Aloe Vera is a revered herb and plant in Ayurveda. It is known for its strengthening effect on the female reproductive system and on building OJAS in the body. Ojas is the crux of all nutrition and lifestyle – an energy sap that indicates the state of your physical and mental wellness.
Origin and Uses
Aloe plant was known to ancient civilizations from over the world for its medicinal and cosmetic properties and for its healing potential. The word Aloe is derived from the Arabic word Alloeh, which means shiny bitter substance. There are more than 300 Aloe species, one of the most known is Aloe vera.
Aloe vera is also known as Aloe Barbadensis Miller which belongs to family Liliaceae. It was used in China to relieve stomach diseases. In South and Central Americas, it was used to treat kidney and bladder problems.
Aloe Vera in Ayurveda
Aloe Vera is called Ghritkumari in Ayurveda and termed as the plant for immortality. It finds its mention in the Rigveda, dating back to thousands of years old. It has been used for the treatment of various diseases:
- Fever (Jwara)
- Colic (Shula)
- Indigestion (Agnimandya)
- Worm infestation (Krimiroga) and others
- As detoxifier (Vishaghana) and Rejuvenator (Rasayana).
Constituents within the gel of the aloe leaf can penetrate through all seven layers of the skin resulting in prompt and marked effect of rejuvenation, natural healing, and protection.
Nutrition and Constituents of Aloe Vera
Aloe vera consists of 200 compounds, where 75 out of them are biologically active. They include:
- Anthraquinone and Glycosides: Aloe-emodin and its glycoside: Aloin.
- Vitamins: Vitamins B1, B2, B6, folic acid, β-carotene, and choline.
- Minerals: Selenium, Zinc, Potassium, Sodium, Iron, Calcium, Manganese and Magnesium.
- Amino acids: It provides 7 out of 8 essential amino acids which are: Lysine, Threonine, Valine, Leucine, Isoleucine, Phenylalanine and Methionine.
- The remaining non-essential amino acids are Histidine, Arginine, Hydroxyproline, Aspartic acid, Glutamic acid, Proline, Glycine and Alanine.
- Fatty acids: Cholesterol, Campesterol. Β-sitosterol and Lupeol.
- Sugars: Monosaccharaides (as: Glucose and Fructose) and Polysaccharides (called Glucomannans).
- Enzymes: Amylase, Lipase, Catalase, Peroxidase, Alkaline phosphatase, Bradykinase, Carboxypeptidase, Cellulase and Aliiase.
Plant Description – Aloe Vera Leaf has three Layers
Aloe vera is a perennial succulent plant that can live without water for up to 7 years. It is grown in North Africa and Spain but now cultivated in hot dry regions of Asia, Europe, and America. Aloe vera leaf is composed of three layers:
- An inner clear gel that contains 99% water and rest is made of glucomannans, amino acids, lipids, sterols, and vitamins. It is highly effective in treating all kinds of skin wounds, burns, and disorders.
- The middle layer of latex which is the bitter yellow sap and contains anthraquinones and glycosides. This part of the leaf is effective in gastrointestinal disorders and is a strong laxative.
- The outer thick layer called rind and protects the inner parts. It also synthesizes carbohydrates and proteins.
Health Benefits of Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is a very beneficial plant both externally and internally.
The bitter latex contains Barbaloin which has a strong purgative effect and can be used to treat acute constipation. It can be used internally for up to one week.
Aloe gel is rich with amino acids and vitamins which are essential for skin healing and nutrition. Upon applying on skin, the gel forms bandage-like substance which allows amino acids and vitamins to penetrate and also prevents external penetration of microbes and pollutants. Also, its high water content makes it as a humidifier and prevents dryness of the skin.
- Aloe contains carboxypeptidase and bradykinesia enzymes which destroy bradykinin and prevent its accumulation.
- It contains campesterol and lupeol sterols which have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial effects.
- It contains an anti-allergic substance called alprogen and anti-inflammatory substance called C-glucosyl chromone.
- It can be used for skin diseases as eczema, allergy, psoriasis and insect bites.
- It can be used to treat gum inflammation.
- It can be used internally and externally to treat arthritis and muscle pain.
- Aloe emoidin extract showed to have virucidal effect against mouth and gentelia herpes (Herpes simplex type I and II).
- Aloe’s anthraquinone extract showed to have killing effect on influenza, varicella-zoster and Herpes simplex I and II.
- Aloe gel containing mucilage showed to be active against oral lichen planus infection.
- Aloe improves liver function and is an excellent antidote for alcohol toxicity and prevents liver scarring.
- It contains enzymes like amylase and lipase which improve digestion.
- It has an antiulcer effect as it contains lectins that inhibit gastric acid secretion.
- Studies showed the effect of Aloe in the treatment of diabetes as it contains minerals as Zinc, Chromium, and Manganese which can stimulate insulin secretion from the pancreas.
- Also, studies showed the effect of Aloe gel in lowering high cholesterol levels in patients with cardiovascular disorders.
- External application of Aloe vera may sometimes cause allergies, so it is advised to test on a small part of the skin first.
- Excess consumption of aloe plant can also lead to diarrhea, hence regulated consumption is recommended.
- Oral consumption of Aloe vera is not recommended during pregnancy due to the stimulation of uterine contractions.
- For breastfeeding mothers, aloe may sometime cause colic issues to the infant.
- Also, it may increase the hypoglycemic effect of anti-diabetic drugs.