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Aloe Vera, Ghritkumari (Aloe Barbadensis)


Aloe vera is said to be a panacea herb in the list of plant medicines in Ayurveda. The Aloe vera plant has been known and used for centuries for its health, beauty, medicinal and skin care properties. The name Aloe vera derives from the Arabic word “Alloeh” meaning “shining bitter substance,” while “vera” in Latin means “true.” 2000 years ago, the Greek scientists regarded Aloe vera as the universal panacea. The Egyptians called Aloe “the plant of immortality.” Today, the Aloe vera plant has been used for various purposes in dermatology also. Aloe vera has been used for medicinal purposes in several cultures for millennia: Greece, Egypt, India, Mexico, Japan and China.1 Egyptian queens Nefertiti and Cleopatra used it as part of their regular beauty regimes. Alexander the Great, and Christopher Columbus used it to treat soldiers’ wounds. The first reference to Aloe vera in English was a translation by John Goodyew in A.D. 1655 of Dioscorides’ Medical treatise De Materia Medica. By the early 1800s, Aloe vera was in use as a laxative in the United States, but in the mid-1930s, a turning point occurred when it was successfully used to treat chronic and severe dermatitis caused by radiation.

Aloe vera is a stemless or very short-stemmed plant growing to 60–100 cm (24–39 in) tall, spreading by offsets. The leaves are thick and fleshy, green to grey- green, with some varieties showing white flecks on their upper and lower stem surfaces. The margin of the leaf is serrated and has small white teeth. The flowers are produced in summer on a spike up to 90 cm (35 in) tall, each flower being pendulous, with a yellow tubular corolla 2–3 cm (0.8–1.2 in) long. Like other Aloe species, Aloe vera forms arbuscular mycorrhiza, a symbiosis that allows the plant better access to mineral nutrients in soil.

Aloe vera leaves contain phytochemicals under study for possible bioactivity, such as acetylated mannans, polymannans, anthraquinone C-glycosides, anthrones, and other anthraquinones, such as emodin and various lectins.

Occurrence and Chemical Constituents

Aloe vera contains 75 potentially active constituents: vitamins, enzymes, minerals, lignin, saponins, salicylic acids and amino acids.

  •   Enzymes: It contains 8 enzymes: aliiase, alkaline phosphatase, amylase, bradykinase, carboxypeptidase, catalase, cellulase, lipase, and peroxidase. Bradykinase helps to reduce excessive inflammation when applied to the skin topically, while others help in the breakdown of sugars and fats.
  •   Vitamins:It contains vitamins A (beta-carotene), C and E, which are antioxidants. It also contains vitamin B12, folic acid, and choline.
  •   Minerals: It provides calcium, chromium, copper, selenium, magnesium, manganese, potassium, sodium and zinc. They are essential for the proper functioning of various enzyme systems in different metabolic pathways and few are antioxidants.
  •   Fatty acids: It provides 4 plant steroids; cholesterol, campesterol, β-sisosterol and lupeol. All these have anti-inflammatory action and lupeol also possesses antiseptic and analgesic properties.
  •   Anthraquinones: It provides 12 anthraquinones, which are phenolic compounds traditionally known as laxatives. Aloin and emodin act as analgesics, antibacterials and antivirals.
  •   Hormones:Auxins and gibberellins that help in wound healing and have anti-inflammatory action.
  •   Others:It provides 20 of the 22 human required amino acids and 7 of the 8 essential amino acids. It also contains salicylic acid that possesses anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Lignin, an inert substance, when included in topical preparations, enhances penetrative effect of the other ingredients into the skin. Saponins that are the soapy substances form about 3% of the gel and have cleansing and antiseptic properties.

Common Synonyms Of Aloe Vera

  •   Botanical Name : Aloe vera
  •   English Name : Indian aloe
  •   Hindi Name : Gheekunvar, gvarapatha
  •   Tamil Name : Chiruli
  •   Telagu Name : Chinnakata banda

Classification

  •   Kingdom Plantae : Plants
  •   Subkingdom Tracheobionta : Vascular plants
  •   Superdivision Spermatophyta : Seed plants
  •   Division Magnoliophyta : Flowering plants
  •   Class Liliopsida : Monocotyledons
  •   Subclass : Liliidae
  •   Order : Liliales
  •   Family Aloaceae : Aloe family
  •   Genus Aloe L. : aloe P
  •   Species Aloe vera (L.) Burm. f. : Barbados aloe P

Habitat of Aloe Vera

Wildly found in drier part of Rajasthan.

Practical Uses Of Ghritkumari

Aloe vera has an excellent applications in enhancing your skin health. Here are some benefits of aloe vera:

  •   Fights Inflammation
  •   Can Aid Weight Loss
  •   Promotes Digestive Health
  •   Treats Diabetes
  •   May Strengthen Immunity
  •   Helps Treat Acne
  •   May Treat Interstitial Cystitis
  •   Promotes Oral Health
  •   Might Prevent Some Forms Of Cancer
  •   Moisturizes Skin
  •   Can Fight Signs Of Premature Aging
  •   Promotes Wound Healing
  •   May Improve Hair Health

Parts Used

  •   Fresh leaves and leaf-juice

Effect on Doshas

Balances kapha and Pitta.

Contraindications

Contraindicated in cases of known allergy to plants in the Liliaceae family.

Ayurvedic Properties of Ghritkumari

Hindi Sanskrit English
Rasa Kashaya Taste Sweet, Bitter
Veerya Sheet Potency Cold
Vipaka Katu Post-digestive effect Sweet
Guna Laghu Characteristics Sticky, Heavy, Unctuous

Side effects of Aloe Vera

Possible side effects of aloe vera include:

  •   Kidney issues
  •   Blood in the urine
  •   Low potassium
  •   Muscle weakness
  •   Diarrhea
  •   Nausea or stomach pain
  •   Electrolyte imbalances