Saturday, 11 January 2014

23 Amazing Benefits Of Aloe Vera For Skin, Hair And Health

Aloe vera, also known as the ‘plant of immortality’, has been used for a variety of purposes since ancient times. Aloe vera plants are commonly found in the African regions and belong to succulent plant species. This nontoxic plant stores water in its leaves and survives in low rainfall and dry regions.  Aloe vera leaf has a unique look with no stem and has spear like spikes which is protected by serrated edges.

Aloe vera is considered to be a miracle plant and has numerous skin, health and hair benefits. It is being used as a key ingredient in foods and in energy drinks. Aloe vera comes in a variety of forms.

Nutritional value:
Aloe vera consist as much as 75 nutrients, 20 minerals, 12 vitamins, 18 amino acids and 200 active enzymes. Aloe vera contains Vitamin A, B1, B2, B6 and B12, Vitamin C and E, folic acid and Niacin. Minerals found in aloe vera include copper, iron, sodium, calcium, zinc, potassium, chromium, magnesium and manganese. These nutrients have tremendous potential in external and internal application. This exotic plant contains other beneficial compounds like polysaccharides, mannans, anthraquinones and lectins. And associated with these nutrients are the various uses of aloe vera.

Aloe Vera benefits: Health
Aloe vera plant is considered as a miracle plant because of its various healing properties. Aloe vera is mainly grown as an ornamental plant but its medicinal and healing properties have made it a favourite choice of plant among many organic followers.  This magical plant is used for the treatment of various kinds of diseases and illness. The health benefits of aloe vera include:
 
1. Aloe vera when taken internally aids in digestion and effectively cleanses the digestive system. Aloe vera works as a laxative which makes it easier for the food particles to pass through the intestine. This incredible plant is great for people who suffer from constipation problems. Drinking aloe vera juice regularly helps to detoxify the body which in turns improves daily bowel movements. It alleviates acidity, inflammation and intestinal ulcers.

2. This wonderful plant is full of antioxidants, also known as natural immunity enhancers, which help to fight free radicals in the body. Free radicals cause several diseases and ailments which speeds up the ageing process. Consuming aloe vera juice regularly boosts immune system.

3. Aloe vera juice contains substances which inhibit and slow down inflammation caused by injuries without causing any side effects. Drinking aloe vera juice regularly eases swollen and painful joints and reduces the stiffness of bones. It is excellent for treating scars, burns and cuts. It also soothes wound/cuts and fights bacteria that occur due to wounds. The cooling effect of the plant helps to regenerate new cells and helps in rebuilding the damaged tissue.

4. Aloe vera tonic is wonderful for the female reproductive system. It helps to rejuvenate the uterus.

5. This versatile plant is also useful for treating respiratory disorders and is particularly useful for those who get frequent attacks of cold, flu, bronchitis herpes, running nose and other respiratory disorders.

6. The dried gel of aloe vera is used to treat diabetes as it helps to lower blood sugar level by decreasing insulin resistance and also lowers the triacyglyceride levels in the liver and plasma.

7. Aloe vera juice also increases energy level and helps to maintain a healthy body weight. Drinking aloe vera juice regularly stimulates the metabolism and helps the body to burn calories more quickly.

8. Aloe vera juice also helps in maintaining healthy gums and mouth. Its natural anti-bacterial and anti-microbial actions promote cell growth and healing. Aloe vera gels are also used in a variety of tooth gels which prevent bleeding gums and mouth ulcers. It also provides quick relief to people who experience burning mouth symptoms. Its antifungal properties help greatly in the problem of denture stomatitis, apthous ulcers, cracked and split corners of the mouth.

Aloe Vera Benefits: Skin

Getting an aloe vera plant proves to be helpful in more than one way. It is worth a try as a natural approach to ageless skin.  Aloe vera has several properties that are effective in treating a variety of skin conditions like flaky or dry skin, cosmetic ailments, and hair and scalp problems. Due to its many uses and benefits to the skin and hair, aloe vera has now gained more popularity and has become a staple ingredient in many beauty and skin care products. In order to achieve proper skin restoration, aloe vera needs to be applied every day. Applying aloe vera gel soon after taking a shower is advisable as the skin is clean.

9. The anti-allergic property of aloe vera is useful in the treatment of various skin diseases like eczema, psoriasis, itchy skin and so on. They are helpful in curing blisters, insect bites and other allergic reactions as well.  Aloe Vera face packs are a boon for people who have a sensitive skin type.

