The Healing Properties of Aloe Vera
Nature has miraculously shown that it has the ability to meet the ever-changing health needs of humans. For thousands of years, ancient civilizations have turned to the amazing healing powers of nature, and such practices are still widely used today. Today, with the aid of modern medical technology, the health potentials of many plants are being discovered, proven, and developed as highly effective pharmaceuticals. And one of the most talked about and widely used medicinal plants is Aloe vera.
Aloe vera, also known by its taxonomic synonym Aloe barbadensis, is a fleshy succulent plant from the family Asphodelaceae. It grows up to a meter high, its serrated and thorny leaves arranged in a rosette. The thick leaves have a gelatinous interior, secreting a type of mucilage when crushed or ground. Historic records show that Aloe vera and its extracts have been used for healing by ancient Egyptians, Sumerians, North Africans, and even the Indians in Ayurvedic medicine.
Among the most popular uses of Aloe vera gel is in the realm of skin care and cosmetics. Because of the moisturizing and soothing properties of the extract, it has been added as a natural ingredient in many creams, lotions, salves, and even shampoos.
Beyond the role of Aloe vera in maintaining healthy skin, this medicinal plant also has the potential to treat various conditions. Below are some evidences of the healing properties of Aloe vera:
In 2008, the Internet Journal of Microbiology published a study testing the active components of Aloe vera gel in terms of fighting bacteria and fungi. The results showed that Aloe vera leaf extract can kill a wide range of bacteria such as E. coli (cause of gastric infections) and Klebsiella (cause of pneumonia). Aloe vera was also found to be effective against fungi such as Aspergillus, which causes food molds and plant disease.Further studies are conducted to test the potential of Aloe vera as an ingredient in many antibiotic drugs.
Many skin creams contain Aloe vera because of the extract’s ability to reduce redness and swelling on skin. In line with this, Asian Biomedicine published a 2009 paper that proved how Aloe vera has anti-inflammatory effects against mucositis, a side effect of cancer therapy that involves swelling of the linings of the esophagus and gastric tract. Soon Aloe vera can be used as a treatment to accompany chemotherapy and radiation therapy for cancer patients.
Diabetes mellitus treatment
The World Health Organization predicts that the number of diabetes patients across the globe will double within the next decades. This is why numerous research efforts are underway to find alternative cures for the debilitating condition, and so enters the role of Aloe vera. A 2009 Korean study released in the journal Phytomedicine found that oral treatments of Aloe vera gel had positive effects on diabetes-induced mice. The Aloe vera gel medication has helped lower the triglyceride levels as well as fat levels in the mice, making it a potentially useful aid in overcoming diabetes mellitus in the future.
At present, research groups continue to explore the endless possibilities Aloe vera has to offer. It is said that the ancients were truly wise in their choice of healing treatments, which is why more and more people today are opting for natural alternative forms of medicine. Within the next few years, the world is sure to reap even more healthful blessings from this miraculous plant.
Cock, I. E. (2008). Antimicrobial activity of Aloe barbadensis Miller leaf gel components. Internet Journal of Microbiology, 4(2).
Kim, K., Kim, H., Kwon, J., Lee, S., Kong, H., Im, S. A., Lee, Y. H., et al. (2009). Hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic effects of processed Aloe vera gel in a mouse model of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Phytomedicine, 16(9).
Puataweepong, P., Dhanachai, M., Dangprasert, S., Sithatani, C., Sawangsilp, T., Narkwong, L., Puttikaran, P., & Intragumtornchai, T. (2009). The efficacy of oral Aloe vera juice for radiation induced mucositis in head and neck cancer patients: a double-blind placebo-controlled study. Asian Biomedicine, 3(4).