Your Skin and Aloe Vera. Part 1

Anatomy of the human skin with English languag...

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If I were to ask you what Aloe Vera was used for, the answer you’ll  very likely give is, ‘It’s used for the skin’. This is the commonly known use of Aloe Vera in the 4,000 years  it’s been known, till today. Indeed Aloe Vera has the ability to heal, nourish and beautify the skin. Its use is also indispensable in anti-aging regimens. How Aloe Vera heals and beautifies the skin, including its anti-aging ability is an extensive topic, which is why i’m going to break it down in parts. This is the first post.

First, let’s talk briefly about the skin, so we can get a better idea of how Aloe Vera works on it. As the largest organ of the body the skin is about 16% of your total body weight and it measures some 3,000 square inches. It is made up of 3 layers, the epidermis, dermis and hypodermis. Cells divide constantly in the inner layers of the epidermis; these cells are pushed to the skin surface where they replace the old ones. These surface cells rub and flake off constantly and new epidermal cells are constantly produced to replace them. This process is called sloughing, and all epidermal cells are replaced every 28-30 days.

In the dermal layer we have blood vessels, lymph vessels, collagen fibers, elastic fibers, and nerves. The hair follicle, the oily sebaceous gland, and the sweat glands all go from the dermal to the epidermal layers. The dermis and hypodermis provide the real support for the skin because of the strong collagen and elastic fibers which help to keep the skin taut and firm. The epidermis serves as the protective covering for the body protecting the inner skin cells from dehydration, infection and damage.

Any opening on the skin from a cut, wound, insect bite, pimple,  abrasion, or burn distresses the body causing fluid and blood loss and the possibility of infection. The body’s mechanism quickly attempts to heal the opening but most times help is needed in order for the skin to heal faster. And this is where Aloe Vera comes into play. The plant’s effectiveness in healing skin tissue is legendary. From ancient times the gel from inside the leaf was cut and applied directly on the skin, but nowadays Aloe Vera which has been properly stabilized to retain the natural properties of the plant is available for use in the form of the pure gel or juice, or incorporated into cleansers, exfoliates, soaps, lotions, creams and moisturizers, and these are more commonly used.

Aloe Vera helps with most skin disorders, ranging from sunburn, scalding, radiation burn, turf burns, razor burn, insect bites, rashes from allergic skin reaction, chicken pox and measles; chapped lips, scaly skin, eczema, acne, psoriasis, rosecea, bed sores, body odor, sore or cracked nipples, skin cancer, cuts, boils and abscesses, liver spots, cold sores, athlete’s foot, bruises, swelling, and itching.

Aloe Vera is now regarded as ‘the first best skin treatment’ and a necessary inclusion in first aid boxes in homes, schools and offices. It is also one of the most widely-used ingredients in high-grade skin care products.  The reason for this is, it possesses properties that are just ideal in healing and improving the skin. Aloe Vera possesses proteolytic enzymes which help to slough off dead epidermal skin cells thereby providing faster healing and leaving the skin brighter and smoother. This also helps with Aloe Vera’s ability to remove and reduce scar tissue. It possesses compounds which give a soothing feeling when Aloe Vera is applied on the skin. When it is used on traumatized skin, especially on burn patients, the first thing you notice is that they become calmer as the Aloe Vera soothes.

Aloe Vera is 90% water and the body has an average of 60% water of which the skin contains much of this. Therefore there’s compatibility. Aloe Vera helps to hydrate and moisturize the skin cells making it easier for healing enzymatic reactions to take place. The moisturized cells fill out reducing the appearance of fine lines on the skin. Also, there are compounds in Aloe Vera which create a barrier in preventing the skin from losing moisture. Aloe Vera contains vitamins, minerals, enzymes and amino acids which provide nourishment your skin needs for it to heal faster and accelerate the growth of new skin tissues.

