Aloe Vera, native to the Africa continent, is also known as "lily of the desert", the "plant of immortality", and the "medicine plant". The name was originated from the Arabic word alloeh, meaning "bitter", because of the bitter liquid found in the leaves. Around 1500 B.C., the Egyptians were known to use the herbal plant for treating burns, infections and parasites.
There are over five hundred types of aloe growing around the world. Greeks, Arabs and Spaniards have all used the plant throughout history. African hunters still use the gel on their bodies to reduce perspiration and their scent.
Research since the 1930's has shown that the plants gel has the ability to heal wounds, ulcers and burns by adding a protective coating on the affected areas which speeds up the healing rate.
Aloe Vera is about 95% water. The rest contains active ingredients including essential oil, amino acids, minerals, vitamins, enzymes and glycoproteins. Herbalists have used it since the 1930's as a staple treatment. Many liquid solutions are made, some adding the juice with other plants and herbs. The juice is comforting to digestive tract irritations, such as colitis and peptic ulcers.
As a supplement, it is said to help digestion, blood and lymphatic circulation, and kidney, liver and gall bladder functions.
It contains three anti-inflammatory fatty acids that are helpful for the stomach, small intestine and colon. It naturally alkalizes digestive juices to prevent over acidity - a common cause of indigestion. It also helps clean the digestive tract by exerting a soothing, balancing effect.
A newly discovered compound in the plant called acemannan, is being studied for its ability to help the bodies natural resistance. Studies have shown that acemannan helps improve the number of T-lymphocyte cells that assist the immune system.
Those who understand the healing properties of Aloe keep this plant in their kitchen. When the leaf is broken, its gel is placed on burns to relieve pain and prevent blisters. It also reduces inflammation, decrease swelling and redness, and speeds up wound healing.
It can help in keeping the skin flexible, and has been used in the control of acne and eczema. It can relieve itching from insect bites and allergies. The healing power is due to increasing the availability of oxygen to the skin, and by increasing the strength of skin tissue.
Part Used: An "extract" is made by pulverizing the whole leaves of the plant. The juice is made from the inner leaf.
Common Use: Supplements can be used for peptic ulcers and for gastro-intestinal health. The herb has a moisturizing effect on the skin and is a common therapy for sunburn and skin irritation. Frequently it is used right off the plant for the treatment of burns and wounds. To make a salve; remove the thin outer skin and put the leaves in a blender, add 500 units of vitamin C powder to each cup and store in refrigerator.
Care: Keep in sandy soil that is well drained. Potted plants prefer shade.
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