Aloe Vera Medicinal Plant For The 21st Century Biology Essay

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Introduction:-Aloe is one of the oldest healing plants known to mankind. It is even described in the bible for its healing properties. Hundreds of Scientific Research Papers describe the activities of Aloe Vera taken internally or applied externally to the skin or hair. These Research Papers include, but are not limited to the following nutritional uses: A natural cleaner, powerful in penetrating tissue, relieving pain associated with the joints and muscles, bactericidal, acts as a strong antibiotic, virucidale when in direct contact for long periods, fungicidal, anti-inflammatory, instrumental in increasing circulation to area, breaks down and digests dead tissue, and moisturizes tissues.

Aloe has been used topically for cuts, burns, insect stings, bruises, acne and blemishes, poison ivy, welts, skin lesions, eczema, and sunburns. Aloe also has a history of traditional use by Native Americans for stomach disorders and intestinal disorders including constipation, hemorrhoids, colitis and colon problems. Additionally, numerous constituents within aloe vera have demonstrated enhancement of immune system functioning within the body.

This plant has been traditionally used through the centuries; for both internal ingestion as well as for topical purposes. Historically, the aloe plant has enjoyed wide use for its enhancement of normal gastrointestinal functioning. It has been used by many for constipation, intestinal colic, and inflammatory conditions of the small and large intestine and for digestive disturbances. Topically, aloe has demonstrated benefits in assisting in the healing of minor cuts, wounds and burns. More recent research and clinical use has shown even wider applications for this amazing plant including enhancing immunity, balancing blood sugar and providing pain relief.

With the impressive elements found in Aloe that work in synergy with one another, it's no wonder that Aloe Vera is so effective in the nutritional assistance and supplementation of the human metabolism.

Constituents: There are over 100 active biologic constituents found within aloe. The plant is a rich source of many natural health-promoting substances including:

Ligin - This cellulose substance is found in the gel has no known medical properties except it posses the property of penetrating the human skin.

• Saponins - These form soapy lathers when mixed and agitated with water. They have been used in detergents, foaming agents and contain antiseptic properties.

• Anthraquinones - There are 12 of these contained in the sap of Aloe Vera: Aloin,Isobarbaloin, Anthracene, Emodin, Ester of Cinnamonic acid, Chrysophanic acid,Barbaloin, Anthranol, Aloetic acid, Aloe Emodin, Ethereal oil and Resistannol.These act as natural laxatives, painkillers and analgesics, and they contain powerful antibacterial, antifungal and virucidal properties.

• Minerals -

Aloe Vera contains the following minerals:

Calcium (essential for proper bone and teeth density)

Manganese (a component of enzymes necessary for the activation of other enzymes)

Sodium (ensures that the body fluids do not become too acidic or too alkaline)

Copper (enables iron to work as oxygen carriers in the red blood cells)

Magnesium (used by nerves and muscle membranes to help conduct electrical


Potassium (regulates the acidic or alkaline levels of body fluid)

Zinc (contributes to the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates and fats)

Chromium (necessary for the proper function of insulin, which in turn controls the

sugar levels in the blood)

Iron (controls the transportation of oxygen around the body via the red blood cells)

• Vitamins - Aloe Vera contains numerous vitamins:

Vitamins A, C, & E (crucial antioxidants that combat dangerous free radicals in the body)

Vitamin B & Choline (concerned with the production of energy, amino acid

metabolism and developing muscle mass)

Vitamin B12 (responsible for the production of red blood cells)

Folic acid (helps develop new blood cells)

• Amino Acids - Amino Acids are the building blocks of protein, which manufacture and repair muscle tissue. The human body requires 22 amino acids and needs 8 essential ones. Aloe Vera provides 20 of 22 required amino acids and 7 of 8 essential ones.

• Enzymes - Some of the most important enzymes in Aloe Vera are: Peroxidase,Aliiase, Catalase, Lipase, Cellulase, Carboxypeptidase, Amylase and Alkaline Phosphatase. Enzymes help to break down food and assist in digestion. Some enzymes help break down fats while others break down starches and sugars. • Sugars - Aloe Vera contains both monosaccharides, such as glucose and fructose, and polysaccharides. Polysaccharides are the most important types of sugars. They aid in proper digestion, maintain cholesterol levels, improve liver functions and promote the strengthening of bones.

• Sterols - Sterols are important anti-inflammatory agents. The ones found in Aloe Vera are: Cholesterol, Sitosterol, Campesterol and Lupeol. These sterols contain antiseptic and analgesic properties. They also have pain killing properties similar toaspirin.

Gibberellin - A growth factor which assists in healing.

Polysaccharides - Including B1-3 and B1-4 Glucomannans known for their immune stimulating effects Based on its constituent make up, aloe has a wide array of applications.

Medicinal Uses of Aloe Vera

1. Wound healing - Numerous studies have shown improved wound healing in both diabetics as well as non diabetic individuals using Aloe Vera. Aloe stimulates epidermal growth factor (responsible for enhancing skin growth), and enhances fibroblast function (cells responsible for collagen formation). This results in the "healing and sealing" of wounds and makes topical Aloe an important product for assistance in the healing of minor burns, cuts, scrapes and even skin ulcers.

2. Immune modulation - Research has indicated that Aloe has the ability to stimulate macrophages. Macrophages help the immune system to "see" dangerous microorganisms and tumor cells and assist in their destruction. The long chain polysaccharides (B1-3 and B1-4 Glucomannans) have direct immune enhancing and modulating properties. These properties include increasing immune cell production and stimulating and improving white blood cell activity. Aloe thus provides excellent nutritional support for an optimum functioning immune system.

3. Enhancing GI functioning - Dr. Jeff Bland studied the effects of Aloe on the GI (gastrointestinal) tract. He found improved bowel regularity, increased protein absorption, decreased unfriendly bacteria and yeast and increased water content of the stool. In this study the use of aloe also resulted in an overall improvement in an individual's energy and sense of well- being in addition to enhanced bowel functioning.

4. Anti-inflammatory - Aloe has shown biologic anti-inflammatory properties over a wide range of animal experiments. The sterols in Aloe have strong abilities to inhibit acute inflammation, similarly to cortisone, without any of the side effects. It is believed that aloe works in a manner similar to aspirin in blocking prostaglandin effects but this remains to be proven.

Additional Uses:

1. Analgesia (Pain Relief) - A number of the smaller chain polysaccharides found within aloe have anti-inflammatory activity, as do the plant sterols. Numerous pain conditions, such as arthritis, involve inflammation. Aloe may reduce joint and muscle pain due to its anti-inflammatory properties.

2. Blood Sugar Balancing - Lowering of the blood sugar has been observed in individuals ingesting Aloe on a regular basis. One single-blind study in Thailand reported that combining 1-tablespoon of Aloe Juice twice daily with glyburide (a medication to lower blood sugar in diabetics), significantly improved blood sugar and lipid levels in people with diabetes, compared with placebo. Previously, glyburide by itself had not effectively controlled the diabetes in the people in this study. Aloe may therefore have numerous beneficial effects in diabetic individuals.

Recommended Use:

Juices - 2 to 4 oz. daily for wellness and prevention purposes, 6 to 12 oz daily for intensive tissue and organ support

Topical - Apply 1 to 3 times daily as needed

Side Effects:

As aloe juice may lower blood sugar, careful monitoring of blood glucose is recommended for diabetic individuals currently on blood sugar lowering medication