In today’s world, antibiotics seem to the be the cure to all our cuts and pains, as more and more people are running to a doctor in hopes of getting a prescription drug to treat their ailment–anything from the flu and yeast infections to a small wound. Antibiotics are regularly administered to patients to kill the harmful bacteria in their body or prevents its growth, remedying their uncomfortable situation quickly and effectively–usually. At the same time that our use of antibiotics is on the rise, so is the medical field’s skepticism over our reliance on them: antibiotics are gaining a stigma in the health world because over time bacteria build up a resistance to antibiotics, eventually rendering them ineffective in treating the problem and making you more susceptible to bad bacteria. So are pharmaceutical solutions always the best answer? Aloe vera would beg to differ, as this medicinal plant provides us with another way to treat bacterial issues. All hail aloe the natural antibiotic!
A member of the Lily family, aloe vera is a perennial that looks more like a cactus that any kind of traditional garden flower. Originally found in Africa, it is commonly sold as a house plant for its interesting style and medicinal uses. The spiny leaves are thick and grow from a short stalk that stays close to the ground. Every spring, it will produce tubular yellow flowers that look like Easter Lilies.
The plant will typically have 12 to 16 leaves that can continue growing up to four feet in size. The average aloe vera plant is between two and three feet in size. These plants currently grow in dry regions around the globe, including Africa, America, Europe, and Asia.
Does an aloe plant always have healing potential? Actually, aloe vera plants usually must be at least 4 years old before they will have any medicinal properties. So, whether you call it the Potted Physician, Nature’s Silent Healer, or the Burn Plant, aloe vera will have a lot to offer in the health department when they reach maturity!
Aloe as an Herbal Remedy
- Aloe is currently thought to be the only natural source of vitamin B12. This vitamin is excellent
- Diabetics are prone to wounds, and aloe vera is a powerful medical tool when treating their slow-healing injuries.
- Aloe vera can not only make wounds feel better, it can also stimulate cell regeneration so they will heal faster.
- Scars (including acne scars) are reduced in size and appearance when treated with aloe vera.
- People prone to sunburns learn early on that aloe vera takes away a lot of the pain, keeps the skin soft, and helps it heal.
- Eczema is a noncontagious inflammation of the skin. It is recurrent for many people and can be very difficult to treat. Aloe has been found to heal recurrent cases, giving patients the relief they have been longing for.
- It is also used as a health drink (see recipes for scrumptious aloe water and aloe juice) for improved health and increased energy.
- Anxiety disorder is a pattern of constant worry and stress, often to the point of being uncontrollable. Symptoms are constant worry and tension, and yet this amazing plant has effectively treated anxiety.
Benefits of Aloe
Aloe also works to help your immune system function well and works as a strong antioxidant. People who consume aloe vera juice swear that they had more energy and simply felt better. Patients suffering from anxiety found that it helped them to feel calmer. Whether patients are taking aloe vera internally as a form of aspirin or are using it topically to treat wounds or burns, they can use it with confidence knowing that it is completely natural and safe.
Qualities that Make Aloe Medicinal
An aloe vera leaf has an average pH of 4.55 and contains only 0.5 to 1.5% solid material. This material is loaded with nutrients, vitamins, minerals, sugars, enzymes, phenolic compounds, saponins, amino acids, anthraquinones, sterols, and salicylic acid.
- Of the 20 amino acids used by the human body, aloe vera has 19 of them. Only 12 of these amino acids are produced by our bodies, the other 8 must be consumed. Aloe vera, amazingly, contains 7 of those 8 amino acids.
- Anthraquinones are used by the body to fight bacteria, fungi, and viruses. They are toxic if consumed in high quantities, but the levels found in aloe vera are beneficial to the body.
- There are 12 different phenolic compounds in the sap of an aloe vera plant. They are good for the gastro-intestinal tract and also work as pain killers.
- 8 enzymes that help break down food sugars and fat are found in the aloe vera plant. One of these enzymes, bradykinase, helps reduce inflammation when used topically and will also reduce pain. Lipases and proteases will help the body break down and process food.
- There are two hormones in the aloe vera leaves that will help wounds heal and reduce swelling and inflammation.
- Giberellin acts as a growth hormone to stimulate the production of new cells.
- Lignin is the magic ingredient that makes aloe vera so great for its most common use of treating sunburns. This cellulose based compound helps the aloe vera absorb into the skin, so the other ingredients can get to work. It is the Lignin that gets the aloe vera down to the damaged areas so toxic materials can be cleaned, blood circulation increased, and dead tissue flushed out. Because it is keratolytic, hard skin is softened.
- Salicylic acid is the main ingredient in over-the-counter pimple treatments. It’s also found in aloe vera. It is an effective pain killer that also has anti-inflammatory and necessary anti-bacterial properties.
- Saponins are actually glycosides and they account for about 3% of the ingredients in Aloe Vera gel. They have a soapy texture to them and are what gives aloe its cleaning and antiseptic properties. They are effective for treating fungi, yeasts, viruses, and fighting bacteria.
- There are 4 different mini plant steroids, or sterols, in aloe. These act to reduce inflammation as well as having antiseptic properties and working as a mild pain killer.
Different Kinds of Aloe
There are more than 250 species, but only 5 are found to have the medicinal qualities that so many people cherish. They are the:
- Aloe Barbandensis Miller, the most popular and the most potent.
- Aloe Perryi Baker
- Aloe Ferox
- Aloe Arborescens
- Aloe Saponaria, the least popular species.
There are also 15 species that are poisonous (e.g. Aloe Venenosa) so when buying a plant, be sure you choose the right species!
Uses for Aloe
- Topical treatment for burns
- Topical treatment for third-degree X-ray burns and atomic radiation burns.
- Applied to wounds to reduce swelling, pain, and infection.
- Even minor wounds heal faster when treated with aloe vera.
- Can be sued to reduce blood sugar levels in diabetics.
- Some doctors are also treating cancer with this miracle plant.
- Treat sunburns for immediate relief and fast healing.
Get ready to toss out the store-bought antibiotic creams! Simply bringing an aloe vera plant into your home can provide you with all the healing power you need, and it’s completely natural. Simply break off a small piece of the leaf to reveal the healing sap. Aloe vera lotion can also be bought and purchased, as well as pure aloe vera juice. These bottled versions are also effective, and have the added benefit of being portable.