Wed. Apr 21st, 2021

Health benefits of the magical plant


Nufia Bano (BScN - AKUH)

I still remember the day when my niece was born with almost no hair. We thought that the hair will grow naturally with the passage of time but we could not see any improvement as she turned one year old. On the suggestion of our one of the relative we decided to go for magical plant or nature’s silent healer rather than moving towards use of any pharmaceutical or any commercial products. Eventually result of using the magical plant showed and my niece had significant hair growth.

Many people are not familiar with the term ‘magical plant’ or ‘Nature’s silent healer’ although most of us use it in our daily lives in fresh form or in commercially prepared products. These uncommon names are given to the most commonly used herbal plant, ‘Aloe Vera’.

Advancements in medicinal science has enabled human kind to find solutions for most diseases but side effects of the drugs on human lives have also increased exponentially. Many people are moving towards usage of herbal medicines, or Ayurvedic medicines. Such medicines are extensively use in China, India, West Indies, Japan and even increasingly in Pakistan.

Earliest usage of Aloe Vera can be traced back to the Egypt of 1550 BC. Aloe Vera has more than 400 types but most easily available and commonly used is ‘Aloe Barbadensis Miller’. After hundreds of researches about its beneficial effects of Aloe Vera on health, US Food and Drug Administration has also approved several species of Aloe Vera for use in human food as natural flavoring agents and in over-the-counter drugs, dietary supplements and cosmetic products.

In appearance, Aloe plant looks like cactus or desert plant. It has long, hard, sword-shaped, fleshy, green leaves with sharp points. It requires warm climates and proper sunlight to grow. Aloe plant is easily available in nursery and you can even grow at home in pot. Many were misinterpreting aloe gel and juice so, it is important to understand its structure as Aloe leaf is made up of four layers Rind, Sap, Mucilage and Gel. Rind is the most outer protective layer; Sap is a bitter fluid which helps protect it from animals, Mucilage and Gel, which is inner part of the leaf used as aloe gel. This gel is colorless, tasteless and odorless.

In order to extract fresh Aloe gel you just need to cut the leaf and slicing off the thick skin off the leaf.  There are Aloe Vera gel and juice both are widely used for health purpose. Juice is of bitter yellow sap; it works as a powerful laxative and help relieving acidity by alkalizing digestive juices that are acidic in nature but this should not be used without doctor’s advice.

Researches show that most of the health benefits of Aloe Vera are because of polysaccharides in the gel which have curative effects on many digestive disorders like Irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers and crohn’s disease. Other most important benefits include wound healing, antifungal activity, anti diabetic effects, anti-inflammatory, anticancer and many others.

The ‘nature’s silent healer’, as some call it, contains abundant nutrients, as it has 19 of the 20 amino acids required by the human body. It is significantly high in vitamin C, Selenium and antioxidants which help prevent diseases like cancer and high blood pressure. Aloe Vera also include vitamin A, niacin, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, iron, zinc, B-complex, manganese, copper, B2 and lecithin. Simply Aloe gel is full of nutrients given by nature.

Some physician advice that usage of Aloe gel, about one tablespoon on daily basis, can help reduce coronary heart diseases as it contain Salicylic acid, a substance similar to aspirin also help reduce fever and inflammation. Due to its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties it has been used for curing Arthritis by many people. A living example of people who have benefited from the magical plant is one my family members. She has chronic Arthritis and leg swelling but long term use of medicine gave her significant relief from swelling and pain.

A study conducted by Rajasekaren et al. in 2006 showed that Aloe extracts prove to be significant in reduction of fasting blood glucose, liver enzymes (AST and ALT), plasma and tissue (liver) cholesterol, triglycerides, free fatty acids and lipoprotein.

The transparent gel of the inner leaf if apply directly to skin will work as great healer for burns, wounds, skin irritations and frostbite. Many doctors are also using it for wound healing in their patient. Aloe if applied over skin before going to sunlight will work as sunscreen for you and prevent from ultraviolet radiation. Researches also show to use A. Vera for radiation burn treatment and help in preventing skin cancer.

Other than health Aloe is most popular for obtaining beauty these days, especially its use is much common among youth. Aloe has been used in many cosmetic products available in market as it known to help slow down appearance of wrinkles by repairing damaged skin cells and it is aid in reversing degenerative skin changes by stimulating collagen and elastin synthesis. It is recommended to use Aloe in fresh form because products are added with preservatives and it can not replace the worth as fresh aloe can.

Aloe Vera gels also activates fresh growth and stimulates the growth of existing hair. Mysterious Aloe gel brings desirable results for those with hair fall or baldness and would be more effective if used at the first sign of excessive hair loss. Applying it in scalp and keep it for 2 hours, use for at least twice or thrice a week. For getting desirable results, it should be use for several months. It significantly helps your hairs to be healthier and silky. During its application, dead hair follicles will continue to fall but should be replaced by new hair growth. Personally, I am using it for hair fall and I observe significant reduction in hair fall.

Many scientific researches show strong immunomodulatory and antitumor properties for Aloe. Gel helps boost immune system function while destroying cancer. Study published in Current Medicinal Chemistry 2010, study on A. Vera compounds and suggested that these may exert their chemo-preventive effect through altering antioxidant and detoxification enzyme activity levels, as they are one of the indicators of tumorigenesis (tumor origin).

Now researchers are inquest of discovering treatment of HIV/AIDS as well as exploring further health benefits of other species of silent healer. We should change our horizon from drug to herbs.

Editor’s note: Pamir Times will post a health related article on every Tuesday from now onwards, under its “Healthy Living” segment. We invite physicians, nurses and students of medical sciences to contribute in this section. Nur

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