|ALOE VERA* Back to Top|
Plant Source: Aloe barbadensis Miller (Family Liliaceae).
Part Used: Leaf gel.
Properties: Healing, pain-relieving, emollient, soothing, anti-inflammatory.
Most Common Traditional Uses:
Internal - General tonic, cleanser, detoxifier.
External - Minor burns, sunburn, eczema, psoriasis, skin irritations, insect bites, minor cuts, scratches and wounds also extensively used as a base for organic skin care.
Other Advocated Uses of Aloe Vera: Too numerous to count.
|The external healing and pain-relieving properties of fresh Aloe Vera gel have been well established. The polysaccharides are believed to be the active principles. However, its other properties, especially those internal, are still open to debate.|
The internal uses of Aloe Vera gel appear to be only of relatively recent origin, which lack long documented use history. Despite the controversy, Aloe Vera drinks (also called juices) are consumed in tremendous quantities by the public for dozens of conditions, or for whatever ails them. And there is no lack of testimonials to Aloe Vera's marvellous health benefits. However, Aloe Vera is probably the most adulterated product on the world market because most of the Aloe Vera drinks sold to consumers contain only a fraction of the claimed content of Aloe Vera gel. One fairly widely advertised "award-winning" brand claims to have no taste, contain no preservatives and keep for years without spoiling; it actually tastes like water and looks like water andprobably is water! Back to Top
Dubiously, Aloe Vera is probably also the most common plant product that has produced the most millionaires in the United States, thanks to its name recognition and to the lack of testing methods to determine its quality. Greedy suppliers, brokers and manufacturers frequently stretch one gallon or one pound of genuine Aloe Vera gel liquid or powder to literally tens or hundreds of gallons or pounds of finished Aloe Vera drink, reaping outrageous profits. The taste of the Aloe Vera juice or drink you experience is mostly due to citric acid and preservatives. Genuine fresh Aloe Vera gel tastes bland and is slimy.
Commercially produced Aloe Vera cosmetics and skin care products are no better because most of the time the Aloe Vera gel is there just for the sake of the label claim, meaning merely present to entice you to buy the product. The amount present is often so small that it imparts no benefit to the products whatsoever. You might have to try many different brands until you find the right one that is not contaminated with chemical preservatives and may contain enough Aloe Vera gel to do something for you.
Aloe Vera gel normally contains no laxative principles (anthraglycosides). These laxative compounds are only present in cells immediately beneath the skin of the leaf. After the leaf is cut crosswise, the yellow bitter latex containing these compounds drains out of the leaf. When this latex is dried, a dark resinous mass is produced which is commonly called simply aloe. This aloe is a drug and is used in many laxative preparations. A milder form of laxative is also produced from the plant by splitting the whole leaf, drying it and milling it to a powder. Since this product contains considerably lower amounts of anthraglycosides and high concentrations of the gel, its laxative action is considered much less harsh than the concentrated aloe latex. Back to Top
Dubious Marketing Practices: In recent years an Aloe Vera juice demand in the USA and many other countries, has resulted from slick marketing campaigns surrounding a number of new Aloe Vera product launches. It almost seems that the U.S. is in the grip of an "Aloe Vera craze" due to a number of intensive and expensive marketing programs touting Aloe Vera as the new, wonder elixir that will cure virtually any illness. Back to Top
Some of the claims being made for Aloe Vera drink are extraordinary ... including weight loss and the lowering of cholesterol and curing of cancer and other metabolic diseases such as arthritis and heart disease.
Dubiously, Aloe Vera juice, is joining those now relatively common plant products that have produced the most millionaires in the United States MLM/network marketing fraternity Mangosteen Goji and Noni. Thanks to Aloe Vera's well know name recognition and to the lack of testing methods to determine its quality and amount of active ingredient in bottled juices, greedy suppliers, brokers and manufacturers frequently stretch small amounts of genuine Aloe Vera concentrate extract or powder, to literally make tens or even hundreds of litres or kilos of finished Aloe Vera drink, reaping substantial and outrageous profits. The taste of the Aloe Vera juice or drink you experience could well be mainly due to citric acid and artificial flavours added during the manufacturing process of the Aloe Vera drink.
This type of marketing strategy isn't new however. It's a direct result of other "exotic" fruit products like Goji, Noni and Mangosteen, netting billions in U.S. sales through direct marketing and retail sales hype, playing on the exotic flair of some reasonably common tropical fruit that wasn't previously well known in the US and other western countries. Since Noni's profitable appearance in the U.S. market several years ago, many enterprising companies have been searching for the next and newest (highly profitable) noni-replacement from an "exotic" tropical fruit such as the Acai berry to take the place of the now "old hat" aloe vera drink. Back to Top
To further compound the situation, most of the drinks made from Aloe Vera for commercial exploitation, are reconstituted from Aloe Vera concentrate, thereby destroying much of the inherent beneficial nature of the plant gel due to pasteurization and the manufacturing processes the ingredients go through. Often flavours and preservatives, sodium benzoate/benzoic acid are added to allow the product to keep for indefinite periods which may cause their own problems due to the formation of carcinogenic benzene in hot bottled preparations. More modern cold bottling as carried out by better manufacturers does not create the same environment for benzene to form. However, if the product becomes hot at anytime during transport or storage, it is possible and indeed, a very probable risk that benzene will be formed in the formula.
Oftentimes, actual mgs of active ingredients and valuable antioxidants in a whole bottle of liquid Aloe Vera juice may be far less than what the average person would consume by eating 10 or 20 red grapes. Before consuming any hyped up liquid health drink, you need to be sure that the manufacturing process hasn't resulted in the formation of benzene. A reputable company using cold bottling techniques should be able to supply independent lab test results to verify their product is benzene free or at least under the acceptable official guidelines for benzene contamination in health drinks. If you are already consuming a liquid antioxidant formula make sure you ask the company for written documentation that their product has been certified free of benzene! Back to Top
The Health-Report team, have looked thoroughly into many of the so-called wonder products out there and have come to the conclusion that most are not worth paying anything for as far as health benefits are concerned. As mentioned above, you may as well eat a few dozen red grapes or perhaps black currants, or blackberries each day as pay for an exorbitantly priced bottle of Aloe Vera juice/drink which will have little or no effect on your health.
Having said that, some manufacturers that supply freeze dried powder concentrate have been able to maintain the integrity of the original Aloe Vera gel. Freeze drying means the manufacturing process does not interfere with the good properties nor does it involve destructive pasteurization and preservatives to be added for liquid "health" formulas to ensure they keep for long periods. Back to Top
Not all antioxidant formulas are created equal however. The USDA CERTIFIED ORGANIC product line we recommend at the Health-Report site is easily the best we have ever encountered, with Organic Aloe Vera being used as the base for a very large range of Certified Organic skin care products.
Supplying yourself with quality "anti-aging" anti-oxidants in your skin care products along with a healthy diet full of antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables, is your first and best line of prevention against metabolic diseases such as cancer and heart disease as well as preventing the onset of premature aging.
Eds Note: Aloe Vera when applied to the skin in its natural form direct from the leaf does have amazing soothing qualities. I can personally vouch for this as can many of the people I have introduced to the Aloe Vera plant. The problem with most commercial preparations of Aloe Vera products is as outlined above. The quantity of the active ingredient is often virtually non-existent. You need to buy Aloe Vera gel from a completely trusted Certified Organic source made to FOOD GRADE standards if you are going to use any of the processed commercial Aloe Vera skin care products.
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