The Herb Aloe Vera is known as “The Medicine Plant”, “ Plant of Life”, “First aid Plant”, “Potted Physician” and in Japan it’s translation means “No Need for a Doctor”. It is one of Nature’s greatest gifts! This was recognised by the Eqyptians 6000 years ago who called it the “Plant of Immortality”. 

It has been used for a wide range of ailments and illnesses, skin conditions and pampering, and these uses are more popular today than ever.

Often mistaken for a cactus the Aloe Vera plant forms part of the Aloinae subspecies, while most of the 200 types are non-toxic there are about 15 poisonous ones.

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They are thought to be only five varieties of the Aloe family which have documented medical benefits, the only species that should be call Aloe Vera is Aloe Barbadensis Miller which translates to “True Aloe”.

A useful plant for almost everything

Aloe Vera is now firmly established as a useful ingredient and is recognised by most of the buying public. But small quantities of low quality aloe plant are unlikely to produce any beneficial results.

It’s added to shampoo, lipstick, after-shave, babies nappies, latex examination gloves, mouth washes and even washing powder.

Cosmetic companies will continue to exploit the moistening properties of the plant, but “The Medicine Plant – Aloe Vera” real importance lie in its ingredients found in the gel (from cells at the centre of the leaf) and the latex (yellow cells from just under the plants skin) of which there are 75 know substances so far, making it one of nature’s most potent cocktails.

The Aloe Vera Leaf contains; Lignin which provides an ability to penetrate human skin. Saponin is a soapy substance with antiseptic properties, a powerful cleanser.

Minerals found in the medicine plant:

– Calcium important for bones and teeth but essential for cellular structure and nerve transmission (needs vitamin D to assist in the absorption).

– Manganese component of enzymes needed for the activation of other ingredients with in the plant. Sodium prevents the body becoming too acid or alkaline and is involved in the electrical conductivity in the muscles and nerves.

aloe vera uses and benefits_2– Potassium also helps with the acid-base balance in the body and electrical conductivity.

– Copper another component of enzymes and facilitates the action of iron as an oxygen carrier in the red blood cells. Magnesium involved in the metabolism of calcium and again supports the muscle membranes.

– Zinc a major contributor of proteins, carbohydrates (sugars) and fats.

Chromium helps control blood sugar levels.

– Iron enables oxygen to be transported around the body as ox haemoglobin.

Packed full of vitamins

Vitamins A, C and E are contained in the Aloe Plant, all three are antioxidants and positively influence the immune system, assist in wound healing and the making of collagen, along with supporting the maintenance of normal night vision and helping the body utilise oxygen.

Vitamin B12 is also found in the Aloe Plant this is essential for the manufacturing of red blood cells.

Aloe Vera provides 19 out of the 20 Amino Acids and 7 out of 8 of the essential amino acids that the body needs to form the building blocks of proteins from which our bodies manufacture and repair muscle, along with a list of enzymes that aid digestion, the breaking down of starches, fats and sugars and are anti-inflammatory which acts like an aspirin-like pain killing compound.

How to harvest the Aloe Vera Gel from your home grown plant

1. Break a leaf off the Aloe Vera plant, as close to the stem as possible. Lay the leaf on a cutting board and slice away both ends, so that you can see the gel sandwiched between the layers of tough skin.

2. Trim off the spiny edges of the leaf, too. You should be left with a layer of thick gel trapped between the two sides of skin.

3. Hold the leaf in place with one hand on the top layer of skin as you carefully slide a sharp knife between the top layer of skin and the gel beneath, separating the two. Set the aloe skin aside.

4. Flip the aloe gel over and slide a knife between the gel and the other piece of skin to separate the two. If this feels awkward, place the aloe skin-side down and, with a firm grip on the skin, slide your knife between the skin and gel from this orientation. Set this piece of skin aside, too. You should be left with a clear, nearly translucent piece of aloe gel.

If you use the aloe topically it may feel slimy, just wipe or rinse the residue away, or let it soak into your skin.

Come back for Part 2 of my article tomorrow where I will discuss multiple ways to use this ‘Plant of Life’. 

Connect with Expert Lynn Freeston.

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