Native to eastern and southern Africa, aloes are now commonly cultivated worldwide, especially as houseplants. There are about 350 species of these perennials that also grow in the tropics, including Central and South America, India, and the Middle East. Aloes generally have prickly, gray-green succulent leaves that can reach a length of two feet and producing spikes of yellow or orange flowers. The leaves contain two different fluids — the inner portion is filled with a clear gel and the thick aloe skin contains a bitter yellow juice or latex.
- It is not to be confused with Agave americana, sometimes known as American Aloe.
- It can cause gastrointestinal cramping or contractions, so is contraindicated during pregnancy.
- It should not be used internally by those suffering from intestinal obstructions, kidney disease, colitis, and intestinal inflammations.
- In rare cases, heart arrythmias, kidney abnormalities, edema, and accelerated bone deterioration may occur.
- Do not use the bitters on the skin.
- Use as a laxative for only ten days at a time as long-term use can cause a loss of electrolytes, particularly potassium. Note that many “aloe” laxatives also contain senna, which is harder on the system and often, the real cause of the effectiveness of the laxative. Read the labels carefully. If aloe is not listed as the main ingredient, it is best to avoid that product.
- Care must be taken when using many commercially prepared products that contain “aloe” as usually there is not enough included to be of much value medicinally.
- amino acids
- anthraquinone glycosides (aloin, aloe-emodin)
- aloectin B
- salicylic acid
- steroid hormones
- fresh gel — to heal wounds and burns, treat fungal infections and insect bites
- dried bitters — as a short-term laxative
- commercial juice from gel — for peptic ulcers
- tinctures — to stimulate the appetite
- ointment — made by boiling a large quantity of gel until a thick paste, then using like fresh leaves
- inhalation of gel in a steam — to relieve bronchial congestion
- powder in capsules — to relieve constipation and to stimulate bile flow
Helps Relieves Heartburn
One of the most well establishes uses for the gel of the aloe Vera leaves is for its soothing action of stomach acidity. Indeed, the gel is alkaline in nature, helping to neutralize excess acidity and discomfort. This can promote healing of stomach ulcers, or just the discomfort that arises from chronic acid indigestion. Upon ingestion, aloe Vera gel causes a cooling sensation that even antacids can’t match.
Speeds Up Burn Healing
Burns are complex to deal with, as you have to balance controlling bacterial infestation with natural healing and trying to soothe discomfort as much as possible. While aloe Vera gel application has been used traditionally for centuries to heal burns, it would be smarter to use it as an adjuvant to other medical therapies for burn management. The cooling sensation of aloe Vera gel makes it perfect to apply when barrier dressings are not indicated (such as ointments), as it still allow the skin to naturally cool and breathe.
Helps Manage Diabetes
Studies conducted in both human and animal models have confirmed that it’s consumption can help offset the chronically high levels of blood sugar, from as little as consuming two teaspoons. Though it is not exactly clear the mechanism behind its action, it can be included in a natural regimen for managing diabetes.
Reduces Cholesterol Levels
While much discussion is made about cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels are arguably more important to manage, aloe Vera helps reduce triglyceride levels by as much as 30%, and when consumed with a diet rich in monounsaturated fats, overall lipid profiles are significantly improved.
Can Be Used As A Dental Remedy
Aloe Vera gel can be used to remove plaque from teeth, and to prevent the overgrowth of bacteria in the mouth. This also assists with prevention of dental caries, reduces incidence of gingivitis, and in conjunction with a chlorhexidine based mouthwash can form an effective oral mouth rinse.