Aloe Vera – Why do we need it?

Aloe Vera comes from the Liliaceal family, where there are about 360 species. It is a cactus-like plant with yellow flowers that grows in hot, dry climates. It originated in Africa, and is now grown in warm climates around the world, like Asia, Europe and America. It is used in cosmetics, as well as for its medicinal properties. These products are made from the mucilaginous tissue in the center of the aloe vera leaf. The center of the leaf is bitter, yellow and commonly known as the sap, or juice of the aloe vera plant.

The medicinal uses of Aloe Vera include anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic activity, as well as, antibacterial and hypogylcaemic effects (Vogler, 1999). It contains many active elements, including, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, sugars, lignin, saponins, salicylic acids and amino acids. The gel contains vitamins like, Vitamin A, C, and E, as well as Vitamin B1, niacin, B2, choline and folic acid (Nazir, 2017). The gel is used in the preparation of health drinks, and food products, like milk and ice cream. It is also used as a flavoring component or a preservative for various foods.

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Due to the plants high nutrient content, it has been shown to be very beneficial for the body. Here are a few of some of the valuable properties:

Arthritis:

Aloe Vera has been shown to repair arthritis-damaged tissue, since it contains analgesic, an anti-inflammatory agent (Nazir, 2017). It can be taken orally applied externally to help repair the damaged tissue and detoxify the area.  Likewise, it can help reduce pain associated with arthritis and swelling.

Heals Wounds:

Since Aloe Vera has many anti-bacterial properties, it has been shown to heal wounds. It has been used to dress wounds for centuries, reducing burns, restoring skin and pain. Research has shown that the juice seals the wounds while drawing blood to the wound, improving the healing properties.

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Immune System:

Aloe Vera has natural detoxifying properties that can cleanse the digestive system and circulatory system. This can help improve the absorption of nutrients and consequently improve the immune system. It has also been shown to inhibit free radicals.

Anti-aging:

Some properties in Aloe Vera helps bind moisture into the skin. Aloe stimulates fibroblast, which produces the collagen and elastin fibers making the skin more elastic, reducing wrinkles (Surjushe, 2008). It helps the skin stay moisturized for longer periods of time, while hardening skin cells and tightening pores. It has also been shown to have an anti-acne effect on the skin, due to the antibacterial properties.

 

 

References

Nazir, A. (2017). Health benefits of aloe vera: A wonder plant. International Journal of Chemical Studies. doi:10.7717/peerj.2589/fig-3
VOGLER, B. K. (october 1999). Aloe vera: A systematic review of its clinical effectiveness. British Journal of General Practice,. Retrieved from http://bjgp.org/content/bjgp/49/447/823.full.pdf
Surjushe, A., Vasani, R., & Saple, D. (2008). Aloe vera: A short review. Indian Journal of Dermatology, 53(4), 163. doi:10.4103/0019-5154.44785
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Turmeric Benefits

Growing up, my father put turmeric on everything, from eggs to pasta. It was such a common spice in my household that I thought everyone used it as much as we did. Until I went away to college, I never realized how diverse this spice actually was. To my astonishment, none of my roommates have ever seen it in real life, let alone tasted it, and have only heard of it through social media. Now, it is one of the most popular spices as it is popping up everywhere for its abundant nutritious properties.

Turmeric is a yellow root that comes from the Curcuma longa plant. It has been used for over 4,000 years.  It grows in India and Southeast Asian countries. Turmeric contains a compound called curcuminoids and the active substance in turmeric is curcumin. Curcumin is a polyphenol that has many health benefits. The amount of curcumin in turmeric varies from species to species, growing conditions, and timing of growth and harvest.  Many studies look at the health benefits of curcumin itself instead of the whole turmeric. Turmeric has much more beneficial qualities than its popular active substance.

Health benefits of turmeric:

  • Inflammation: Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory substance. Chronic inflammation can stress the body, causing your body to age more quickly and lead to many health problems including a poor immune system. It causes wrinkles and forces your organs to not work as well as they should. Similarly, consuming turmeric daily can help reduce arthritis pain caused by inflammation.
  • Decreased cancer risk: Since the spice is a natural anti-inflammatory, it has been shown to reduce the risk of cancer. It can halt the growth of blood vessels in tumors, reducing the risk of cancer spreading throughout the body.
  • Detoxifies the body: Turmeric has been shown to improve liver function and reduce toxicity in the body. The antioxidants in turmeric can remove toxic materials and reduce ailments in the liver.
  • Natural pain reliever: the curcuminoids in turmeric is a powerful antioxidant, while curcumin is a natural pain reliever. It has been used for centuries as a topical agent; however, it does stain clothes and skin. It is also more effective when mixed with black pepper since the pepper helps your body absorb the curcumin.
  • Weight loss: curcumin has been shown to speed metabolism and aid digestion, while also detoxifying the body. It has also been shown to prevent fat accumulation in adipose tissue, reducing weight gain.

You can purchase turmeric in powder form, capsules, and tablets. It is ideal to look for products that state 95 percent curcuminoids. I use turmeric in my cooking rather than taking it in capsule or tablet form.  Turmeric root that is purchased from the grocery store can also be juiced or added to smoothies.  It goes great when sautéing onions and other vegetables.