You’ve probably heard about the healing benefits of aloe vera ? so why not keep one handy in the kitchen? It?s a nice looking plant with a reputation for being used the world over to treat burns and other skin ailments.
Aloe vera is an excellent wound healer and could also help to relieve pain. The leaves contain a kind of natural gel that has a soothing effect when applied topically. Aloe works by inhibiting formation of tissue-injuring compounds that gather at the site of a skin injury. The plant contains chrysophanic acid, which is very effective in healing abrasions.
In a clinical trial published in the “International Journal of Dermatology,” researchers studied the effects of aloe vera gel applied topically on leg ulcers. Each of the three patients studied had a serious raw, open sore on a leg that persisted for five to 15 years. These sorts of ulcers commonly occur in those with diabetes, those who have problems with blood circulation, or those who are bedridden for long periods of time. After aloe was repeatedly applied to the ulcers, two patients found that their wounds completely healed. The third patient’s ulcer showed significant improvement.
Other clinical studies show that aloe is one of the best herbs for soothing skin and healing burns. It has also been used to treat rashes, frostbite, severe wounds, eczema, dandruff, acne, ringworm, gum disease, and poison oak and ivy reactions.
But aloe might be more than just an all-around skin tonic. Scientists are investigating the use of aloe in treating cancer and certain blood diseases associated with low white blood cell counts, such as leukemia. Veterinarians commonly use extracts from the aloe plant to treat cancer and feline leukemia in animal patients. Researchers think that a molecule in the aloe gel, known as “acemannan,” could stimulate the body to produce disease-fighting white blood cells.
Another substance in aloe called “aloin” is being studied for its potential ability to prevent breast and ovarian cancer. Both acemannan and aloin show promise in their abilities to help fight cancer, though research is still in the earlier stages.
If you don’t have a green thumb (though the plant is quite easy to care for), you can find aloe commercially in a number of creams and lotions for softening and moisturizing your skin. Some health food stores and pharmacies also sell pure aloe gel.