Aloe |ˈalō| noun
1 a succulent plant, typically having a rosette of toothed fleshy leaves and bell-shaped or tubular flowers on long stems. Native to the Old World tropics, several species are cultivated commercially or as ornamentals.
• Genus Aloe, family Liliaceae (or Aloaceae).
• (aloes or bitter aloes) a strong laxative obtained from the bitter juice of various kinds of aloe.
• (also American aloe) another term for century plant.
2 (aloes) (also aloeswood) the fragrant heartwood of a tropical Asian tree.
• The wood is obtained from two trees of the genus Aquilaria, family Thymelaeaceae, esp. Aloe agallocha.
• the resin obtained from this wood, used in perfume, incense, and medicine.
ORIGIN Old English alewe, alwe (denoting the fragrant resin or heartwood of certain Oriental trees), via Latin from Greek aloē; reinforced in late Middle English by Old French aloes ‘aloe,’ hence frequently used in the plural.
Aloe /ˈæloʊ/, also Aloë, is a genus containing about 500 species of flowering succulent plants. The most widely known species is Aloe vera, or "true aloe", so called because, though probably extinct in the wild, it is cultivated as the standard source of so-called "aloe vera" for assorted pharmaceutical purposes. Other species, such as Aloe ferox also are cultivated or harvested from the wild for similar applications.
The genus is native to Africa; species are found in southern Africa, the mountains of tropical Africa, various islands off the coast of Africa including Madagascar, and the Arabian Peninsula.
The APG III system (2009) places the genus in the family Xanthorrhoeaceae, subfamily Asphodeloideae. In the past it has also been assigned to families Aloaceae and Liliaceae or lily family. The plant Agave americana, which is sometimes called "American aloe", belongs to the Asparagaceae, a different family.
Most Aloe species have a rosette of large, thick, fleshy leaves. The rosette may appear to be stemless or may be borne on a branched or unbranched stem; some species native to South Africa are treelike. Aloe flowers are tubular, frequently yellow, orange, pink or red, and are borne, densely clustered and pendant, at the apex of simple or branched, leafless stems.
Aloe species are frequently cultivated as ornamental plants both in gardens and in pots. Many aloe species are highly decorative and are valued by collectors of succulents. Aloe vera is used both internally and externally on humans, and is claimed to have some medicinal effects, which have been supported by scientific and medical research. They can also be made into types of special soaps.
Aloe Vera Plants
Aloe Vera |ˈalō ˈverə; ˈvi(ə)rə| noun
1 a gelatinous substance obtained from a kind of aloe, used esp. in cosmetics as an emollient and for the treatment of burns.
2 the plant that yields this substance, grown chiefly in the Caribbean area and the southern U.S.
• Aloe vera, family Liliaceae (or Aloaceae).
ORIGIN early 20th cent.: modern Latin, literally ‘true aloe,’ probably in contrast to the American agave, which closely resembles aloe vera: both plants were formerly classified together in the lily family.
Aloe vera is a succulent plant species that probably originated in northern Africa. The species does not have any naturally occurring populations, although closely related aloes do occur in northern Africa. The species is frequently cited as being used in herbal medicine since the beginning of the first century AD.
Extracts from Aloe vera are widely used in the cosmetics and alternative medicine industries, being marketed as variously having rejuvenating, healing or soothing properties. There is, however, little scientific evidence of the effectiveness or safety of Aloe vera extracts for either cosmetic or medicinal purposes, and what positive evidence is available is frequently contradicted by other studies.
The Aloe is not necessarily the Aloe found in the health food store. Several Aloes have flowers with nectar that can be consumed, much like the nectar of the Tulip Tree blossom. Among the sippable blossoms are Aloe ferox and Aloe marlothii. Aloe zebrina has edible flowers and buds after being boiled. In Angola they are pressed into cakes. Aloe greatheadii flower buds are a delicacy after being boiled in three changes of water. There is no report on the edibility of Aloe vera flowers. But since the Aloe vera plant is medicinal, I would not eat them.
