Aloe vera is a perennial, succulent plant whose leaves hold large quantities of water. The aloe plant is 99-percent water. It can grow up to 4 feet tall, and its spear-like leaves can grow up to 36 inches long. Aloe gel has been used for thousands of years to treat burns. It also has many other benefits.
Aloe vera grows in tropical and subtropical areas such as South Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. It is a common houseplant in North America. It was heavily prescribed during the 18th and 19th centuries for a variety of ailments. Today, it is perhaps best known as a popular treatment for sunburns. It is found in many lotion and gel aloe-based products for sunburns.
Benefits for the Skin
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, preliminary studies suggest that aloe gel may improve symptoms of genital herpes and certain skin conditions such as psoriasis. One study found that aloe gel displayed anti-inflammatory effects superior to 1-percent hydrocortisone cream. This may show promise in treatment of inflammatory skin conditions such as ultraviolet-induced erythema.
Although aloe is a powerful laxative, it can also cause severe cramping and is no longer recommended. However, cascara and senna, other members of the aloe plant family, are commonly available over-the-counter treatments.
Diabetes and Heart Disease
According to aloelife.com, Mahidol University of Bangkok, Thailand, conducted a study, published in the journal of Phytomedicine in 1996, in which they followed 5,000 patients with heart disease over a five-year period. Of this group, 3,167 were diabetic. The patients continued with their home medication regimens and added 100 grams of aloe prepared in bread daily.
After three months, patients reported less chest pain with heart disease, along with improved EKGs. Serum cholesterol and triglycerides in 93-percent of the patients returned to normal. All the diabetics reported that their oral diabetes medications had to be discontinued.
Although further research needs to be done, this study suggested that aloe vera may be a powerful preventative and treatment in heart disease and blood sugar levels.
Although aloe vera is a natural compound, it should never be taken internally to treat any condition or illness unless prescribed by your physician. If prescribed, only take forms specifically formulated for internal consumption in the doses ordered. Remain under your physician's care and do not change or add any other medications to your regimen without your physician's guidance.