The Aloe Vera plant is an African succulent that is popular in folk remedies. Today, you can find Aloe Vera outside Africa since it is a popular garden plant, especially in dry areas where gardens must be created with the climate in mind. Aloe Vera is also commercially cultivated all over the world to be used in folk medicines. Outside Africa, you will find the largest Aloe Vera farms in the Mediterranean region, the United States, the Caribbean and Japan. An Aloe Vera plant will also do well indoors, but keep in mind that it can grow very large and need re-potting.
Aloe Vera plants, particularly Aloe Barbadensis plants, have been used for centuries to help burns, cuts, and other skin ailments. Perhaps your mom had one of these unique, cactus-like plants nearby, just in case of an emergency. If someone got a cut or burn, they would break an aloe leaf apart to extract gel from inside the leaf and smear it on the wound. The Aloe gel inside the leaf has soothing, cooling qualities and is used as a natural healing salve.
Out of the 400 species of the Aloe family, Aloe Vera (meaning True Aloe) has been used for thousands of years and is still present in varieties of medicines today. It is used predominantly as an herbal remedy for the skin, digestion, the reproductive system, and detox. A gel or pulp can be extracted from the plants for many benefits, both externally and internally.
Just like all the other succulent plants, the Aloe Vera can store large amounts of water. This is an adaptation to a life in regions susceptible to droughts. Wild Aloe Vera is commonly found in regions that experience large temperature differences between day and night. When the dew falls, the Aloe Vera can absorb the moisture and use it to survive. The Aloe Vera will store water in its large fleshy leaves. Inside an Aloe Vera leaf, you will find a clear jelly-like liquid. This liquid forms the base of the Aloe Vera juice that is so popular in folk medicine. If you grow your own Aloe Vera plant, you can use the gel directly instead of converting it into Aloe Vera juice. The gel can be used on minor injuries and burns since many people find it soothing and pain relieving. It also has antibacterial properties.
Aloe Vera can also be used internally, but the scientific studies regarding its effects on the human body are still limited, and internal Aloe Vera treatments should therefore always be used with caution. It is recommended to discuss the treatment with a licensed medical professional. Internal Aloe Vera treatment is popular among patients suffering from heartburn, ulcers, diverticular disorders and other digestive problems. Many patients report that the soothing and antibacterial property of the Aloe Vera causes relief.
The juice of Aloe Vera can be extracted by cutting the leaf into sections and filleting the soft white gel from the skin. The skin can be discarded because all the beneficial properties are found in the white gel. If the gel is greenish it might cause an upset stomach. You can mash the gel to get the juice and then evaporate it to preserve it for later use.
The juice has many benefits when you drink it. This is partially due to the fact that it contains twelve vitamins (including A, B1, B6, B12, C and E), nineteen amino acids and over 20 minerals, which most of these are essential to the body.
In Ayurveda, the Indian health practice, Aloe Vera is known as Kumari (the princess) because of its positive effect on the menstrual cycle and female reproductive system. It is also known for its ability to clean the liver and protect the digestive system by reducing intestinal inflammation.
- It can treat skin conditions by soothing the skin and easing pain and inflammation.
- It can even speed up the healing process of burns, eczema and other conditions.
- The plant’s gel can be used to reduce redness in a couple of days.
- Rubbing the leaf over cuts in the skin can prevent infection and speed up the healing process by acting like a bandage.
- It has healing and moisturizing benefits to the skin
Commercially Available Aloe Products
With the recent boom in all-natural products, Aloe has become a popular ingredient of choice in many skin care and health products. Aloe is used in commercial products such as creams, lotions, and nutritional supplements. The products often combine Aloe gel with other ingredients to enhance the gel’s natural healing components. Sometimes Aloe will be combined with some natural extracts taken from organic honey or other herbal plants.
In commercially available Aloe Vera remedies, it is usually Aloe Vera juice that forms the active ingredient. If you by low-quality Aloe Vera remedies, they might not have been made from pure Aloe Vera juice from the clear gel. If other parts of the plant enter the remedy, the treatment can act as a strong laxative. This effect is caused by the green Aloe Vera latex that is located in special cells, called the pericyclic tubules, which are found along the inner skin of the Aloe Vera leaf. Proper processing methods ensure that no latex enters the Aloe Vera juice. If you experience unwanted laxative effects or cramps when using medications containing Aloe Vera, you should stop using it and try to find a better manufacturer that can provide a higher-quality Aloe Vera product.
