Aloe Vera – the wonder plant from Africa
Legend has it that aloe vera has been used as a medicinal plant for more than 5000 years. While there are many different of species of aloe that grow naturally in Africa, it is only the aloe vera species that is believed to be beneficial for both internal and external applications. This in itself is a rare phenomena. Usually medicinal plants and herbs are used for application but very seldom can they be ingested for external remedies as well.
The aloe vera plant is said to have more than 200 active ingredients. The fleshy succulent leaves are made up of 99% water. When sliced the leaves produce a gel and it is this substance that holds great nutritional and medicinal value. Here are just a few of the listed health benefits:
Rich source of Vitamins and Minerals
Aloe vera is one of the few plant sources of vitamin B12. In addition it is a rich source of B6, B1, B2 and B3 (niacin), Vitamin A, C, E, choline and folic acid. Some of the trace minerals found in aloe vera include: Magnesium, selenium, calcium, potassium, manganese, iron, copper, zinc, and sodium.
Aids in detoxification and digestion
The gel like substance in aloe vera has distinct digestive benefits in the same way as other gelatinous foods such as chia seeds. In the digestive tract gelatinous foods have a way of absorbing toxins and transporting them out of the body through the colon. This has a detoxifying effect on the body. In addition to cleansing the digestive system, aloe vera has also shown to have a soothing effect on the body. In technical terms aloe vera is an adaptogen. This means it aids the body in adapting to changing circumstances stimulating the appropriate defence mechanisms. For example aloe vera can be used to treat either constipation of diarrhea. Aloe vera also helps stimulate digestive health by helping to keep healthy gut flora in balance.
Immune boosting and reduces inflammation
The adaptogen properties of aloe vera play a huge role in helping the body fight off infection. However, it is the polysaccharides in aloe vera that help boost the immune system. The polysaccharides stimulate white blood cells or microphages that are the body’s natural defence mechanism against fighting disease. Inflammation in linked to a wide variety of health issues. Aloe vera contains several substances including B-sisterole that help reduce inflammation and has proven effective in easing painful and stiff joints.
Anti-bacterial and microbial
The anti-bacterial properties of aloe vera are one of the reasons it is used for topical applications. Specifically compounds in aloe vera such as lupeol, sulphur and phenol help inhibit the growth of harmful and disease causing micro-organisms. Because of this aloe vera is also often used to help treat a variety of fungal or viral infections.
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