Aloe as a Dietary Supplement
Aloin, a compound found in the exudate of some Aloe species, was the common ingredient in over-the-counter (OTC) laxative products in the United States prior to 2003, when the Food and Drug Administration ruled that aloin was a class III ingredient, thereby banning its use. Aloe vera has potential toxicity, with side-effects occurring at some dose levels both when ingested or applied topically. Although toxicity may be less when aloin is removed by processing, aloe vera that contains aloin in excess amounts may induce side-effects. A 2-year National Toxicology Program (NTP) study on oral consumption of non-decolorized whole leaf extract of Aloe vera found evidence of carcinogenic activity in male and female rats. The NTP says more information is needed to determine the potential risks to humans.
Aloe vera juice is marketed to support the health of the digestive system, but there is neither scientific evidence nor regulatory approval to support this claim. The extracts and quantities typically used for such purposes appear to be dose-dependent for toxic effects.
Aloe Drinks & Beverages
Lots of people are already familiar with the many benefits of using Aloe Vera on the skin - for rashes, cuts, bruises, sunburn and so on. But not so many people know about the health benefits of drinking aloe vera juice.
Aloe vera juice is completely safe and it’s very versatile. It’s actually called an "adaptogen" because it literally adapts to the body’s needs. Many of the benefits of drinking aloe vera juice stem from the fact that it naturally contains so many different nutrients: vitamins, minerals, amino acids and other trace elements.
These are all perfectly balanced in a proportion that is ideally suited for the body to utilize effectively for its own healing and repair. So it’s not quite true that aloe vera juice is a miracle cure. It’s more that it contains so much nutrition that’s vital for the body to heal itself…
Here, in no particular order, is a guide to the top ten health benefits of drinking aloe vera juice:
1. Detox: Aloe vera juice is a great natural aid to detox. With our stressful lives, the pollution around us and the junk foods we eat, we all need to cleanse our systems from time to time. Some people more often than others! Drinking aloe vera juice provides a fantastically rich cocktail of vitamins, minerals and trace elements to help our bodies deal with these stresses and strains everyday.
2. Healthy Digestion: A healthy digestive system makes sure that we absorb as many of the nutrients as possible from the foods we eat. Aloe vera juice has natural detoxifying abilities; and drinking aloe vera juice seems to improve bowel regularity and increases protein absorption. It also helps to decrease the amount of unfriendly bacteria and yeast in our gut. Aloe vera has been shown to help reduce and soothe heartburn and other digestive problems.
3. Natural Immune Support: Aloe vera is full of anti-oxidants – natural immune enhancers which fight free radicals within our body. Free radicals are the unstable compounds produced as a side-effect of our metabolism. They are thought to cause various ailments, as well as contributing to the ageing process. Drinking aloe vera juice regularly gives the body a regular supply of anti-oxidants, which can boost and enhance the immune system.
4. Reduce Inflammation: Aloe vera juice contains 12 substances which can slow down or inhibit inflammation, without any side-effects. Some people say that drinking aloe vera juice helps with their stiff, swollen or painful joints.
5. Collagen and Elastin Repair for Healthy Skin: Drinking aloe vera juice adds a rich supply of raw materials to your diet, which can produce and maintain really healthy skin. The skin replaces itself every 28 days. Using the nutritional building blocks of aloe vera, the skin can use these nutrients daily to help combat the effects of ageing. Aloe vera also helps in soothing minor burns, cuts, scrapes and skin irritations.
6. Regulate Weight & Energy Levels: Drinking aloe vera juice naturally allows the body to cleanse the digestive system. Our diets include many substances which can cause fatigue and exhaustion. Taken regularly, aloe vera juice ensures a greater feeling of well-being, allowing energy levels to increase and helps maintain a healthy body weight.
7. Daily Dose of Vitamins & Minerals: Aloe vera juice contains vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B12 (the aloe vera plant is one of the few plants in the world to contain vitamin B12), C, E, Folic Acid and Niacin. The human body cannot store some of these vitamins, so we need to supplement them regularly through our diet. The minerals found in aloe vera include Calcium, Sodium, Iron, Potassium, Copper, Zinc, Manganese, Magnesium, Chromium and more… Plenty of good nutrition in aloe vera juice!
