Aloe vera is a species of plant with very short stems or no stems at all. It can exceed three feet in height and has thick leaves that are green or gray-green in color. The yellow flowers bloom in summer and grow on spikes that can reach a height of three feet. The corollas on the flowers grow to about one inch in length.
The natural range of Aloe vera is probably North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. However, this is difficult to determine due to its extensive cultivation throughout the world. Aloe is commonly grown as an ornamental plant and for its medicinal properties. It is hardy in zones 8 to 11, and its succulent leaves allow aloe vera to thrive in low rainfall. Aloe vera doesn’t tolerate hard frosts.
Aloe vera has been used in herbal medicine for at least 2,000 thousand years. The leaves contain latex and gel that are both used for this purpose. The latex is a thin, yellow liquid, while the gel is a clear jelly-like material. Aloe vera extract contains many chemicals that are biologically active, especially its various polysaccharides.
Additional bioactive compounds in aloe vera include anthraquinones, anthrones, C-glycosides, lectins, acetylated mannans and polymannans.
Aloe medications are often taken orally and applied topically. Oral uses of aloe vera include the support of digestive health, joint function, skin health and blood vessel formation.
Oral aloe vera supplements may help manage rashes in the mouth. This regimen typically consists of four applications per day for a month.
Aloe gel can support joint functions when taken by mouth. This use may help with accompanying conditions such as itching and unhealthy inflammation.
Aloe vera supplements may help manage unhealthy conditions of the blood vessels, including varicose veins and hemorrhoids.
Supplements derived from aloe vera latex is often taken for digestive health. These supplements may help conditions such as constipation and ulcers.
Constipation is one of the strongest signs that you may benefit from oral aloe vera supplements. Additional digestive conditions such as stomach ulcers and ulcerative colitis may also indicate that you need aloe vera. Skin conditions such as rashes, itching and unhealthy inflammation are some of the most visible signs that aloe vera supplements could benefit you. Less common reasons for taking aloe vera include breathing difficulties and irregular menstrual cycles.
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