Aloe (Aloe vera)

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Medicinal Herbs & Therapeutic Botanicals


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Botanical: Aloe (Aloe vera)

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Introduction

Aloe vera has been used for thousands of years to heal a range of conditions and ailments from skin lesions to constipation. Aloe vera is grown in most subtropical and tropical locations, including South Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Aloe was one of the most frequently prescribed medicines throughout most of the 18th and 19th centuries and it remains one of the most commonly used herbs today (UMM).

Aloe vera is a perennial plant with yellow flowers, it grows up to 1 meter in height and its tough, fleshy, spearlike leaves can grow up to 50 cm long. Only the leaves are used for medicine, but different parts of the leaves can be used for different purposes. For example, the clear, thick gel found in the inner part of the leaf is most commonly used for minor cuts and burns. The bitter yellow juice found between the gel and the outer skin of the leaf is dried and commonly used for laxative purposes (UMM).

Botanicals - Aloe

 

 

 

 


Aloe (Aloe vera )

Family: Liliaceae

Common names: Aloe vera, aloe gel, aloe juice, aloe latex, aloe sap, Kumari, Ghirita, Gawarpaltra, Barbados aloe, Curacao aloe, Lu hui.

 

Traditional / Historical Uses:

    Alopecia (hair loss), antimicrobial, arthritis, asthma, bacterial skin infections, bowel disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic leg wounds, congestive heart failure, damaged blood vessels, elevated cholesterol or other lipids, frostbite, heart disease prevention, hepatitis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBS), kidney or bladder stones, leukemia, lichen planus stomach ulcers, Merkel cell carcinoma, parasitic worm infections, protection against some chemotherapy side effects, scratches or superficial wounds of the eye, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), tic douloureux, untreatable tumors, vaginal contraceptive, yeast infections of the skin (MedlinePlus).

    Many of these tratitional uses have not been scientifically tested, however, these indications have been used by traditional herbalists for hundreds if not thousands of years, and while Aloe vera may of limited effectiveness in some of the above conditions, if prescribed on its own, herbalists rarely prescribe herbal treatments consisting only of one herb.

     

Active Ingredients:

Aloe vera gel contains active ingredients known as glycoproteins (A glycoprotein is a macromolecule composed of a protein and a carbohydrate (a sugar). Glycoproteins bind with one or more chains of sugars. These sugar chains modify protein structures, permitting them to participate in cell-to-cell communication. Most proteins in human plasma and many on cell membranes are glycoproteins.) and polysaccharides (Polysaccharides are compounds which contain sugar molecules linked together. The sugar molecules linked together may be glucose, galactose, or any of the many other sugar molecules. Some examples of polysaccharides are starch and cellulose. Starch and cellulose are formed entirely of glucose molecules linked together.). Glycoproteins are protein-carbohydrate compounds that speed the healing process by stopping pain and inflammation. Polysaccharides are a type of carbohydrate that stimulates skin growth and repair. These substances are also thought to stimulate the immune system (UMM).

Aloe latex contains compounds known as anthraquinones that stimulate the activity of the gastrointestinal tract (UMM).

 

Research

Information form University of Maryland Medical Center (UMM) & Medline Plus:

Burns
Aloe gel, made from the central part of the aloe leaf, is a common household remedy for minor cuts and burns as well as sunburns. It can be found in many commercial skin lotions and cosmetics. Aloe contains active compounds that stop pain and inflammation and stimulate skin growth and repair. For this reason, aloe vera gel has gained tremendous popularity for relief of burns, with individual success in helping minor burns. In fact, preliminary research, in both animals and people, suggests that this folkloric use has some scientific validity. These results seem encouraging, but studies comparing aloe gel with standard medication may help determine whether the herb is as effective for the treatment of burns as more customary therapies (UMM).

While scientific research is slow to acknowledge the fact that Aloe vera gel is very soothing to burned skin and does promote healing, it should be remembered that depending on the severity of the burn, Aloe vera gel is often combined with Lavendar oil and/or other essential oils and herbs (eg: Echinacea, Burdock, etc.) to promote the healing effect as well as offer protection of the burned skin from microbial attack.

Herpes and Skin Conditions
Preliminary evidence also suggests that aloe gel may improve symptoms of genital herpes and certain skin conditions such as psoriasis (UMM).

Limited evidence from human studies suggests that 0.5% extract from Aloe vera in a hydrophilic cream may be an effective treatment of genital herpes in men (better than aloe gel or placebo). Although seemingly well designed, there may have been problems with the way these studies were conducted. Additional research is needed in this area before a strong recommendation can be made (MedlinePlus).

Psoriasis vulgaris
Evidence from one human trial suggests that 0.5% extract from aloe in a hydrophilic cream is an effective treatment of psoriasis vulgaris. However, there may have been problems with the way this study was conducted. Additional research is needed in this area before a strong recommendation can be made (MedlinePlus).

Seborrheic dermatitis (seborrhea, dandruff)
One study using 30% aloe lotion suggests effectiveness for treating seborrheic dermatitis when applied to the skin twice daily for 4-6 weeks. Further study is needed in this area before a strong recommendation can be made (MedlinePlus).