10. Drinking aloe vera juice supplies body with essential nutrients which help to produce and maintain healthy skin. It promotes the removal of dead cells and replenishes it with new ones, giving the skin a radiant glow.

11. Aloe vera’s anti-inflammatory property helps to reduce acne greatly. It does not completely cure the acne; however, it reduces inflammation and redness of the skin to a great extent.  It also prevents the outburst of acne and pimples. Its juice or gel can be applied directly on the skin to cure acne. Aloe vera face pack can be prepared by boiling aloe vera leaves in water. Make a paste and add a few drops of honey. Apply it on the face. Leave it for 15 minutes and then rinse off with tap water.

12. Aloe vera gel contains two hormones; Axim and Gibberellins which provide wound healing and anti-inflammatory properties. Aloe vera with its powerful healing capability helps to treat sun burn at the epithelial level of the skin. It acts as a protective shield for the skin and heals the skin quickly. It can also be used as an after shave treatment for its healing properties can treat small cuts caused by shaving. Aloe vera also helps to reduce stretch marks by healing the wounds.
13. Aloe vera contains a plethora of anti-oxidants like beta carotene, vitamins C and E that improve the natural firmness of skin. It keeps the skin hydrated. It improves the skin elasticity, therefore minimizing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Thus it refreshes the skin and makes it vibrant and young looking. So for a young and healthy skin, start using aloe vera gel today.

14. Smooth and glowing skin can be achieved easily by rubbing aloe vera gel on the face. Aloe vera lightens the skin and helps to alleviate sun tanning and hyper pigmentation.

15. Aloe vera gel is extremely beneficial for dry skin. Aloe vera is a natural moisturizer because of the moisture content locked in it. This gel keeps the skin hydrated and increases its elasticity. It also provides oxygen to the skin which strengthens the skin tissue and keeps the skin healthy. Moreover, it moisturizes the skin without making the skin greasy so it is perfect for oily skin. Once applied, it releases natural vitamins and enzymes on the skin to produce a deep moisturizing effect that helps to treat and restore its pH balance.

Aloe Vera Benefits: Hair Care

16. Aloe vera for hair loss treatment can be traced back to the ancient Egyptian times. Aloe vera contains enzymes that promote hair growth. The proteolitic enzymes found in aloe vera help to eradicate dead skin cells on the scalp. Aloe vera’s keratolic action breaks down the sebum and dead scalp cells. Aloe vera’s alkalizing properties balances the pH level of the scalp and hair which results in further hair growth and retains moisture in the scalp.
 
17. Aloe vera also helps to eliminate itchy scalp and scalp dryness by its anti-pruritic properties. It also alleviates pruritic ailments like psoriasis and eczema of scalp. Aloe vera’s enzymatic properties enable it to destroy excessive dead skin cells of the scalp.  It helps to reduce the redness, scaling, itching and inflammation of scalp which directly benefits the hair.


18. Aloe vera is also used in dandruff treatment. The natural enzymes found in aloe vera soothe and moisturize the scalp that helps to eliminate the scalp dryness that causes dandruff. Thus its anti-fungal properties alleviate dandruff problem.  It alleviates the dry and itchy feeling that accompanies dandruff and oiliness. Aloe vera brings a refreshing and cooling sensation to the scalp.

19. Aloe vera is a great conditioning agent that restores the hair’s shine and luster, and leaves the hair silky and smooth. The gel like substance found in aloe vera leaves is similar to keratin in chemical composition. This enables it to penetrate easily along the scalp. The scalp absorbs the benefits of aloe vera up to 7 layers deep and provides deep conditioning to the scalp. The amino acids present in aloe vera add strength and luster to the hair. It also enhances the beauty and suppleness of the hair. It control frizzy hair and does not leave behind any greasy build up.

20. The essential nutrients and vitamins found in aloe vera makes it an indispensible material for shampoos and conditioner. These vitamins and minerals aid in restoring hair’s strength and beauty. When combined with oils like coconut and jojoba oil, aloe vera can make a revitalizing shampoo.

21. Aloe vera gel is a perfect rinse for oily hair without making the hair brittle.  Mix one part of aloe vera juice with two parts of lemon juice and apply the mixture to the shaft of hair. The acid from lemon strips away excess oil without any adverse effect of chemicals and aloe vera juice prevents dryness of the hair.

