Presently, it is widely known that the aloe vera plant belongs to the xeroid group of plants that can close the stomas of their leaves after any cut or wound in them. Thus, they can avoid loss of moisture.
Indeed aloe vera plants have been used to heal the wounds of many people throughout history. Greek soldiers, Roman emperors, and warriors from many countries have been treated with this plant.
We have observed that, when any of the fleshy leaves of aloe is cut, there is quick healing on its surface, intending to keep the precious juice it contains from getting lost. Natural logic tells us that if the plant can regenerate the surface of its leaves successfully, it will also heal the wounds of humans who will be treated with the plant.Aristotle
Aloe Vera Plant Scientific Facts
- Other names: Aloe barbadensis Miller, Barbados aloe, Curacao aloe
- French: Aloes
- Spanish: Aloe
- Environment: Native to southern Africa; however, it spread to hot and desert regions of America (Central America and the West Indies) and Asia.
- Description: Plant of the Liliaceae family, growing up to three or four meters high, through the growth of its central axis or stem. According to its variety, it has fleshy, lanceolate, spiked leaves and red or yellow flowers, which hang from a large stem.
Healing Properties and Warning
From the fleshy leaves of aloe, two main products are obtained: bitter aloes, and aloe gel.
Bitter aloes: When cutting the surface of the aloe leaves, no matter which aloe species, a dense, yellow juice with bitter flavor flows out. It is concentrated under the sunlight or by evaporation and becomes a shapeless mass of dark brown color and very bitter taste, called bitter aloes.
Bitter aloes contain from 40 to 80% resin and up to 20% aloin, an anthraquinonic glycoside, its active component. Based on the daily dose, bitter aloes have diverse applications.
- Up to 0.1g, it has appetizer, stomachic, and cholagogue properties, promoting digestion.
- From 0.1g, it has laxative and emmenagogue properties (increases menstrual flowing).
- With a dose of 0.5g (the maximum per day), it has strong purgative and oxytocic properties (provokes uterine contractions).
Aloe gel or juice: It is obtained from the flesh of its leaves, which give an almost transparent sticky liquid with no flavor. This juice is responsible for the fame aloe gel has been acquiring for the last few years, mainly because of its healing properties on the skin. This juice is formed by a complex mixture of more than 20 substances, including polysaccharides, glycosides, enzymes, and minerals. It contains acemannan, an immunostimulating substance that increases defenses. Unlike bitter aloes, aloe gel does not have laxative properties.
In local applications, the aloe vera plant can exert beneficial effects in many cases. The most important are the following:
- Whether clean or infected, aloe juice can be applied to wounds as compresses, though the aloe flesh can also be put directly on the affected area.
- Burns: Aloe gel or juice is applied as compresses for two days after the burn has taken place. For first-degree burns, two or three days of treatment will suffice. In more severe cases, we recommend you consult your physician. Aloe manages to accelerate skin regeneration in the burned area and reduce scarring to a minimum.
- Skin afflictions: Aloe juice, applied from lotion, has a favorable effect on psoriasis and skin eczema, as well as on acne, athlete’s foot, and herpes. We recommend you take aloe orally also to enhance its effects. In children, a lotion with aloe juice is used to treat eczema caused by diapers, and alleviate itching and promote skin healing for diseases like measles, rubella, and chickenpox.
- Skin beauty: Aloe revitalizes skin, giving it better endurance, smoothness, and beauty. When applied, it improves the appearance of scars and cracks. It is also used for nail and hair care.
WARNING: Aloe gel or juice can produce allergic reactions when applied to the skin. One out of every 200 people is allergic to aloe. If, after some minutes of using drops of aloe juice on the affected area, there is a slight reddening and itching, you are allergic to aloe and will have to look for another remedy.
Preparation and Use
- Bitter aloes: It is used as pills and pharmaceutically made. As a laxative or purgative substance, bitter aloes act slowly, thus have to be administered at night to achieve effects the next day.
- Aloe gel or juice: Take 1-2 spoonfuls, three or four times a day, dissolved into water, fruit juice, or milk.
- Compresses with aloe juice. Please keep the compress for the entire day, soaking them with juice every time they get dry. At night, olive oil or hydrating cream can be applied since aloe juice dries the skin.
- Lotion with aloe juice.Apply two or three times a day on the affected skin area. It is recommended that you combine its use with some emollient (soothing) such as olive oil.
- Cream and ointments, and other pharmaceutical preparations based in aloe. These items usually include an emollient or hydrating substance.
Acemannan contained in aloe juice has been scientifically proven to stimulate the defenses of the body. Internally used, it activates the lymphocytes, a kind of cell whose primary function is destroying cancer cells and those which the AIDS virus has infected. Research is being conducted on using acemannan to treat both modern plagues; however, there are no definitive results.
George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. Ed. Francesc X. Gelabert. vols. 2 San Fernando de Henares: Editorial Safeliz, 2000. 694, 695. Print. [aloe vera plant]