The thick almost transparent gel found in Aloe Vera leaves has great healing power known to man since the beginning of time. Plants are the true chemist of the natural world and Aloe Vera is one of the big guns in natures armory. As early as 1750 B.C. the Egyptians used Aloe Vera for skin infections and documented this plants uses. The Greeks used it to treat wounds and infection and in the 1800s Americans used it for its laxative qualities.
How to Grow Aloe Vera
Aloes come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They are wide spread and naturalized throughout the Mediterranean, Middle East, the tropics, India, Asia, Africa and Latin America. The plant is relatively easy to grow they tend to do well in normal, non-alkaline potting soil with good drainage, ample but not direct sunlight and being watered only when the soil is dry. Personally I plant my aloe plants in a sandy soil. Remember that these plants are succulents an are native to hot and dry weather and are frost sensitive. So they need to be brought indoors during freezing weather. So best to keep them in pots. You can cut the leaves as needed for medicinal use. The cut will soon heal but the leaf will not grow back, so aim for the lower leaves first and in this way the plant will continue to look as balanced as possible. Slice through the skin to open the leaf, and either scrape the gel out with a spoon if taking internally or lightly rub the opened lead on the affected skin surface for sunburn or wound healing. Unused portions of the cut leaves can be put in plastic containers and will last a long time in the refrigerator.
The Healing Benefits of Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera gel promotes several valid healing actions and often does far better than our modern chemical medicines. The leaf parts also have different physiological actions, some parts are used for topical medication and others for internal medicine. The Aloe Vera juice is produced from the lining just beneath the outer layer of the leaf, and is used for its very strong laxative effects. Commercial aloe Vera juice usually contains approximately 50 percent aloe Vera gel. The gel is found in the heart of the plump leaves.
Aloe Vera and Digestion
Aloe Vera inhibits “helicobacter (Pylori)”. This is a significant benefit as this bacterium is the cause of gastric ulcers and plays a significant role in 90 percent of gastric cancers. It is good to remember that even though Pylori is associated with ulcers it is not always the cause, many additional factors can play a role. H. Pylori is also associated with inflammation in the stomach and aloe Vera can soothe this inflammation.
Hydrochloric acid is produced in the stomach by parietal cells and is necessary for proper protein digestion. the stomach lining shields itself against this strong acid by producing a protective layer of mucus that neutralizes the acid when it comes into contact with the stomach lining. Aloe Vera provides a temporary coating for the gastro intestinal lining. This prevents the development of gastric and duodenal ulcers. Excess acid produced by our modern and unhealthy lifestyles are often treated with our modern medicine. Pharmaceutical companies have produced vast quantities of medication to block histamine’s mechanism of acid production. However along with their quick action and pretty boxes comes a host of harmful side effects. Aloe Vera can inhibit histamine naturally with little or no side effects. One to two fluid ounces of aloe Vera gel is all it takes to do it the natural way. Remember to take it after the meal
The colons health is easily overlooked. We try not to think of its function and health unless it is that time. However, it can be a source of serious disease if not taken care of. Aloe Vera exerts anti-inflammatory activities and helps to eliminate free radicals. The gel is of great use to those who suffer from ulcerative colitis. In a double blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial, i.e. a real science experiment, Aloe Vera proved its usefulness. The patients who all had ulcerative colitis were given 100ml of gel twice a day for 4 weeks. Thirty percent experienced clinical emission and 375 showed significant improvement.
Inflammation and pain
Aloe gel is an anti-inflammatory agent . It naturally inhibits COX-2, a body enzyme linked to the production of PGE-2 PGE-2 is a hormone that suppresses the immune system and fires up inflammation. The gel can also block the production of bradykinin, another major conspirator in the cause of pain and inflammation. Many people use aloe Vera to reduce the swelling accompanying inflammation, also called edema.
Natures Band Aid
The gel moisturizes open wounds and has an antibacterial action that promotes healing. When out in nature I have often made use of nature’s band aid to cover and heal open wounds. The gel can do far more than any Band Aid because it contains Vitamins C, E and the mineral zinc. All of these are essential for tissue restoration. The aloe Vera gel stimulates protein and collagen synthesis in connective tissue cells. The protein is needed for good cellular repair and collagen is the glue that holds the repaired cells together. All in all, it is a super way to help your body heal itself.
