by Dr. Amy Wiesner
Aloe has been used and documented for thousands of years. There are several references to it in the Bible. Cleopatra was said to have used it to enhance her beauty.
In China, aloe has been used for thousands of years for gastric discomfort. It is prescribed for parasites, constipation and digestive discomfort. Alexander the Great used it to treat his army’s wounds.
Todays modern research has defined why it has been so beneficial and such a permanent part of medicine throughout history.
Dr. Jeffrey Bland found that aloe decreased toxicity of the colon and normalized the bowel flora. It has also been found that aloe lowers gastric pH, which in turn prevents and in some cases cures, ulcers. Overall, it has a stabilizing and anti-inflammatory effect on the entire digestive tract which is one of the reasons it’s touted for helping Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
Aloe also has antioxidant properties. This is beneficial for both internal and external use of aloe. Internally it would help to decrease stress on the body and inflammation; externally it can help to decrease stress that can contribute to signs of aging. It has also been suggested that aloe’s antioxidant potential could both prevent and treat diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Externally, aloe has been used as a first aid remedy for the skin before we had topical antibiotics. Not only does it increase absorption of whatever it is mixed with, but aloe itself has been shown to have anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties--both internally and externally. It is also anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing (as anyone who has used it on a sunburn knows!). Aloe also shows influence on the skin’s collagen formation, which is useful both for wounds and for anti-aging applications.
It should be noted that aloe seems to work better whole, rather than being separated for its numerous beneficial constituents. You can buy aloe as “inner leaf” or “whole leaf”, the inner leaf constituting the gel only whereas the whole leaf includes the protective green leaf encasing, which has its own health benefits. There are over 200 biologically active compounds in the Aloe plant and they support each other in their work.
Image courtesy of CalmingCorners.com.