Introduction: Aloe Vera – A Miracle Plant
Medicinal plants are the local heritage with global importance. The world is endowed with a rich wealth of medicinal plant. Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis Miller) is one of them.
The name aloe is presumed to come from the Arabic word “alloeh” means shining bitter substance while vera in latin means true. It is also known as medicinal aloe, a perennial, drought resisting, succulent plant belonging to the Liliaceae family.
There are about 500 Aloe species growing around the world, however, only Aloe barbadensis, Aloe ferox and Aloe arborescens are used as herbal drugs. Aloe was originated in tropical Africa and it is now cultivated in warm climatic areas of Asia, Europe, America and other countries across the globe.
While in India, it is commonly found in Mumbai, Gujarat, Rajasthan and South India. It is known by different names in India such as Ghee kunwar, Ghrit kumari, Kunar pathu etc.
Presently, the use of Aloe vera has gained popularity because of herbal movement initiated by Yog gurus, naturopaths, alternative medicine promoters and holistic healers.
It is grown commercially for high demand in medicines and cosmetics. Aloe vera, a popular house plant has a long history as a multipurpose folk remedy.
It has an immense role in indigenous system of medicine such as in Ayurvedic, Homeopathic, Allopathic and Unani. Most of the people used this plant for food and medicine.
Aloe vera is a perennial that grows 60 – 100 cm tall, into the shape of a tuft, whose base is surrounded by a rosette of succulent and thorny-edged fleshy, green to grey-green leaves, with some varieties showing white flecks on the upper and lower stem surfaces.
The flowers are produced in summer on a spike up to 90 cm tall, each flower being pendulous, with a yellow tubular corolla 2-3 cm long.
The flowers are held high on single or branched stalks, and the resulting seeds are held in dry capsules. Although, aloe vera is the member of lily family, its structure and consistency are vaguely reminiscent of the cactus.
Aloe Vera Climate Conditions
Aloe vera tends to grow in almost all parts of India, most heartily in areas with higher heat and less rainfall.
Because of its very low water requirement, in India, it is best suited for cultivation in arid and semiarid region particularly in Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra.
Aloe Vera Plant Health Benefits
Aloe vera is useful for both external and internal use and there are numerous benefits that derived from this natural plant.
The health benefits of aloe vera have been propagated throughout the world.
1. Aloe vera cure skin issues: Aloe vera is one of the most widely used ingredient in high grade skin care products such as lotions, moisturizers, face packs etc. Aloe vera used as a skin tonic against pimples, wrinkles, red spots, skin irritation, eczema etc.
Aloe vera soothes the skin, hydrates it, nourishes and accelerates the regeneration of new skin tissue. Infact, simply applying the gel from fresh aloe vera leaf on the face is far superior to the most expensive skin care products on the market.
2. Aloe vera heals burns, wounds and cuts: Aloe vera contains a majority of the necessary amino acids and vitamins that our skin needs to heal. Aloe vera is the best wound dressing ever discovered.
It has been known to heal third degree burn victims with no scars. Aloe vera gel is effective in treatment of wounds. Applying directly on the wound, kills bacteria, prevents from infection and nourishes them while sealing the wound outside infection.
3. Aloe vera treats dandruff: Aloe vera is also used for bringing refreshing, cooling sensation to the scalp. The natural enzymes found in it soothes the skin, keeps the skin moist, avoid flaky scalp that causes dandruff. Its anti- fungal properties alleviates dandruff and oiliness.
4. Aloe vera cures oral and gum disease: Aloe vera acts as natural anti- bacterial and anti-microbial. Thus, its juice helps in maintaining healthy gums, heals gums and eliminates gum diseases, mucositis, lip fissure and mouth herpes lesions.
Now a day’s aloe vera gels are employed in range of tooth gels that forestall mouth ulcers.
5. Aloe vera treats hair loss: Aloe vera contains enzymes that promote hair growth. Its alkalizing properties balances the pH level of the scalp and hair that results in additional hair growth, also retains wetness within the scalp.
6. Aloe vera relieves joint and muscle pain: Being a stimulant to the immune system a powerful anti-inflammatory, an analgeric and able to speed up cell growth, it repairs arthritis damaged tissue.
Application of aloe vera gel and spray is well known to ease the joints and muscles pain due to arthritis.
7. Aloe vera cures stomach and intestinal problems: Aloe vera juice facilitates digestive disorders, constipation, diarrhoea, irritable bowel syndrome and prevents stomach ulcers.
8. Aloe vera provides relief in liver infections: Extract of aloe vera has been shown to have beneficial effects on liver considerably in chronic-hepatitis patients. It also improves the liver function.
9. Aloe vera treats inflammation: Aloe vera juice contains plant steroids that facilitates in reducing inflammation with rare incidence of side effects. Thus, aloe vera is employed in ancient medication as steroidal medication. Also, the juice improves joint and muscle mobility.
10. Aloe vera boosts immune function: Aloe vera is choked with anti-oxidants. It acts as an immunity enhancer that facilitates to fight against free radicals within the body. These free radicals cause many diseases that hasten the ageing method.
11. Aloe vera treats metabolism disorders: Aloe vera is additionally helpful for those who get commonly infected of cold, flu, running nose and alternative metabolism disorders. Because of vitamin-c content in, it helps to stop cold, cough and respiratory illness.
12. Aloe vera stabilizes blood sugar and treats diabetes: Clinical studies demonstrated aloe vera’s anti-diabetic properties. It Stabilizes blood sugar and reduces triglycerides in diabetics. Diabetic patients who take aloe vera for 3 months experience a noteworthy drop in fasting blood sugar level.
13. Aloe vera stimulates metabolism: Taking aloe vera juice in the diet will increase energy, helps to keep up a healthy weight. It stimulates the metabolism and quickly burns a lot of calories.
14. Aloe vera protects the body from oxidative stress: Aloe vera is an excellent example of a functional food that provides protection from oxidative stress.
Aloe vera, an ancient herb has a long history as a medicinal plant with varied therapeutic and medicinal applications.
The active ingredients hidden in this succulent plant have the power to soothe human life and health in a numerous ways especially for treating burns, irritation and various skin problems, improved digestion, diabetes, metabolism and pain relief.
The demand for aloe vera is increasing day by day. Aloe vera has the potential to become the future of agro- industrial crop and it is profitable to cultivate them.
The plant is in need to a greater research emphasis for better utilization of this plant for human kind.
Meenakshi Trilokia1, Rakesh Kumar2, Parshant Bakshi3 & Jagmohan Singh4
1S.R.F, RRSS, Raya, SKUAST-Jammu
2 & 4 Scientist, RRSS, Raya, SKUAST-Jammu
3 Head, Advanced Centre for Horticulture Research, SKUAST-Jammu