Aloe Vera, as we all know is a cactus plant that holds a host of medicinal properties. Whether you want to maintain the health of skin, hair or the entire body, it can deliver amazing results. The plant is rich in antioxidants and antibacterial properties that can do wonders if used in the right manner.
Aloe Vera has been used for centuries for its health, beauty, and skincare properties. The Egyptians called Aloe “the plant of immortality.” Today, the Aloe Vera plant is widely used for various purposes in dermatology.
Composition Of Aloe Vera.
The plant contains around 75 active components including vitamins, enzymes, amino acids, minerals, sugars, lignin, saponins, and salicylic acids. All the active constituents are present in either the gel or the yellow latex, both of which are a part of health products today.
- Vitamins: The plant contains Vitamin A, C, and E which are antioxidants. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals in the body. It also contains Vitamin B12 and folic acids which help in the production of red blood cells.
- Enzymes: The plant contains 8 enzymes. Bradykinase helps to reduce excessive inflammation when applied to the skin topically. Other enzymes like amylase, cellulase, and lipase help in the breakdown of sugar and fats.
- Amino Acids: It provides 7 of the 8 essential amino acids which are helpful in which help in the regeneration and repair of cells in the body.
- Minerals: It has zinc, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, sodium, manganese and calcium. Hence, this mineral-rich plant helps in the proper function of the metabolic system.
- Sugars: Among sugars, the gel contains glucose and fructose which provide energy to the body. Also, a glycoprotein called alprogen has been recently found which has antiallergic properties.
- Lignin: Lignin is an inert substance which increases the porosity of the skin when applied topically. As a result, it helps other ingredients to penetrate through the skin easily.
- Saponins: Saponins constitutes 3% of the gel. These are soapy substances and have cleansing and antiseptic properties.
- Salicylic Acids: It has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Uses Of Aloe Vera
Healing properties: Aloe gel not only increases the collagen content of the wound but also changes collagen composition (more type III) and increased the degree of collagen cross-linking. Due to this, it accelerated wound contraction and increased the breaking strength of resulting scar tissue.
Effects on skin exposure to UV and gamma radiation: Aloe vera gel has been reported to have a protective effect against radiation damage to the skin. The exact role is not known, but following the administration of aloe vera gel, an antioxidant protein, metallothionein, is generated in the skin, which scavenges hydroxyl radicals and prevents suppression of superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase in the skin. It reduces the production and release of skin keratinocyte-derived immunosuppressive cytokines such as interleukin-10 (IL-10) and hence prevents UV-induced suppression of delayed-type hypersensitivity.
Anti-inflammatory action: Aloe vera inhibits the cyclooxygenase pathway and reduces prostaglandin E2 production from arachidonic acid. Recently, the novel anti-inflammatory compound called C-glucosyl chromone was isolated from gel extracts.
Moisturizing and anti-aging effect: Mucopolysaccharides help in binding moisture into the skin. Aloe stimulates fibroblast which produces the collagen and elastin fibers making the skin more elastic and less wrinkled. It also has cohesive effects on the superficial flaking epidermal cells by sticking them together, which softens the skin. The amino acids also soften hardened skin cells and zinc acts as an astringent to tighten pores. Its moisturizing effects has also been studied in the treatment of dry skin associated with occupational exposure where aloe vera gel gloves improved the skin integrity, decreases the appearance of fine wrinkle and decreases erythema. It also has an anti-acne effect.
Antiseptic effect: Aloe vera contains 6 antiseptic agents: Lupeol, salicylic acid, urea nitrogen, cinnamonic acid, phenols, and sulfur. They all have an inhibitory action on fungi, bacteria, and viruses.
What About Its Safety?
Aloe Vera is perfectly safe when used topically. There is no scientific evidence the proves otherwise. However, we do not recommend any sort of oral consumption without your medical specialist’s advice. Here’s why:
Aloe latex is a strong laxative. That means it reduces the absorption capabilities of the digestive system. Hence, it reduces the effectiveness of drugs in patients.
Diabetic patients should avoid taking aloe orally as it reduces glucose levels.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women should be cautious taking aloe orally as it may cause a uterine contraction in pregnant women and gastrointestinal problems to the infant, in case of breastfeeding mothers.
Also, there are cases of abdominal cramps and diarrhea with the oral use of aloe latex.