What is aloe vera?
Aloe vera is a plant with many attributes for internal or external health treatment. To enjoy aloe vera’s health benefits, we use the yellow latex taken from the outer layer of the leaves and the aloe vera gel, clear and mucilaginous, extracted from the inside of the aloe vera leaves.
Common names: aloe, aloe gel, aloe juice, aloe concentrate, aloe latex.
Botanical names: Aloe barbadensis, Aloe ferox, and some other botanical genus Aloe, a family of Liliaceae or aloeaceae.
English names: Aloe, Cape Aloe, Aloe Gel, Aloe Juice, Aloe Concentrate, Aloe Latex.
Habitat and origin:
It is believed that aloe is native to Egypt or the Middle East, but the plant has been naturalized and cultivated for a long time now almost everywhere in the tropics and in the hot regions of the globe in Africa, in India in Asia, the Caribbean, South America, Mexico, the southern United States, etc. Elsewhere in the world, it is widespread as a houseplant.
All the benefits of aloe vera
In treatment, the virtues of aloe vera allow:
- Relieve occasional constipation.
- Treat genital herpes.
- Reduce the risk of pain associated with lichen planus.
- Treat psoriasis.
- Speed up healing of burns.
- Treat ulcerative colitis.
- Treat lesions, infections, and inflammations of the skin.
- Reduce dental plaque.
- Treat dermatitis caused by radiation therapy.
- Reduce glucose levels in people with diabetes.
The aloe produces two very different substances on their appearance and their therapeutic properties.
The latex, a yellow and bitter sap present in the bark’s tiny canals, contains 20% to 40% of anthranoids (mainly aloin), molecules with powerful laxative effects. Latex can be irritating to the skin and mucous membranes.
Aloe vera gel, composed of a clear mucilage found in the heart of the large leaves of aloe, has strong emollient properties (which softens and softens the tissues). It is widely used in cosmetology and dermatology. It can also be taken internally, in capsules or juice (drink comprising at least 50% gel).
How to use aloe vera?
Aloe vera externally, on the face and skin:
Apply the aloe vera gel directly to the affected parts, and repeat several times a day if necessary. We use the aloe vera gel in genital herpes, lichen planus, minor skin injuries, burns, frostbite, infections, and skin inflammation.
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“Natural” or in small pots? If you want to use aloe gel on the skin, you can use a commercial gel or, in case of minor damage, a houseplant. It is then necessary to cut a piece of leaf and to press it. The clear (greenish) and viscous liquid that comes out is aloe vera gel.
Aloe vera internally
In the case of constipation: make 50 mg to 200 mg of aloe latex at bedtime. Start with small doses and increase as needed, as the laxative effect can occur at widely varying doses, depending on the person.
Warning: Like all stimulating laxatives, we should reserve aloe latex for cases of acute and occasional constipation and should under no circumstances be used continuously.
In the case of diabetes. Although aloe gel’s effectiveness as a hypoglycemic substance is not established, it is usually recommended to take 1 tsp. At the table, twice a day, before meals.
Warning: the self-medication for diabetes can lead to severe problems. When you start treatment that changes your blood glucose level, you should closely monitor your blood sugar. It is also necessary to notify your doctor so that he can, if necessary, review the dosage of conventional hypoglycemic drugs.
Aloe gel topically applied.
Aloe latex taken orally appears to be a powerful stimulant laxative, thanks to the presence of anthranoids, or anthraquinones (mainly aloin or barbaloin). The combination of aloe with celandine and psyllium appears to increase the number of stools in people with chronic constipation, compared to the placebo group (Odes). Commission E, the ESCOP, and the World Health Organization recognize the effectiveness of aloe latex to treat occasional constipation.
It is an autoimmune disease that manifests as lesions on the skin and mucous membranes. In 3 trials (152 subjects in all), Aloe vera gel was more effective than a placebo in reducing participants’ symptoms. More recently, an aloe-based mouthwash (three times a day for 12 weeks) or a gel containing aloe was shown to reduce the risk of pain associated with lichen planus, compared to a placebo group. Or a group treated with 0.1% triamcinolone acetonide.