The skin is the protective covering of the body. One of the most important things it protects the body from are germs which are found on its surface.  Aloe Vera is antibacterial and anti-fungal, so when it is applied to the skin it will rid your skin of a broad spectrum of germs. This ability is an important consideration when a traumatized skin is healing, or after a surgical operation and you want to prevent complications from infection.

While most people are only familiar with using Aloe Vera externally by rubbing it on the skin, it also enhances your skin health from the inside out when you take it internally. When you drink Aloe Vera gel regularly, your body gains a host of benefits, one of which is a healthy, youthful, radiant skin.  Drink Aloe and watch your skin  glow!

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What is Your Attitude To Aloe Vera and Other Herbal Plants?

This blog is about the properties of Aloe Vera and how they help to keep you healthy. So, i’d like to dive right into that, but before i do, let’s take a little time and talk about a common attitude that is prevalent today towards herbal plants like Aloe Vera.

Many people in the Western world, and educated people in developing nations show a skepticism towards the use of medicinal plants, and because of this they hesitate to use them. They have this somewhat biased attitude to the healing claims of these plants without finding out if their attitude is grounded or not; or if these medicinal plants actually heal or not. To some of them, these healing claims are nothing  more than old wives’ tales or myths spun around some plant. Some equate herbal preparations to magic portions; then there are those who consider it undignified to use such herbal preparations. They would never consider it. Rather, synthetic pharmaceutical medications are their first and only choice.

This prevalent attitude has arisen broadly from the basic perceptions of the medical community; from advertisements and from centuries-old superstitious beliefs.

Medical doctors and other medical practitioners tend to make cautionary remarks about the use of herbal plants when their opinions are sought. This is not surprising because during their many years in college they were only taught how to combat diseases with pharmaceutical drugs. Many of them have little or no knowledge about herbal treatments because they had no formal training in them. What little they know were likely glimpsed from medical journals. Many times their opinions are based on their own biased perceptions and not on real knowledge or experience. One of their major reasons for denouncing herbal preparations is that enough clinical trials have not been done on such plants. This is what they tell their patients, and as you and i know, a doctor’s word is normally accepted hook, line and sinker; then the idea is passed on as real knowledge to others by the patient. This is how the medical community has in no small way subtly propagated the hesitant attitude people have towards the use of herbal plants.

Advertising has also played a large role in the elite’s skepticism to using medicinal plants like Aloe Vera. While pharmaceutical drugs may be advertised to a greater or lesser extent in the media in many countries, herbal plants cannot be advertised. It is even against the law in many countries to state that a herbal preparation will treat an ailment. Even in brochures, an FDA disclaimer has to be stated alongside a herbal plant if that plant is touted to have a health benefit. Constant, in-your-face advertisements  have exposed people more to conventional drugs than to herbal healing plants.

Another reason for this attitude probably has its origins in the 16th century, towards the end of the Middle Ages, and during the period of the Roman Inquisition. There was a massive hunt all over Europe for women believed to be engaged in witchcraft. Many of such women were herbalists who were blessed with the knowledge of healing plants with which they helped their community. They came to be seen as sorcerers and became the target of witch hunts and, many of them were thrown into jail and burned at the stakes. This persecution went on for a 100 years, till the mid-17th century and it brought great fear in its train. And gradually, the knowledge and use of herbal plants died down. It came to be regarded as a preoccupation of the unlettered, lower class of the society, and the western educated man or woman wanted little or nothing to do with it.

But if you are one of the people who are skeptical about using herbal preparations, the following points may help you reconsider.

First of all many herbal plants like Aloe Vera have been in use for thousands of years, and according to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 120 chemical drugs in common use today have their origin, discovery and development in herbal medicinal plants. Their centuries-old efficacious use by herbalists were researched and tested; the active ingredients were analyzed and then formulated into pharmaceutical drugs. Examples are, digitalis from foxglove, aspirin from willow bark, codeine from the poppy and chloroquine from quinine. That a plant has been used for hundreds of years for healing is considered by herbalists as the best possible clinical test of the efficacy of that plant. Compare this to the 10-25 weeks of tests often performed on laboratory animals for pharmaceutical drugs before they are marketed.

