The Aloe Vera plant provides some wonderful and natural health products. These are most commonly split into 3 different ‘products’ based on what part of the plant has been used and each have differing therapeutic values; they are:
Aloe Vera Gel , which can be applied topically to skin abrasions, burns, ulcers, minor wounds and to soothe itchy or dry skin and as a sunscreen at SPF 8.
Aloe Whole Leaf, in a liquid form and used primarily for its immune regulatory properties in respect of digestive support. It can also be applied to the skin to help treat a minor wound or sore and also diluted for use as a natural mouth-wash.
Aloe Inner Leaf Gel, in a liquid form is a single concentrate of Aloe Vera containing only the inner leaf gel and used primarily for its anti-inflammatory and immune amplification properties, especially in the support of IBS-type symptoms. Aloe Vera Juice is also ideal as a natural antibacterial mouth-wash.
The Aloe Vera Plant
The Aloe plant is a perennial succulent, a member of the lily family and native to eastern and southern Africa; it is also now found growing in the dry regions of Africa, America, Asia and Europe. Of the two hundred varieties of Aloe plant four of these are considered to have nutritional value with Aloe Barbensis Miller being the most frequently used therapeutically and that featuring commonly in scientific/medical research.
A Potted History
The use of Aloe medicinally is well documented in history (including the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans) with records describing its use as a healing plant for a variety of conditions most notably burns, wounds, skin irritations, and constipation. Aloe continued to be one of the most frequently prescribed medicines throughout most of the 18th and 19th centuries and remains popular today with current herbal published works supporting the healing properties of Aloe.
Aloe Vera Production & Quality
Aloe Vera products vary in concentration and quality with some providing low aloe content and delays between harvesting and processing can impact considerably on quality. Aloe once harvested may go through a number of processes which could include filtration, pasteurization, concentration, dilution and finally spray or freeze drying. Processing times, methods and storage can all impact on quality and nutrient content of the end product.
Many consider that processing and drying of aloe is undesirable and this is why Aloe Inner Leaf Gel in a natural liquid form is a popular choice as it is subject to less processing and being sourced entirely from the fresh inner fillet of the Aloe.
Nutrient content of Aloe Vera
‘Polysaccharides’ are the form in which most natural carbohydrates occur and many of the health benefits associated with Aloe Vera have been attributed to the polysaccharides contained in the gel of the Aloe leaves. Although many additional active ingredients from the inner gel have been identified the therapeutic effects have not been adequately correlated with each individual component. However it has been suggested that the beneficial effects of Aloe should be attributed to a synergistic action of these compounds and not a single substance or compound.
The polysaccharide Acemannan is one of the major compounds of Aloe Vera. Acemannan passes through the small intestine intact into the large intestines where fermented by micro-organisms it stimulates the immune system and also creates health promoting short-chain fatty acids. Researchers have demonstrated benefits for immune activation and as a potential anti-fungal agent with anti-Candida activity recorded.
Aloeride an additional compound identified in Aloe contains essential sugars, and has been identified as providing macrophage and immune-stimulatory activity.
Aloe Vera Gel
This is the gel based Aloe Vera product for topical application which is ideally derived from the inner leaf fillet of the Aloe. The gel is used for the skin providing moisturising capabilities and considered to offer a sun protective factor equivalent to a factor 8 sunscreen. Suggested uses for the gel include application for minor burns, grazes, skin eruptions and fungal rashes.
Aloe Whole Leaf
As the name indicates this includes both the outer skin and inner fillet of the Aloe and most commonly provided in a liquid/ juice form. Whole Leaf Aloe is a double concentrate and used primarily for its immune regulatory properties but can also be diluted with water for topical applications direct to the skin or used to soak a bandage for application to skin abrasions or wounds. Also suitable when diluted for use as a natural daily mouth wash.
Aloe Inner Leaf Gel
Inner leaf gel is the inner fillet of the leaf; the outer skin is carefully removed in the filleting process leaving the pure unprocessed inner gel. The inner leaf gel is a single concentrate of Aloe Vera, higher in salicylates than the Whole leaf and most commonly provided in a liquid/ juice form. Use of Inner leaf gel is typically by those for its reputed immune amplification and anti-inflammatory properties to the digestive system (including treating IBS type symptoms).
Both Aloe Vera Inner Leaf and Whole Leaf Juices are also suitable for localised use as a natural antibacterial daily mouth-wash, post tooth extraction, during and after gum surgery and for support against periodontal disease or any other mouth inflammatory or infective conditions.
Cautions & Contraindications
There are occasions where use of certain Aloe Vera products is not advised, for example it is not recommended for oral use during pregnancy and breastfeeding and If you are taking any medications, please consult a doctor before use.
If you have any questions regarding Aloe Vera or any other health matters please do contact me (Amanda) by phone or email at any time.