The aloe plant is a part of the lily family but it is Aloe barbadensis commonly called aloe Vera, which is of great significance. The health benefits of aloe Vera have been propagated throughout the world
Aloe Vera is available as a gel, spray, lotion, liquid, cream and in the form of a capsule.
The gel of aloe Vera has as many as 75 beneficial nutrients; drawn from the leaves it is potently medicinal.
Although aloe is 99 percent water, aloe gel also contains substances known as glycoproteins and polysaccharides. Glycoproteins speed the healing process by stopping pain and inflammation, while polysaccharides stimulate skin growth and repair. These substances may also stimulate the immune system.
The Aloe vera plant has been used for thousands of years to heal a variety of conditions, most notably burns, wounds, skin irritations, and constipation. It is grown in most subtropical and tropical locations, including South Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Aloe was one of the most frequently prescribed medicines throughout most of the 18th and 19th centuries and it remains one of the most commonly used herbs in the United States today. However, oral use of aloe for constipation is no longer recommended, as it can have severe side effects.
An attractive form of Aloe ferox is found in Kwazulu-Natal, particularly between the midlands and the coast in the Umkomaas and Umlaas river catchment areas.
Aloe – derived from the Greek word for the dried juice of aloe leaves. Ferox – “fierce” or “war-like” referring to the spiny edged leaves
The bitter aloe is most famous for its medicinal qualities. In parts of South Africa, the bitter yellow juice found just below the skin has been harvested as a renewable resource for two hundred years. The hard, black, resinous product is known as Cape aloes or aloe lump and is used mainly for its laxative properties but is also taken for arthritis.”Schwedenbitters” which is found in many pharmacies contains bitter aloe. The gel-like flesh from the inside of the leaves is used in cosmetic products and is reported to have wound healing properties
Aloe gel is considered safe when applied to the surface of the skin, but should not be applied to open or deep wounds. In rare cases, it may cause an allergic reaction, mainly a skin rash. If you develop a rash, stop using the gel.
Taking aloe latex orally may cause severe intestinal cramps or diarrhea and is not recommended. Pregnant women should never take aloe latex because it may cause uterine contractions and trigger miscarriage. Nursing mothers should not take aloe latex either because the effects and safety for infants and children are not known.
If you are currently being treated with any of the following medications, you should not use aloe vera without first talking to your doctor:
Medications for diabetes — The combination of aloe vera and glyburide, a medication used to treat type 2 diabetes, may help control blood sugar and triglyceride (fat) levels in the blood. People with diabetes who use aloe latex either alone or in combination with other medications must be monitored closely by their doctor to make sure blood sugar levels don’t fall too low (a condition called hypoglycemia).
Hydrocortisone — Aloe gel may enhance the ability of hydrocortisone to reduce swelling.
Digoxin and diuretics — Because taking oral aloe can decrease levels of potassium in the body, aloe latex should not be used by people taking diuretics (water pills) or digoxin (a medication used to treat irregular heart rhythms and congestive heart failure). These drugs also lower potassium levels in the body, so a combination of aloe and digoxin or diuretics could cause potassium levels to fall too low.