22. Aloe vera gel also repairs dry and damaged hair in a short span of time. Aloe vera contains a good amount of protein which is necessary for maintaining the good health of the hair. By going through the hair shaft, aloe gel cures each strand restoring the natural beauty of the hair. In addition, it reinforces the outer layer of the hair which gives you a more manageable crown of glory. It softens, fortifies and rejuvenates the skin by flushing out the dirt, particles and bacteria from the scalp.

23. Alopecia or male pattern baldness is a common hair problem faced by men. This is a kind of hair loss that occurs at a particular part of the head or leads to full hair loss. This scalp condition can be reduced by regular usage of aloe vera. This is mainly because it rejuvenates the hair follicles and helps to reduce hair fall.

 These are the multiple aloe vera uses. Get hold of an aloe vera plant today! And don’t forget to leave you feedback in the comments below.

 

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Aloe Vera Gel

Definition
Aloe Vera Gel is the colourless mucilaginous gel obtained from the parenchymatous cells in the fresh leaves of Aloe vera (L) Burm. f. (Liliaceae) (1, 2).

Synonyms
Aloe barbadensis Mill., Aloe chinensis Bak., A. elongata Murray, A. indica Royle, A. officinalis Forsk., A. perfoliata L., A. rubescens DC, A. vera L. var. littoralis König ex Bak., A. vera L. var. chinensis Berger, A. vulgaris Lam. (25). Most formularies and reference books regard Aloe barbadensis Mill. as the correct species name, and Aloe vera (L.) Burm. f. as a synonym. However, according to the International Rules of Botanical Nomenclature, Aloe vera (L.) Burm. f. is the legitimate name for this species (2–4). The genus Aloe has also been placed taxonomically in a family called Aloeaceae.

Selected vernacular names
Aloe vera gel, aloe gel.

Description
Succulent, almost sessile perennial herb; leaves 30–50 cm long and 10cm broad at the base; colour pea-green (when young spotted with white); bright yellow tubular flowers 25–35 cm in length arranged in a slender loose spike; stamens frequently project beyond the perianth tube (6).

Plant material of interest: liquid gel from the fresh leaf
Aloe Vera Gel is not to be confused with the juice, which is the bitter yellow exudate originating from the bundle sheath cells of the leaf. The drug Aloe consists of the dried juice.



General appearance
The gel is a viscous, colourless, transparent liquid.

Organoleptic properties
Viscous, colourless, odourless, taste slightly bitter.

Microscopic characteristics
Not applicable.

Geographical distribution
Probably native to north Africa along the upper Nile in the Sudan, and subsequently introduced and naturalized in the Mediterranean region, most of the tropics and warmer areas of the world, including Asia, the Bahamas, Central America, Mexico, the southern United States of America, south-east Asia, and the West Indies (2).

General identity tests
To be established in accordance with national requirements.

Purity tests
Microbiology
The test for Salmonella spp. in Aloe Vera Gel should be negative. Acceptable maximum limits of other microorganisms are as follows (7–9). For external use: aerobic bacteria-not more than 102/ml; fungi-not more than 102/ml; enterobacteria and certain Gram-negative bacteria-not more than 101/ml; Staphylococcus spp.-0/ml. (Not used internally.)

Moisture
Contains 98.5% water (10).

Pesticide residues
To be established in accordance with national requirements. For guidance, see WHO guidelines on quality control methods for medicinal plants (7) and guidelines on predicting dietary intake of pesticide residues (11).

Heavy metals
Recommended lead and cadmium levels are not more than 10 and 0.3mg/kg, respectively, in the final dosage form (7).

Radioactive residues
For analysis of strontium-90, iodine-131, caesium-134, caesium-137, and plutonium-239, see WHO guidelines on quality control methods for medicinal plants (7).

Other tests
Chemical tests for Aloe Vera Gel and tests for total ash, acid-insoluble ash, alcohol-soluble residue, foreign organic matter, and water-soluble extracts to be established in accordance with national requirements.

Chemical assays
Carbohydrates (0.3%) (12), water (98.5%) (10). Polysaccharide composition analysis by gas–liquid chromatography (13).

Major chemical constituents
Aloe Vera Gel consists primarily of water and polysaccharides (pectins, hemicelluloses, glucomannan, acemannan, and mannose derivatives). It also contains amino acids, lipids, sterols (lupeol, campesterol, and β-sitosterol), tannins, and enzymes (1). Mannose 6-phosphate is a major sugar component (14).

