What is aloe vera?
Aloe Vera is a trunkless perennial shrub belonging to the family Liliaceae or Aloe Vera belonging to the genus Aloe. This plant measures between 60 cm and 1m high. We considered it as a super plants (or super foods)
The leaf has the strange characteristic, when you cut it, to see two liquids flowing out: a yellow or red coloured juice and a white mucilaginous gel. The juice, also called latex or sap, is considered to be the active principle of the plant acting as a powerful stimulating laxative.
As for the gel, its mucilaginous and water-rich composition gives it exceptional moisturizing and anti-aging properties.
Origin, habitat and culture
Aloe Vera has been known for thousands of years and has been used throughout the world and civilizations: from the Sumerian, to the Chinese, through the Mesopotamian, Egyptian and Arab civilizations.
It was used for medicinal purposes, notably to facilitate healing, to treat burns and skin conditions, but also as a laxative. Ancient civilizations also used it as a cosmetic product to beautify skin and hair. This plant was considered by some peoples as sacred and divine.
Although Aloe Vera can be found on almost every continent, the largest number of species can be found in South Africa. It grows in semi-arid regions on sandy soils but prefers areas with constant heat all year round. It survives drought but is not frost resistant.
Appearance, composition and format
The Aloe Vera is a perennial shrub without trunk belonging to the family of lilyceae or Aloe Vera belonging to the genus Aloe, which includes about 400 species distributed throughout the world, but very few (about ten) are recognized for their medicinal virtues.
It is a plant known as “succulent”, it measures between 60 cm and 1m high. The leaves are green, fleshy, triangular, with serrated edges.
Each leaf is composed of 3 layers:
- The outer layer, a thick cuticle which has a protective function and gives rigidity to the plant.
- The middle layer of latex, the chlorophyllous parenchyma from which a bitter yellow sap flows spontaneously after cutting: the juice of the latex is the main source of the plant’s energy.
- An inner layer consisting of a thick, mucilaginous liquid: the gel.
The juice and gel of Aloe Vera are the two parts of the plant that are used.
The juice or sap
Also called “Aloe latex”, the juice is rich in hydroxyanthracene heterosides, mainly aloin A and B: this is the drug of the plant.
The gel or pulp
It is a mucilage composed of 99% water, the rest of the products that make up this gel give it its exceptional properties. We find vitamins A, C, E, B1, B2, B3, B4, B6, B9 (folic acid), B12, many minerals, enzymes (bradykinase, lipase, peroxidase, tyrosinase …), 7 of the 8 essential amino acids, fatty acids (linoleic acid), saponins, salicylic acid, sterols, …
The gel also contains monosaccharides (mainly mannose, glucose, galactose) and polysaccharides which are essentially glucomannans, the most interesting of which is called acemannan.
The juice of Aloe Vera being bitter it is generally consumed in the form of capsules or capsules.
As for Aloe Vera latex it is found in the form of cream and gel (for food or cosmetic purposes), also in juice or in ampoules.
Properties and desired effects
Aloins, present in the juice of Aloe Vera, once ingested, will be metabolised into aloe-emodine: the water content of the faecal bowl increases, the peristalsis of the colon is thus stimulated, stools will be more frequent and softer. A latency period of a few hours is observed after taking aloe vera before the laxative effect is felt, it is indeed necessary to wait for the aloin to be metabolised into an active product.
Aloe-emodine also has remarkable antioxidant properties.
The moisturizing power of Aloe Vera gel is no longer to be demonstrated, it is in fact composed essentially of water and the presence of polysaccharides guarantees prolonged hydration by slowing down the evaporation of water.
Aloe Vera gel stimulates the skin’s fibroblasts leading to an increase in the synthesis of collagen, elastic fibres and hyaluronic acid, which will lead to a clear improvement in the skin’s elasticity and the appearance of wrinkles. The skin appears plumped up and wrinkles and fine lines are reduced.
In addition, with age, melanocytes produce excess tyrosine leading to the appearance of what are commonly called “brown spots”: the tyrosinase (enzyme that degrades tyrosine) in Aloe Vera gel helps slow down this phenomenon of hyperpigmentation.
Aloe Vera gel with its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and immunostimulant properties promotes tissue repair. It would seem that in this healing mechanism, different compounds of the gel would intervene in synergy: acemannan, mannose, vitamins and minerals, …
Aloe Vera gel has shown in several studies real benefits in the treatment of wounds: burns, peptic ulcers and dermatological ulcers, dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema, …
Anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic
The anti-inflammatory activity of Aloe Vera gel is relatively important, it would be due to different compounds: Alprogens, sterols or 5-methylchromones which act via various mechanisms: blocking the metabolism pathways of arachidonic acid (involved in inflammatory and allergic processes), inhibiting the activity of bradykinin and limiting the migration of neutrophil polynuclear cells.
Dosage et posologie
Pour avoir un effet laxatif, la posologie recommandée est de 200 à 300mg de suc d’Aloe Vera, par jour au moment du repas.
Contraindication, danger(s) and side effect(s)
Do not use in case of known allergy to plants of the Liliaceae family (onions, garlic, shallots, tulips, asparagus…).
Generally well tolerated, the juice of Aloe Vera can sometimes cause abdominal cramps, diarrhea, addiction or aggravation of constipation.
The laxative effect may cause a decrease in blood potassium levels.
Aloe Vera juice is not recommended during pregnancy due to the theoretical stimulation of uterine contractions, it is not recommended during breastfeeding.
The application of Aloe Vera gel on the skin can increase the absorption of the creams as the gel contains lignin which when used in topical products increases the penetration of the other components through the skin. (Beware of corticoid creams, anti-inflammatory…)
Do not combine Aloe Vera juice with digoxin.
Do not combine the juice of Aloe Vera with thiazide diuretics or loop (furosemide, hydrochlorothiazide) diuretics: potential risk of hypokalemia.
In case of severe constipation: Aloe Vera juice and psyllium
Aloe Vera juice is to be used occasionally in case of occasional constipation.
Hygienic and dietary measures are essential for a good balance of transit: remember to drink enough water and to regularly consume fibre, fruit and vegetables.