Herbs > Aloe Vera
History and Folkore
The paintings of Aloe Vera plants found on the temple and
tomb walls of ancient Egypt reflect that mans
relationship with this plant dates back to around or before 4,000 B.C.
However, it was the
Greek and Roman physicians, Dioscorides and Pliny
around 60 AD, that have provided us with the most
detailed documentation of Aloe Vera's wide array of
applications. These noted medics used the plant to
heal wounds and Skin abrasions, insect bites, boils,
bruises, chapping, sore throat, bleeding gums,
haemorrhoids, dysentery as well as a purgative.
Not only that, but
legends have it that two of the most alluring
Egyptian queens, Nefertiti and Cleopatra, relied on
Aloe Vera to maintain their unlined and youthful
complexions by both drinking the juice and bathing in
Aloe Vera - The Plant
Vera, possibly the most widely used healing and
beautifying plant in the history of mankind, is a
most remarkable plant. Looking more like a cactus and
growing in dry surroundings, it actually belongs to
the lily family. It can survive long periods of
drought by shutting down its pores to prevent water
loss, keeping it moist and cool while other plants
wilt. When cut or damaged Aloe Vera's healing powers
become immediately apparent as it closes off any
damaged areas as well as forming a protective
covering over the wound ensuring the plant continues
to thrive. Such properties have earned Aloe Vera the
reputation as a powerful healer of both the inner and
Growing best in
tropical climates Aloe flourishes in the heat and
there are, in fact, over 275 different species to be
found. However it is the genus Aloe Vera barbadensis
miller, meaning the "true Aloe"
that is considered to be the most medicinal and is
the variety found in most Aloe Vera juice capsules
and gels. The leaves of this particular genus form a
tight rosette, within which are juicy fillets of
clear jelly that contain over I00 vitamins, minerals,
enzymes and plant compounds that are essential for
cell growth and renewal.
Thousands of healing benefits from using Aloe Vera are now well
documented. Many doctors around the world are
actively using Aloe Vera either alongside or as an
alternative to conventional treatments where orthodox
medicines have failed.
Aloe Vera has been
described as a potent natural product which the body
recognises. With its synergistic mix of essential
vitamins, minerals, proteins and enzymes it can be a
very powerful force which helps the body heal itself.
research in the United States and the former Soviet
Union has been conducted to determine the
pharmacological basis of Aloe Vera. Hundreds of these
scientific studies and journals were reviewed by Dr
Bill Coats R.Ph. who then reported in his book
"The Silent Healer - A modern study of Aloe Vera shows that Aloe Vera has the following properties:
More recently, in
1992,1 C Pittman wrote a short review and summary of
the stimulatory nature of Aloe Vera on the immune
system whereby he ~ concluded - "Acemannan, (a
polysaccharide fraction found in Aloe) has direct
effects on the immune system, activating and
stimulating -macrophages, monocytes, antibodies and
- counteracts or suppresses the inflammatory process.
- Analgesic - relieves pain deep beneath the surface.
- Anti-pruritic - relieves itching.
- 'Humectant - moisturises, promoting retention of water in skin(in tissue.
- 'Proteolytic - enzymatically dissolves and digests damaged or dead tissue cells enhancing the process of healing.
- 'Regenerative - stimulates the growth of skin cells.
- 'Antipyretic - relieves the heat of burns, inflammation and fever.
- 'Absorbefacient - promotes absorption through tissues.
- 'Fungistatic - inhibits the growth of fungi.
- 'Vi rustatic - inhibits replication of viruses.
- 'Detoxifying - helps cleanse and purify the body.
- 'Bacteriostatic - inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria and promotes the growth of healthy bacteria.
The immune system of
the stomach is one of the body's first lines of
defence against sicitness, so a healthy immune system
leads to a better state of health.
Aloe Vera's survival characteristics mean that, unlike other
plants, its root system is not the primary mechanism
for food and water storage. Instead it is the gel
inside the leaves that is rich in nutrition and water
which is Aloe Vera's lifeblood. In fact the plant can
be uprooted and live for months on its internal
supply of water, nutrients and enzymes. It is this
storehouse of over 100 essential minerals, enzymes,
vitamins, lipids, amino acids and other active
compounds, 5 of which are exclusive to the wide array
of Aloe Vera, that gives medicinal applications which
often seem too good to be true.
How can Aloe Vera be
referred to as an active detoxifying agent, a
powerful immune system stimulant, an
anti-inflammatory, an analgesic, a stimulator of cell
growth, a 'issue healer, an antiseptic, a rich source
of nutrients and an aid to digestion - and be
all of these simultaneously? It is Aloe Vera's
natural blend of nutrients working synergistically
that helps explain the beneficial effects attributed
to it, as well as its "homeostatic nature"
or ability to bring about balance (which is why it
can help one person with constipation and another
According to a leading
U.S. Nutritionist Dr Bruce Hendendal, the key to Aloe
Vera's power is the abundance of a particular
nutrient, mocopolysaccharides (MPS), long chain
sugars which are the body's building blocks. We
manufacture these ourselves, in great quantities
during our first decade of life after which we become
more reliant on outside sources.
Few plants are a richer source than Aloe Vera
Natural Health practitioners believe a lack of MPS creates a leaky
gut wall which lets through toxins and other large
food molecules, overloading our liver and
detoxification processes, and ultimately leading to
allergies, inflammation, dry and scaly skin
conditions and digestive disorders.
While there is no
scientific analysis to fully explain the exceptional
healing and curative properties ascribed to Aloe
Vera, one thing all researchers agree upon is that it
has no single active principal, but works
synergistically to stimulate the natural healing
mechanisms of the body.
Aloe Vera is rich in
enzymes, often missing in today's over-processed
foods. Taken internally Aloe Vera juice appears to
improve digestion and the absorption of nutrients, as
well as elimination.
The inner gel is
deeply penetrating, working first on the digestive
system and then on other systems, gradually helping
the body flush out impurities and toxins and
restoring balance to both overworked and sluggish
In time, good health
starts to show on on the outside with reports of
increased energy and improved skin condition.
Growing Aloe Vera
While Aloe Vera likes a warm climate it will grow in almost any sunny spot with
good draining soil and plants can be purchased in most garden centers.
Aloe Vera Page 2
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