 

Constipation
Aloe vera gel is often confused with another part of the aloe plant known as aloe juice, but the two substances are quite different. Aloe juice (also known as aloe latex or aloe sap) is a yellow, bitter liquid derived from the outer layer of the aloe leaf. It contains substances that, when taken by mouth, have very strong laxative effects. For example, in a study of 35 men and women with constipation, those who received capsules containing aloe latex, and other laxatives including psyllium (a natural substance high in fiber) experienced softer and more frequent stools compared to those who received placebo (UMM).

Although aloe latex is a powerful laxative, it is not used frequently because it can cause painful cramping. Other gentler, herbal laxatives from the same plant family as aloe (such as cascara and senna) are generally recommended first (UMM).

Dried latex from the inner lining of aloe leaves has been used traditionally as a laxative taken by mouth. Although few studies have been conducted to assess this effect of aloe in humans, the laxative properties of aloe components such as aloin are well supported by scientific evidence. A combination herbal remedy containing aloe was found to be an effective laxative, although it is not clear if this effect was due to aloe or to other ingredients in the product. Further study is needed to establish dosing and to compare the effectiveness and safety of aloe with other commonly used laxatives (MedlinePlus).

 

Diabetes
Preliminary studies suggest that aloe juice may help lower blood sugar levels in people with type 2 (adult onset) diabetes. Although further studies are need to fully assess the safety and effectiveness of aloe in the treatment of diabetes, it seems possible that the herb may prove to be a useful addition to the diet, exercise, and medication program for type 2 diabetics (UMM).

Laboratory studies show that aloe can stimulate insulin release from the pancreas and can lower blood glucose levels in mice. Results from two poorly conducted human trials suggest that oral aloe gel may be effective in lowering blood glucose levels, although a third, smaller study found no effect. More research is needed to explore the effectiveness and safety of aloe in diabetics (MedlinePlus).

Any herbal treatmemnt of Diabetes would however include additional herbs, not just Aloe juice.

 

HIV infection
Acemannan, a component of aloe gel, has been shown in laboratory tests to have immune-stimulating and anti-viral activities. Results from early human studies are mixed, and due to weaknesses in the way these studies were designed, firm conclusions are not possible. Without further human trials, the evidence cannot be considered convincing either in favor or against this use of aloe (MedlinePlus).

Herbal preparations of Echinacea purpurea and other powerful herbs would likely be chosen by any medical herbalist to be used in preference to or in conjunction with an aloe preparation.

 

Cancer prevention
There is preliminary evidence from a small case-control study that oral aloe may reduce the risk of developing lung cancer. Further study is needed in this area to clarify if it is aloe itself or other factors that may cause this benefit (MedlinePlus).

 

Canker sores (aphthous stomatitis)
There is weak evidence from two studies that treatment of recurrent aphthous ulcers of the mouth with aloe gel may reduce pain and increase the amount of time between the appearance of new ulcers. Further study is needed before a recommendation can be made (MedlinePlus).

 

Ulcerative colitis
There is limited but promising research of the use of oral aloe vera in ulcerative colitis (UC), compared to placebo. It is not clear how aloe vera compares to other treatments used for UC (MedlinePlus).

 

Wound healing
Study results of aloe on wound healing are mixed with some studies reporting positive results and others showing no benefit or potential worsening of the condition. Further study is needed, since wound healing is a popular use of topical aloe (MedlinePlus).

 

Mucositis
There is preliminary evidence from a human trial that oral aloe vera does not prevent or improve mucositis (mouth sores) associated with radiation therapy (MedlinePlus).

 

Pressure ulcers
One well-designed human trial found no benefit of topical acemannan hydrogel (a component of aloe gel) in the treatment of pressure ulcers (MedlinePlus).

Radiation dermatitis
Reports in the 1930s of topical aloe's beneficial effects on skin after radiation exposure lead to widespread use in skin products. Currently, aloe gel is sometimes recommended for radiation-induced dermatitis, although scientific evidence suggests a lack of benefit in this area (MedlinePlus).

 

Other
Studies in test tubes and animals suggest that active substances in aloe leaf extracts (which contain both aloe gel and aloe latex) may have immunostimulant and anti-cancer effects. This information has inspired the production of a substance for people with cancer combining aloe leaf, honey, and gin. However, studies of the use of this substance in people are lacking and, therefore, the safety and effectiveness of this substance is not known (UMM).

Use of aloe may enhance the effectiveness of some medications used to treat the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), but well-designed research trials are needed to confirm these findings (UMM).

Aloe is also being evaluated for use in treating asthma (UMM).

 

Precautions

As with any other herbal medicine, consult a qualified, experience medical herbalist before using this plant. Never self prescribe herbs at any time without consulting a qualified helth professional.

 

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- - -

Why you should choose Wildcrafted's range of Natural & Organic Skin Care Products.

- - -

Look Younger & Feel Younger with Wildcrafted's Age-Defying Essence

- - -

Topical Articles on skin care and the benefits of using NATURAL skin care products
 
- - -



Need Help with a Skin Problem?
Consult The Virtual Skin Doctor


- - -

Age Defying Natural  Skin Care Systems for even the most sensitive skin types.


- - -

Testimonials

- - -

Natural Skin Care
Treat Your Skin to the Best Nature has to offer.

 

Looking for Natural Skin Care?
Look no further... Choose Natural Skin Care Products form Wildcrafted Herbal Products to look after Your Skin Naturally
.

 

Want Chemical-free, Natural Skin Care?
Choose Wildcrafted Herbal Products to Look After Your Skin Naturally.

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