloe Vera has the ability to heal, alleviate, eliminate, or even cure, a monumental list of human diseases and disorders, and therefore truly deserves the name "medicine plant."
Many researchers have suggested Aloe Vera is an important modality for fighting disease. Aloe Vera has been used in both alternative & traditional medicine to aid in the healing of a variety of conditions such as: Burns, Wounds, Skin irritations, Constipation, Diabetes, Asthma, Depression, Epilepsy, Osteoarthritis, Slight to moderate psoriasis vulgaris, Alcohol-induced hepatic damage, Gastrointestinal problems.
Aloe vera has also been shown to:
- Promote normal body acid/alkaline balance. For more information on this topic see my newsletter.
- Have anticancer effects due to the acemannan in aloe vera. In one study, dogs and cats undergoing radiation for cancer were given acemannan. Not only did the tumors shrink more in the acemannan-treated group, but post-treatment survival was significantly extended. Another study demonstrated that acemannan increased cells' production of nitric oxide (NO), an anti-cancer chemical strongly associated with the shrinking of cancer tumors
- Improve memory & learning
- Promote healthy teeth and gums
- Help patients being treated with radiation for breast cancer
- Boost the immune system
- Help balance the blood glucose levels of diabetics
- Aid in reducing inflammation for those suffering from colitis
- Help cleanse the body (especially the digestive tract) of unwanted bacteria
- Support Healthy Cholesterol and Triglycerides.
- Aids in Detoxification
- Increasing the body’s ability to burn fats & carbs while helping to build muscle.
- Aiding in the balancing of blood sugar levels. When blood sugar levels are balanced, you feel fuller longer.
- Supporting metabolism, suppressing appetite & preventing fat storage.
- Acting as a natural laxative & helping the body to eliminate food quicker. This prevents food from building up in the colon & preventing potential weight gain.
Lee Ritter, N.D. (Doctor of Naturopathy) is a noted authority on the beneficial uses of Aloe Vera for the human body. Dr. Ritter’s original documentary entitled Nature's Miracle reveals the use of Aloe Vera for the treatment of AIDS, cancer, and tumors. This DVD includes interviews with the patients and doctors that were involved with research studies and case histories using Aloe vera for enhancing the Immune System.
When Aloe Vera is combined with other plants it assists in even greater health benefits.
- Chlorella & Spirulina for detoxifying organs & strengthening the body.
- Acai & Goji Berry to protect against aging & skin diseases. Also to strenthen hair & nails, and protect the eyes.
- Ginkgo Biloba for protection from radiation & improving blood circulation.
- Turmeric & Ginger to aid in the prevention of cancer & gastrointestinal problems and to protect the immune system.
- Ginseng & Maca to help stimulate the immune system and increase energy & libido.
The researchers dipped table grapes into an aloe vera gel, then stored them at refrigerator temperatures. While untreated table grapes went bad in 7 days, the grapes dipped in aloe vera stayed fresh and tasty for as astonishing 35 days! See this article by ScienceDaily Aloe Vera Coating May Prolong Freshness, Safety Of Fruits And Vegetables for more information.
Aloe vera gel can be found in hundreds of skin products, including lotions and sunblocks. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also approved aloe vera as a natural food flavoring.