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Islander
11-14-10, 06:55 PM
by Eve Redstone (http://www.helium.com/users/362978/show_articles)

People have been using Aloe Vera (http://alternative-health.helium.com/topic/8248-aloe-vera) as a medicinal plant for over four thousand years; there are records of its use in Mesopotamia as far back as 2000BCE. The Greeks, the Romans and the Egyptians all knew of its amazing healing properties and its use continues to the present day. Many people grow a plant in their house or garden to use in first aid. The modern uses of Aloe Vera (http://alternative-health.helium.com/topic/8248-aloe-vera) are usually thought of in skin care (http://www.helium.com/items/772631-aloe-vera-and-its-benefits?form_372.replyids=2&form_363.replyids=2&form_346.userid=215&form_346.replyids=8799#) and the treatment of burns, but it is a much more versatile plant than that. It is used in herbal medicine for its actions as a digestive tonic, a laxative, an anthelmintic (worms), an anti-inflammatory and a supposed aphrodisiac.

The Plant
The plant has a distinctive appearance with fleshy spikes of upright leaves and is common in many parts of the world. The medicinal parts of the plant are its leaves. They are treated in different ways to give different product. When a leaf is first cut it oozes a yellow substance or latex, that is known as Aloes, and has a bitter taste. When the leaves are split they excrete a clear substance, known as the gel. The dilution of this gives us Aloe Vera (http://www.helium.com/items/772631-aloe-vera-and-its-benefits?form_372.replyids=2&form_363.replyids=2&form_346.userid=215&form_346.replyids=8799#) Extract or Aloe Vera juice (http://alternative-health.helium.com/topic/8248-aloe-vera). The juice (http://www.helium.com/items/772631-aloe-vera-and-its-benefits?form_372.replyids=2&form_363.replyids=2&form_346.userid=215&form_346.replyids=8799#) may be filtered to give a clear result, or left cloudy. Different uses are associated with each presentation.
Aloe Vera gel is mainly water, held together in a gel form by polysaccharides. These, along with anthraquinones such as aloin, glycoproteins and novel anti-inflammatory (http://www.helium.com/items/772631-aloe-vera-and-its-benefits?form_372.replyids=2&form_363.replyids=2&form_346.userid=215&form_346.replyids=8799#) compounds are responsible for most of its activity. Aloe Vera also contains Vitamins A, C, E and B12, salicylic acid (http://acne-blemish.helium.com/topic/7582-salicylic-acid) in small quantities, lignin from the plant cell (http://cellular-biology.helium.com/topic/4790-plant-cell) walls and a variety of minerals. The exact composition will vary according to where the plant is grown and its treatment.

Wound Healing
Wound healing is the most commonly known property of the gel. Legend has it Alexander the Great (http://ancient-history.helium.com/topic/6236-alexander-the-great) even invaded an island in the Indian Ocean to obtain supplies of it for his army. Different chemical constituents have been shown to aid the break down of damaged tissue and the formation of new tissues, including blood vessels and skin (http://www.helium.com/items/772631-aloe-vera-and-its-benefits?form_372.replyids=2&form_363.replyids=2&form_346.userid=215&form_346.replyids=8799#). It reduces infection rates. This has led to its use on all types of wounds, from minor scrapes and cuts to deeply penetrating injuries such as burns. It has been used with success in frostbite and to heal the sores of genital herpes (http://disease.helium.com/topic/4310-genital-herpes). In all cases it is applied to the wound, not taken. Overall, it seems that Aloe (http://www.helium.com/items/772631-aloe-vera-and-its-benefits?form_372.replyids=2&form_363.replyids=2&form_346.userid=215&form_346.replyids=8799#) Vera is very effective at healing wounds and minor burns, reducing healing time by up to half in many patients. It is less clear how useful it is in sunburn although anecdotal evidence supports its use. Studies looking at its use to heal surgical wounds have had mixed results, it does reduce infection but the wounds didn't seem to heal any faster or more cleanly when it was used.
Aloe Vera (http://www.helium.com/items/772631-aloe-vera-and-its-benefits?form_346.replyids=8799&form_346.userid=215&form_363.replyids=2&form_372.replyids=2&page=2#) gel is very effective for Psoriasis. Patients using it reported higher clear up rates for plaques than with traditional treatments, and less side effects.

