Aloe Barbadensis Miller is just one of the botanical names given to what is more commonly known as Aloe Vera1, and it’s one of the oldest documented plants. Known for its health benefits and medicinal effects, it’s sometimes referred to as the “miracle plant”2.
The Origins of Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera’s origins can be traced back to Ancient China, Egypt and Greece, but it’s a plant native to Africa, where it thrives in the hot and arid climate, growing optimally when placed in direct sunlight. Now grown all over the world, it can be found across Europe, Asia, and in subtropical climates such as India.
What Does Aloe Vera Look Like?
While slow growing, the plants can reach heights of 60cm with up to 20 leaves forming per plant. Part of the lily family, its bell-shaped hanging flower buds are yellow in colour. Aloe Vera’s distinctive leaves can grow up to 50cm in length and are the reason the plant is often mistaken for a cactus3. These thorny and succulent leaves contain a transparent inner gel, and it’s this part of the Aloe Vera which is used for its moisturising and beneficial properties4.
Its History of Traditional Medicine
Dating back to ancient civilisations, Aloe Vera was heralded by great figures in medicinal history. In terms of traditional medicine, there’s evidence of it featuring in Ancient Egyptian literature as far back as 6,000 years ago, and was used for ailments such as cleansing the stomach and for wound healing purposes. The signs of Aloe Vera being used in traditional medicine throughout time has been well-documented, and this includes Ancient Rome, India and China, where it was often used for treating skin conditions5.
Nutrition of Aloe Vera and Its Actives
Aloe Vera contains a wealth of vitamins and minerals, ensuring it’s full of potent health properties2,3. In addition, Aloe Vera also contains many essential amino acids and enzymes. Some of its rich components include:
- Minerals: Calcium, Copper, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Potassium, Selenium, Sodium and Zinc.
- Vitamins: A (beta-carotene), B1, B2, B6, B9 (Folic Acid), B12, C, E and Choline. Vitamins C and E are antioxidants.
- Amino Acids: Alanine, Arginine, Glycine, Proline and Tyrosine, as well as essential amino acids Histidine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine and Valine.
- Enzymes: Alkaline Phosphatase, Amylase, Bradykinase, Cellulase, Carboxypeptidase, Catalase, Cyclooxygenase, Lipase, Oxidase, Peroxidase and Superoxide Dismutase.
There are more than 75 active ingredients4 in the inner gel which provide a wealth of health benefits. The active ingredient Aloverose is one of them. The Aloverose content is an indicator of the quality of the sample and how high the proportion of powerful substances contained within it are6.
Other ingredients include Anthraquinone, Fructose, Glucose, Glucomannans, Lignin, Saponins and Salicylic Acid7.
What Are Its Health Benefits?
The health benefits of Aloe Vera have been widely claimed throughout history, and it’s still used today to help with a variety of health problems and for its positive medicinal effects6.
Aloe Vera has long been used to treat skin complaints. Its moisturising properties can help with ailments such as Psoriasis, Eczema, burns and for wound healing. This has resulted in the use of Aloe Vera in cosmetic moisturisers and dry skin treatments6,8.
Taken for conditions such as diverticulitis, Aloe Vera is often used to aid digestive health. With the gastrointestinal tract layered with epithelial cells, it benefits from the nutrients and active ingredients found in the plant. Aloe Vera is seen to promote healthy digestion and help maintain intestinal function by reducing inflammation and disruption of these cells9.
Aloe Vera is said to promote healthy bowel movements, including regularity, performance and transit time. It can have positive effects on problems such as constipation and IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)2,6. Research has also shown signs that Aloe Vera can provide therapeutic effects on inflammatory bowel disease10.
Being so rich in nutrients allows Aloe Vera to contribute to the body’s natural defence systems by enhancing its ability to eliminate potentially harmful proteins from its system. Studies have shown it to have anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral effects11,12,13,14, giving Aloe Vera immune-boosting properties that could support the fight against a wide range of health conditions.