Secondly, again, WHO tells us that at least 80% of the world’s population today still use herbal preparations as their first line of treatment when they’re ill. I would like to draw from this fact that if over 5 billion out of the 6 billion people of the world are using herbal medicinal treatments, then this is an indication of the high level of satisfaction in these treatments. Most of the 80% are people in developing nations, and only a comparative handful are from the Western world. This may confirm what i said earlier that a western education influences your attitude to using herbal preparations.

Pharmaceutical drugs have their place, no doubt. They’re necessary for treating sudden and serious diseases while herbal preparations should be used for preventing illnesses and maintaining chronic conditions. Conventional medications should not be your first line of treatment except in certain cases. Also you should try as much as possible not to maintain a chronic illness with them. If you make appropriate lifestyle changes there are many herbal plants that will help with most chronic conditions. Drugs are inert chemicals, they are foreign entities to the body and can cause havoc to your health in the long term; they should be used only when absolutely necessary.

Drugs are causing untold Adverse Drug Reactions (ADRs) and deaths. In the USA alone, it is estimated that up to 20% of General Practitioner (GP) visits are due to ADRs; so are 6%-7% of hospital admissions and over 100,000 people die every year from drugs prescribed by doctors. In-fact, death from pharmaceutical drugs is estimated to be the fourth largest cause of deaths in the USA. But let’s compare this to herbal drugs with only about 30-50 ADR related visits to the GP in a year. What this is saying is that herbal preparations are much safer for you to use than synthetic chemical drugs.

The whole plant, or a part of the plant (bark, root, leaves, or flowers) is used in herbal preparations. That is, apart from the active ingredient in the plant, which is usually a phytochemical, there are other compounds which are present, such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, pigments, and enzymes. When the preparation is used these other compounds are also made available in your body to provide other healing effects. Their presence in the plant also acts as a buffer to reduce the reactivity of the active compound(s), thereby making the herbal preparation less toxic to use. But in a pharmaceutical drug the active ingredient is concentrated and reactive to a particular disordered group of  cells only, hence it will treat only one disease at a time and usually has serious side effects.

It should also always be borne in mind that herbal plants are biological living entities, even when they’re dried. They are not inert like drugs. And many of them possess compounds that are like those of the human body.  It is postulated that the degree to which a herbal plant possesses compounds similar to that of our body is the degree to which it serves to heal us.

What i’ve written above has been a short discourse on what can be termed, ‘the reasons in favor of the use of  herbal plants like Aloe Vera.’

So, where does Aloe Vera stand in all of this?

First of all Aloe Vera is one of the oldest plants known to and used by man. Its use has been recorded for over 4,000 years in different regions of the world. It is even mentioned several times in the bible. So we can confidently say that Aloe Vera is a true and tested healing plant.

Secondly, all over the world where it is commonly grown ( Mexico, Aruba, South Africa, Texas, Dominican Republic,etc) the same healing properties are ascribed to it, namely that it quickly heals and rejuvenates the skin, and it helps improve digestion both in man and animals. This is a further confirmation of the plant’s efficacy. Different people all over the world will not ascribe the same properties to the plant if it were not so.

Thirdly, Aloe Vera was resuscitated in the Western world about 70 years ago after its use was temporarily forgotten during the 18th and 19th centuries.  Its use especially in skin care cosmetics gained popularity from the 1960s, and to date the plant’s popularity has not waned but has become a household name. In fact, a marketing strategy that is popular is to relaunch a product as, ‘new and improved with Aloe Vera.’

