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What is Aloe Vera?

There are over 240 different species of Aloe, growing mainly in the dry regions of Africa, Asia, Europe and America.  Although aloe vera is a member of the Lily family, it is very cactus like in itís  characteristics.  This unique plant also belongs to a larger plant family called "xeroids".  Of the 240+ species of Aloe, only four are recognized as being  of nutritional value to humans and animals.  Aloe barbadensis miller (aloe vera species) is the top of these four.  Significantly the top.

The History of Aloe Vera

There is historical documentation that shows Aloe Vera being used as far back as 1,500 BC.  Aloe Vera is often referred to as the "Burn Plant" due to the remarkable way it interacts with burns inflicted on the skin.  Alexander the Greatís armies used aloe internally and externally to heal wounds and treat internal diseases and illnesses.  Cleopatra is known to have used Aloe Vera to maintain a youthful appearance and legendary beauty!  The recorded history of Aloe is long and important.  It is even mentioned in the Bible-including in the "New Testament" for use with the burial of Jesusí body.

How Aloe products are manufactured is extremely important.

The gel of the Aloe plant, when exposed to oxygen for prolonged time (about four hours) oxidizes-rendering it worthless.  (This is the same reaction to air as an apple undergoes when the "insides" are exposed to air- it quickly browns due to oxidation.)  Thus, you want the manufacturerís reliable assurance, in writing, that not only is the species correct-but also from harvest, to filleting (removing the outer leaf to retain only the clear gel), to manufacturing the process is four hours or less.  If you canít have this assurance, look elsewhere.

Do They Grow Their Own Aloe- or Buy in Bulk?

You want a manufacturer who grows their own Aloe Vera in bulk once or twice a year and it "sits around" while waiting for manufacturing process.  Thus, if the Aloe Vera is grown on company owned and controlled fields, you can be better assured of freshness and nutritional value.  Aloe must be "stabilized".  This is a process (involving neither heat nor chemicals that would destroy the Aloeís original compounds) that assures the Aloe ( such as the final juice or jelly, or lotion product) is essentially the same as if you freshly filleted the leaf yourself.  If it is not properly stabilized (in four hours or less from the time the leaf is harvested), it may also be of no nutritional value.  The reason is because Aloe Vera oxidized within four hours (much as an apple or potato turns brown when exposed to the air for a period of time) from the time gel is exposed to the air.  Once so oxidized, the gel loses itís nutritional value.

Can Aloe Cure?

Aloe Vera can cure all ailments - Patently False  Aloe Vera has an exceptionally large number of nutritional properties, but it does not "cure" anything.  Aloe (and indeed any other herb, medication or drug) contributes important nutrients needed by the body and immune system in the healing process. In the very literal sense, only the body can cure itself. Aloe Vera provides raw materials needed by the body to effect its own cure.

Aloe Vera has also been shown to keep the intestinal tract (lining) clean and rid it of materials that cling to the lining and prevent the intestines from absorbing the nutrients required by the body to stay healthy (as well as rid itself of illness).  Thus, Aloe Vera not only provides nutrients, it also helps the body cleanse itself so that it can absorb these and other nutrients.  It has also been shown to have anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties.

The whole leaf of the Aloe plant is best (excluding Aloin) - Not True:  The outer green part of the leaf contains essentially no nutritional value as compared to the inner gel. Additionally, if you try to drink whole-leaf Aloe Vera juice you'll not likely want to do so again.

There is a thin yellow layer between the inner gel and the outer leaf called "Aloin".  This is very bitter, and is not of any nutritional benefit.  The inner gel of the leaf (especially if the integrity and content of the pulp is maintained and properly stabilized in less than four hours time) is so high in nutrients that the
bitterness of the outer leaf is less-than-necessary.

The rind won't do you any harm, just keep in mind that the rind of "Whole leaf" is essentially filler.

A non-heating processing is best - True:  Heat destroys important nutritionalcomponents in any plant. On the other hand, "cold processed" is a buzz word that may hold different meanings for different brands.

If the gel is left exposed for more than four hours (and thus starts to break down), "cold processed" really makes no difference either.  It's important to learn about how a product made with aloe vera is made before you purchase.

Aloe Vera is naturally high in Calcium - Typically True.  The mineral content of any plant will be determined by its presence and volume in the soil in which the plant is grown, as well as the health of the plant and it's environment (i.e.: a chemical-free environment is best).

There are 75 different nutritional compounds naturally occurring in Aloe Vera - True

Only mature plants should be used:  True

Aloe Vera is completely safe for internal and external use by everybody - False:  Just as people can be highly allergic to tomatoes and bees, it is also possible to be allergic to Aloe Vera (or any other natural product). It's best to try some on a small area of your skin before drinking the juice.

Additionally, you should speak with your health care professional before using Aloe Vera (especially internally) or any other herbal/nutritional supplement.  Some herbs and supplements can have a negative effect on any prescriptions you may be taking - and this a negative effect on your health.

According to the US Food and Drug Administration you can call a gallon of water "Aloe Vera Juice" if it contains two tablespoons of Aloe Vera in it.  Sadly, this is True and is occasionally the case when you buy "Aloe Vera Juice" in shopping markets and health food stores.

If it's relatively cheap (even if the label says "100% Aloe Vera Juice" on the bottle) it's probably not the highest quality and may have more water added than Aloe.

Remember, you'll get what you pay for.  Don't throw away your money foolishly, and don't skimp.

Aloe Vera from concentrate, powdered or freeze-dried is best. False.  Most natural substances when turned into a "concentrate" (Liquid or powdered) generally looses something in the translation.  Additionally, the temperature extremes (especially heat) destroy the nutrients.

