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Aloe Vera - The Miracle Plant

We see now-a-days hundreds of Aloe-Vera based products on the shelves of pharmacies, supermarkets, health stores, etc.

What is aloe vera, and where does it come from?

Aloe Vera, or the medicinal aloe as it is known, is what is called a succulent plant, which doesn't mean it is yummy to eat (as a matter of fact, it doesn't smell the best in its natural form to start with), but that features amazing water-retaining characteristics, cactus-like, to survive arid climates or harsh soil conditions. This type of plants stores water in their leaves, stems and roots. Because of this characteristic, these plants tend to have swollen or fat leaves. This very fact is called succulence.

Aloe Vera is native to Africa, but it is commercially grown in warm and tropical and subtropical climates around the world.

Its healing powers and health benefits to the skin and digestive process are attributed to its richness of three important compounds: amino acids, vitamins and polysaccharides, and there is a halo of mysticism around the plant itself.

The goodness of amino acids

What are amino acids? Amino acids chained together, are the building blocks of proteins and these in turns are fundamental in the production of muscle tissue.

There are around 20 different amino acids present in the genetic code of humans. The human body cannot create 9 of these so they must be ingested as food. For this reason these amino acids are called “essential”. 8 of the 9 essential amino acids are present in the Aloe Vera leaf, which is an obvious indication of Aloe Vera being really good for you.

The all important vitamins

What are vitamins any way? Vitamins are organic chemical compounds required as vital nutrients by the human body. Vitamins cannot be manufactured within the body, and the body cannot store some, so it is necessary for these to be ingested and sustain a continuous supply.

Aloe Vera has vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B12, C and E. Vitamins have diverse biochemical functions. Some have hormone-like functions as regulators of cell and tissue growth and differentiation (e.g., vitamin A). Others function as antioxidants (e.g., vitamin E and sometimes vitamin C). The largest number of vitamins (e.g., B complex vitamins) function to help enzymes in their work as catalysts in metabolism.

We also need polysaccharides!

Polysaccharides are carbohydrate molecules. They range in structure from linear to highly branched. Depending on the structure, these macromolecules can have distinct properties. The polysaccharides contained in aloe are considered as some of the most important ingredients responsible for all the healing properties attributed to Aloe.

A lot of the polyssacharides contained in aloe are made in the human body and perform many key health functions, including growth and immune system activities. Unfortunately, after puberty humans cease their manufacturing and must obtain them from outside sources.

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