Dosage forms
The clear mucilaginous gel. At present no commercial preparation has been proved to be stable. Because many of the active ingredients in the gel appear to deteriorate on storage, the use of fresh gel is recommended. Preparation of fresh gel: harvest leaves and wash them with water and a mild chlorine solution. Remove the outer layers of the leaf including the pericyclic cells, leaving a "fillet" of gel. Care should be taken not to tear the green rind which can contaminate the fillet with leaf exudate. The gel may be stabilized by pasteurization at 75–80°C for less than 3 minutes. Higher temperatures held for longer times may alter the chemical composition of the gel (2).

Medicinal uses
Uses supported by clinical data
None.

Uses described in pharmacopoeias and in traditional systems of medicine
Aloe Vera Gel is widely used for the external treatment of minor wounds and inflammatory skin disorders (1, 14–17). The gel is used in the treatment of minor skin irritations, including burns, bruises, and abrasions (1, 14, 18). The gel is further used in the cosmetics industry as a hydrating ingredient in liquids, creams, sun lotions, shaving creams, lip balms, healing ointments, and face packs (1).

Aloe Vera Gel has been traditionally used as a natural remedy for burns (18, 19). Aloe Vera Gel has been effectively used in the treatment of first- and second-degree thermal burns and radiation burns. Both thermal and radiation burns healed faster with less necrosis when treated with preparations containing Aloe Vera Gel (18, 19). In most cases the gel must be freshly prepared because of its sensitivity to enzymatic, oxidative, or microbial degradation. Aloe Vera Gel is not approved as an internal medication, and internal administration of the gel has not been shown to exert any consistent therapeutic effect.

Uses described in folk medicine, not supported by experimental or clinical data
The treatment of acne, haemorrhoids, psoriasis, anaemia, glaucoma, petit ulcer, tuberculosis, blindness, seborrhoeic dermatitis, and fungal infections (2, 6, 19).

Pharmacology
Wound healing
Clinical investigations suggest that Aloe Vera Gel preparations accelerate wound healing (14, 18). In vivo studies have demonstrated that Aloe Vera Gel promotes wound healing by directly stimulating the activity of macrophages and fibroblasts (14). Fibroblast activation by Aloe Vera Gel has been reported to increase both collagen and proteoglycan synthesis, thereby promoting tissue repair (14). Some of the active principles appear to be polysaccharides composed of several monosaccharides, predominantly mannose. It has been suggested that mannose 6-phosphate, the principal sugar component of Aloe Vera Gel, may be partly responsible for the wound healing properties of the gel (14). Mannose 6-phosphate can bind to the growth factor receptors on the surface of the fibroblasts and thereby enhance their activity (14, 15).

Furthermore, acemannan, a complex carbohydrate isolated from Aloe leaves, has been shown to accelerate wound healing and reduce radiationinduced skin reactions (20, 21). The mechanism of action of acemannan appears to be twofold. First, acemannan is a potent macrophage-activating agent and therefore may stimulate the release of fibrogenic cytokines (21, 22). Second, growth factors may directly bind to acemannan, promoting their stability and prolonging their stimulation of granulation tissue (20).

The therapeutic effects of Aloe Vera Gel also include prevention of progressive dermal ischaemia caused by burns, frostbite, electrical injury and intraarterial drug abuse. In vivo analysis of these injuries demonstrates that Aloe Vera Gel acts as an inhibitor of thromboxane A2, a mediator of progressive tissue damage (14, 17). Several other mechanisms have been proposed to explain the activity of Aloe Vera Gel, including stimulation of the complement linked to polysaccharides, as well as the hydrating, insulating, and protective properties of the gel (1).

Because many of the active ingredients appear to deteriorate on storage, the use of fresh gel is recommended. Studies of the growth of normal human cells in vitro demonstrated that cell growth and attachment were promoted by exposure to fresh Aloe vera leaves, whereas a stabilized Aloe Vera Gel preparation was shown to be cytotoxic to both normal and tumour cells. The cytotoxic effects of the stabilized gel were thought to be due to the addition of other substances to the gel during processing (23).

Anti-inflammatory
The anti-inflammatory activity of Aloe Vera Gel has been revealed by a number of in vitro and in vivo studies (14, 17, 24, 25). Fresh Aloe Vera Gel significantly reduced acute inflammation in rats (carrageenin-induced paw oedema), although no effect on chronic inflammation was observed (25). Aloe Vera Gel appears to exert its anti-inflammatory activity through brady kinase activity (24) and thromboxane B2 and prostaglandin F2 inhibition (18, 26). Furthermore, three plant sterols in Aloe Vera Gel reduced inflammation by up to 37% in croton oil-induced oedema in mice (15). Lupeol, one of the sterol compounds found in Aloe vera, was the most active and reduced inflammation in a dosedependent manner (15). These data suggest that specific plant sterols may also contribute to the anti-inflammatory activity of Aloe Vera Gel.

