Aloe Vera (26382)

Aloe Vera is native to northern Africa. It is a very short-stemmed succulent plant growing to 80–100 cm tall The Aloe Vera plant has long, spiked leaves, which are thick-skinned and contain a clear gel-like substance. Aloe Vera is a desert lily and there are more than 200 varieties. Aloe barbadensis , is generally the most widely used and most effective species of aloe.

Aloe vera's use can be traced back 6,000 years to early Egyptian civilization, where the plant was depicted on stone carvings.

Traditional and Modern Uses
Traditionally, Aloe Vera was thought to be "a pharmacy in a plant" due to its topical use to heal wounds and for various skin conditions, and orally as a laxative. Today, in addition to traditional uses, there is strong evidence supporting these benefits of aloe vera, as well as a few others. It is used today in many products, including cosmetics, skin lotions and moisturizers, burn gels and even aftersun lotions.

Aloe Vera's Composition and Health Benefits
Aloe contains many natural compounds, some of which these help support cell growth and division, help reduce common, everyday inflammation, and a healthy immune response.

Shows Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Studies have indicated that Aloe Vera contains at least three anti-inflammatory fatty acids...cholesterol, campersterol and B-sitosterol (plant sterols) which helps to explain why research leads us to believe that its benefits may be effective in the treatment of burns, cuts, scrapes, abrasions, allergic reactions, rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatic fever, acid indigestion, ulcers, plus many inflammatory conditions of the digestive system and other internal organs, including the stomach, small intestine, colon, liver, kidney, and pancreas.

Helps Digestion and Elimination
The juice is said to soothe digestive tract irritations. Aloe also has the ability to encourage the release of pepsin, a stomach enzyme necessary for digestion. Furthermore, Aloe latex, the bitter, yellow sap or juice produced in the peripheral bundle sheath cells just beneath the leaf skin, can help promote elimination. Taking Aloe latex orally as a stimulant laxative may help relieve common, occasional constipation due to the colon-stimulating effects of the anthraquinones in the Aloe.

Helps Supports a Healthy Immune System
Aloe contains at least 23 polypeptides, some of which may help promote a healthy immune response In addition, Aloe contains a glyconutrient known as mannose, which may also help support a healthy immune system. Furthermore, in 1992, Dr. C Pittman, founder and medical director of the Carolina Center for Bio-Oxidative Medicine in Raleigh, N.C., wrote a short review and summary on Aloe Vera's effect on the immune system. In the review he indicated that a polysaccharide fractions found in Aloe supports the production and activation of macrophages, monocytes, antibodies and T-cells. Although ongoing studies suggest promising research, more research on human studies is required before any conclusive claims can be made.

Supports Healing of Burns
Studies have shown that aloe vera suports the healing process, particularly in burns, including those from radiation. It is also used by dermatologists to support healing after facial dermabrasion, which removes scars from the skins top layers.

Experts generally agree that no single agent is responsible for aloe vera's ability to heal, and therefore many experts suggest that the most effective products are made from the whole leaf. Robert Davis, Ph.D., an endocrinologist-biologist and researcher, explains that fifteen different compound groups of nutrients work together to make the plant effective. This makes the plant useful across a wide spectrum of circumstances but it also means that Aloe vera's effects cannot be easily synthesized in a laboratory.

Aloe Vera Products
Some people keep a potted plant in the kitchen. A leaf spike may be cut open and the gel applied directly to a cut or burn. Aloe vera products include aloe vera juices, gels, aloe vera drinks, and tablets. (It is always recommended that you consult your doctor before taking any supplements.) There are also skin creams for topical application.

For further reference:
Ref: Effect of aloe vera gel to healing of burn wound a clinical and histologic study.PMID: 7561562
Ref. Processed Aloe vera administered topically inhibits inflammation, Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association, Vol 79, Issue 8 395-397, Copyright © 1989 by American Podiatric Medical Association
Ref. Topical effect of Aloe with ribonucleic acid and vitamin C on adjuvant arthritis. 1985. J. Am. Podiatric Med. Ass. vol.75. p 229-237.
Ref. Tumor preventive effect of Aloe vera leaf pulp lectin (Aloctin I) on Ehrlich ascites tumours in mice. PMID: 17685385
Ref. Effect of aloe vera gel to healing of burn wound a clinical and histologic study. PMID: 7561562 Ref. Moisturizing effect of cosmetic formulations containing Aloe vera extract in different concentrations assessed by skin bioengineering techniques. PMID: 17026654

Despite the confidence and optimism expressed by the researchers, and the weight of evidence gathered from numerous studies, according to FDA standards, the findings expressed here should still be considered as inconclusive and further studies must be done before a positive health claim can be made.