8. Amino Acids: The human body requires 20 amino acids to build protein; 8 of these amino acids are ‘essential’ which means the body can’t make them itself. Aloe vera contains 19 of these amino acids, and 7 of the essential amino acids. So drinking aloe vera juice tops up your body’s daily supply.
9. Dental Health: Aloe vera is extremely helpful for your mouth and gums. As well as its natural anti-bacterial and anti-microbial actions, it contains vitamins and minerals which promote cell growth and healing. There are some aloe vera toothgels available which contain a high level of pure aloe vera, which may help with bleeding gums and mouth ulcers.
10. Better than Nutritional Supplements: Recent research has shown that adding good foods to our diets, rich in naturally occurring vitamins and minerals, is far better than adding supplements alone. The good news is that Aloe Vera juice is considered a food, rather than a manufactured supplement. So drinking aloe vera juice is probably better than taking supplements alone, because our bodies can absorb all the nutrients in aloe vera more easily, and utilize them more effectively.
Aloe Vera for Beauty & Cosmetics
Aloe vera is now used on facial tissues, where it is promoted as a moisturiser and/or anti-irritant to reduce chafing of the nose of users suffering hay-fever or cold. It is common practice for cosmetic companies to add sap or other derivatives from Aloe vera to products such as makeup, tissues, moisturizers, soaps, sunscreens, incense, shaving cream or shampoos. Other uses for extracts of aloe vera include the dilution of semen for the artificial fertilization of sheep, as a fresh food preservative, or for water conservation in small farms. It has also been suggested that biofuels could be obtained from Aloe vera seeds. Aloe is also used as a food substance, possibly for its gelling properties.
Preparations made from the plant Aloe vera are often referred to as "aloe vera". Scientific evidence for the cosmetic and therapeutic effectiveness of aloe vera is limited and when present is frequently contradictory. Despite this, the cosmetic and alternative medicine industries regularly make claims regarding the soothing, moisturizing, and healing properties of aloe vera. Aloe vera gel is used as an ingredient in commercially available lotions, yogurt, beverages, and some desserts, although at certain doses, it has toxic properties when used either for ingested or topical applications.
Looking for an all-natural toothpaste for those pearly whites? If you question what chemicals could be lurking in those brand name toothpastes, here’s an easy DIY project that wil yield refreshing, non-toxic aloe vera toothpaste gel. All you need is four ingredients: aloe vera gel (it’s best if you get it straight from the plant), baking soda, vegetable glycerin and fresh mint. In just five minutes you’ll have a soothing, antibacterial toothpaste that’s good for you and your teeth.
Making your own toothpaste is much easier than it seems. All you need is a juicy Aloe Vera plant and two or three items from the store: baking soda and vegetable glycerin - which are easy to find and cost just a few dollars. The third item is fresh mint, which is easy to grow in your garden - so if you have some homegrown mint on hand, even better. Aloe Vera has plenty of goodness: it’s fresh, digestive, it is used as moisturizer and for treating wounds, and it is antibacterial and soothing.
Looking more like a fresh gel than the white paste we squeeze and taste every morning (which is more often than not full of ingredients that are unnecessary and even harmful), this refreshing mix has only four ingredients, and takes five minutes and zero (electric) energy to make! Get a new jump start on your day, and read on to see how to make Aloe Vera toothpaste - your kids can even help you whip up a batch!
- Find Aloe Vera (Grow Aloe in a pot by your Kitchen Sink): You can either buy or plant an Aloe Vera plant, or check around your neighborhood, at parks, and ask friends and family if they know where any Aloe Vera plants are located. Aloe is plentiful and very easy to find - and while most species are edible, double-check your finds (as some types of Aloe Vera have laxative effects).
- Gather The Ingredients:
- 3 tsp. of aloe vera gel
- 5 tsp. of baking soda
- 5 tsp. of vegetable glycerin
- freshly chopped mint
- Cut the Aloe Vera: First things first: cut off the spikes and open through the fleshy leaf with a sharp knife.
- Get The Gel: Scrape the gel with a spoon or knife.
- Smash The Gel: Use a knife to chop the Aloe Vera gel into small juicy bits.
- Chop the Mint: Chop a bit of mint very finely for flavor, or you can add 10 drops of eucalyptus, peppermint, cinnamon or spearmint oil.