Burn treatment
Aloe Vera Gel has been used for the treatment of radiation burns (27–30). Healing of radiation ulcers was observed in two patients treated with Aloe vera cream (27), although the fresh gel was more effective than the cream (29, 30). Complete healing was observed, after treatment with fresh Aloe Vera Gel, in two patients with radiation burns (30). Twenty-seven patients with partial thickness burns were treated with Aloe Vera Gel in a placebo-controlled study (31). The Aloe Vera Gel-treated lesions healed faster (11.8 days) than the burns treated with petroleum jelly gauze (18.2 days), a difference that is statistically significant (t-test, P < 0.002).

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

What are the therapeutic benefits of Aloe vera

The medicinal claims made about Aloe vera, as with many herbs and plants, are endless. Some are backed by rigorous scientific studies while others are not. This article attempts to focus mainly on those that have been backed up by science.

Teeth and gums

A study published in General Dentistry reported that Aloe vera in tooth gels is as effective as toothpaste in fighting cavities.

The researchers compared the germ-fighting ability of an Aloe vera tooth gel with two popular toothpastes and found that the gel was just as effective, and in some cases even better than the commercial brand toothpastes at controlling cavity-causing oral bacteria.
The authors explained that Aloe latex contains anthraquinones, compounds that are used in healing and reducing pain because of their natural anti-inflammatory effects.

As Aloe vera gel is less harsh on the teeth than commercial toothpaste because it does not contain abrasive elements, people with sensitive teeth and gums may benefit, the researchers wrote.
The scientists warned that not all gels they analyzed contained the proper form of Aloe vera - they must contain the stabilized gel that exists in the center of the plant in order to be effective.
Study co-author, Dilip George, MDS, said "(the gel) must not be treated with excessive heat or filtered during the manufacturing process, as this destroys or reduces the effects of certain essential compounds, such as enzymes and polysaccharides." Dr. George recommends checking with non-profit associations, such as the International Aloe Science Council to determine which products have received its seal of quality.

Constipation

Germany's regulatory agency for herbs - Commission E - approved the use of Aloe vera for the treatment of constipation. Dosages of between 50 to 200 milligrams of Aloe latex are commonly taken in liquid or capsule form once daily for up to ten days.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ruled in 2002 that as there is not enough data on the safety and efficacy of Aloe products; in the USA they cannot be sold to treat constipation.

Diabetes-induced foot ulcers

According to a study carried out at the Sinhgad College of Pharmacy, India, and published in the International Wound Journal a "gel formed with carbopol 974p (1%) and Aloe vera promotes significant wound healing and closure in diabetic rats compared with the commercial product and provides a promising product to be used in diabetes-induced foot ulcers".


Antioxidants and possibly antimicrobial properties

Researchers at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain, wrote about a study in the journal Molecules.
The team had set out to determine whether the methanol extract of leaf skins and flowers of Aloe vera might have beneficial effects on human health. The scientists focused on the extract's possible antioxidant and antimycoplasmic activities. Mycoplasma are a type of bacteria that lack a cell wall, they are unaffected by many common antibiotics. Antimycoplasmic substances destroy these bacteria.

They reported that both Aloe vera flower and leaf extracts had antioxidant properties, especially the leaf skin extract. The leaf skin extract also exhibited antimycoplasmic properties.
The authors concluded "A. Vera extracts from leaf skin and flowers can be considered as good natural antioxidant sources."

Protection from ultraviolet (UV) irradiation

Scientists at Kyung Hee University Global Campus, South Korea, wanted to determine whether baby aloe shoot extract and adult aloe shoot extract might have a protective effect on UVB-induced skin photoaging, i.e. whether they might protect the skin from the aging effect when exposed to sunlight.
Baby aloe shoot extract (BAE) comes from 1-month old shoots while adult aloe shoot extract (AE) comes from 4-month old shoots.

The team explained that UV irradiation induces photo-damage of the skin and can permanently change skin structure.

In an article published in Phytotherapy Research, the authors concluded "Our results suggest that BAE may potentially protect the skin from UVB-induced damage more than AE."

