Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Aloe - Aloe Vera - Aloe Barbadensis (Medicinal Herbs)

Aloe Vera (syn. A. barbadensis Mill., A. vulgaris Lam.) is a species of Aloe, a genus containing about four hundred species of flowering succulent plants and native to northern Africa. It is a stemless or very short-stemmed succulent plant growing to 80-100 cm tall, spreading by offsets and root sprouts. The leaves are lanceolate, thick and fleshy, green to grey-green, with a serrated margin. The flowers are produced on a spike up to 90 cm tall, each flower pendulous, with a yellow tubular corolla 2-3 cm long.

Aloe Vera has been used externally to treat various skin conditions such as cuts, burns and eczema. It is alleged that sap from Aloe Vera eases pain and reduces inflammation. Evidence on the effects of Aloe Vera sap on wound healing, however, is contradictory (Vogler and Ernst, 1999). A study performed in the 1990s showed that the healing time of a moderate to severe burn was reduced when the wound was treated on a regular basis with Aloe Vera gel, compared to the healing of the wound covered in a gauze bandage (Farrar, 2005). In contrast, another study suggested wounds to which Aloe Vera gel was applied were significantly slower to heal (Schmidt and Greenspoon, 1991).

Aloe Vera's beneficial properties may be attributed to mucopolysaccharides present in the inner gel of the leaf, especially acemannan (acetylated mannans). An injectable form of acemannan manufactured and marketed by Carrington Laboratories as Acemannan Immunostimulant™ has been approved in the USA for treatment of fibrosarcoma (a type of cancer) in dogs and cats after clinical trials. It has not been approved for use by humans, and, although it is not a drug, its sale is controlled and it can only be obtained through a veterinary doctor.

Cosmetic companies add sap or other derivatives from Aloe Vera to products such as makeup,tissues, moisturisers, soaps, sunscreens, shampoos and lotions, though the effectiveness of Aloe Vera in these products remains unknown. Aloe Vera gel is also alleged to be useful for dry skin conditions, especially eczema around the eyes and sensitive facial skin.

An article published in the British Journal of General Practice suggests that Aloe Vera is effective at treating athlete's foot.

Whether or not it promotes wound healing is unknown, and even though there are some promising results, clinical effectiveness of oral or topical Aloe Vera remains unclear at present.

Aloe Vera juice may help some people with ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease. Side effects can occur and consulting a doctor before ingesting any form of Aloe Vera, including Aloe Vera juice, is highly recommended.

Technorati Tags: Aloe, Aloe Vera, Medicinal Herbs


Angry Jenny December 6, 2007 at 5:27 AM  

Your blog rocks! I've always been interested in reading up about natural remedies. Thank you for educating me on the benefits of herbs ;)

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