A product that has truly stood the test of time is aloe vera. Often referred to as 'the miracle plant', aloe vera is the veritable natural healer. Technically speaking, there are just about 400 different species of the Aloe plant, but aloe vera – the Aloe Barbadensis Miller – has proven to be the most useful plant due to its medicinal and other properties which we are going to discuss further down.
Medicinal Use of Aloe Vera:
The plant aloe vera has been used for centuries, in settlements spread all across the globe. The first evidence of this miracle plant being used came from the ancient Egyptians. Temples in Egypt have the plant drawn on their walls, confirming it as an important part of their day to day lifestyle and history. The plant has been utilized for centuries before and since then, deservedly earning the plant a 'god-like' status, and the term of 'plant of immortality'. Ancient Egyptians went so far as to consider the plant a religious symbol, hanging it in their doorways in an effort to ward off evil spirits. The uses of this plant were varied, ranging from using it to make scrolls resembling papyrus to the treatment of tuberculosis. It is interesting to note that aloe vera was also used in a mixture with myrrh for the embalming of the deceased, by the Egyptians.
The ancient Mesopotamians also considered the miracle plant to be capable of warding off evil spirits from their homes. The concoction of palm wine, aloe pulp, and hemp – named 'the Elixir of Jerusalem' – was drunk heartily by the Knights of Templar during the Crusades.
Arab traders brought the plant to Persia and India by 600 BC, calling it the 'desert lily'. They would use their bare feet to crush the leaves, then leave goatskin bags full of aloe pulp out in the sun to dry, turning the aloe to powder.
'De Materia Medica' is one of the monumental medicinal works, written between 50 and 70 AD, by Pedanius Dioscorides, who was a Greek physician in the Roman army. He lists the medicinal uses of aloe vera for treating boils, healing itchy skin, healing tender foreskin & ulcerated genitals, bruising, and to curb bleeding wounds. Additional medicinal uses for aloe vera were recorded by Pliney the Elder, a respected physician of the time, as a healer of leprosy sores and the world's first anti-perspirant.
After travelling through history as a tried and tested healer, it may (or may not) surprise people to know that aloe vera is the only known healer of atomic burns; as evidenced by the purchase of an entire Texan crop of the plant by the United States Government.
Called the 'silent healer' by the Hindus, a 'harmonic remedy' by the Chinese, and 'the elixir of longevity' by the Russians – the power of aloe vera is undeniable.
Medicinal Use of Aloe Vera When Applied Externally:
Benefits of external use of aloe vera are as follows:
- Make-up Remover - Cotton balls soaked in aloe vera gel and applied externally works great to remove the makeup.
- Anti-Sunburn Agent - Aloe is a natural antiseptic, with emollient properties which help to soften and smooth the skin. Apply gel thrice a day on burnt skin until it heals. The gel forms a protective layer over the skin and aids in retaining moisture.
- Shaving Gel & Aftershave – The enzymes of the plant & its high water content make aloe vera anti-inflammatory & hydrating. Additionally, the aloe vera gel makes for an effective aftershave and prevents razor burn when applied externally.
- Aloe vera is effective in healing bruises & scars when applied externally over the affected skin area.
- Aloe leaves work great as a natural body-scrub.
- Aloe vera can be used as an excellent moisturizer for dry skin.
- Helps soothe psoriasis.
- Provides quick relief for blisters.
- Aloe vera aids hair growth. Massage the gel into your scalp, and wait half an hour before rinsing it off.
- Eliminates dandruff when mixed in a hair mask.
Medicinal Use of Aloe Vera When Taken Internally:
Benefits of internal use of aloe vera are as follows:
- Aloe vera helps to maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
- Helps in aiding weight loss as the plant stabilizes the metabolic rate in the body & cuts lipid levels.
- Improves circulation in the digestive tracts. Aloe vera can be a potent laxative. The plant's hydrating agents helps to increase the water content in our intestines, which goes on to stimulate the secretion of mucus and the increase of intestinal peristalsis.
- The plant regulates the body's pH balance.
- Aloe vera contains anti-inflammatory compounds, hence proving beneficial to the whole gastro-intestinal system – soothing indigestion, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and acidity.
- The miracle plant has anti-bacterial properties, and is an effective medicine against E.Coli, streptoccus and salmonella.
- The 'aloe emodin' in the plant renders certain viruses incapable of functioning.
- The aloe vera emodin also contains the ability to suppress the growth of dangerous cancer cells.
- Being a great immune stimulant, intake of the plant increases the count of white blood cells in the body.
- Being a strong anti-oxidant, the plant rids our bodies of the toxins that inherently embed themselves in our bodies thanks to our urban lifestyles.
- Aloe vera has the magical ability to speed up the production of human fibroblast cells, which are responsible for the growth of collagen. Collagen keeps our skin looking young and supple.
- Aloe flushes out dead skin cells and builds new cells.
- Aloe helps to speed up the healing of wounds, ulcers and lesions.
How to Take Aloe Vera When Taken Internally?
Aloe vera can be grown at home very easily, being readily available at any nurseries. The gel is best extracted from the plant itself. If that is not an option, aloe vera is available in stores in the form of gel, powder or in the form of juice. Aloe vera juice can be drunk straight up, or the powder can be mixed with water and drank once or twice a day to improve overall health. The gel can be used externally on the body and hair. It should be noted that while stomach flu is best treated with the juice, the gel is the best bet to treat chronic problems of the gastrointestinal tract. Aloe vera can be found ready in many first aid creams as well.
Dosages of Aloe Vera
As with any natural healer, it takes time to see results from the daily usage of aloe vera. The initial dosage can be started with a tablespoon of aloe twice a day, an hour before meals. Some people prefer to ingest aloe on an empty stomach; however, taking it before a meal works in remedying digestion problems. Watch your body and any reactions that show up after taking aloe. If aloe suits you, you can work your way up to consuming four tablespoons of aloe in a day. High dosages may work too well with digestion, resulting in loose stools. Make sure to cut down your dosage then, and keep hydrating. Children should be started off at low dosages of aloe, keeping it to 1 tablespoon a day.
Note – Never leave bottles of aloe vera open and outside. Always store opened bottles in the refrigerator.
In Conclusion –
It is not lightly that aloe vera has been called the miracle plant. Its uses are varied. The plant helps treat diseases all across the board, and helps prevent most of them too. Regular usage of aloe vera, the plant of immortality, makes us healthier in the long run. Given that it is also so easily found, is largely cheap, and can be malleably used exactly how we want, the benefits and the medicinal uses of aloe vera plant simply cannot be missed out on!