For many people among us, aloe vera is just another ornamental plant and some of us think that the plant is part of folk remedy which use it in treating minor cuts and burns. The truth is that today, lot of research is being conducted on aloe vera plant’s translucent gel found in its leaves.
Today, the plant can be found in most parts of the world, ranging from India, China, South and Central America, the Caribbean, Spain and in parts of North America. The name Aloe Vera is derived from Latin which means “true aloe”. The word “aloe” itself is believed to have come from Arabic Alloeh or Halal, meaning “bitter, shiny substance”. The whole species of Aloe has over 250 sub-species out of which Aloe Vera has been recognized as true Aloe because it offers the most benefits.
Source: My Health By Nature.com
The herb itself has thick leaves with thorny edges that resemble cactus. The herb takes at least 2 years and a maximum of 5 years to reach maturity. The leaves grow from the base of the plant with at least 3-4 inches in diameter and extend up to 1 foot or more. The tip of the leaves get narrower and appear like daggers. The leaves are thick and fleshy. Inside the leaves, one find the translucent gel.
Can aloe vera juice or gel to be given to kids?
Taking aloe vera gel or juice orally by kids is not a good idea. Medline Plus strongly warns against the use of aloe vera in children and recommends that children below the age of 12 should not consume aloe vera juice or gel. When taken orally, the gel or juice might cause abdominal pain, cramps and diarrhea.
Health benefits of aloe vera juice for women
For many millennia, aloe vera has been traditionally used as a medicine to treat various diseases and injuries. Today, various studies have shown that aloe vera juice can be beneficial in a number of ways. Some of which have been discussed below.
- Antiviral properties: A study showed that aloe vera gel possessed antiviral properties. The study revealed that when the gel was applied to cells infected with herpes simplex virus, the viral infection was completely eliminated. (K Zandi, et al).
- Antibacterial properties: Apart from possessing antiviral properties, the extracts of aloe vera also possess antibacterial properties. One study showed that aloe vera gel eliminated strains of bacterial species such as E Coli, B subtilius, S typhi, Pseudomonas, K pneumoniae, S epidermidis. (S Irshad, et al).
- Wound healing activities: Perhaps, one of the most noted old school use of aloe vera gel was its wound healing property. Most old school or traditional medicine thought have recognized aloe vera gel for its wounds and burn healing properties. Recent studies have shown that wounds can heal faster by applying aloe vera gel on the wounds. It was also noted that the healing was much faster than standard medicines used. (Purohit, et al).
- Heals sunburns: One of the best uses of aloe vera gel is its ability in healing sunburns. Sunburns are caused by over-exposure to sun’s harmful UV rays. These UV rays can actually burn the skin causing redness and sometimes the burning can be severe, resulting in blisters and wounds. These can be healed by applying aloe vera gel on the affected areas.
- Anti-inflammatory properties: The juice of aloe vera also possesses strong anti-inflammatory properties. Experiments showed that induced inflammations in lab rats were reduced drastically by application of aloe vera gel. (Vázquez, et al).
- Anti-oxidant properties: Aloe vera possesses strong anti-oxidant properties. The anti-oxidants present in aloe vera scavenge free radicals from your body and keep it hale and healthy. Free radicals are produced in our bodies during the process of metabolism as byproducts. But these byproducts only cause damage to our cells. The best way to defend our bodies is by having foods which are high in anti-oxidants.
How to prepare aloe vera juice or gel?
There is a difference between aloe vera gel and aloe vera juice. While aloe vera gel refers to the gel inside an aloe vera leaf, aloe vera juice is made with other ingredients as well.
Here is the process of preparing aloe vera juice.
For preparing aloe vera juice, you’ll need one large leaf of aloe vera, 1 tablespoon of white vinegar, 1 cup of water and 1 cup of any citrus based juice. First take the aloe leaf and carefully peel the green outer layer from the leaf. Now, carefully scrape away the gel. Make sure to scrape at least 2 tablespoons of the gel and put it in a blender. Now, add the water, vinegar and citrus juice to the blender and blend them until they’ve all mixed very well and have a smooth appearance.
- K Zandi, MA Zadeh, K Sartavi, Z Rastian, 2007, Antiviral activity of Aloe vera against herpes simplex virus type 2: An in vitro study, African Journal of Biotechnology, Vol 6, No.15. http://www.ajol.info/index.php/ajb/article/view/57782
- Saba Irshad , Muneeba Butt and Hira Younus, 2011,In-Vitro antibacterial activity of Aloe Barbadensis Miller (Aloe Vera), Intl. R. J. of Pharmaceuticals, Vol. 01, Issue 02, pp. 59-64. http://scientific-journals.co.uk/web_documents/1010209_aloe_barbadensis.pdf
- S.K. Purohit, R. Solanki, M. K. Soni, V. Mathur, 2012, Experimental Evaluation Of Aloe Vera Leaves Pulp As Topical Medicament On Wound Healing, IJPR, Volume 2, 110 – 112. http://www.ssjournals.com/index.php/ijpr/article/view/1223
- Beatriz Vázquez, Guillermo Avila, David Segura, Bruno Escalante, 1996, Anti-inflammatory activity of extracts from Aloe vera gel, Journal of Ethnopharmacology Volume 55, Issue 1, pages 69–75 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378874196014766
- Aloe, Medline Plus. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/607.html