The benefits of Aloe vera
Aloe vera has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries in Greece, Egypt, India, Japan and China. Egyptian queens Nefertiti and Cleopatra used regularly Aloe for its beauty properties. Alexander the Great and Christopher Columbus used it to heal the wounds of injured soldiers. Two thousand years ago the Greek scientists regarded this herb as a universal panacea.
The name Aloe vera is come from the Arabic word ‘Alloeh’ and the Latin word ‘Vera’. The former means ‘shining bitter substance’, and the latter means ’true’.
The first hint of this herb in English dates from 1655, it was a translation by John Goodyew. By the early 1800s in the United States Aloe was used primarily as a laxative. In the mid-1930s it was successfully used to treat the chronic and severe dermatitis (inflammation of the skin).
The botanical name of this plant is Aloe barbadensis. Its natural habitats are the dry areas of Africa, Asia, India, Europe and America.
What are the active components of Aloe vera?
Aloe vera has 75 active ingredients: vitamins, enzymes, minerals, sugars, lignin, saponins, amino acids and salicylic acid.
- Antioxidant vitamins: A (beta carotene), vitamins C and E, vitamin B12, folic acid and choline.
- Enzymes: amylase, cellulase, lipase, peroxidase, and bradykinase etc. The latter helps to reduce excessive inflammation of the skin (topical use of aloe
- Minerals: chromium, selenium, calcium, copper, magnesium, manganese, potassium, sodium and zinc.
- Anthraquinones, including aloin and emodin, are traditionally known as laxatives. Aloin and emodin also have analgesic, antibacterial and antiviral effects. The fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties. The fatty acid lupeol have antiseptic properties and help reduce pain.
- The plant hormones: auxins and gibberellines promote wound healing and reduce inflammation.
- Amino acids: Aloe vera provides you 20 of the 22 human required amino acids and 7 of the 8 essential amino acids.
- Salicylic acid reduces inflammation and is effective in fighting bacteria. The lignin helps active ingredients penetrate the skin, saponins and cleaning and disinfecting properties.
The main health effects of Aloe Vera:
-Wound healing: using Aloe both topically on the skin and orally contribute to healing the wounds better and faster, by increasing the skin’s collagen synthesis
-Protection against UV radiation
-Antiviral activity (herpes simplex, varicella zoster, influenza)
-Moisturizing and anti-aging effect: mucopolysacharides help your skin moist. Aloe also stimulates collagen and elastin production, making the skin more flexible and reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
-Antiseptic effect: Aloe Vera contains six antiseptic agents: lupeol, salicylic acid, urea nitrogen, cinnamon acid, phenols and sulfur. All of these agents have antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal effect.
Aloe vera can be used to treat: dermatitis, psoriasis, genital herpes, burns, diabetes type 2, HIV infection, cancer prevention, wounds, acne, pressure ulcers, blisters, frostbite, constipation, bacterial, viral and fungal infections, arthritis.
Like any herb, Aloe vera can also have unwanted side effects:
–Topical: redness, burning, stinging sensation and rarely generalized dermatitis in sensitive individuals.
– Oral: Abdominal cramps, diarrhea, red urine, hepatitis, dependency or worsening of constipation. Prolonged use may increase the risk of colorectal cancer. Laxative effect may cause low potassium levels.
You shouldn’t use Aloe vera if you are allergic to plants in the Liliaceae family.
Oral aloe isn’t recommended during pregnany and lactation –Source: Surjushe A, Vasani R, Saple DG. Aloe vera: A short review. Indian J Dermatol 2008;53:163-6 , fotó: fotó: Sdm 9093