Streets Singapore

Health Benefits of Aloe Vera

August 4th, 2017 | Posted by Editor in Health and Wellness

You may have seen a lot of beauty and health products that contain aloe vera such as shampoos, lotions, aloe vera gels, and ointments. That’s because aloe very is largely known to have healing properties in folk medicine. Let’s look more into its many uses.

The Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is a tropical plant known for its medicinal properties. Its common name is also its binomial name. Aloe vera is known to host the Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus, and the two form a symbiotic relationship that allows the plant to use the minerals found in the soil more efficiently. The fungus thrives in the roots’ cortical cells. The fungus uses sulfur, phosphorus, nitrogen and micro-nutrients in the soil.

Aloe vera is a stemless and short plant with thick green leaves. Some of the leaves have white specks near the lower or upper stems. The meaty leaves have serrated margins that look like thorns or teeth to some. Aloe vera also produces flowers.

In Singapore, there are some debates regarding the plant’s origin. Some speculate that there is no one true species of aloe vera and that it might be a result of hybridization. Most of aloe today are naturalized. Natural populations of the plant are nearly nonexistent. As it is also cultivated in different parts of the world, so it’s difficult to determine its natural range. However, there are several varieties and synonyms of aloe from in Singapore found throughout Asia, the Middle East and parts of Sudan and Somalia. Aloe was introduced to southern Europe and China sometime in the 17th century.

The Uses of Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is also grown as an ornamental plant because it produces beautiful flowers. It’s a hardy plant that can survive with less water and in sunny areas and even in environments with heavy snow or frost. In tropical places like Singapore, you have to be careful with too much exposure to sunlight as the leaves can burn. Make sure to drain the extra water in the pot because that can also weaken the plant. In winter months, the aloe has the ability to go dormant and must be kept indoors. It’s not only adaptive to different climates but it’s also resistant to a lot of insect pests. Just make sure to avoid crowded pots with too many pups near the older plant.

Aloe vera appears in ancient texts and is used in Ayurvedic medicine. Aloe vera in Singapore is used in desserts and beverages too. The aloe vera gel is a clear gelatinous substance. There are contradicting studies about its effects on the body when ingested, so make sure to read the labels when consuming food with aloe vera gel as one of the ingredients.

Aloe Vera Products for the Body

Aloe vera is processed into different products for the body. Most of these are obtained from the aloe vera gel or from the aloe vera latex. The gel comes from the inside of the leaves while the latex are from the substance below the skin of the leaves. Aloe latex is taken as a treatment for a range of diseases, including multiple sclerosis. Aloe vera ointment is used to treat various skin problems, while the juice is used as a substitute for cultured milk to keep the digestive tract healthy. In Singapore, it is also used in a lot of beauty products such as facial tissues, moisturizers, makeup, sunscreen, soap, shampoo, and shaving cream.

Health Benefits

Studies about the benefits of aloe vera are conflicting. While it is one of the most documented medicinal plants in the world, recent research has shown that the aloe vera can be toxic to the body.

Aloe vera is said to contain more than 200 vitamins, minerals and enzymes that help in digestion, nutrient absorption, reduce nitrates, and promote a healthy immune system. In particular, the aloe vera products hydrates and moisturizes skin, reduce the toxins in the body, ease joint and muscle pain, increase the antioxidants, promote healthy digestion by balancing the acidity in the stomach, and increase the digestive system’s nutrient absorption. There are a lot of testimonials from people who have benefited from aloe vera over the centuries. It is also mentioned in historical texts from the Egyptians to the early European colonizers. There is also a rumor that aloe vera was used as a salve for the victims of the nuclear bombs dropped in Japan in World War II.

Aloe vera contains 20 essential amino acids according to some research. It is also known to have 8 enzymes, antioxidants, vitamins A, C, E, B12, choline, and folic acid. Some of its minerals include potassium, zinc, and magnesium. Besides sugars, it also has 4 fatty acids, anti-inflammatory and healing hormones, and 12 anthraquinones. These properties allow manufacturers to use aloe vera in a lot of products from antibacterials, laxatives, anti-inflammatory ointments, antioxidants, and analgesics.

Side Effects and Interactions

While aloe vera has a lot of benefits, there are studies that orally ingesting aloe vera extracts can cause problems. It can be toxic at certain levels and might even be carcinogenic. Some of its side effects include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, low potassium levels, heart and kidney problems and decrease in absorption of nutrients.

When using aloe vera products, make sure to read the labels. There is a recommended dose of aloe vera not just for products that can be ingested but even the application of topical creams. Consult your doctor before using any product and let him/her know if there are any side effects. The aloe latex in particular is known to cause kidney and heart diseases, weight loss and diarrhea when ingested in high doses. You should not use aloe vera gel and latex if you have pre-existing health problems, pregnant or breast-feeding. These products should also be kept out of reach of children below 12 years of age.

As for any type of non-commercial treatment, any alternative medicine in Singapore, including aloe vera, must be taken with precaution. Aloe vera has proven to be beneficial, but only in controlled doses.

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