The same team of researchers conducted two double-blind clinical trials on 180 men with genital herpes. A cream containing 0.5% of an aloe extract was significantly more effective than a placebo in promoting the healing of lesions caused by this viral infection. Still, the methodological quality of these trials leaves something to be desired. Clinical results indicate that the healing time with an aloe extract cream is five days, compared to 12 days with the placebo group.
Two trials conducted in 1996 and 2005 gave conflicting results when comparing the effects of an aloe vera cream and a placebo cream. A more recent comparative study (2010) involved 80 subjects with mild to moderate psoriasis. A cream containing 70% aloe vera was somewhat more effective than a cream containing 0.1% triamcinolone acetonide, a standard treatment, reducing the severity of the lesions. The quality of life of the participants improved similarly in both groups.
Dental plaque and gingivitis.
A toothpaste containing aloe vera used for 30 days had no more effect on dental plaque and gingivitis than regular fluoride toothpaste. In 2012, on the other hand, another study reported a reduction in dental plaque thanks to the treatment of longer duration (24 weeks), compared to a standard toothpaste.
Dermatitis caused by radiation therapy.
As a result of positive medical reports dating back to the 1930s, many experts have developed a habit of recommending aloe gel for preventing dermatitis caused by radiation therapy. However, the results of more recent clinical trials have been disappointing. Some authors of reviews published in 2004 and 2005 argue that aloe is possibly beneficial and harmless in this context, while others conclude that it is useless.
In a trial published in 2007, an aloe gel’s effect was compared with that of an experimental cream (based on anionic phospholipids) on 45 children suffering from dermatitis caused by treatment. Radiotherapy. The aloe gel was less effective than the experimental cream.
Also, taking aloe vera gel internally was no more effective than a placebo in reducing mucositis caused by radiotherapy treatments in cancer patients. Mucositis is an inflammation of the lining of the mouth and throat frequently associated with radiation therapy and chemotherapy. It is often resistant to conventional treatments.
- Latex. Like all stimulant laxatives, aloe latex should be reserved for cases of acute and occasional constipation and should under no circumstances be used continuously. In the long term, anthranoid laxatives like aloe latex can cause intestinal polyps, which increases the risk of colorectal cancer. Prolonged ingestion of aloe latex can lead to severe kidney damage.
- Gel. The gel may contain traces of latex and has a laxative effect. A poor quality gel preparation could contain emodin, a substance that can cause sensitivity to the sun.
- Infected wounds. The results of a preliminary trial conducted in 1991 with 21 women with infected surgical wounds suggest that the use of aloe may not be indicated to treat severely infected wounds.
- Like all stimulant laxatives, aloe latex is contraindicated in abdominal pain of unknown origin, pregnancy, intestinal obstruction, acute intestinal inflammation, appendicitis, ulcer, kidney problems: heart disease, nausea, or vomiting.
- Latex can cause abdominal pain and cramps, diarrhea, loss of potassium, albuminuria, hematuria (blood in the urine), and weight loss. Prolonged use of latex in high doses (1 g / day and more) can damage the liver and kidneys.
- The gel does not cause significant adverse effects at the doses reported in clinical studies.
With herbs or supplements
- Latex. Its effects are in addition to those of other plants or supplements whose action is laxative or lower potassium and glucose levels.
- Gel. Its hypoglycemic effects could be added to those of other plants or supplements whose action is similar.
- Latex. Its effects are in addition to those of drugs whose action is laxative or decreases potassium and glucose levels (e.g., digoxin, anti-diabetic drugs, diuretics, warfarin).
- Gel. The hypoglycemic effect of aloe gel is in addition to that of glyburide (Diabeta®), an anti-diabetic drug. This effect could also be added to that of drugs whose action is hypoglycaemic.