The Egyptians described aloe vera as the plant of immortality and incorporated it into their funeral offerings and was often buried with the pharaohs. In the last ten years, medical research has corroborated and broadened many of the health claims for these dagger-shaped leaves.
This wonderful potted physician as it is sometimes called made its way from Africa to North America in the sixteenth century. We are talking about aloe vera, in case you have not figured it out yet. The name aloe vera actually means shining bitter substance, and was highly regarded as a master healing plant long before it came to us.
The leaf of the aloe vera plant is filled with gel, comprised of 96% water with the remaining 4% containing 75 known compounds. It is utilized topically to treat wounds, consumed as a liquid and is even taken in capsule form. However, aloes notoriety frequently stops short with its common usage as a topical burn therapybut if you read on, you might be surprised at the extent of aloes medicinal capacity.
Aloe and Your Skin
When used for wounds, aloe vera gel is a gentle anesthetic that alleviates itching, swelling, and pain. In addition, it is also an antibacterial and antifungal that increases the blood flow to the injured area and accelerates the formation of fibroblasts (the skin cells responsible for wound healing). An animal study published in the Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association revealed that both oral and topical aloe preparations accelerated wound healing. The study explained that the subjects were either given aloe in their drinking water for 60 days or 25% aloe vera cream applied topically to their wounds for six days. In both cases, the subjects had affirmative results in that the wounds decreased 62% in the animals taking oral aloe in contrast to a 51% decrease in the control group. The aloe cream generated a 51% decrease in would size in contrast to 33% in the control group.
According to the Journal of Dermatologic Surgery and Oncology, topical aloe vera also cuts down on surgical recovery time. The study involved eighteen acne sufferers who underwent facial dermabrasion for removal of acne lesions. Half the face was covered in a dressing that contained aloe vera gel and the other half contained a standard dressing coated with surgical gel. The end result was that the side of the face that was dressed with aloe healed 72 hours faster than the side with the traditional dressing.
Doctor James Fulton, who is the principal author of the above report, utilizes aloe vera in his practice to expedite wound healing. Any wound we treat, whether its suturing a cut or removing a skin cancer, heals better with aloe vera on it, he states.
Not surprisingly, topical aloe vera preparations also had positive results in the area of skin burns. In a study completed and published in the Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand, twenty-seven subjects with moderate burn wounds were treated with gauze covered with either aloe vera or petroleum jelly. The burns healed more rapidly with aloe (12 days), in contrast to the group that used petroleum jelly (18 days).
An unusual contribution also surfaced in a study done in the Annals of Emergency Medicine which ascertained that aloe vera assists with frostbite as well. In the course of the study, researchers administered the standard treatment for frostbite (antibiotics, ibuprofen and re-warming) to 154 patients with mild to severe frostbite. In half of the subjects, who additionally were given aloe vera cream, 67.9% healed with zero tissue loss (amputation) in contrast to 32.7% in the control group. The conclusion reached by the researchers was that aloe avoided a decrease in blood flow to the previously frost-bitten tissue, which in most cases, results in tissue loss.
Were you aware that x-rays may cause skin damage? Well, aloe vera comes to the rescue again. According to researchers at Hoshi University in Japan, who published a study in the journal Yakugaku Zasshi, aloe vera protects against skin damage from x-rays. They discovered that aloe was an invaluable antioxidant, gobbling up free radicals generated by radiation, and that it efficiently defended two of the bodys healing superstars, superoxide dismutase (an antioxidant enzyme) and glutathione (an amino acid which encourages the immune system).
|It is surprising how many people call our office with severe cases of psoriasis, and upon doing this research, we were glad to find that aloe helps with that too. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study that was published in Tropical Medicine and International Health, sixty subjects with chronic psoriasis were administered 0.5% aloe vera extract in a cream base. The cream was rubbed into affected areas three times a day for five consecutive days for a total of four weeks. The psoriasis sufferers were examined after a period of eight months, and the results were indeed in aloes favor. There was a reduced amount of skin lesions in the aloe group (82.8%) in comparison to the placebo group (7.7%). More importantly, 83.3% of the aloe group was deemed cured of their psoriasis compared to a mere 6.6% of the placebo group.