- Mix everything: Mix the Aloe Vera gel with the mint, add 5 tsp. of baking soda and 5 tsp. of vegetable glycerin, mix again.
- Pack it: You could reuse an empty cream pot or buy one that you like, glass is preferable for purity, but plastic is better for traveling with the Aloe Vera toothpaste you made yourself.
Aloe Health Benefits
Aloe vera is used to heal skin wounds, heal burn, blisters, healing rashes, healing fungus, vaginal infections, reduce eczema, sores, herpes, conjunctivitis, allergic reactions, on dry skins to give them glowing effect, speeding recovery time aftersurgery, healing insect bites, healing urticaria, acne, sunburn, frostbite, psoriasis, rosacea, warts, burn healing, wound healing, sunburn, radiation-induced skin reactions, genital herpes, psoriasis, ulcers, diabetes, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, immune support, constipation. Aloe vera is also used in makeup, tissues, moisturizers, soaps, sunscreens, incense, razors and shampoos.
The aloe vera grows only under the sun with well drained dry or moist soil. Although the plant tastes terrible, it’s still edible. The sap from aloe vera is extremely useful to speed up the healing and reducing the risk of infections for: wounds, cuts, burns, eczema, reducing inflammation. Apart from its external use on the skin, aloe vera is also taken internally in the treatment of: ulcerative colitis (drinking aloe vera juice), chronic constipation, poor appetite, and digestive problems.
Transparent gel from the pulp of the meaty leaves of Aloe vera has been used topically for thousands of years to treat wounds, skin infections, burns, and numerous other dermatologic conditions. Dried latex from the inner lining of the leaf has traditionally been used as an oral laxative.
There is strong scientific evidence in support of the laxative properties of aloe latex, based on the well-established cathartic properties of anthraquinone glycosides (found in aloe latex). However, aloe's therapeutic value compared with other approaches to constipation remains unclear. There is promising preliminary support from laboratory, animal, and human studies that topical aloe gel has immunomodulatory properties that may improve wound healing and skin inflammation.
Aloe (often called aloe vera) is a plant related to cactus. It produces two substances, gel and latex, which are used for medicines. Aloe gel is the clear, jelly-like substance found in the inner part of the aloe plant leaf. Aloe latex comes from just under the plant's skin and is yellow in color. Some aloe products are made from the whole crushed leaf, so they contain both gel and latex.
Aloe medications can be taken by mouth or applied to the skin. Aloe gel is taken by mouth for osteoarthritis, bowel diseases including ulcerative colitis, fever, itching and inflammation, and as a general tonic. It is also used for stomach ulcers, diabetes, asthma, and for treating some side effects of radiation treatment.
But most people use aloe gel topically, as a remedy for skin conditions including burns, sunburn, frostbite, psoriasis, and cold sores. Some people also use aloe gel to help surgical wounds and bedsores heal faster. There is some science supporting these uses. Some chemicals in aloe gel seem to be able to increase circulation in the tiny blood vessels in the skin, as well as kill bacteria. Together, these effects suggest that aloe gel might be effective in speeding wound healing. But it’s too early to come to that conclusion. Evidence is contradictory. One study suggests that aloe gel may actually delay wound healing.
Some people take aloe latex by mouth, usually for constipation. Less often, aloe latex is used orally for epilepsy, asthma, colds, bleeding, absence of menstrual periods, colitis, depression, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, hemorrhoids, varicose veins, bursitis, osteoarthritis, and glaucoma and other vision problems.
But taking aloe latex by mouth is likely unsafe, especially at high doses. There is some concern that some of the chemicals found in aloe latex might cause cancer. Additionally, aloe latex is hard on the kidneys and could lead to serious kidney disease and even death.
A number of years ago, the FDA became concerned about the safety of aloe latex, which was an ingredient in many laxatives. The FDA’s concern was heightened by the fact that people develop a kind of “tolerance” to aloe latex. They have to take more and more of it to get a laxative effect. That means they are likely to increase their dose -- and their risk. The FDA requested safety data from the makers of laxatives that contained aloe latex, but they didn’t comply, possibly because of the expense involved in doing safety studies. In the absence of safety data, the FDA required manufacturers to remove or reformulate all over-the-counter (OTC) laxative products in the U.S. market that contained aloe. The deadline for compliance was November 5, 2002.
