Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Aloe Vera Plant: Super Plant

Aloe vera is a gorgeous succulent plant that a member of the Lily family.  It is easy to indentify by its thick, fleshy leaves that when gently sliced open, yield a medicinal gel. There are approximately 400 species of aloe, with the most curative being Aloe Barbadensis Miller. Aloe vera has been used for centuries for its medicinal value, whether applied topically or taken internally.  Because it is so easy to grow, having a plant or several of your own is an excellent way to keep this essential part of your medicine cabinet at hand. 

Vitamins and Minerals
Aloe vera contains over 20 amino acids and according to the Healthcare Information Directory, is high in B complex vitamins, especially vitamin 12.  This is especially good news for vegetarians, as B12 is hard to find outside of animal products. Aloe also contains calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper, iron, silicon, sulfur, and essential fatty acids, all of which are essential for our health.

Gastro- intestinal Assistance
According to Aloe Vera Studies, juice made from aloe vera gel helps detoxify the system by working with the intestinal tract to help break down impacted food. Because aloe vera juice helps the body to release pepsin, an enzyme that assists in digestion, it can also reduce bloating and similar discomforts, including irritable bowel syndrome and ulcers. 

Boosting Immune Function
Because it contains phyto-chemicals, which help to fight free radicals, aloe vera helps to strengthen the immune system. It also helps to relieve symptoms of allergies such as asthma due to its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial qualities. Other attributes include reducing symptoms of bladder and yeast infections, leg cramps, arthritis, intestinal parasites, and hemorrhoids. With its anti-viral abilities, it also fights colds and other illnesses.

Studies on Aloe Vera
According to Nutritional Health Information, there have been several clinical studies to determine if aloe vera can assist in cancer recovery. In one, patients were given aloe along with MLT, a neuro-hormone, and the benefits were clear. In another study, 5,000 angina pectoris patients were studied over a period of five years as they took aloe vera and psyllium husk supplements. Improvements in cholesterol balance and reduced angina attacks along with a reduced need to use pharmaceutical drugs were observed, especially among those who also suffered from diabetes. The Mayo Clinic states that there is scientific evidence that aloe vera functions well as a laxative and may also improve skin conditions due to inflammation.

Aloe vera prefers a warm, dry environment in which to thrive. I bought several plants a number of years ago and they are now huge, gorgeous specimens of plant life whose gel goes into my blender drinks, on cuts and sores, or on my face to tighten the pores and enliven my skin tone.

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