Being so beneficial to the body’s organs includes those of reproductive value, allowing Aloe Vera to help with the regulation of the female menstrual cycle15. Due to its theoretical effects on the uterus however, oral Aloe Vera is not usually recommended during pregnancy7.
We’ve already mentioned that Aloe Vera is rich in antioxidants. These powerful substances find free-radicals in the body which are caused by oxidation and stop them preventing further damage to vital cells and tissues6,7. Antioxidants are vital for improved health2, giving Aloe Vera yet another medicinal benefit.
Aloe Vera is a diverse plant, and it’s nutrient-rich properties give it so many possible uses in promoting positive health. The wide range of health benefits supported by Aloe Vera has made this valuable plant a time-tested formula to help with a range of ailments. It can be taken in several forms including tablets, capsules and topical gels. Aloe Vera is proving itself to be quite the multi-medicinal plant.
The beneficial effects of Aloe Vera on general fatigue has also been shown due to its property of promoting metabolism. The minerals and enzymes present in the plant are linked to the metabolic pathways in the body, providing energy and reducing fatigue6,7.
- Aloe Vera: History, uses and benefits (2016) Available at: https://www.disabled-world.com/artman/publish/aloe-vera.shtml
- Schwemmlein, S. (2016) Botany of Aloe Vera. Available at: https://www.aloe-medical-group.com/en/aloe-vera/botany.html
- Gupta, V.K. and Malhotra, S. (2012) ‘Pharmacological attribute of Aloe Vera: Revalidation through experimental and clinical studies’, An International Quarterly Journal of Research in Ayurveda, 33(2), p. 193-196
- Schwemmlein, S. (2016) Medicinal plants of ancient. Available at: https://www.aloe-medical-group.com/en/aloe-vera/history.html
- Surjushe, A., Vasani, R. and Saple, D.G. (2008) ‘Aloe vera: A short review’, Indian Journal of Dermatology, 53(4), pp. 163–166.
- Dal’Belo, S., Gaspar, L. and Campos, M. (2006) ‘Moisturizing effect of cosmetic formulations containing Aloe vera extract in different concentrations assessed by skin bioengineering techniques’, Skin Research and Technology, 12(4), pp. 241–6.
- Gundersen, M. (2015) Aloe Vera Gel: 7 Ways This Super Plant Improves Digestion. Available at: https://www.guthealthproject.com/aloe-vera-gel-6-ways-this-super-plant-improves-digestion/
- Landmead, L., Makins, R.J. and Rampton, D.S. (2004) ‘Anti-inflammatory effects of aloe vera gel in human colorectal mucosa in vitro’, Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 19(5), pp. 521–527.
- Habeeb, F., Shakir, E., Bradbury, F., Cameron, P., Taravati, M., Drummond, A., Gray, A. and Ferro, V. (2007) ‘Screening methods used to determine the anti-microbial properties of Aloe vera inner gel’, Methods, 42(4), pp. 315–20.
- Park, M.Y., Kwon, H.J., Sing, M.K. (2009) ‘Evaluation of aloin and aloe-emodin as anti-inflammatory agents in aloe by using murine macrophages’, Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry, 73(4), pp. 838-832
- Cellini, L., Di Bartolomeo, S., Di Campli, E., Genovese, S., Locatelli, M. and Di Giulio, M. (2014) ‘In vitro activity of aloe vera inner gel against helicobacter pylori strains’, Letters in Applied Microbiology, 59(1), pp. 43–48.
- Li, S.W., Yang, T.C., Lai, C.C., Huang, S.H., Liao, J.M., Wan, L., Lin, Y.J. and Lin, C.W. (2014) ‘Antiviral activity of aloe-emodin against influenza A virus via galectin-3 up-regulation’, European Journal of Pharmacology, 738(5), pp. 125–132.
- Agrawal, M. (2016) 9 home remedies to normalize menstruation cycle problems. Available at: https://www.inlifehealthcare.com/blog/reasons-for-irregular-periods/ - .WJ4Gh2X-1cA