Protection from skin damage after radiation therapy

A study carried out at the University of Naples, Italy, tested five different topical creams to see how effective they might be in protecting the skin of breast cancer patients receiving radiation therapy.
They tested the following hydrating creams - Vitis vinifera A. s-I-M.t-O.dij (Ixoderm®), Alga Atlantica plus Ethylbisiminomethylguaicolo and Manganese Cloruro (Radioskin1®) and Metal Esculetina plus Ginko Biloba and Aloe vera (Radioskin 2®); Natural triglycerides-fitosterols (Xderit®); Selectiose plus thermal water of Avene (Trixera+®); and Betaglucan, sodium hyaluronate (Neoviderm®).
They divided 100 patients into five groups of 20, each one was prescribed a different topical treatment. They applied the creams twice daily, starting 15 days before radiation therapy treatment, and carried on for one month afterwards.
During the whole 6-week period, the participants underwent weekly skin assessments.
In the journal Radiation Oncology, the scientists reported that the preventive use of the topical hydrating creams reduced the incidence of skin side effects in the women treated with radiation therapy for breast cancer. "All moisturizing creams used in this study were equally valid in the treatment of skin damage induced by radiotherapy."

Depression, learning and memory - an animal experiment

A study published in Nutritional Neuroscience found that Aloe vera reduces depression and improves memory in mice. The researchers explained as background information that the plant had been used since ancient times for the treatment of infection, constipation and skin disorders.
The authors wanted to determine what effect Aloe vera might have in learning, memory, depression and locomotion.
After carrying out some experiments on laboratory mice, the scientists concluded "Aloe vera enhances learning and memory, and also alleviates depression in mice." Further studies are needed to find out whether humans might also receive the same benefits.

Wounds from second degree burns

A team of plastic surgeons compared Aloe vera gel to 1% silver sulphadiazine cream for the treatment of second degree burn wounds.

They reported in the Journal of Pakistan Medical Association that the burn wounds among the patients treated with Aloe vera healed remarkably earlier compared to those treated with with 1% silver sulfadiazine (SSD).

The researchers added that those in the Aloe Vera group experienced significantly more and earlier pain relief than those in the SSD group.

In an Abstract in the same journal, the authors wrote "Thermal burns patients dressed with Aloe vera gel showed advantage compared to those dressed with SSD regarding early wound epithelialization, earlier pain relief and cost-effectiveness."

Irritable bowel syndrome - inconclusive

A randomized, double-blind human trial carried out at St Georges Hospital Medical School, London, UK, did not find a significant difference in symptoms of diarrhea after 3 months when patients on Aloe vera were compared to those on placebo.



However, the researchers wrote in the International Journal of Clinical Practice"There was no evidence that AV (aloe vera) benefits patients with IBS. However, we could not rule out the possibility that improvement occurred in patients with diarrhoea or alternating IBS whilst taking AV. Further investigations are warranted in patients with diarrhoea predominant IBS, in a less complex group of patients."

Monday, 6 January 2014

The amazing aloe vera

It's one of the best medicinal plants

Not just limited to herbal medicines, aloe vera is widely used in beauty and cosmetic products as well. This unattractive but highly beneficial plant has been used by different cultures since ancient times for its various benefits. Here are some...

Treats skin problems
Aloe vera gel is very good for treating sunburns, healing cuts and wounds, dermatitis and also insect bites. The best part is that this plant can be consumed and also applied externally.

Lowers cholesterol levels
Aloe is great for maintaining cholesterol levels by reducing tryglycerides. Also, by aiding the stabilisation of metabolic rate, reducing lipid levels and helping burn fat, it is useful for weight loss.

Reduces inflammation
It is said that having aloe vera juice for two weeks can help reduce symptoms of inflammation in the body like rheumatism, inflammation of the ears and eyes and arthritis. Applying the gel externally can ease muscle and joint pain.

Cures digestive problems
Having digestive problems? Drink aloe vera juice, as it reduces symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, acid and heart reflux and stabilises alkaline levels in the body. Because of its laxative properties, it is also good for constipation.

Good for diabetes
Aloe vera is good for diabetes patients, because it helps regulate blood sugar levels and the ability to reverse blood stickiness, thus ensuring smooth circulation of blood.

- The anti-ageing properties of aloe vera keeps the skin supple and rejuvenated and lightens blemishes. It moisturises the skin, gets rid of dead skin cells along with wrinkles and fine lines. It also helps in getting rid of stretch marks.