Natural Aloe-Based Solutions for Skin Care and Health
Aloe Vera is a very useful plant. It is very often used as a medicine to treat skin conditions such as burns and eczema, where it can help to stop the pain and reduce swelling. It is very often used in soaps, shampoos, and similar products.
Aloe gel, especially when combined with other natural ingredients, can greatly enhance the skin and its ability to replenish skin cells. As skin cells die, new skin cells must replace the old to promote healthy skin. This also slows the aging process and helps keep the skin moist and beautiful. Aloe creams and gels on the market can help enhance this process. There are also creams and gels to help with itching, burns, cuts, psoriasis, shingles, and other skin conditions.
Aloe Vera gel is also known to have antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties, which allow skin ailments to heal while reducing the risk of infection. Some aloe-based products might help soothe and dry up chicken pox as well. Aloe gel can work as a natural anesthesia to reduce or alleviate pain caused by burns, cuts, and skin rashes. For severe sunburn and/or sun poison, Aloe Vera gel can cool the burning skin and speed up the healing process.
How to Buy Natural Aloe Products
You can grow your own Aloe Vera plants in your garden or in a pot, or you can buy already made natural Aloe-based products.
Before buying Aloe products, be sure they are all natural with few or no added ingredients, which could decrease the Aloe’s beneficial properties. Read the ingredients on each product and learn why the ingredients were added. You’ll find some products have added natural ingredients to enhance the product’s skin care and health properties. These products sometimes provide more benefits than even the actual Aloe plant alone.
- You can find Aloe-based products that are unique to your skin care and health needs.
- If you have psoriasis, for instance, look for creams, gels, or lotions to soothe this condition in particular.
- If you work in the sun or are outdoors a great deal, look for aloe products that can protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays.
- If you have multiple needs for aloe, find a natural aloe product that offers many benefits in one.
- Start enjoying natural skin care and health today with the wonderful natural solution of Aloe Vera!
- Aloe Vera is also available in capsule and gel form, as well as in juices and drinks, creams and lotions.
Overall, Aloe Vera can be used for cosmetics and heal the skin, or when consumed, as a potent cleansing and rejuvenating tonic that is very nutrient rich and beneficial to the body. Look for products that are made only from the unfiltered inner gel of the whole plant, not the outer rind, which means less processing and more active ingredients are retained.
Precautions With Aloe
You should also be aware that Aloe Vera, although it is a traditional remedy, can have side effects. Reported side effects include liver dysfunction, burning sensations, allergic reactions, nausea, strangely colored urine, and dermatitis, although all of them are rare. Some studies have shown that, while the Aloe Vera does relieve pain, wounds treated with Aloe Vera can take longer to heal than usual, making it an undesirable treatment in many situations.
There are also many conditions you can have which mean that you shouldn’t take Aloe Vera. If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, allergic to garlic or onions, or have kidney or heart disease, you should avoid Aloe Vera. It should never be given to children or animals, as it can be poisonous to them.
Scientists are not altogether in agreement on the effectiveness of Aloe Vera as a medicine. Researching the effects of Aloe Vera properly is difficult because it is a complicated herb. Aloe Vera contains 75 different nutrients, including enzymes, vitamins, minerals, sugars, and acids. Supposedly, it can help with muscle growth, be anti-bacterial, aid digestion, heal wounds, and much more. It is widely believed that Aloe Vera is effective against the common cold, although no medicine has ever been proved to cure it.
Never use Aloe Vera internally if you are currently using oral corticosteroids since Aloe Vera will interact with this medication. Beclomethasone, Prednisone, and Methylprednisolone are three common examples of oral corticosteroids. The combination can cause potassium deficiency and poisoning.
Psyllium will also be affected by the active compounds in Aloe Vera, and combining the two remedies are therefore inadvisable. If you still choose to do so, you should make sure that you never ingest them simultaneously. Allow at least two hours to pass before you take the second drug.