The incredible Aloe Vera plant benefits both humankind and the animal kingdom. The Aloe family of plants has over 200 varieties but not tall have medicinal properties. The Aloe Vera Barbadensis Miller has been of the most use to humans. This plant flourishes in warm climates and has been highly valued for over 4000 years. It is a succulent looking, perennial member of the lily family.
The Aloe leaf consists of three parts: a thick, dark green outer rind, the mucous layer (aloin) and the inner leaf, known commonly as the gel.
The substance found within the leaf, that is commonly used, is the Aloe latex. This substance is found between the rind and the inner leaf material. It is bitter, yellow-brown to reddish in color and contains anthraquinones and a powerful constituent (aloin), which acts as a laxative.
Scientists have yet to identify and isolate the one component of Aloe Vera that is responsible for its healing, moisturizing and cell regenrating powers.
The sum of the parts has potential to be greater than the whole.
In recent times, it's been discovered that the fleshy pulp inside the leaves contained essential vitamins, minerals and amino acids that alleviate several chronic conditions. Aloe Vera will help enhance the absorption of nutrients and maintain a healthy digestive system. More importantly, Aloe Vera provides essential amino acids that cannot be manufactured by the body, and therefore must be consumed as food.
- Vitamins: Aloe contains a wide range. The most important are the antioxidants Vitamins C, E and Beta-Carotene, the precursor of Vitamin A. It is also one of the few plant sources of Vitamin B12 in the world.
- Amino Acids: The body requires 22 amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, and Aloe Vera gel provides 20 of them.
- Minerals: These include magnesium, zinc, copper, chromium, calcium, sodium, potassium and iron.
- Sugars: These include the important long chain polysaccharides, which help to boost the efficiency of the immune system.
- Enzymes: Lipases and proteases, including carboxypeptidase, which break food down and aid digestion.
- Plant Sterols: The three main types or sterols act as powerful anti-inflammatory agents.
- Saponins: These are soapy substances that exert powerful, anti-microbial effects on bacteria, viruses, fungi and yeasts such as candida or "thrush."
- Anthraquinones: The most important being aloin and emodin, anthraquinones are strong painkillers and possess antibacterial and virucidal properties. In their purest forms, they are extremely powerful laxatives.
- Salicylic Acid: This aspirin-like compound is an anti-inflammatory and when applied topically, helps to break down dead tissue.