The gel and latex like substance found in the aloe plant have a reputation as being healing substances. Known as the “plant of immortality,” cultures throughout the world have used aloe for its medicinal and skin care properties.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, aloe contains 75 active components, including vitamins, minerals, enzymes, sugars, anthraquinones (also known as laxatives), fatty acids, hormones amino acids.
And while there is little to no professional medical backing to the benefits of aloe, peoples in Greece, Egypt, India, Mexico, Japan and China have used aloe for centuries to heal wounds, to moisturize skin and hair and to promote digestion or to use as a laxative.
Until 2002, the FDA approved aloe as an ingredient in over-the-counter laxatives. Aloin, which is the yellow-brown substance found in the leaf near the base of the plant contains anthrquinones phenolic compounds, also known as laxatives, have been known to cause diarrhea and dehydration.
Because of its nutrient-rich gel, aloe juice has more recently been dubbed a “super food.” With celebrities, such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Victoria Beckham, backing its skin-improving components, the use of aloe, particularly in juices has taken off over recent years. And with popularity, the aloe plant has become part of a controversy over whether the plant has positive or negative effects on the body.
While Simply Well respects FDA findings and understand that all nutritional and medicinal products should be taken under supervision, the aloe gel inside the aloe plant, which is 99-percent water, does have vitamins and minerals the body can process. Taken in moderation, people have benefitted from the vitamin and nutrient rich substance, which includes, but is not limited to, Vitamin A, B12, C, E, folic acid and niacin.
Vitamins A, C and E are antioxidants, which neutralize free radicals that could damage cells. Enzymes found in aloe have also been used to reduce inflammation when applied topically. The fatty acids in aloe are also those known to be anti-inflammatory and possess antiseptic and analgesic properties.
According to the report in the National Center for Biotechnology Information, aloe also “provides 20 of the 22 human required amino acids and 7 of the 8 essential amino acids,” the body needs to build proteins.
A Mayo Clinic reports suggests there is scientific evidence to show that aloe is also an effective treatment for constipation, psoriasis and dandruff.
To harvest aloe from the plant, cut a leaf that is concave in shape from the stem of the plant.
Remove the first inch or two of the stem. This is where the yellow-brown substance, aloin, that is used as a laxative is located. This is also the most bitter-tasting part of the plant.
Remove the spiny edges of the leaf with a vegetable peeler or sharp knife.
Then place a sharp knife just under the skin to separate the skin from the gel.
Remove the other side of the skin from the gel.
You will be left with a clear gel-like substance. This can be applied topically or added to juice, water or a protein shake. It is only advisable to use a tablespoon as needed for sunburn or to ingest, and to only take it for short amount of time, such as one-week, and not everyday.