Do you know
The Egyptians referred to aloe vera as the plant of immortality


Sunday, 5 January 2014

What is aloe vera

Aloe vera, sometimes described as a "wonder plant", is a short-stemmed shrub that only occurs in cultivation - it cannot be found in the wild. Some related Aloes occur naturally in North Africa. An Aloe is a genus containing more than 500 species of flowering succulent plants.
The Aloe vera leaves are succulent, erect and form a dense rosette. Many uses are made from the gel obtained from the plant's leaves
Aloe vera has been the subject of scientific study for the last few years, along with other members of the Aloe genus regarding several claimed therapeutic properties.
 According to Kew Gardens, England's royal botanical center of excellence, Aloe vera has been used for centuries and is currently more popular than ever. It is cultivated worldwide, primarily as a crop for "Aloe gel", which comes from the leaf.
Aloe vera is widely used today in:
  • food - it is approved by the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) as a natural flavoring
  • cosmetics
  • food supplements
  • herbal remedies
The earliest records of Aloe vera being used by humans appear in the Ebers Papyrus (Egypcian medical papyrus) from 16th century BC. According to a study published in the Indian Journal of Dematology, in ancient Egypt they called Aloe vera "that plant of immortality". The authors added that the plant has been used therapeutically for many centuries in China, Japan, India, Greece, Egypt, Mexico and Japan.

Cleopatra and Nefertiti, two queens of Egypt, apparently used Aloe vera to keep their skin soft. It was used to treat soldiers' wounds by Christopher Columbus and Alexander the Great.

Pedanius Dioscorides (circa 40-90 AD) a Greek physician, pharmacologist and botanist, mentioned Aloe vera and its therapeutic qualities in "De Mataria Medica", a 5-volume encyclopedia about medical substances and herbal medicine - it was widely read for over 1,500 years.

Gaius Plinius Secundus (AD 23-79), better known as Pliny the Elder, a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher, mentioned Aloe vera's therapeutic benefits in "Natural History", an early encyclopedia - one of the major single works to have survived from the Roman Empire.

Friday, 3 January 2014

Aloe Vera Good For Diabetics, Cardiac Patients


VARANASI: The aloe vera (an ornamental plant) can be used for lowering blood glucose and blood lipid level in diabetic and cardiac patients, says a study report prepared by the scientists of Banaras Hindu University (BHU).

The plant is already extensively used in toiletry and cosmetic industry.


It may be mentioned here that a team of BHU scientists including Neeraj Kumar, head, department of rasa shashtra; R Tripathi and B Mishra of department of pharmaceutics, IT-BHU, has come up with a report that sheds light on the potential of aloe vera in diabetic treatment, besides lowering blood lipid levels to bolster cardiac activities.
"The oral administration of aloe vera can be effective in reducing blood glucose in diabetic patients and also in lowering blood lipid levels in hyperlipidaemia patients," said Neeraj Kumar while talking to TOI on Friday.

The utility of aloe vera's hypogycemic activity has been proved in both insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) and non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) rats.
"Histological examinations have also shown that aloe vera gel reduces the average size of adipocytes and lowers triglyceride levels in liver and plasma," he added.

Referring to earlier studies that suggest that oral administration of 500 mg per kg weight, twice daily, aloe vera gel significantly reduces the blood glucose level in alloxanized mice, Kumar said that in another study, patients with hyperlipidaemia (higher blood lipid levels), total serum cholesterol levels, triglycerides and low density lipoprotein (LDL) were found to be decreased up to 15%, 30% and 18% respectively after 12 weeks of treatment with aloe vera gel.

As per reports of the rasa shastra department, the aloe vera plant which can grow in extremely dry (arid) conditions and is widely found in Africa and India is widely used in herbal medicines.

While the anti-inflammatory and healing ability of aloe vera has been studied extensively, its other versatile pharmacological activities like hypoglycemic and gastroprotective properties have attracted more attention recently.

Aloe Vera:
It is an ornamental plant known as ghratakumari in Sanskrit and gheekvar in Hindi. It grows in extremely dry (arid) climate and is widely distributed in Africa, India an other arid areas. The plant forms symbiotic relationship with Arbuscular mycoorhiza which helps this plant to access nutrients from the soil. The gel of aloe vera has pharmacological properties like wound healing, frost-bite healing, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, hypoglycemic and gastroprotective abilities.

It supports digestive system to absorb the nutrients and eliminates all harmful toxins from the body. Aloe vera juice is consumed to get relief from various digestive problems including heartburn and irritable bowel syndrome. Some other uses of aloe vera include treatment of skin allergies, acne, fungal infection etc.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Aloe Vera Juice: The Magic Potion

You must already be aware of the many benefits of using aloe vera on the skin - be it for rashes, cuts, bruises, sunburn etc.

