Comfort Layers   ~ Aloe Vera

The History of Aloe Vera ...
Aloe Vera, often called the Miracle Plant, the Natural Healer, the Burn Plant, goes by many names which have survived the 4000 or so years during which this amazing medicinal herb has benefited mankind.

George Ebers in 1862 first discovered its antiquity in an ancient Egyptian papyrus, dated 3500 BC, which was in fact a collection of herbal remedies. Other researchers have since found it was used by both the ancient Chinese and Indian cultures. Greek and Roman physicians such as Dioscoriades and Pliny the Elder, used it to great effect. Legend suggests that Aristotle persuaded Alexander the Great to capture the island of Scotra, in the Indian Ocean, to get its rich supply of aloe to heal its wounded soldiers. The Egyptian queens Nefertiti and Cleopatra rated it highly as a beauty therapy, for in those days health and beauty were linked far more than they ever are today.

What is Aloe Vera?
Although there are over 200 species of aloe, there are probably only three or four with medicinal properties. Of these, Aloe Vera Barbadenis (Millar), which is also known as Aloe Vera (Linne), is the most potent.

Aloe Vera Barbadenis is a succulent, looking rather like a cactus, but it is in fact a member of the lily family related to onions, garlic and asparagus.

It reaches maturity in four years, when the leaves are harvested. The leaves are filleted and the inner gel preserved and bottled to produce a product that is as near to the natural plant juice as we can get it.

To benefit from the Aloe Vera, the gel can be taken internally for its nutritional effect or it can be combined with other ingredients to produce topical cream and lotions to nourish and improve the skin.

What does it Offer?
Inside the leaves of the Aloe Vera plant there is a thick clear gel which is a natural source of many nutrients. In fact there are about 75 substances which meet the body's needs in maintaining health and vitality of nutrients contained but with their natural balance. Where else can you find one foodstuff that contains so many beneficial ingredients?

Why does it Work?
It works by providing a rich cocktail of nutritional elements whose combined action and balance produce a more powerful effect together than would be expected from the addition of the individual components. This is because they work together as a team, enhancing each other's effect – known as synergism. It also has adaptogenic properties which means it is a substance which increases non-specific resistance of an organism to adverse influences such as infection or stress.

Where does it Work?
Aloe Vera, because of its nutritional qualities and antioxidant properties, helps to prevent injury to epithelial tissues, and when they are damaged, it promotes healing.

Antioxodants fight the destructive 'free radicals', the unstable compounds produced by our metabolism and found in environmental pollutants. They are thought to cause various ailments including some cancers as well as contributing towards the aging process.

An epithelium is an anatomical term defined as follows: “An epithelium is a layer of cells that covers the body or lines a cavity that connects with it.”

Our largest epithelium is our skin but also included are the lining of the gut, the bronchial tubes and the genital tract. No wonder that aloe works just as well on damaged skin as it does, say on an inflamed bowel or in asthma.

How does it Work?
Its natural anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial action combined within its nutritional constituents promote cell growth and therefore healing. However, it is not only helpful for people with problems; most people taking it report a greater sense of well being – they just feel 'better' or they report feeling calmer and less anxious. This is due to aloe's second effect on the immune system which becomes balance or fine tuned and therefore more efficient at defending the body from attack.

In Conclusion ...
Aloe Vera is not a panacea for all ills and there is no magic about it. It works in the two areas previously mentioned – epithelial tissue and the immune system. This is largely backed up by anecdotal evidence, as many thousands of people over the centuries have reported benefit for various skin complaints such as eczema, psoriasis, ulcers, burns, acne even stings and bites. They have found relief for bowel disorders such as colitis, diverticulitis and Irratable Bowel Syndrome. Other conditions resulting from disordered immune system such as arthritis, asthma and ME (post viral fatigue syndrome) and LE (lupus) have improved after regular ingestion of Aloe Vera gel.

Aloe Vera therefore has a complementary role to play in the management of various conditions. It is very important however that people should always seek the advice of their doctor when the diagnosis is in doubt or where a condition does not improve. Self-diagnosis can be dangerous as many serious conditions can mimic more simple ones.

taken from: 'The essential Aloe Vera' a definitive work on the subject of Aloe Vera written by Anonymous