What we have here, is Aloe Vera!
This amazing plant has been used for centuries, and still today most people will know about its healing benefits. Many of us would have had parents / grandparents that grew it in the garden and broke the leaves off to squeeze the gel onto our latest cuts and scrapes.
It has been used since ancient times; “evidence has been found on a Mesopotamian clay tablet dating back to 2100 BC (Atherton 1998). It has been used as a treatment for ailments and as a general tonic by the ancient Romans, Greeks, Arabs, Indians and Spaniards. Legend has it; Alexander the Great captured an island in the Indian Ocean in order to access the Aloe Vera for his wounded army.” – Braun & Cohen, Herbs and Natural Supplements
Aloe Vera is a perennial succulent plant that looks like a cactus. It has yellow flowers and fleshy spear-like leaves, which can be up to 50cm in length. A mature plant may measure anywhere from ½ metre to almost 1½ metres in height.
In the 1930’s there was a development for the ‘modern’ use of aloe. A patient had suffered facial burns due to x-rays, and doctors managed to treat them with the topical use of fresh aloe gel. This encouraged more studies to be done on aloe and its healing properties. Needless to say aloe had been already used this way for centuries.
But topical use is only one side of this herb. It has many great therapeutic actions through internal use also.
Our gastrointestinal system is vital to our overall health; when it isn't functioning optimally it can lead to poor health and general feelings of malaise. Our skin, appearance, energy and vitality are a reflection of our inner digestive system. Irregular bowel function can create common symptoms such as wind, bloating digestive upset.
Aloe Vera is a digestive tonic that is soothing to the lining of the stomach and intestines and supports smooth and natural digestion. It can help to settle bloating, support bowel regularity and help to maintain friendly intestinal bacteria.
During the winter months, there can be a natural tendency to “hibernate”. With the shortened daylight hours and colder temperatures it may seem like a much nicer idea to relax on the couch than get out for a walk. This can create that sluggish feeling; not just in energy levels, but also in digestive function. Aloe Vera is the perfect every-day addition to support digestive function when we are feeling sluggish. But do you know of the additional benefits that taking aloe over the winter months can provide?
During winter there can also be additional immune challenges and aloe can help to support a healthy robust immune system. Aloe contains a component called acemannan which has shown to have immune supporting properties; it has shown to have a positive effect on the production of lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are the cells that are in charge of defending the body against disease.
In addition, over the colder months it can be common for people to take antibiotics. As antibiotics are non-selective they destroy both good and bad bacteria; this reduction of good bacteria within our digestive system can lead to digestive symptoms such as wind and bloating. Aloe can help to manage those symptoms.
As you can see, Aloe Vera is not just the perfect addition for the family first aid kit for when someone mistakenly catches a little too much summer sun, grazes their knee or burns themselves creating a culinary masterpiece. In addition to this it is a great all round herb for everyday internal use for not only digestion but immune system support too.
By Erica Matthews
Lifestream International Ltd
LifeStream Aloe Vera Gel with Vitamin E combines the legendary nourishing and soothing properties of Aloe Vera with the deep moisturising qualities of Vitamin E. It is available for secure order from our online shop.
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Aloe Vera is an amazing plant. What are your experiences with it?