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Health Benefits of Aloe vera

Introduction

Aloe vera, or Aloe barbadense, is a thick, short-stemmed plant that stores water in its leaves. It is best known for treating skin injuries, but it also has several other uses that could potentially benefit health.

About the plant 

Aloe vera is a stemless or very short-stemmed plant growing to 60–100 cm (24–39 in) tall, spreading by offsets.

The leaves are thick and fleshy, green to grey-green, with some varieties showing white flecks on their upper and lower stem surfaces. The margin of the leaf is serrated and has small white teeth.

The flowers are produced in summer on a spike up to 90 cm (35 in) tall, each flower being pendulous, with a yellow tubular corolla 2–3 cm (0.8–1.2 in) long.

Like other Aloe species, Aloe vera forms arbuscular mycorrhiza, a symbiosis that allows the plant better access to mineral nutrients in soil.

Aloe vera leaves contain phytochemicals under study for possible bioactivity, such as acetylated mannans, polymannans, anthraquinone C-glycosides, enthrones, and other anthraquinones, such as emodin and various lectins. 

Potted Cultivation

Aloe vera has been widely grown as an ornamental plant. The species is popular with modern gardeners as a putatively medicinal plant and for its interesting flowers, form, and succulence. This succulence enables the species to survive in areas of low natural rainfall, making it ideal for rockeries and other low water-use gardens. The species is hardy and is intolerant of heavy frost and snow. The species is relatively resistant to most insect pests, though spider mites, mealy bugs, scale insects, and aphid species may cause a decline in plant health. 

In pots, the species requires well-drained, sandy potting soil and bright, sunny conditions. Aloe plants can burn under too much sun or shrivel when the pot does not drain water. The use of a good-quality propagation mix that allows good drainage is recommended. Terra cotta pots are preferable as they are porous. Potted plants should be allowed to completely dry before rewatering.

When potted, aloes can become crowded with "pups" growing from the sides of the "mother plant". Plants that have become crowded should be divided and reported to allow room for further growth and help prevent pest infestations. During winter, Aloe vera may become dormant, during which little moisture is required.

Health benefits

Aloe vera is effective in treating wounds or burns. There is some evidence that topical use of aloe products might relieve symptoms of certain skin disorders, such as psoriasis, acne, or rashes. Aloe vera gel is used commercially as an ingredient in yogurts, beverages, and some desserts, but at certain high doses, its toxic properties could be severe when taken orally. Use of topical aloe vera in small amounts is likely to be safe. 

The cosmetic, pharmaceutical, and food industries use aloe vera extensively, and the plant has an estimated annual market value of $13 billion globally. Aloe vera gel - slimy tissue that stores water in the leaves is mostly used in aloe vera products. The gel contains most of the beneficial bioactive compounds in the plant, including vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants.

Aloe vera gel contains powerful antioxidants belonging to a large family of substances known as polyphenols. These polyphenols, along with several other compounds in aloe vera, help inhibit the growth of certain bacteria that can cause infections in humans. Aloe vera is known for its antibacterial, antiviral, and antiseptic properties. This is part of why it may help heal wounds and treat skin problems.

There is some preliminary evidence to suggest that topical aloe vera gel can slow aging of the skin. Reviews also suggest that aloe vera could help the skin retain moisture and improve skin integrity, which could benefit dry skin conditions. 

People sometimes use aloe vera as a remedy for diabetes. This is because it may enhance insulin sensitivity and help improve blood sugar management. For example, a review of eight studies found that aloe vera could have benefits for people with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes due to its effects on glycaemic control. However, the quality of the existing studies is not ideal, so scientists do not currently recommend using aloe vera for this purpose.

 References : Wikipedia, Divya Pharma, medical news today site, Google search & self-study

Written By : Mr Roshan Vasantrao Pawar, Student-Indira Gandhi National Open University Delhi, Department of Social Work.

Last Modified : 7/22/2021



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