Fourthly, many clinical tests have been performed on the healing properties of Aloe Vera, and over the years more and more healing abilities of the plant have been found. One of the most important aspects of the plant that has been elucidated is its chemical composition. It was no surprise to find that Aloe Vera has a rich cornucopia of chemicals compounds; vitamins, minerals, essential amino acids, and antioxidants, which are similar to those found in human beings. It has antibacterial and anti-fungal agents.  It also has lignin and polysaccharides. The lignin in Aloe Vera imparts on it the uncanny ability it possesses that enables it rapidly penetrate living tissues to perform its healing abilities.

My question and the title of this post was, ‘what is your attitude to Aloe Vera and other herbal plants?’. At this point if you’ve read this far i would like to ask this question again. Think about it and let me know in your comments. I hope i have been able to shed a little more light so that we can put all biases aside and embrace the healing potentials of Aloe Vera.

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Are you interested in natural healing methods, specifically the natural healing properties of Aloe Vera?

Hi, my name is Sade. This is my first post on this blog.

I am a pharmacist. I left college 32 years ago. And for as long as I can remember I have always been interested in maintaining good health and helping others do the same. While I can take responsibility for my own health by eating and drinking the right foodstuffs, exercising and reducing the stress level in my life, with other people all I can do is pass on information about healthy practices. Those practices that I engage in, those I learn, and those that sheer commonsense tells us we should do because they’re good for us. Let’s face it, everyone is in a quest to be healthy whether they’re aware of it or not. If there’s someone who isn’t, he definitely needs to be.  No-one can achieve much in life if he’s sick and unhealthy. Also, when we’re not well, our time and finances are spent and we become focused on getting that frustrating, painful, disturbing ailment, disorder or disease out of our lives.

So, why did I decide to set up this blog, and give it the name, AloeVeraHealer?

I want to disseminate health information on this blog to help you and help myself. I will gain a lot in the process of researching and writing the posts. I’m quite excited thinking of the posts, videos and all the other health issues especially in relation to Aloe Vera that I will be offering you on this blog. Make sure you check in regularly.

Now, there are very many aspects of healthy living. This blog is basically for people who are interested in natural healing methods, and specifically the natural healing properties of the Aloe Vera plant, and the products made from it. It will astound you to learn how the healing properties of Aloe Vera can keep you healthy from head to toe. From the hair on your head to your scalp, eyes, nose, lips, teeth and gums; throat, neck and shoulders; your ear, skin, nails, rectum/anus, your feet, toes, heels and sole of your feet, Aloe Vera will heal you. It will also help your body with digestion, detoxification, gynecological problems, immune deficiencies, cancer, anti-ageing, muscular problems, acne, psoriasis, diabetes, increased energy, asthma, burns, cuts, insect bites, and so many more. Aloe Vera is equally used in the care and cure of animals.

Is Aloe Vera a cure all? My immediate answer to that is, ‘No’.  No one has said Aloe Vera will suture a deep gash on the skin or mend a broken limb. Those are the work of the medical doctor. But then, taking Aloe Vera even in these cases will hasten their healing.

The ability of Aloe Vera to heal many ailments, disorders and diseases of the human body is not a mystery, and will be revealed in subsequent posts on this site. It is sufficient for you to know now that, compared to other plants, Aloe Vera possesses a vast array of biological components similar to that of the human body. This enables it to get to the root causes of disorders rather than merely providing relief from symptoms, as many synthetic, chemical drugs do. This is one of the major differences between using natural healing agents and using conventional medications. Again, i will touch on this in detail in future posts.

For a very long time in our modern world, the majority of people, both young and old, have come to accept and believe that only chemical drugs can heal. People have generally scoffed at the healing claims of herbal plants. The most common reason given for this attitude is that, ‘there’s little clinical evidence’ to support the claims. However, in the face of the constant stream of reports of death or disability from toxic side effects of pharmaceutical drugs, many people including medical doctors and practitioners, are having a rethink. People are gradually turning back to using safer natural methods of preventing or treating their illness. One of such methods, is the use of the Aloe Vera plant and its quality products.

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