Aloe Vera: Medicinal Aloe

Topics: Aloe vera, Aloe, Aloe vera juice Pages: 11 (2963 words) Published: June 30, 2011
Aloe vera, pronounced /ˈæloʊ ˈvɪrə/[1], also known as the true or medicinal aloe, is a species of succulent plant in the genus Aloe that is believed to have originated in the Sudan.[citation needed] Aloe vera grows in arid climates and is widely distributed in Africa, India, and other arid areas. The species is frequently cited as being used in herbal medicine. Many scientific studies of the use of extracts of Aloe vera have been undertaken, some of them conflicting.[2][3][4][5] Despite these limitations, there is some preliminary evidence that Aloe vera extracts may be useful in the treatment of wound and burn healing, minor skin infections, Sebaceous cyst, diabetes, and elevated blood lipids in humans.[4] These positive effects are thought to be due to the presence of compounds such as polysaccharides, mannans, anthraquinones, and lectins.[4][6][7] Aloe vera is a stemless or very short-stemmed succulent[->0] plant growing to 60–100 cm (24–39 in) tall,spreading by offsets[->1]. The leaves are thick and fleshy, green to grey-green, with some varieties showing white flecks on the upper and lower stem surfaces.[8] The margin of the leaf is serrated[->2] and has small white teeth. The flowers[->3] are produced in summer on a spike up to 90 cm (35 in) tall, each flower pendulous, with a yellow tubular corolla[->4] 2–3 cm (0.8–1.2 in) long.[8][9] Like other Aloe species, Aloe vera forms arbuscular mycorrhiza[->5], a symbiosis[->6] that allows the plant better access to mineral[->7] nutrients in soil.[10] Distribution

The natural range of Aloe vera is unclear, as the species has been widely cultivated throughout the world. Naturalised stands of the species occur in the southern half of the Arabian peninsula[->8], through North Africa (Morocco[->9], Mauritania[->10], Egypt[->11]) as well as Sudan[->12] and neighbouring countries, along with the Canary[->13], Cape Verde[->14], and Madeira Islands[->15].[11] This distribution is somewhat similar to the one of Euphorbia balsamifera[->16], Pistacia atlantica[->17], and a few others, suggesting that a dry sclerophyl forest once covered large areas, but has been dramatically reduced due to desertification in the Sahara[->18], leaving these few patches isolated. Several closely related species (or sometimes identical) can be found on the two extreme sides of the Sahara: Dragon trees[->19] and Aeonium[->20] being some of the most representative examples. The species was introduced to China[->21] and various parts of southern Europe in the 17th century.[26] The species is widely naturalised elsewhere, occurring in temperate and tropical regions of Australia[->22], Barbados[->23], Belize[->24], Nigeria[->25], Paraguay[->26] and the US[->27][19][27] It has been suggested that the actual species' distribution is the result of human cultivation and that the taxonomy could be doubtful too.[20] [edit[->28]]Alternative Uses

[edit[->29]]Claims of medical properties
Scientific evidence for the cosmetic and therapeutic effectiveness of aloe vera is limited and when present is frequently contradictory.[2][3]Despite this, the cosmetic and alternative medicine industries regularly make claims regarding the soothing, moisturizing, and healing properties of aloe vera, especially via Internet advertising.[4][39][40][41][42] Aloe vera gel is used as an ingredient in commercially availablelotion[->30], yogurt[->31], beverages[->32], and some desserts[->33].[43][44][45] Aloe vera juice[->34] is used for consumption and relief of digestive issues such as heartburn[->35] and irritable bowel syndrome[->36], although it bears significant potential to be toxic when taken orally.[46] It is common practice for cosmetic companies to add sap or other derivatives from Aloe vera to products such as makeup[->37], tissues[->38], moisturizers[->39], soaps[->40], sunscreens[->41], incense[->42], shaving cream[->43], and shampoos[->44].[43] Other uses for extracts of aloe vera include the dilution of semen[->45] for the...
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