Description: Aloe is a genus of flowering plants of xanthorei family, numbering about 500 species. Most of the species are succulents, growing in arid regions of tropical zone and having mechanisms for preserving water. Plants are distinguished by love for light and heat. Aloe are very diverse in size. It can be both trees 10 m high, and small plants. A characteristic feature of the genus is thick, sticky leaves that extend to all sides of the trunk, usually covered with whitish coating and equipped with spines at the edges. In nature, leaves of the plant serve to accumulate moisture. For medicinal purposes also mainly leaves are used, sometimes – parts of the stem.
In medicine, no more than a dozen or so species from the genus of aloe are used. Of these, the most famous for their medicinal properties are two – aloe vera or real aloe and dendritic aloe or century-plant. Although in everyday life, both these plants are often called simply aloe, which can cause confusion, since it is unclear what kind of plant it is.
Medicinal properties of both species are similar, but they have some differences. It is believed that tree-like aloe is more useful for treatment of skin diseases, wounds and cuts, and in aloe vera healing properties are more pronounced when applied internally.
Aloe is a unique plant. By the number of active biological substances contained in it (about 250), it has no equal among representatives of the flora. The main component of leaves of the plant is water (97%). Also in the leaves you can find:
- essential oils;
- simple organic acids (malic, citric, cinnamon, amber and others);
- vitamins (A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B9, C, E);
- amino acids (including glycine, glutamic and aspartic acids, essential amino acids);
- polysaccharides (glucomannans and acemannan);
- monosaccharides (glucose and fructose);
- microelements – selenium, calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, manganese, phosphorus, zinc, copper and others;
- alkaloids, including aloins.
As a rule, in medicine juice obtained from fleshy leaves or external parts of the stem (sapwood) are used. Can be used as fresh juice, or evaporated (sabur). Juice is obtained from freshly cut leaves. It is also possible to obtain juice using press. Aloe flower, despite its beauty, has no medical use.
Fresh juice and sabur are the most useful types of drugs. Their high effect is explained by complex effect on the body of various compounds. Individual plant components that can be found in various pharmaceutical preparations and cosmetics, due to use of preservatives, do not have such high effect.
In addition, in medicine and cosmetics, aloe oil is widely used. It is also made from leaves. In traditional and folk medicine, medicinal forms such as syrup, gel, ointment and liquid extract are also used. In some cases, extract can be injected intramuscularly.
The components of the plant have positive effect on the following systems and organs of human body:
- cardiovascular system;
- gastrointestinal tract;
- immune system;
- nervous system;
Also there are the following Aloe benefits you should note:
- have antifungal and antiviral action
- remove toxins from the body;
- increase general tone of the body;
- restore intestinal microflora;
- lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels;
- accelerate hair growth and prevent their loss;
- improve blood circulation;
- help with allergic diseases;
- relieve muscular, joint and dental pain;
- used in dentistry for treatment of stomatitis, gingivitis and plaque;
- used as prophylactic for cancer and ancillary for their therapy;
- have antioxidant, diuretic and laxative properties;ski
- used for treatment of respiratory diseases (tuberculosis, bronchial asthma, pneumonia);
- used in gynecology in treatment of diseases such as candidiasis, vaginosis, endometriosis, uterine fibroid, genital herpes.
Aloe juice has powerful bactericidal effect. It is active against:
- dysentery bacillus;
- typhoid bacillus;
- diphtheria bacillus.
Different compounds of pulp are responsible for improving performance of various body systems. For example, anti-inflammatory effect of the plant is explained by presence of salicylic acid, laxative – anthraquinone and aloin, choleretic – zinc and selenium, etc.
Application in gastroenterology
Sabur improves intestinal peristalsis. It can be used as laxative and choleretic agent, as well as means for improving digestion. In addition, preparations obtained from the plant are used at:
- ulcerative colitis;
- ulcer of the stomach and duodenum.
Application in dermatology
The greatest Aloe benefit is in treatment of skin diseases. For application on skin oil is most suitable. Oil has bactericidal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and wound-healing properties and is used to treat various dermatitis, rashes, psoriasis, urticaria, eczema, acne, pressure sores, burns, wounds.
Contained in the pulp polysaccharides and, above all, acemannan, have interesting property. Clinically proven that they are able to activate production of immune cells of the body – macrophages, which play the key role in repair of damaged tissues. This ability of azemannana is used in treatment of skin diseases.
Application in ophthalmology
Aloe juice can be used to treat various ophthalmic diseases – conjunctivitis, inflammation of mucous membrane, progressive myopia and even cataracts. Healing properties of aloe for eyes are explained by presence in the plant of a vast complex of vitamins, primarily vitamin A. Components contained in the juice improve blood supply to retina and surrounding tissues.
Application for treatment of cardiovascular diseases
Beneficial effect of plant components on cardiovascular system is due, first of all, to enzymes that reduce amount of harmful cholesterol and blood sugar and prevent formation of blood clots. As studies have shown, daily intake of 10- 20 ml juice can reduce total cholesterol by 15% for several months. Also, studies show that Aloe gel can reduce risk of coronary artery disease.
Intake of drugs from Aloe is contraindicated at:
- gastrointestinal disorders;
- individual intolerance;
- severe form of hypertension and severe cardiovascular pathologies;
- bleeding – hemorrhoidal, uterine, menstruation;
- hepatitis A;
- up to 3 years;
Ointments and oils used for wound healing and dermatology have fewer contraindications. In particular, they can be used by pregnant women. For treatment of children, ointments can be used starting from 1 year old.
Treatment of children under 12 years with internal means is recommended only after consultation with pediatrician. Caution is recommended when prescribing drugs from aloe vera to elderly patients. When lactating, use of internal drugs is also not recommended.
Most of compounds contained in the plant have positive effect on human body. However, there are exceptions to this rule and some patients may experience some of Aloe vera side effects.
- When using the extract, it should be remembered that bitter substances are contained in the leaf peel. But in itself bitterness is far from being their main drawback. Modern studies allow to conclude that alkaloid aloin that causes bitterness has carcinogenic properties. Although aloin in small concentration and with occasional use is not dangerous (moreover, it is used in laxative preparations based on aloe, and also used as food additive), but still when preparing juice from the leaves it is recommended to thoroughly pill them off.
- Also, the plant contains special enzymes – antaglycosides. When overdosed, they can lead to bleeding and miscarriages in pregnant women.
- With oral reception of the juice, there may be abnormalities of digestive tract – dyspepsia, heartburn, diarrhea, abdominal pain. Occasionally, appearance of blood in urine, violations of heart rhythm, muscle weakness. It is not recommended to take plant preparations just before bedtime, as this can cause insomnia.