Aloe vera (barbadensis miller) is one species of the genus Aloe. The genus Aloe contains about four hundred species of flowering, succulent plants. Despite looking like a cactus, the Aloe vera is in fact a member of the Lily family (Liliaceae), which includes garlic. The name Aloe was derived from the Arabic alloeh meaning "bitter" because of the bitter gel in the leaves.
Aloe vera is native to Africa and has been used by used by many different cultures including Greeks, Arabs, Egyptians and Spaniards for millennia. In 1500 B.C. Egyptians recorded use of the plant for treating burns, infections and parasites. The earliest record of Aloe vera is on a Sumerian tablet dating from 2100 BC.
Aloe vera extract, juice and gel.
Aloe vera extract is made by pulverizing the whole leaves of the plant, the juice is made from the inner leaf. Gel is the leaf pulp, a clear jelly-like material from the tissue that makes up the inner portion of the leaves.
Aloe vera is one of the most vitamin and mineral packed nutrition drinks around. Aloe vera contains about 96% water, 18 amino acids, vitamins including vitamin B-1, vitamin B-2, vitamin C, niacinamide, vitamin B-6, choline, essential oil, calcium, chlorine, sodium, potassium, manganese, monosaccharides and polysaccharides including uronic acid, mannose and glucose. Aloe vera also contains aloin (barbaloin), ethereal oil, isobarbaloin, emoding lucosides of d-Arabinose, emodin, resitannol, ester of cinnamic acid and cinnamic acid.
Acemannan has antiviral and antitumoral activities through activation of immune responses.
Aloin (barbaloin) is an unwanted, harsh, irritant, bitter tasting, laxative contained in the yellow sap of Aloe, which is removed during processing. Aloin has strong laxative properties.
Cinnamic acid has the formula C6H5CHCHCOOH and is an odorless white crystalline acid. It has a floral aroma, is found in the essential oil of cinnamon and in shea butter. Cinnamic acid is used in flavours, synthetic indigo, pharmaceuticals, and to manufacture esters for the perfume industry.
Emodin is an orange crystalline compound, C14H4O2(OH)3CH3, obtained from rhubarb and other plants and used as a laxative. Emodin belongs to a family of compounds called anthraquinones, which have shown anti-inflammatory and anticancer effects.
Mannose is a monosaccharide, C6H12O6. The word mannose is from Manna, the food the Israelites ate in the desert in the book of Exodus. D-mannose, this form is used as a remedy for urinary tract infections.
Monosaccharides are the simplest form of carbohydrates, glucose C6(H2O)6 is a monosaccharide.
The Health Benefits.
Aloe vera is a rather amazing plant. My great aunt did not know about acemannan but she did know about Aloe's ability to heal. She always said, "If it burns, stings, itches, hurts, or you want it to look like a baby's skin put the magic jelly on it". She called it, "the magic jelly" because fresh Aloe vera gel heals burns like magic.
The gel has been used topically for thousands of years throughout the world to treat wounds, skin infections, burns, and numerous other dermatologic conditions. There are very few places where it has not been used.
The Benefits to Skin.
Aloe vera is well known as the supreme skin care regimen. It can aid in keeping the skin supple, and is used in the control of acne and eczema. It has a moisturizing effect and is a common remedy for sunburn and skin irritation due to insect bites and allergies. Aloe's healing power comes from increasing the availability of oxygen and strengthen the skin. My advice is to pamper your skin with a little fresh gel everyday. Keep a few plants healthy and you will always have a steady supply. Cut a leaf in half and smooth it on your skin.
Many traditional liquid health treatments are made from a base of Aloe vera juice with other herbs included. Drinking the juice and gel is widely endorsed by herbalist for soothing digestive tract irritations and general gastrointestinal health. It is also used to alkalize the digestive juices to prevent over acidity. It is said to cleanse the digestive tract and exerte a soothing, balancing effect.
The dried latex from the inner lining of the leaf can be taken orally as a laxative. Careful with this one, I tried it, it works. Drink lots of water and do not go far from the house.
Gastrointestinal issues can be serious, not something you want to mess around with. Check with your doctor before you do anything. It is important to get a diagnoses.
Suggestions for Use.
When you are stressed and need a herb bath put a leaf in the freezer for 30 minutes to get it cold. When taking a hot herb steam bath cut it in half and rub it on your face to cool you down. It soothes the skin on contact. Add the juice or jell to orange or grape juice, an organic banana and a little ice and blend in a blender. This is a good drink to cool you down and sooth the plumming. If your stress is casing you digestive trouble add a spoon of Slippery Elm to the blend. If you have intestinal pain or menstrual troubles make a Yarrow tea and add this to the mixture.
To make a salve, remove the thin outer skin and blind the leaves in a blender, add 500 units of vitamin C powder to each cup add a tablespoon of honey to help preserve. It is best to use fresh but you can store it in your refrigerator for a couple weeks. This salve is great for skin. For stess, after the salve has been in the refrigerator and having cooled use it on your face during a hot bath or if you do not feel like a hot bath but want to cool down rub it on your feet. Even better get someone you love to rub it on your feet.
Growing Aloe Vera
Light - Most Aloe species make excellent house plants when they are given enough light. If they are grown outdoors in warm climates, they should be planted in full sun, or light shade. Potted Aloes benefit from spending the summer outdoors. Because Aloe plants consist of mostly water, they are extremely sensitive to frost.
Soil - The soil should be sandy, moderately fertile, and drain well. Aloes have roots that are shallow and spread so when it is time to repot them pick a wide pot, they are better than deep ones. Fertilize yearly, in the spring with a half strength, bloom type fertilizer (10-40-10). Do not over fertilize. New plants may also be grown from seed or propagated from the offsets around the base of mature plants.
Water - Established plants will survive a drought quite well. During the winter months, the plant will become somewhat dormant, and utilize very little moisture. During this period watering should be minimal. During the summer months, the soil should be completely soaked, but then be allowed to dry again before giving the plant a cup or two of water.
Nothing in this essay is intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Aloe vera has not been approved by the Food & Drug Administration for the treatment of any disease.