What Aloe Vera Does To Your Body: And Why The Ancient Egyptians Called it The Plant of Immortality
Over 6000 years ago, ancient Egyptians carved elaborate pictures of Aloe Vera plants where it was known as the “plant of immortality!”
The most famous variety of Aloe is the Aloe Barbadensis, commonly introduced to as Aloe vera. This type of Aloe is renowned for its incredible healing abilities. Even though Aloe Vera looks like a cactus, it belongs to a different family of plants called liliaceous and is indigenous to subtropical regions and deserts.
The derivation of the word Aloe is Arabic, and it comes from the Arabic word “Alloeh,” which means: “shining bitter substance.” And the word “vera” comes from Latin and means “true.”
In fact, dead pharaohs often received Aloe Vera as a burial gift. And historically, Aloe Vera has been used in traditional medicine in many disparate cultures including Greece, Egypt, Mexico, India, China, and Japan. According to a legend, Egyptian queens Cleopatra and Nefertiti used it as part of their regular beauty regimes. Also, the plant was used by Christopher Columbus and Alexander the Great to treat soldiers’ wounds.
The first evidence of Aloe vera in English appeared in a translation by John Goodyew in A.D. 1655 of Dioscorides’ Medical treatise De Materia Medica. Later Americans used Aloe vera as a laxative in the in the 1880’s. And in the mid-1930s, doctors used it to reverse chronic and severe dermatitis related to radiation.
“The potency of Aloe vera is due to its rich variety of ingredients which are present in perfect balance and work together as a team. Although the solid portion of the plant forms only 1%-1.5%, the rest being water, this small amount of active ingredient can produce a substantial effect. The only way to account for this is to accept the philosophy of synergism within the plant. Synergism means that the effect of the whole is greater than the effects of the component parts, so although individual members of the team could only affect, together, they can achieve a great deal more.” Aloe Vera – The Medicine Plant’, Dr. Peter Atherton, p25 Aloe-vera1
The Structure Of The Leaf
- The Rind – hardened outer layer where the synthesis and creation of the nutrients in Aloe Vera happen
- The Sap – bitter and contains anthraquinones (latex)
- The Mucilage layer – rich in long-chain sugars termed polysaccharides
- The Inner Leaf Gel – sterile and can be used immediately, contains the majority of nutrients in the Aloe Vera plant
Learn How To Extract The Gel From The Leaves
Note: six Aloe leaves, depending on size, from a mature and healthy plant can make a generous 1/4-cup amount of gel.
- Clean cutting board and work surface
- Clean, sharp knife
- Clean Glass container – It’s good to store the gel in the fridge and in a dark or opaque glass container if you can to protect it from light as the light can degrade it. Furthermore, ensure the lid of the jar remains tight and secure to prevent air from spoiling the gel.
- Food processor or blender
- Paper towels
- Spoon and spatula
* Additional: Use gloves to protect your hands from the serrated edges of the leaf.
- Wash your hands. You do not want to contaminate the gel.
- Clean all your tools and utensils.
- Choose mature, thick, fleshy and deep-green leaves. Look for leaves at least 4-6 inches in length. The oldest and largest outermost leaves near the bottom of the plant are ideal since they contain a thick, nutrient-rich gel layer.
- With a sharp knife, cut the leaves avoiding to harm the plant.
- Cut close to the base of the leaf and slice away from the center of the plant. Or buy cut Aloe leaves at select stores or online.
- Rinse the outer skin of the leaves and knife under running water.
- Place the cut leaves in a bowl at a 45-degree angle for 15 minutes or so. This step is important to get the dark yellow, very bitter Aloe juice or latex to out, and this juice is found in the cells located just under the surface of the leaf. The latex is a powerful laxative, and it can irritate the intestines. Also, the laxative effect could cause potassium levels to become low.
- Carefully take the serrated edges and skin of the leaf.
- Place the concave side down on a cutting board.
- Slice around the perimeter. This part leaves you with the top and bottom layer of the skin, and exposes the Aloe gel in between. Next, the top layer of skin comes off. Run the knife under the surface then peel it off. Now you can turn the leaf over and do the same to the other side. Extract the gel from every leaf and put it in a clean jar until you’re ready to process the batch in a blender or a food processor.
- Transfer the gel into a food processor and process until it’s uniformly mixed.
- Next, add a quarter teaspoon of vitamin C powder (100% Pure Powder). It will work as Assured in the form of ascorbic acid to every cup of gel. It neutralizes oxygen acting as a preservative. Or you can use another type of preservative.
- Add the gel and the preservative in the food processor or a blender and mix. You can choose to do it manually with a spoon also.
- Store in the fridge in a glass container with a tight lid and label with the date made.
Fresh Aloe gel usually lasts for a week in the fridge. But with a preservative it could last up to a month or maybe more. Make small batches to maintain the freshness. And use a clean spoon to get your gel out of the jar and avoid unwanted bacteria into the gel.
Dr. Andrew Weil suggests the following dosage:
Internal use – For adults, take 30 ml of Aloe vera gel three times daily. Suggested Dosage from Lily of the Desert (internal): Take 2 ounces (4 Tbsp) per serving alone or mixed with a favorite juice 2x a day for severe conditions take up to 8 ounces daily. For children, follow directions on manufacturer’s label or as instructed by a healthcare provider for internal use. Topically, apply the fresh gel as needed, but always seek professional medical advice beforehand.
If you want to use Aloe vera internally as a medicine or tonic, you will need a lot of leaves, so prepare yourself as not run out of supply.
Some proven health benefits of Aloe Vera and warnings:
The University of Maryland Medical Center warns: “Aloe gel is considered safe when applied to the surface of the skin, but should not be applied to open or deep wounds. In rare cases, it may cause an allergic reaction, mainly a skin rash. If you develop a rash, stop using the gel.”
“Taking aloe latex orally may cause severe intestinal cramps or diarrhea and is not recommended. Pregnant women should never take aloe latex because it may cause uterine contractions and trigger miscarriage. Nursing mothers should not take aloe latex either because the effects and safety for infants and children are not known. High doses of aloe can cause kidney damage.”
“Based on studies and clinical applications Aloe vera has been shown beyond a doubt to have immense potential therapeutically. Aloe vera is used medicinally both externally and internally.
Aloe vera is the single most healing of all the herbs. It’s anti-cancer, anti-parasitic, and it repairs DNA. It protects us from viruses and bacteria. Every time I take juice, I take aloe, and it makes a big difference.” From Gary Nulls Ultimate Anti Aging Program by Gary Null, Ph.D.
And in regards to skin cancer:
Many studies found that Aloe Vera can help prevent and treat melanoma. Research from the University of Belgrade’s School of Medicine confirmed that the ingredients in Aloe Vera stop reproduction of cells that morph into tumors via skin cancer. They also discovered that Aloe-emodin stopped cell proliferation. The researchers noticed that the whole herb extract was more protective than all the isolated aloe compounds.
Other studies also confirmed aloe’s ability to stop the progression of skin cancer when applied directly on the skin.
What’s more, Aloe vera has acemannan, a natural immune booster. And South Korea’s Gachon University of Medicine and Science found that Aloe-emodin prevented the development of human cancerous liver cells and induced cell death amid tumor cells.
Also, in 2010, China Medical University discovered that Aloe constituents Emodin and Rhein could produce anticancer effects, such as stopping tumor progression and inducing cell death in cancer cells.