Aloe Vera and Diabetes
We all know somebody who suffers from diabetes, the disease is epidemic, especially in western society. The Aloe Vera gel can help heal leg ulcers in people with diabetes. Those who suffer from diabetes often have compromised wound-healing abilities. So applying Natures Band Aid will prove very helpful, well far more helpful than any store bought medicine. The wound should be kept clean and aloe Vera should be applied several times a day. If a bit more is needed add golden seal and turmeric powder to the gel. This combination has proven very effective and is a wonderful help to those suffering from diabetes and leg ulcers. Another plus for those with diabetes is that aloe Vera contains Beta-Sitosterol. This is a phytochemical that promotes the growth of new blood vessels in damaged tissue and can help with the reversal process of neuropathy.
Diabetes also increases the oxidative stress in the body. Oxidative stress generates free radicals, which are unstable molecules that damage cells and tissues. Aloe Vera gel fights free radicals by significantly increasing glutathione, an important antioxidant in the liver. Diabetes-induced oxidative stress also increases the risk of liver disease including non-alcoholic liver disease. Aloe Vera decreases damage to both the liver and pancreas.
Diabetes increases the formation of advanced glycation end products or AGE. In this process, glucose can adhere to amino acids and degrade the quality of protein in tissues, thereby speeding the aging process. This is a not good news for those who have diabetes. This process will encourage the development of many complications such as skin, eye, nerve and DNA damage. Diabetes increases the peroxidation rate of unsaturated fats. In simple terms, the double bond between certain carbon atoms and in fatty acids are broken and connected to oxygen atoms. This, in turn adversely affects the brain system by interfering with the protection, repair and regeneration of brain cells and the glial cells that nourish and defend them. The kidneys are also damaged by diabetic lipid oxidation. Clinical studies have proven that aloe Vera gel can help reduce the lipid peroxidation in kidneys. The result is lower levels of creatinine and urea. The gel stimulates positive biochemical changes.
Aloe Vera benefit people with diabetes in still another way. In time diabetes leads to significant deterioration of motor skills, impaired memory, and an increased risk of developing dementia. The hippocampus (an area in the temporal lobe of the brain that is important for memory, learning, and mood regulation) and the cerebral cortex are especially vulnerable to the oxidative stress fueled by diabetes. Aloe Vera on its own or combined with Withiania Somnifera” effectively reduce the damage caused from oxidative stress in those same areas of the brain. The combination of the two herbs together was even more effective in diminishing impairment of memory and motor skills than when each was used alone. The phytochemical beta-sitosterol is also known to reduce brain damage from ischemia – inadequate blood supply. When the blood begins to flow back into an ischemic area especially after 10 minutes or more have passed, another type of dame called reperfusion injury occurs. Ischemia and reperfusion injury are common in strokes and cardiac arrest. Aloe Vera promote the growth of new blood vessels in areas of the brain that have been damaged. This is always good news
Aloe Vera – The other side
- Avoid using Aloe Vera after surgery. It is strange but noteworthy that Aloe Vera retards the healing process of surgical incisions.
- Avoid using Aloe Vera powder as a laxative, it overstimulates and irritates the colon. In fact, avoid aloe Vera powder if you have any acute abdominal pain.
- Aloe Vera should not be used in large dosages internally. Overuse can damage the enteric digestive system nerves.
- People who have problems with low levels of T3 and T4 thyroid hormones should not take aloe Vera on a regular basis
- Aloe Vera reduces blood sugar levels. So individuals with diabetes who decide to take aloe Vera may need to monitor their blood sugar levels more closely.
As with all herbs, do not underestimate their power. It would seem that with natural remedies one cannot overdose, well if you thought that change your mind. This is especially true if herbs are taken with other prescription medication. With herbs less is best, take a small dose and gradually increase the dosage. Be aware of any changes in your body and remember all things in balance.
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