Aloe is a congenital plant from a lily family, has fleshy leaves from which juice is obtained which is widely used in local skin disease treatment; this usage was first documented by Egyptian doctors, about 1500 BC. Aloe originates from the area around the Cape of Good Hope, and is a wild plant in most parts of Africa and Madagascar. For commercial purposes, it is grown in the Caribbean, Japan and the United States.
How does it works?
Scientists are not sure how exactly aloe works, but many of its active ingredients are isolated. It is rich in anti-inflammatory substances, and the juice contains a gummy compound, acemannan, which has an emollient effect. There is also bradykinin, which reduces pain and swelling, as well as substances that alleviate itching. This plant also extends small blood vessels, capillaries, which allows more blood to come to the injured place and accelerates the healing process. Some studies say thataloe destroys or at least hampers the growth of many bacteria, viruses and fungi.
MAIN USEFUL EFFECTS: aloe gel is particularly effective if applied to damaged skin. It helps in the treatment of minor burns, sunburn, aphtha in the mouth and small wounds on the skin, and also alleviates pain and itching in herpes zoster. The gel forms a damp hygiene barrier, which prevents the wound from drying out. It widers capillaries, so increased blood flow speeds up regeneration of the skin and, in lighter cases, the chilblain healing. It has anti-inflammatory properties, so it helps to treat the warts.
Although it is effective against smaller cuts and bruises, it is not a good choice for more serious, especially infected wounds. In a Los Ageles hospital a research was performed on 21 women with an infected wound caused by caesarean section; aloe gel, that was used, extended the time needed for healing from 53 to 83 days.
ADDITIONAL USEFUL EFFECTS: gel is used to produce an aloe drink, which is used in inflammatory digestive problems, such as poor digestion. But, research in this area is very limited. In Japan it has been shown that purified ingredients of the plant reduce the secretion of gastric juice and damage the stomach. In one study, 17 out of 18 people with peptic ulcer were cured by the aloe juice, but there was no control group that would take placebo. The US laboratory is carrying out research of using isolated substances (from aloe) in people with ulcerative colitis, a common form of inflammatory bowel disease.
Some other studies investigate the effectiveness of aloe as a possible anti-inflammatory and immune enhancing agent in people who have AIDS. There is also a potential benefit in the treatment of leukemia and malignant tumors and diabetes mellitus.
How to take it?
For outdoor use: apply gel or cream to the injured skin as desired or need.
For indoor use: take half to three-quarters of a cup of vegetable juice three times a day, or take two to three capsules, according to the instructions on the package.
USE GUIDELINES: aloe gel can be applied locally several times, especially in burns. Just apply it to the affected area of the skin and let it dry and, if necessary, apply it again. The strongest effect has a gel made of fresh leaves. The leaves are at the same time the most effective part of the plant. If you have aloe, cut a few inches of leaves longways. Spread the juice from the leaf on the affected area. For indoor use, drink some of the aloe juice between the meals. Aloe latex, a yellowish extract from the inner leaves of the plant, is a strong laxative that can be taken only occasionally, under medical supervision.
Possible side effects
Local application is very safe. Mild itching and rash may occur very rarely; in this case stop using the preparation. If it is poorly processed, the juice of the aloe may also contain aloe latex. If you get spasms, a soft stool or a diarrhea, stop drinking aloe juice and get a new package. If you are pregnant or if you breastfeed, do not drink aloe juice.
IMPORTANT: aloe (Aloe Vera) is not the same as aloe latex, a bitter yellow laxative that can cause severe cramps and diarrhea. Pregnant women and women who breastfeed should especially avoid aloe latex.