Why do people use aloe vera?
Research backs up the ancient use of topical aloe vera as a skin treatment, at least for specific conditions. Studies have shown that aloe gel might be effective in treating psoriasis, seborrhea, dandruff, and minor burns and skin abrasions, as well as radiation-induced skin injuries. Aloe gel also seems helpful in treating the sores caused by genital herpes in men.
There’s also strong evidence that aloe juice (also called latex) taken by mouth is a powerful laxative. In fact, aloe juice was once sold in over-the-counter constipation drugs. But because aloe’s safety was not well-established, the FDA required that aloe be removed from all medications in 2002.
Other uses of oral and topical aloe vera have been studied, ranging from cancer prevention to diabetes to easing the side effects of radiation therapy. For example, aloe vera gel taken orally seems to help people with diabetes by lowering blood sugar levels. It may also help to lower cholesterol. The results for other medical conditions have been less clear.
How much aloe vera should you use?
Creams and gels with aloe vera vary in dosage. Some creams for minor burns have just 0.5% aloe vera. Others used for psoriasis may contain as much as 70% aloe vera. As an oral supplement, aloe has no set dose. For constipation, some use 100-200 milligrams of aloe juice -- or 50 milligrams of aloe extract -- daily as needed. For diabetes, 1 tablespoon of the gel has been used daily. High oral doses of aloe or aloe latex are dangerous. Ask your doctor for advice on how to use aloe.
Can you get aloe vera naturally from foods?
There are no food sources of aloe vera.
How does aloe vera work?
The useful parts of aloe are the gel and latex. The gel is obtained from the cells in the center of the leaf; and the latex is obtained from the cells just beneath the leaf skin. Aloe gel might cause changes in the skin that might help diseases like psoriasis. Aloe seems to be able to speed wound healing by improving blood circulation through the area and preventing cell death around a wound. It also appears that aloe gel has properties that are harmful to certain types of bacteria and fungi. Aloe latex contains chemicals that work as a laxative.
What are the risks of using aloe vera?
Side effects: Topical aloe vera might cause skin irritation. Oral aloe, which has a laxative effect, can cause cramping and diarrhea. This may cause electrolyte imbalances in the blood of people who ingest aloe for more than a few days. It can also stain the colon, thus making it difficult to visualize the colon during a colonoscopy. So avoid it for a month prior. Aloe gel, for topical or oral use, should be free of athroquinones (primarily the compound aloin). These are the compounds that can be irritating to the gastrointestinal tract.
Risks: Do not apply topical aloe vera to deep cuts or severe burns. People allergic to garlic, onions, and tulips are more likely to be allergic to aloe. High doses of oral aloe are dangerous. Long-term use may increase the risk of colorectal cancer. Don’t take oral aloe if you have intestinal problems, heart disease, hemorrhoids, kidney problems, diabetes, or electrolyte imbalances.
Interactions: If you take any drugs regularly, talk to your doctor before you start using aloe supplements. They could interact with medicines and supplements like diabetes drugs, heart drugs, laxatives, steroids, and licorice root. Given the lack of evidence about its safety, aloe vera supplements should not be used by children and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Historical Aloe Uses
Historical use of various aloe species is well documented. Documentation of the clinical effectiveness is available, although relatively limited. The aloe that is mentioned in the Bible is an unrelated fragrant wood used as incense.
Of the 500+ species, only a few were used traditionally as a herbal medicine, Aloe vera again being the most commonly used species. Also included are A. perryi and A. ferox. The Ancient Greeks and Romans used Aloe vera to treat wounds. In the Middle Ages, the yellowish liquid found inside the leaves was favored as a purgative. Unprocessed aloe that contains aloin is generally used as a laxative, whereas processed Aloe vera juice does not usually contain significant aloin.
Some species, particularly Aloe vera, are used in alternative medicine and first aid. Both the translucent inner pulp and the resinous yellow aloin from wounding the aloe plant are used externally to relieve skin discomforts. As an herbal medicine, Aloe vera juice is commonly used internally to relieve digestive discomfort.
