Aloe Vera Benefits

Aloe Vera
Latin Name

Aloe Barbadensis Miller

Also Known As

Aloe Vera, First Aid Plant, Burn Aloe, True Aloe

Origin

Northern Africa

Parts Used

Mostly the inner gel - sometimes the whole plant

Traditional Use and Health Benefits

Known as the “Plant of Immortality” in Ancient Egypt, Aloe Vera has an impressive history as a herbal remedy stretching back thousands of years. This remarkable healing substance is around 95% water, with the remaining 5% containing high levels of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial compounds. In the 18th and 19th centuries it was one of the most commonly prescribed remedies and it remains just as popular and widely used to this day.

Aloe Vera Benefits

Skin & Hair Health

Aloe Vera’s benefits to the skin are notorious. Applied topically it will soothe inflamed skin, enhance collagen and stabilise hyaluronic acid – rejuvenating tired skin. The same benefits can be achieved by consuming Aloe Vera orally.

As well as acting as an effective natural moisturiser, Aloe Vera’s cooling and hydrating properties make it an excellent treatment for sunburn. Just apply the gel to the affected area and it will form a protective layer on the top of the skin whilst allowing it to replenish moisture underneath – hydrated skin recovers more rapidly from sunburn than dry skin. It’s great for actual burns too, when Aloe Vera gel is applied, it prevents UV-induced suppression so the area can heal at a faster rate.

Its legendary healing properties are also reported to repair skin problems such as; eczema, psoriasis, acne and rosacea. Cuts, sores, boils and other skin infections can also take advantage of its antibacterial properties by direct application to affected areas.

Powerfully anti-inflammatory, Aloe Vera gel can be massaged into the scalp – helping to restore the PH balance which will stimulate hair growth. It will also help the hair to retain water, enabling it to remain nourished and healthy.

Digestive Health

Aloe Vera contains 8 important enzymes, 2 of which specifically support digestion – Amylase which breaks down carbohydrates, starches and sugars, and Lipase which helps to digest fat. Then the plant’s soothing effects help to easily move food through the intestines, encouraging regular bowel movements.

Aloe Vera contains prebiotics, nutrients that feed the healthy probiotic colonies that live in all areas of the digestive system. A healthy gut will boost nutrient absorption which in turn will boost overall health.

Aloe Vera gel can help to heal the lining of a damaged intestinal tract, healing and/or preventing leaky gut syndrome. Once the gut lining has been compromised it leaves the immune system exposed to foreign particles from food, bacteria and other microbes. This can then trigger an immune response or allergy that will irritate your enteric nervous system, creating the havoc that can lead to IBS and many other problems.

Immune System Support

With an impressive nutrient profile of over 200 active constituents, Aloe Vera contains the polysaccharide “Acemannan” – a long chain sugar that injects itself into all cell membranes. It is a powerful immuno-modulator which increases the fluidity of cell membranes, allowing toxins to flow out more easily and nutrients to flow in. This improves cellular metabolism throughout the body leading to an overall boost to energy production, cells are more resistant to viruses and pathogenic bacteria, and the kind of inflammation that can lead to all kinds of chronic disease is reduced. 

Antioxidant/Anti-inflammatory/Anti-bacterial

Aloe Vera contains powerful antioxidants, which belong to a large family of substances known as polyphenols. Not only this, it actually amplifies the antioxidant effects of vitamins such as C and E, making them work better. This potentiating effect is thought to be due its capability to enhance blood quality – allowing it to more effectively transport oxygen and nutrients to the cells of the body.

The polyphenols found in Aloe Vera (along with other compounds) can also inhibit the growth of certain bacteria.

Aloe reduces inflammation, generally balancing the PH of the body and can be used both internally and topically to ease the inflammation of joints and reducing arthritis pain.

Typical Use

Used both internally and as a topical application.

Folklore and History

Aloe Vera makes its first appearance in recorded history in 2100 BCE, when it was recorded on Sumerian Tablets at the time of King Akkad. Its medicinal properties were noted way back then, as they were in 1500 BCE by the Ancient Egyptians. Here it is documented in the famous “Egyptian Book of Medicines” on Ebers Papyrus where the medicinal use of Aloe was revealed. It was used in the treatment of infections, skin diseases and parasites.

Back in the 3rd century BCE, Alexander the Great famously conquered the island of Socotra, after being advised by his mentor Aristotle to secure what was then the centre of Aloe production. This supplied his great army with a wonderful remedy for wounds and injuries, however, they used it internally too. Before long journeys they drank the juice to protect themselves against infection – according to legend it was Aloe Vera that made the army of Alexander indestructible!

This powerfully healing plant was written about by many other famous physicians such as; Dioscorides, Pliny the Elder, Celcius and more recently the 16th century herbalist John Gerard. He recommended Aloe juice as a purgative and vermifuge, stating “when all purging medicines are hurtful to the stomach, Aloes only are comfortable”. He also suggested it for cleansing wounds and sores, and as a medicine for the eyes, “forasmuch as it clenseth and drieth without biting”. 

And so the story of Aloe Vera continues to march forward into the modern day, still making waves as a very special plant to have in your arsenal of medicinal herbs.

Aloe Vera
Constituents

Vitamins, Minerals, Polysaccharides, Enzymes, Glycoproteins, Lignin, Saponins, Salicylic Acids and Amino Acids

Precautions

Do not use Aloe Vera if you have an allergy to plants of the "Liliaceae" family. These include; onions, garlic and tulips.