But do you know the health benefits of drinking aloe vera juice? Completely safe and versatile, aloe vera juice stems from the fact that it naturally contains many different nutrients: vitamins, minerals, amino acids and other trace elements.
Helps digestion: Drinking aloe vera juice naturally allows the body to cleanse the digestive system. It encourages the bowels to move and helps with elimination if a person is constipated. And if you have diarrhea, it will help slow it down.

Increases energy levels: Our diets include many substances which can cause fatigue and exhaustion. Taken regularly, aloe vera juice ensures a greater feeling of well-being, allowing energy levels to increase and also helps maintain a healthy body weight.

 
Builds immunity: It is especially great for those who have chronic immune disorders like polysaccharides or fibromyalgia since the polysaccharides in aloe vera juice stimulate macrophages, the white blood cells that fight viruses.
Detoxifies: Aloe vera juice is a great natural aid to detox. With our stressful lives, the pollution around us and the junk foods we eat, we all need to cleanse our systems from time to time. Drinking aloe vera juice provides a fantastically rich cocktail of vitamins, minerals and trace elements to help our bodies deal with these stresses and strains every day.

Reduces inflammation: It improves joint flexibility and helps in the regeneration of body cells. It strengthens joint muscles, which therefore reduces pain and inflammation in weakened or aged joints.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Everything About Aloe Vera


So far, it was just a juice recommended by nutritionists and dieticians. But dig more into the history of Aloe Vera and it has several benefits for the future of medicine.

Aloe Vera has fast become one of the most commonly used plants in herbal cosmetics and medicines. Whether its creams, gels, lotions, showergels or just plain Aloe Vera juice, it is here to stay. But ever wondered where this plant hascome from and how all of a sudden it has become such a rage in the ayurvedic, herbal and medical world?
It is believed that there have been mentions of the Aloe plant in the Rig Veda, which is the earliest book of natural medicine dating BCE 4,500 and BCE 1,600. Ayurvedic practitioner Dr Meghna Dixit says, "It was somewhere around BCE 5,000 that most of the plants mentioned in the Rig Veda were written by Dhanwantri, the God of Ayurveda. In this book, Aloe Vera is specifically recommended for the reproductive system, liver and dealing with worms when injected or consumed.

External uses included healing of wounds." A complete detail about its medicinal uses was also found in Papyrus ebers, an Egyptian document written in BCE 1,550. There were around 12 formulae given in this book to mix the Aloe Vera gel with other agents to solve skin and internal disorders. Gradually getting noticed due to its various advantages, particularly in India the use of Aloe Vera plants were widely spread around 375 BC.

Growing the Aloe Vera plant
According to botanists, Aloe Vera plants originated in warm conditions and mostly flourished in tropical and sub-tropical regions. Africa is one of the largest homes of Aloe Vera plants. But the plant had been carried to various parts of the world and due to its great adaptable nature, the plant flourished in any region, provided that it was mandatory to create a some what warm environment. That's one of the reasons why Aloe Vera grows well in greenhouses.

Current developments
Although in the medical community, Aloe Vera did not prove to have much official standings for a long time, people are now realising its importance in many medical sectors. Aloe Vera gel is widely used for skin treatments such as burns or bruises. Additionally Aloe Vera plants are used in many cosmetic materials and are also consumed as a health drink. But since researchers are still finding more benefits and it has been so far restricted only to the ayurvedic field, it has sometime till it gathers it's deserved fame in the allopathy market. Dr Dixit says, "The juice and the gel are good for cough, cold, asthama, bronchitis and other respiratory track diseases.

It is a good detoxifying agent and aides in absorption of nutrients, enhancing the immune system. Currently the FDA has approved the use of Aloe Vera plants for the research of Cancer treatment and AIDS, where the immunity system goes down. If used over a period of time, it helps in overall body benefits as well as acts as an age defying element." More and more research is going on to get the most out from this powerful healing agent.
Nutritionist Deepshikha Agarwal says, "It has LDL, (Low Density Lipoprotein), which helps reducing cholestrol so most cardiovascular and hypertension patients are recommended to have it. It's also very good for skin problems like sun burns or allergies. Even for arthritis and joint pains it helps by removing inflammation and helps curing joint problems. It also helps in weight loss. Although it is available in many forms today, the oldest and most convenient way we recommend for intake is to have 30 ml of Aloe Vera diluted with water early morning. Even a normal person without any problems can have it to stay healthy."