Aloe Vera can help to alleviate some of the symptoms of illness and pain - True:  Aloe Vera contains natural anti-inflammation and anti-bacterial properties.  It also tends to "cool" and numb sensitive tissue, such as sore gums and burned skin, naturally.

Aloe Vera should taste bitter and be somewhat thick and "pulpy". True, but if it's so bitter you can't drink it, the juice may not be of the best quality.  It should be somewhat bitter - just mix it with a citrus juice to make it more palpable.

Aloe Vera is one of the only known natural sources (outside of animal sources) of Vitamin b12.  True!

The last several years have witnessed a boom in research on Aloe Vera and its applications for humans and animals.  The following are just a couple:

Professor of Physiology (University of Texas) and chief of the Research Laboratory of North Texas, Ivan Danhof, showed (1984) that the application of Aloe gel to the skin accelerates firboblasts.  Fibroblasts aid in the manufacture of collegen which is the protein that controls the aging process of the skin and wrinkling.  (As one ages, collegen starts to disappear from the skin, causing slackening and wrinkling.)  Aloe gel helps to protect the outer layers of the skin by helping it to reorganize skin cells.  He further showed the moisturizing properties of Aloe by demonstrating that the skin absorbs moisture from Aloe gel three to four times faster than water.

One report ("Clinical Review" 1987) shows that a compound - acemannon - found in Aloe Vera seems to have some remarkable anti-viral properties.  Even where HIV (the virus that often leads to AIDS) is concerned, Dr. Reg McDanial stated, "It appears that carrisyn [editor's note: Carrisyn is the commercial name of acemannon patented by Carrington Laboratories] neutralizes the [AIDS] virus by transforming it's protein envelope thus preventing it from attaching itself to the T4 cells."

Around the same time researchers in Canada isolated acemannon for their own studies.  Since then, clinical trials on people living with AIDS ("PLWA") have shown that acemannon re-enforces the body's natural defense (immune) system of thus may stop the progression of HIV.  Such studies have been corraborated by others, showing not only the nutrition value of ingesting Aloe Vera (in drink form), but also it's potential for providing significant benefits to boost the immune system.  Of course, how the Aloe drink is processed is a determining factor in the degree of potential benefit.

Please keep in mind, there is no known method of curing AIDS - so PLWA should not view this as a cure, but rather as another option in possibly arresting or slowing down HIV.  Aloe has not been scientifically proven to completely remove HIV from the body.  Anybody who says that it - or anything else, has been shown to cure AIDS (cancer, etc.) is either misinformed or intentionally deceiving for their own purposes (usually financial).  Aloe is; however, a bright hope in the battle of many illnesses - and certainly in strengthening the immune system.

Dr. Lee Cowden (Dallas, Texas) observed that several conditions benefit when treated by oral consumption of Aloe Vera.  They include:  irritable bowl syndrome, ulcerative colitis, esophagitis, peptic ulcer, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, mouth lesions, sore throat, and lupus.

Dr. Robert H. Davis (Physiologist at the University of Pennsylvania College of Podiatric Medicine) conducted Aloe research since the early 1970's.

In laboratory tests on animals his findings included the results that Aloe can prevent and arrest arthritis, improve wound healing, inhibit pain, block inflammation, restore bone growth, and act as a vehicle for the delivery of nutrients to the body.   Dr. Davis stated, "Aloe vera contains the greatest
number of active substances of any plant I've looked at."

Aloe is also known to help unblock and keep clean the receptors inside the lining of the intestines - facilitating  the absorbtion into the bloodstream of vitamins and other nutrients.

Dr. B. Frielander, (San Diego, CA) a Nutritionist, noted that patients with chronic colon problems including constipation, hemorrhoids, colitis and Crohn's disease, benefit from drinking aloe vera juice as a part of a nutritional program.  He noted that even their complexions looked better!

IMPORTANT NOTE:  Even though Aloe Vera is harmless and non-toxic, you should always consult with your physician before taking it or any other supplement (herbal, vegetable or otherwise).  Never discontinue any medications at any time without your doctor's previous knowledge and approval.

Not all doctors will agree with the use of Aloe Vera (indeed, some don't accept it as of any benefit at all), its growing acceptance and increased use in the medical profession (or at least a nod in its direction) has given more optimism to those who seek non-toxic alternatives to drugs.  And, where modern drugs may not be helping the individual, Aloe Vera and other options (chiropractic, herbs, meditation, etc.) are growing in popularity.

Certainly the use of Aloe Vera for so many centuries and so many scattered and varied cultures and locations of the world must give occasion to at least further look into its potential for the benefit of humankind.

But, as with all things, wisdom must be followed.  Aloe Vera can be used externally (on the skin) and internally (juice).  Again, use of Aloe Vera for serious illness should be with the prior knowledge of your physician.

When purchasing Aloe Vera, doubt anybody - no matter how well intentioned - who makes "healing claims" for their particular brand.  While Aloe is shown in studies to benefit in many ways, no reputable study nor scientist has claimed that Aloe will work the same for everybody - nor are results universally applied.  And remember, only the body cures itself through the miraculous bio defenses.  Modern medicines, herbs, Aloe, etc. only provide the body what it requires to effect a "cure", or at least to arrest disease at its current stage.

It is best to go into its use with the thought that, "I'll try Aloe and if I benefit from it in any way, fine - but I do not expect specific results and know that there are no easy, instant cures."  Aloe should be used along with a balanced nutritional plan, coupled with exercise and lots of clean water.

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           Updated: 07/08/21.

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