About Aloe Vera
Botanical name: Aloe Barbadensis Miller
Common names: Barbados Aloe, Burn Aloe, Curacao Aloe, Chinese Aloe, Indian Aloe, True Aloe, First Aid Plant, Medicinal Aloe
Medicinal parts: Leaf, Gel inside leaf
Aloe vera grows wild in East and South Africa and can be found cultivated throughout tropical climates. Aloe vera is a plant species of the genus Aloe. The plant is a green shrub with thick leaves that have a serrated edge and flowers are usually a yellow to purple shade. The shrub has no stem or very short stem and can grow from 60cm to 1m tall. Aloe vera has been widely grown as an ornamental plant and is able to survive in areas of low natural rainfall, making it a good choice for a garden with low water usage as it is a drought tolerant.
Aloe vera produces up to 25 leaves, forming a rosette appearance. The leaves contain a gel which is commonly used in beverages, cosmetics, skin lotions, cleansers, moisturisers soaps, and many skin treatments.
The aloe plant has been used since the 4th century B.C. for its medicinal purposes and reference has been made about its use throughout history.
Aloe Vera Health Benefits
Helps reduce acne
The gel from the inside of the aloe plant’s leaves is used worldwide in cosmetics and skin treatments. In particular it can help reduce acne.
Nutritious and high in antioxidants
Aloe vera also contains vitamin C and other minerals useful for nutrition making it a good choice for boosting the immune system.
Aloe has been used as a laxative and for aiding digestion. Aloe stops bowels from absorbing water which speeds the passage and volume of the bowel’s contents resulting in a laxative effect. However, use as a laxative can cause agonizing cramping. Other herbs including senna and sagrada are often used instead.
Conditions such as ulcers and diabetes may also be treated with aloe vera.
Protection against viral infections
Aloe vera contains phytochemicals such as aloin, glucommannans, salicylic acid. It contains salicylates which are derivatives of salicylic acid. These occur naturally in plants and serve as a natural immune hormone and preservative which protect the plants against diseases, insects, fungi, and harmful bacteria. This makes it effective to act against viruses such as the flu, chickenpox, and herpes and can also kill bacteria.
Promotes skin healing and skin conditions
Aloe Vera possesses external healing properties and speeds the healing of skin injuries such as poison ivy, ulcerations, hives, minor burns, insect bites, skin irritations, minor cuts and scratches.
Anti-aging and repairs damaged skin
It can heal sunburns and acts effectively against skin aging. Aloe vera leaf is known to support the appearance of healthy skin. This herb is water soluble and can be added to many beauty formulas for your skin.
How to Use Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera extracts are available in supplement form and many aloe vera juices are available which can be combined with other juices for a pleasant tonic. You can take these as required for improved digestion
Sunburn, wounds (cuts, scratches), insect bites and other skin irritations - use aloe vera gel and rub on affected area.
Remove acne – apply the aloe vera gel directly on the skin and leave overnight. Next day when washing your face remember to finish off using cold water as this will close your pores and reduce the risk of harmful bacteria clogging your pores. You can repeat this daily or as required.
For healthy skin growth - Add aloe vera gel to any of your beauty formulas to reap the anti-aging benefits of using aloe vera.
Precautions and warnings
Taken by mouth may cause cramping pain in the gastrointestinal tract and diarrhea (reduce dose). Skin rashes with long term use of gel.
If taking aloe vera leaf gel internally it should be taken an hour before or several hour after any orally administered drugs as aloe vera may slow the absorption of most drugs. Aloe vera might interact with other drugs or herbs so make sure you talk to your doctor before you begin having it.
Aloe products can be powerful laxatives. There are some reports of serious body chemical imbalance after severe diarrhoea. These side effects are more likely to occur if you take very high doses.
It is important to avoid aloe vera if you have salicylates sensitivity.
Side Effects / Toxicity
It has been reported that Aloe vera injections can cause very serious side effects and aloe injection T-UP has caused several deaths when used as a cancer treatment.
Aloe vera ingested as a liquid or capsules causes side effects for some people which are usually mild but might cause more of a problem for others. Side effects might include:
- Feeling sick
- Skin rash
- Stomach pain
The more serious side effects although very rare include:
- Irregular heart rhythm
- Kidney damage
- Liver inflammation (hepatitis)
- Blood clotting problems.
- Low blood potassium levels
Buying Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is available as a supplement and also aloe vera juice. For external use aloe vera gel is readily available although many have additives that should be avoided. It is best to purchase organic where possible and 100% aloe vera gel.