Aloe Vera is one of the superfoods that is a combo of food and herbal remedy or medicine. Garlic is another example and Dandelion yet another. Strangely Aloe Vera seems to attract more than its fair share of criticism from the establishment and maybe that means it’s worth looking deeper at it!
Aloe Vera 101
First a few basics; Aloe Vera seems to have originated in Africa although it is widespread in desert conditions throughout the world and grows in the southern US as well. It is a succulent plant (and not technically a cactus) which means that here is a special gel in the leaves that holds moisture.
It is that gel that is so special.
Using the gel directly is possible if you have your own Aloe Vera plants. Many people have them as house plants and will break off a portion of a leaf and squeeze out some of the gel onto a skin wound or sunburn.
Others will carefully fillet a leaf to extract the gel and pop it into a smoothie. In small quantities this appears to work OK but with larger amounts there is a compound in raw aloe gel that will give you “the runs!”
Shop bought Aloe Vera will be filtered to remove this ingredient but take care because commercial Aloe juice and gel is often of low quality and adulterated with preservatives – so read the label carefully!
Aloe Vera Health Benefits
Aloe is rich in healing substances – there are 75 potentially useful ingredients including “vitamins, minerals, saccharides, amino acids, anthraquinones, enzymes, lignin, saponins, and salicylic acids.”
With a profile like that there are going to be many diseases and problems that can potentially be treated with Aloe Vera.
Just take a look at the last ingredient in the quote…..salicylic acid.
Pronounced “Sally + silic as in silicon” it is widespread in foods such as berries and is an effective anti-inflammatory.
Now that’s just one of the 75 ingredients. We need a lot more research to explore the full extent of what Aloe Vera can do.
It is also worth pointing out there are some compounds in Aloe that are best filtered out so that the healing and anti-inflammatory properties of aloe can work properly. Also that some may be allergic or sensitive to one or more ingredients in Aloe.
Inflammation is the major sign of the body needing some treatment – typically from anti-inflammatory herbs or vitamins. Aloe Vera has a good record of effectiveness of when used directly on the skin and when taken by mouth.
Studies support the use of Aloe Vera to treat burns and wounds. Skin conditions such as dermatitis and Psoriasis generally benefit from topical ie direct, treatment.
Similar good results would be expected Ulcerative colitis and similar conditions but the studies are conflicted.
One study on peptic ulcers showed a healing effect by Aloe, another on irritable bowel syndrome showed no effect. Does that mean that Aloe is no use in IBS? I doubt it – I don’t know the dose used or the kind of Aloe or the diet and other factors such as big variations in the contents of the Aloe used.
Often medical research on natural remedies is marred by inclusion of accessory ingredients widely regarded as damaging but taken by the researchers as harmless!
Remember salicylic acid above? It is not just a pain killer and anti-inflammatory but also has anti-diabetic effects. Aloe Vera has been found to normalise not just blood sugar but also the abnormal lipid profile common in diabetics.
Cancer- in one study in which adding Aloe to the melatonin patients were taking increased their survival time significantly. In a prostate tumour study Aloe showed promising results.
Aloe Vera is a superfood but it is not a “Silver bullet” type drug. When used alone it can help to heal many conditions but the most effective way to get the best out of Aloe Vera is to use it along with other Natural Medicines in a well designed programme worked out by a Naturopath.
Commercial Aloe Vera is a mild and effective anti-inflammatory herb and since it is a liquid is suitable for those who hate taking tablets. I actually like the taste – just writing about it makes me feel like drinking some…. Yum, that was refreshing! Aloe is widely available but if you want to get yours at Amazon then this product looks good to me! – it is organic, low cost and gets great reviews
Research Notes on Aloe Vera