THE BENEFITS OF ALOE VERA
January 15th, 2016 by Michael Deslandes, Biologiste
You’ve probably already heard about Aloe Vera, or at the very least you’ve heard the name because this plant is so popular that it’s used in all sorts of cosmetic products and other beauty products. We find it in the list of ingredients of products such as shampoo, hydrating and healing creams, balms, shower gels, etc. But beware, sometimes the companies add Aloe Vera in microscopic quantities, just so that it shows up on the list of ingredients and thus benefit from the notoriety of the plant purely for marketing purposes.
Aloe Vera is a succulent plant from warm climates that contains, within its leaves, a gel of many properties. It has been used for over 5000 years and figures on some of the oldest Egyptian manuscripts discovered up to date, notably on the famous Ebers papyrus which is the oldest known medical document identified.
This formidable plant is rich in antioxidants, vitamins and enzymes, it has softening and hydrating properties for the mucous membranes. The Aloe Vera plant grows in dry areas and stock water within the leaves. Thus, the water is the principal constituent and represents 98 to 99 % of the plants’ weight. The dry matter only represents 1 to 2 % and is mainly made up of polysaccharides (60%).
The Aloe Vera leaf contains over 75 active components (polysaccharides, phenolic components, organic acids) as well as 20 minerals, 20 amino acids and 12 vitamins. The main secondary metabolites are phenolic components known as anthrone and chromone. Notwithstanding the numerous studies on this plant, it is difficult to identify one or any active element responsible for its properties, Aloe Vera has not yet yielded all of its secrets.
The benefits of Aloe Vera
The juice or the gel from high quality Aloe Vera may be used directly on the skin, but the drinkable version is more and more popular for the benefits that have been shown when used internally; particularly in the digestive system. Note that homemade Aloe Vera gel can only be used topically as the leaves contain ingredients that may harmful to your health if consumed internally. Juices and gels that are drinkable must be prepared by responsible companies that ensure that their products do not contain any toxic elements. The gel is simply juice that has been gelified by adding thickeners or gums. It also helps to soothe heartburn and reduce gastric acid, reduces bloating and inflammation. The improvement of digestive functions, the addition of rare and essential nutrients improve vitality, resistance to illness, circulation, natural elimination and eliminates toxins. The particularity of the polysaccharides makes it an effective antioxidant. Aloe Vera, extracted without aloin, as a gel or a juice does not present any toxicity, even long term.
For topical use (external application on the skin or the mucuses) the gel or the juice of Aloe Vera has various properties:
- Stimulation of the production of collagen.
- Treatment of burns thanks to the cool gel from the plant.
- Many studies have shown that the fresh gel from the center of the leaf decreases the inflammation process and promotes healing.
- Fights skin aging.
For internal use, Aloe Vera gels and juices are taken pure, up to several tablespoons a day, to calm and soothe all types of irritations and inflammations of the digestive tract, the stomach and the intestinal flora. Thanks to the pre-biotic properties, it is particularly efficient in restoring and reinforcing the intestinal flora. The juice or the gel may be added to other juices or other mixes such as healthy smoothies if it is taken for the antioxidant or pre-biotic virtues. However, it is preferable to take it alone in order to fully benefit from the effects on the digestive system.
Quality is vital: choose gels or juices from plants grown organically, that have been cold pressed. This cold press procedure must be maintained throughout the treatment process through to bottling, so look for a non pasteurized product. Make sure that the gels are made with xanthan gum or caruba to be certain that it is cold pressed. Avoid gels made with carrageenans or Irish moss that require heat for solubilisation and may lead to important health risks as shown by recent studies. Also, avoid drinks that contain very little or no Aloe Vera as they are mixed drinks and generally contain large doses of sugar that are harmful to your health. Read the ingredient list because certain products market themselves as juices but contain very little or no Aloe Vera diluted with other fruit juices. To discover our own line of Aloe Vera based products, click here!