ALOE VERA: THE TRUE ELIXIR (AMRIT) OF LIFE
Aloe vera belongs to the family Liliaceae, which is commonly known as Ghrit Kumari, is the ever known oldest and the most applied medicinal plant worldwide. The plant’s name originates from the Arabic word ‘Alloeh’, which means “shining bitter substance”. ‘Vera’ is a Latin word meaning ‘true’. Aloe vera has been used for medicinal purposes in ancient cultures like Greece, Egypt, India, Mexico, Japan, and China. The ancient Greek scientists regarded Aloe vera as the panacea. Even the Egyptians called Aloe “the plant of immortality.”
The ancient Indian Ayurvedic verse on ‘Ghrit kumari’ or Aloe vera means a purified or clarified butter with rejuvenating properties.
ALOE VERA IN HISTORY
Egyptian queens Nefertiti and Cleopatra used Aloe in their daily skin treatments. It is believed that Alexander the Great, upon the advice of Aristotle, conquered the island of Socotra, off the coast of Africa, to secure supplies of Aloe vera to treat wounded soldiers. Even Mahatma Gandhi once said: ” You asked me what were the secret forces which sustained me during my long fasts. Well, it was my unshakable faith in God, my simple and frugal lifestyle, and the Aloe whose benefits I discovered upon my arrival in South Africa in the late nineteenth”.
According to Wikipedia, there are over 500 species of Aloe grown around the world. However, only Aloe vera Barbadensis miller is believed to have more beneficial properties. An adult Aloe vera plant is called mature when it reaches 3/4 years. It can reach a height of 30 inches with up to 21 leaves. It does not have stems. It has triangular-shaped thick freshly leaves with sharp points. The inner part of the Aloe leaf contains a gel.
ACTIVE COMPONENTS OF ALOE VERA
Aloe vera contains vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that are pretty essential for a healthy body and mind. It contains 20 types of minerals, 12 types of vitamins, and 18 types of amino acids that our body needs. Let’s know more in detail:
- Vitamins: Aloe vera contains vitamins A (Beta-carotene), C and E, which are termed as antioxidants. It also contains vitamins like B12, choline and folic acid, which are very important to us.
- Enzymes: It contains 8 types of enzymes such as aliiase, alkaline phosphatase, amylase, bradykinase, carboxypeptidase, catalase, cellulase, lipase, and peroxidase. Enzymes help to perform very important tasks like building muscle, destroying toxins, and breaking down food particles during digestion.
- Minerals: It provides minerals like calcium, chromium, copper, selenium, magnesium, manganese, potassium, sodium and zinc. Minerals support a wide variety of bodily functions like building and maintaining healthy bones, teeth, and muscles, proper working of heart and brain.
- Sugars: It provides monosaccharides (glucose and fructose) and polysaccharides: (glucomannans/polymannose). They are used to produce and store energy in our bodies.
- Anthraquinones: It provides 12 types of anthraquinones. Aloin and emodin are most important of them, which act as analgesics, antibacterials, and antivirals in human bodies.
- Fatty acids: It provides 4 types of plant steroids, such as cholesterol, campesterol, β-sisosterol, and lupeol. They have anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and analgesic properties.
- Hormones: It also provides hormones like Auxins and gibberellins that help in wound healing and have anti-inflammatory action.
PRACTICAL HEALTH BENEFITS OF ALOE VERA
Aloe vera can be used as a laxative. The pulp of the leaves or the latex contains anthraquinones and is yellow. It is found below the plant’s skin and contains anthraquinone glycosides, which have powerful laxative properties. When taken orally, these compounds have a laxative effect and thus the digestive system can work healthy and improve indigestion and constipation.
Aloe vera is used for its cooling and soothing effect on the skin. Aloe vera may also be used as a moisturizer for skin in harsh and dry weather and oily skin. Studies show that Aloe vera improves the skin’s hydration process and the removal of dead skin cells. The Aloe gel is very much helpful in treating Psoriasis, Dandruff, Dermatitis, Eczema, Mycosis, Fever blisters, burns, skin irritation and protects the skin against pollution.
DETOXIFYING & ANTI-AGING:
The high antioxidants present in Aloe vera can slow down the aging process. The vitamins and minerals present in Aloe allow proper blood saturation, which helps in better oxygenation and faster expulsion of toxins from the body.
Aloe vera contains four types of plant steroids like campesterol, β-sitosterol, lupeol, and cholesterol, which are anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and analgesic in nature. Anti-inflammatory and analgesic qualities present in Aloe vera may help relieve muscle and ligament pain. The gel can be used topically in sports as a medicine to soothe achy muscles. It can be taken orally also and its anti-inflammatory ingredients may also help in relieving from pain.
For a better and quicker response, one should eliminate unhealthy foods to reduce inflammation.
Researchers found that polysaccharides found in aloe have immune-modulation and antitumor properties. Again Aloe vera contains anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal attributes that help the immune system in cleansing the body of toxins and invading pathogens. Aloe vera also contains polysaccharides that enhance the white blood cells or macrophages and T cells and these immune system cells that are responsible for protecting the body against diseases and foreign invaders.
Accumulation of blood fats (lipids) in the arteries is still one of the major causes of death in the world. Several studies have suggested that Aloe gel may have a beneficial effect by lowering serum cholesterol, serum triglycerides, and serum phospholipids, which are responsible for the deposit of fatty materials in the large, medium and the coronary arteries of the heart.
The research found that Aloe vera juice enables the body to heal itself not only from cancer but also from the damage caused by radio and chemotherapy that destroys healthy immune cells.
Aloe vera juice works as an excellent antidote in case of excessive ingestion of alcohol. It improves the liver function and also prevents scarring of the liver.
Some research has demonstrated Aloe vera can lower blood glucose levels and thus helpful in treating diabetes. Again Aloe’s ability to heal wounds is faster. It may also benefit people with diabetes who have suffered from ulcers or wounds on their legs.
Because of its beneficial properties for digestion and detoxification, Aloe vera, helps the body maintain a healthy weight.
Anthraquinones present in Aloe vera like Aloin and Emodin has a mild laxative effect, which reduces the potential for the Candida yeast to proliferate and spread in your intestines. Again Acemannan present in Aloe vera strengthens and supports the immune system by activating the Makrophagi (The Scavenger Cells), the antibodies, and the killer cells. As a result, the tendency of the body to develop allergies lowers. Hence, Aloe vera possesses characteristics of being antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal.
Aloe vera provides magical relief from insect bites like mosquitoes, black flies and bees, etc. The Aloe vera gel within its leaves has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic agents that will help in treating insect bites and stings.
AUTHOR: SRIBATSA PATTANAYAK
EMAIL: [email protected]