Aloe and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
More than 600,000 Americans have some type of inflammatory bowel disease each year. This is a disorder (from poor health and dietary choices) that causes intestines to become red and swollen, and the inflammation often lasts a long time and is quite often a reoccurring condition. Aloe vera may be a valuable tool for treating IBD according to a study in the Journal of Alternative Medicine. In this particular study, ten patients were given two ounces of aloe juice, three times a day, for seven days. Following a one week period, all patients were cured of diarrhea, four had enhanced bowel regularity, and the remaining three said they had more energy. The researchers deduced that aloe vera was efficient at rebalancing the intestines by regulating gastrointestinal pH while improving gastrointestinal motility, increasing stool specific gravity, and reducing populations of certain fecal microorganisms, including yeast. Additional studies have revealed that aloe vera juice assists in the detoxification of the bowel, the reduction of stomach acidity, and alleviates constipation and gastric ulcers.
Aloe and Diabetes
Chances are, if you have diabetes you probably suffer from restricted blood flow in your arteries that in turn cuts off the delivery of oxygen and vital nutrients to your arms, legs and even your eyes. Whats more, is that you more than likely feel the tingling and pin-prick sensations of restricted blood flow. If that tingling is permitted to run its course, it may evolve into numbness, then infection, ulceration, gangrene, and ultimately the amputation of toes, feet or legs. Reacting the way the body was designed, it commences considerable urination that exhausts essential minerals, vitamins and amino acids, which then speeds up the deterioration of the your kidneys, eyes, nerves and heart. Aloe vera is a powerhouse of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, amino acids and complex carbohydrateswhat better way to replace the lost nutrients? In addition, aloe contains lectin, emodin, mannose and glucomannan, which are remarkable immune enhancing substances, and according to the extensive literature, they work synergistically. They help blood vessels distribute life-sustaining nutrients and oxygen to rejuvenate the organs that need it most (eyes, legs, kidneys, brain and heart). An excellent book on the subject of diet and diabetes, which includes the research on aloe vera was written by Patrick Lecky and is called, How To Fight Type 2 Diabetes & Win. Just because you are a diabetic doesnt mean that there is nothing you can do about it. Take charge of your health!
Initial research indicates that aloe juice may assist in lowering blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 (adult onset) diabetes. More research needs to be done in the area of effectiveness, but so far it seems likely that aloe vera may prove to be a valuable addition in the diet of those with type 2 diabetes. Aloe also reduced the blood sugar levels in diabetics, as reported in Hormone Research. In this study, five patients with type 2 diabetes were given ½ teaspoon of aloe extract, daily for 14 weeks. Blood sugar levels were lowered in all patients by an average of 45%, with no change in their total weight.
Aloe and Arthritis
In this particular case, I experimented a bit with aloe vera on my father who has some arthritic problems with his knees. Every morning, I put a shot glass full of pure aloe vera in his orange juice. After a period of two weeks, I noticed that he was not complaining about his knees, so I asked him if there had been any changes. He said that there was no pain, so he had forgotten all about it! I dont know about you, but that made me feel good and I still continue to put it in not only his, but my juice as well.
The research that prompted with aloe vera juice came from the Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association. It stated that aloe can help prevent arthritis and reduce the inflammation in joints already affected by arthritis. The research also maintained that aloe vera inhibited the autoimmune reaction linked with certain forms of arthritis where the body attacks its own tissues. The study involved animals that were injected with a bacterium to generate arthritic symptoms, namely inflammation and swelling. To establish whether aloe could inhibit arthritis, it was injected under the skin every day for 13 days. Body measurements were taken on a daily basis to identify the amount of swelling and inflammation. According to the researchers, numerous compounds from the aloe illustrated anti-arthritic activity. One compound, in particular, reduced the inflammation by 79.7% and suppressed the autoimmune response by 42.4%. An additional compound (anthraquinone) diminished inflammation by 67.3%, but had no effect on the autoimmune response.
Aloe and HIV
The following information was collected from bonafide research that was secured during our exploration of aloe vera. According to the Journal of Advancement in Medicine, aloe vera juice was verified as an effective part of a nutritional program for HIV+ patients. The study involved 29 patients, who were administered 100% aloe vera juice (five ounces, four times daily) in addition to an essential fatty acid supplement and a supplement that contained vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. Each patient was told to eat their regular diet, but no additional supplements. Subsequent to a 90 day period, all of the above patients had smaller numbers of opportunistic infections, fatigue, and diarrhea, in addition to an elevation of white blood cell counts (their immune systems were doing better). The researchers were also elated to see that the overall quality of their health was also enhanced, and discovered that aloe (the mannose extract and perhaps other compounds) stimulates the bodys immune system, specifically T4 helper cells, white blood cells that trigger the immune response to infection. Lastly, it was noted that in 25% of the patients, aloe vera appeared to knock out the viruss capacity to reproduce.