The aloe plant belongs to the Liliaceae family and has been known for its health benefits for thousands of years. Aloe vera naturally contains 200 biologically-active components. It can both be taken internally and applied topically to the skin. Aloe vera is a thick, short-stemmed plant that stores water in its leaves. A healthy aloe vera plant contains about 99% water.
Parts of the Plant
The aloe plant is made up of three key components: First is aloe rind, a thick, green, protective skin later that has little benefits. Second is the yellow latex layer, obtained from just beneath the leaf skin (between the rind and gel) and is primarily used as a laxative. Third is the clear, jelly-like gel, obtained from the center of the leaf (inner leaf). The gel contains most of the nutritious compounds in the plant, including vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes and antioxidants. Some aloe products are made from the whole crushed leaf, so they contain both gel and latex.
Promotes Healthy Digestion: aloe vera juice helps normalize pH balance in the digestive tract, balance friendly digestive bacteria and assists in controlling yeast formation and harmful bacteria growth. The latex component of the aloe vera leaf contains compounds that help promote regular bowel movements. Some reports also claim it has helped decrease discomfort in those with heartburn, IBS and colitis. Aloe vera has also often been used to soothe stomach ulcers due to its antibacterial agents and tissue regenerating properties.
Supports Immune System: aloe vera has been shown to help increase white blood cell counts to help the body further support a healthy immune system by creating a first line of defense that hunts down and kills foreign particles in the body.
Reduces Harmful Toxins: aloe is also used to help cleanse the body as it been known to help reduce toxins and assist in the elimination of waste that can bog down cells and hinder nutrient absorption.
Oral Health: it has been shown that rinsing your mouth with pure aloe vera can be incredibly effective in reducing dental plaque by killing bacteria and yeast! Also, studies show that aloe can help speed healing of mouth ulcers and cold sores.
Increases Nutrient Absorption: studies confirm that taking daily vitamin supplements with aloe vera juice instead of water can improve the bioavailability (absorption) of the supplements. Studies have shown increases of over 204% absorption of Vitamin E, 210% absorption of Vitamin C and 180% of Vitamin B12!
Reduces Inflammation: aloe provides antioxidant nutrients that help reduce inflammation and fight free radical damage, such as Vitamin A, C, E and phytonutrients. This plays a role in protecting tissues such as in the cardiovascular system and soothing inflammatory symptoms like muscle and joint discomfort.
Skin Issues (Burns, Eczema, Acne): aloe has antiseptic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antifungal and tissue restorative properties. It is often used as an effective topical treatment for first and second degree burns, helping to soothe & reduce healing time. Aloe vera may also naturally help in the treatment of acne, psoriasis and eczema flare ups and has been shown to help with irritating symptoms such as redness, itching and burning. People often use aloe gel as a remedy for stretch marks, dry/itchy scalp, poison ivy, bites, rashes, frostbite, etc.
Moisturizes/Hydrates/Anti-Aging: researchers report that aloe can nourish and hydrate through three epidermal layers of the skin when used topically. Aloe vera is packed with antioxidants which may also have anti-aging effects on the skin. It is used to reduce the appearance of damaged skin and promote attractive, refreshed, healthy skin appearance!
What To Look For
It is said that the processing method has the largest effect on the number and amount of active ingredients in an aloe vera product. The International Aloe Science Council developed a certification program that validates the quality and quantity of aloe vera in approved commercial products. Note that “aloin” is the laxative component of the plant and comes from the aloe latex portion. In raw form, this content can be harsh on the body and should not be ingested. Look for a product that contains less than 1 part per million “aloin” content to ensure safety of daily use of for an extended period of time.
How To Take It
It is important to note that aloe vera works differently for everyone so it is recommend to start out slowly. A suggested serving size is 2 oz. (1/4 cup), up to 4 times a day. When using aloe for digestive reasons, try consuming a serving 15-30 minutes before meals.
The natural flavor of aloe vera has a bitter taste to it. It can be mixed with other liquids or foods to improve and mask flavor. The only difference between the juices and gels is consistency.
It is recommended to consult a health care practitioner before using aloe if you are pregnant, breast feeding, having surgery, suffering from any serious medical conditions or taking prescription medications.
This column is sponsored by Good 'n' Natural in Steinbach.-30-