Trials have shown that it can be used in conjunction with other wound treatments successfully. For example it can be used in conjunction with steroid creams. The gel reduces the suppression of wound healing caused by the steroids and also aids its penetration into the tissues by hydrating the wound.

Gastro-intestinal Uses
Aloe Vera extract is widely used as a laxative and as a digestive tonic. The anthraquinones found in cloudy extract and the aloe gum are responsible for this action; it works as a stimulant laxative in the same way senna does. It takes from six to twelve hours to work. As with all stimulant laxatives it should not be used long term.
Non-cloudy extracts work as a digestive tonic, soothing and calming the bowel. It is effective in irritable bowel syndrome, particularly in patients where diarrhoea predominate reducing symptoms in 40% of patients in this difficult to treat disease. Ulcerative colitis (http://www.helium.com/items/772631-aloe-vera-and-its-benefits?form_346.replyids=8799&form_346.userid=215&form_363.replyids=2&form_372.replyids=2&page=2#) patients can benefit from a small daily dose as well. It reduces relapse rate and helps shorten relapses when they occur.

Other uses
Aloe Vera is also reported as being used in asthma and diabetes (http://www.helium.com/items/772631-aloe-vera-and-its-benefits?form_346.replyids=8799&form_346.userid=215&form_363.replyids=2&form_372.replyids=2&page=2#). This is not something to try at home. The evidence is poor and the consequences of ill controlled disease can be fatal.

Who can't use it?
Patients using it on their skin have on occasion reported dermatitis (http://www.helium.com/items/772631-aloe-vera-and-its-benefits?form_346.replyids=8799&form_346.userid=215&form_363.replyids=2&form_372.replyids=2&page=2#) reactions to it, which occasionally appear after prolonged use.
Diabetics should drink it with care because of its reported blood sugar (http://www.helium.com/items/772631-aloe-vera-and-its-benefits?form_346.replyids=8799&form_346.userid=215&form_363.replyids=2&form_372.replyids=2&page=2#) lowering capacity.
Aloe will have an additive effect with other laxatives, and care should be taken when using combinations.
Aloe Vera has been reported to suppress thyroid function.
If symptoms of a severe gastrointestinal problem are present, such as prolonged nausea, constipation, diarrhoea, heartburn (http://www.helium.com/items/772631-aloe-vera-and-its-benefits?form_346.replyids=8799&form_346.userid=215&form_363.replyids=2&form_372.replyids=2&page=2#) or blood loss, patients should see a doctor before starting to take Aloe Vera.

Aloe Vera is a multi purpose plant that is ideal for use in home first aid. It is easy to grow, enabling you to use fresh gel by splitting open a leaf when needed. It can be used to treat all manner of minor household injuries. Different preparations work well as a laxative or digestive healer.

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LabDoc
11-19-10, 01:18 AM
Have Aloe Vera growing in my garden. For cuts, it's the first thing we run to, snap off a bit and apply the juice. Our second main use is for mosquito and other bug bites - takes the sting and itchiness away in minutes.

Maurya
11-19-10, 10:49 AM
Not only kitchen burns, but also common sunburn. The only time in my life that I personally have experienced sunburn was many years ago, when relocating from Boston to south Florida in August. Went straight to the beach for a day of fun in the sun, and came back quite red. This never had happened with me before, so I was quite unprepared. My friend had an aloe plant in her yard, and broke of a piece of a leaf, peeled it and let me slather it all over myself. Worked wonders for me!