Aloe Vera is a plant that grows in tropical, subtropical, and temperate climatic zones. There are over 400 varieties. The Aloe plant has thick succulent leaves and can grow up to 3 feet tall. The medicinal properties of aloe vera were discovered more than 5000 years ago, it has been used by the ancient Hindus, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Chinese, etc. as a medicine, nutritional supplement, or cosmetic product. Today, aloe vera is one of the major ingredients in hair care and beauty products. Aloe is also a very important plant in herbal medicine.
A lot of Aloe Vera content is water. It mainly consists of latex and gel. These two substances are of different colors, latex being yellow and found under Aloe skin while the gel is clear and found on the plant’s leaves. Latex is used as a laxative agent to prevent constipation. This is taken in small quantities because massive ingestion is toxic to the body.
Aloe Vera as a Medicinal Plant
The gel is a treasured substance in Egyptian culture. It is used in performing some rituals such as burial and beauty. The aloe gel contains about 75 proven healthy nutrients which include but are not limited to enzymes, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. The gel part of Aloe Vera is made up of 96 percent water; this allows the plant to drive in arid environments alongside other adaptive features.
According to scientific research and findings, there are 400 or more species of this plant, but surprisingly only four are known and cultivated in contemporary times as agricultural plants and for their medicinal capabilities.
The well-known and cultivated species in most parts of the world is Aloe Vera Barbadensis. There have been many claims that the plant has the potential in curing the most feared and deadly diseases such as cancer and AIDS. As a food, Aloe Vera is an essential plant to the food manufacturing companies in the production of yogurt and other beverages. Besides, the cosmetic industry uses this plant in the most commonly used domestic items such as lotions, shampoos, and soaps among others.
Aloe Vera in Traditional Indian Medicine
Aloe Vera is a highly regarded plant in Ayurveda, the traditional Indian Medicine. The Sanskrit name for Aloe Vera is Ghrit Kumari. Ghrit literally means ghee (clarified butter) and Kumari means a virgin girl. It is interesting to note why Aloe Vera was named Ghrit Kumari in Sanskrit. In Ayurveda or the Hindu culture to be precise, ghrit or clarified butter has great importance. It is a substance that has a lot of medicinal benefits as well as a pure substance that has to be offered to the Gods. Some of the benefits of ghee according to Ayurveda are providing nutrition, increasing immunity, delaying the aging process, and making you young and beautiful. As far as why the word Kumari, or the virgin girl, was used for Aloe Vera is concerned is because this plant was used in conditions like menstrual cramps, menstrual irregularities, too much menstrual bleeding, etc.
Even though Aloe Vera is originally from Africa, Ayurvedic doctors in India have been using Aloe Vera for a long time. This medicinal plant has been mentioned in the Hindu Scriptures like Rig Veda. The ancient books on Ayurveda like Charak Samhita and Sushruta Samhita have extensively mentioned various uses of Aloe Vera.
Medicinal Benefits of Aloe Vera
Human civilization has been using Aloe vera for various medicinal, nutritional, and cosmetic purposes for 5000 years. It is a plant that is touted as something that improves life expectancy, thus making you live longer provided you are taking aloe vera regularly. Aloe vera can survive for more than 100 years in wild environments. To the ancient Indians, Aloe Vera was used by traditional medicine men to treat various skin conditions and ailments such as heartburn, diabetes, wrinkles, high cholesterol, skin moistening, eye infections, wound healing, insect bite relief, eye infection, joint pain, and arthritis. Ayurveda or traditional Indian Medicine highly regards aloe vera.
Ayurvedic Texts mention that Aloe vera can be used in the treatment of eye disease, ear diseases, mental diseases, fever, liver disease (hepatitis or fatty liver), stomach disorders, etc. Ayurveda also suggests consuming Aloe vera for metabolic disorders like diabetes. According to Ayurveda Aloe Vera is highly beneficial in reducing and maintaining blood sugar levels.
Another important use of Aloe Vera according to Ayurveda is for slowing the aging process and looking young and beautiful. Aloe is said to reduce wrinkles, stop age-related damage to the teeth, stop hair from falling or graying due to aging, stop vocal damage due to aging, improve eyesight, stop age-related damage to the heart, etc. Drinking aloe juice on regular basis reduces triglycerides and bad cholesterol and improves good cholesterol. Aloe Vera also maintains and regulates blood pressure. Our body needs 21 different amino acids and Aloe vera contains 18 different amino acids. You can understand how beneficial is aloe vera.
Even though Aloe is highly beneficial, care should be taken considering the number of doses and amount to be consumed. Excess consumption of Aloe might turn out to show undesired results with adverse side effects. This is not to say that Aloe Vera is terrible in any way; it is a known and proven plant with excellent performance in the curing and healing processes of certain diseases and conditions as briefly discussed above.