There have been relatively few studies about possible benefits of aloe gel taken internally. Components of Aloe have shown the possibility of inhibiting tumor growth in animal studies, but these effects have not been demonstrated clinically in humans. There have been some studies in animal models which indicate that extracts of Aloe have a significant anti-hyperglycemic effect, and may be useful in treating Type II diabetes, but these studies have not been confirmed in humans.
Aloin in OTC Laxative Products
On May 9, 2002, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a final rule banning the use of aloin, the yellow sap of the aloe plant for use as a laxative ingredient in over-the-counter drug products. Most aloe juices today do not contain significant aloin.
New book reveals secret Brazilian Aloe Arborescens recipe for curing cancer using just three ingredients
Aloe in International Cultures
The Aloe flower signifies "grief". The aloe that is mentioned in the Bible is an unrelated fragrant wood used as incense.
The natural range of Aloe vera is unclear, as the species has been widely cultivated throughout the world. Naturalised stands of the species occur in the southern half of the Arabian peninsula, through North Africa (Morocco, Mauritania, Egypt) as well as Sudan and neighbouring countries, along with the Canary, Cape Verde, and Madeira Islands.
This distribution is somewhat similar to the one of Euphorbia balsamifera, Pistacia atlantica, and a few others, suggesting that a dry sclerophyl forest once covered large areas, but has been dramatically reduced due to desertification in the Sahara, leaving these few patches isolated. Several closely related (or sometimes identical) species can be found on the two extreme sides of the Sahara: Dragon trees (Dracaena) and Aeonium being two of the most representative examples.
The species was introduced to China and various parts of southern Europe in the 17th century. The species is widely naturalised elsewhere, occurring in temperate and tropical regions of Australia, Barbados, Belize, Nigeria, Paraguay and the United States It has been suggested that the actual species' distribution is the result of human cultivation.
Large scale agricultural production of Aloe vera is undertaken in Australia, Bangladesh, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, China, Mexico, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa, along with the USA to supply the cosmetics industry with Aloe vera gel.
For thousands of years, people have used the gel from aloe vera leaves for healing and softening the skin. Aloe has also long been a folk treatment for constipation. Early records of Aloe vera use appear in the Ebers Papyrus from 16th century BC, in both Dioscorides' De Materia Medica and Pliny the Elder's Natural History written in the mid-first century AD along with the Juliana Anicia Codex produced in 512 AD. The species is used widely in the traditional herbal medicine of many countries. Aloe vera, called kathalai in Ayurvedic medicine, is used as a multipurpose skin treatment. This may be partly due to the presence of saponin, a chemical compound that acts as an anti-microbial agent.
The species has a number of synonyms: Aloe barbadensis Mill., Aloe indica Royle, Aloe perfoliata L. var. vera and Aloe vulgaris Lam. Common names include Chinese Aloe, Indian Aloe, True Aloe, Barbados Aloe, Burn Aloe, First Aid Plant. The species epithet vera means "true" or "genuine". Some literature identifies the white spotted form of Aloe vera as Aloe vera var. chinensis; however, the species varies widely with regard to leaf spots and it has been suggested that the spotted form of Aloe vera may be conspecific with Aloe massawana.
The species was first described by Carl Linnaeus in 1753 as Aloe perfoliata var. vera, and was described again in 1768 by Nicolaas Laurens Burman as Aloe vera in Flora Indica on April 6 and by Philip Miller as Aloe barbadensis some ten days after Burman in the Gardener's Dictionary.
Techniques based on DNA comparison suggest that Aloe vera is relatively closely related to Aloe perryi, a species that is endemic to Yemen. Similar techniques, using chloroplast DNA sequence comparison and ISSR profiling have also suggested that Aloe vera is closely related to Aloe forbesii, Aloe inermis, Aloe scobinifolia, Aloe sinkatana, and Aloe striata. With the exception of the South African species Aloe striata, these Aloe species are native to Socotra (Yemen), Somalia, and Sudan. The lack of obvious natural populations of the species has led some authors to suggest that Aloe vera may be of hybrid origin.
Aloe vera news, articles and information from NaturalNews.com