Thursday, March 24, 2011
Aloe Vera: Wonder Plant for Health
Aloe plants are considered succulents with their spiky green leaves and tubular flowers that burst forth in summertime. They are perennials and are a part of the Lily family. Inside their fleshy leaves resides a healing gel that has been used for centuries as an internal and external medicine. With over 400 species of aloe, the most curative is the Aloe Barbadensis Miller. Easy to grow with little watering needed, aloe plants are low maintenance and allow you to have an essential part of your natural healing cabinet within close reach. Keep your aloe vera plants in a warm, sunny location and water them only when they become really dry.
Aloe vera is filled with over 20 essential amino acids as well as essential fatty acids, enzymes, and phyto-chemicals. The plant also contains calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium, silicon, and sulfur. Aloe vera is extremely high in B-complex vitamins, especially vitamin B-12, which is a difficult vitamin to find in the diet if you are a vegetarian as it is mostly found in animal products.
Aloe vera’s high phyto-chemical content means that it is able to combat free radicals, which in turn means that it helps boost the immune system. With its strong anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties, the plant helps fight off illness and disease.
Boosting Gastro-Intestinal Function
Aloe vera helps to strengthen the digestive system by assisting in the breakdown of impacted food while soothing the lining of the digestive tract. Because aloe vera stimulates the release of pepsin, a key enzyme in the digestive process, it is an important factor in fortifying the intestinal tract to remove toxins that contribute to bloating, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, and other gastro-intestinal complications. Other attributes of aloe vera include relieving constipation, peptic ulcers, heartburn, colitis, and stimulating the appetite.
Aloe vera continues to amaze, as it is a potent healing agent for many other problems. Because of its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial makeup it helps to relived symptoms of allergies, bladder and yeast infections, cramps, hemorrhoids, arthritis, and intestinal parasites. It assists in stimulating the uterus, works in balancing blood sugar in diabetics, stimulates the production of healthy kidney cells, and slows down the formation of kidney stones. Aloe vera also helps reduce blood flow to tumors while preventing carcinogens from entering the liver. Because it stimulates blood clotting, it is especially good for healing wounds.
When applied topically, aloe vera helps reduce skin irritation due to insect bites, burns, sunburn, acne, dermatitis, psoriasis, and eczema. It stimulates the regeneration of cells, making it an excellent skin rejuvenator and softener.
How to Use Aloe Vera
Pure aloe vera gel is easily obtained by slicing off a leaf from your plant, opening it up and scraping off the pulp. I do this by removing the pulp with my teeth after washing the outside of the leaf and downing it as is. You can also use this inner pulp on sores, cuts, or dry skin areas. Once a week I use it as a facemask to tighten the pores and activate my skin tone.
Aloe vera concentrate or extract is easily found in health food stores and is the result of removing water from the gel. Aloe vera juice is made with up to 50% of the pulped gel and can be ingested as it is, or in combination with other juice drinks.
According to Nutritional Health Information, there have been several clinical studies on aloe vera in regard to cancer therapy. In one study in particular, patients took aloe vera in combination with the neuro-hormone MLT where the benefits were clearly recognized. In another clinical study on heart attacks and cholesterol, 5,000 patients with angina were looked at over a five-year period as they took a combination of psyllium husks and aloe vera. The conclusion was that there were obvious improvements in reduced attacks as well as greater cholesterol balance. Additionally, the need for pharmaceutical drugs was much less, especially for those who also had diabetes. The Mayo Clinic now claims that there is sufficient scientific evidence that aloe vera is a promising laxative that also improves skin conditions due to inflammation.