Aloe vera: The Plant of Immortality

Everyone has heard of the magic of the Aloe vera plant. Most people reach for a bottle of Aloe after a day in the sun because they only know about its power in relation to soothing skin after a sunburn. But this is only one fraction of this plant’s incredible power.

Aloe vera has properties that benefit and support the skin, digestive system, immune system, and normal glucose management. The plant has been used for centuries for its various wellness, beauty, medicinal, and skin care properties. The Ancient Egyptians revered the plant as “The Plant of Immortality.” Native Americans knew the plant as “The Wand of Heaven.” There are no shortages on reasons why this plant has such an incredible reputation. Let’s dive in.

Aloe vera is a species of succulent originating on the Arabian Peninsula. It is one of roughly 400 different species of Aloe. This particular species of Aloe can be found growing wild in tropic climates including Mexico, Central America, the Southern U.S., Southern Spain, Australia, Egypt, the West Indies, and Southeast Asia.

The plant contains polysaccharides, vitamins, amino acids, enzymes, minerals, hormones, and antioxidants. The diagram below gives a small picture of all that is contained in the Aloe vera plant.
 
Aloe Vera Active Components
Most of these components may sound familiar, but you may be asking yourself, “What is a polysaccharide?” A polysaccharide is a carbohydrate that consists of a number of sugar molecules bonded together. These complex carbohydrates generally serve as the body’s primary source of energy. The polysaccharide in Aloe vera that makes the plant so potent is called acemannan. This molecule has been shown to improve energy levels, support dental health and the the immune system, and can help support the body’s wound healing capabilities.

As shown above, Aloe vera also contains numerous vitamins. It produces vitamin A, C, and E, all of which are antioxidants. It also contains folic acid, choline, and vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, and B12. The role of the antioxidant vitamins is critical in our health. They help the body to neutralize harmful free radicals. Free radicals are unstable and highly reactive molecules which are normally present in the human body but, when present in excess, can damage biologically critical molecules such as DNA, proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids. One crucial vitamin in Aloe vera we want to highlight is vitamin B12. B12 supports the body’s nerve and blood cells and helps to make DNA. Deficiencies in vitamin B12 may result in tiredness, weakness, or loss of appetite. This miraculous plant can help by providing the necessary vitamins for the body to function.

Amino acids are another essential component to your body’s functioning. They are the basic building blocks of a huge portion of our cells, muscles, and tissues throughout the body. They are responsible for giving cells their structure as well as playing a key role in transporting and storing nutrients. Aloe vera contains 7 of the 8 essential amino acids and 20 of the 22 required amino acids for humans. That’s astounding! The key difference here is that essential amino acids are not produced by the body and must be consumed through our diet. A lack of amino acids in the body can result in various health concerns.

The list continues! Aloe vera contains 8 different enzymes: aliiase, alkaline phosphatase, amylase, bradykinase, carboxypeptidase, catalase, cellulase, lipase, and peroxidase. These complex-sounding enzymes are quite simple in reality. They help support the breakdown of sugars and fats in the body among other benefits.

The minerals in aloe vera include calcium, chromium, copper, selenium, magnesium, manganese, potassium, sodium, and zinc. Some of these may sound scary, but they are all essential for the proper functioning of enzyme systems in metabolic pathways—and a few of these minerals are also antioxidants!

Lastly, the plant contains two beneficial hormones, auxins and gibberellins, that support the body’s natural wound healing capabilities. Gibberellin is also known to stimulate collagen production and thereby strengthens the resulting scar tissue from wounds.

Now, let’s talk about Aloe vera products on the market. Remember our powerful friends, polysaccharides? Scientists attribute the powerful immune function, healthy digestion, nutrient absorption and skin health benefits of Aloe to these naturally-occurring compounds within the plant. Most Aloe vera products on the market contain ingredients that are not standardized and certified so you have no idea how much (or little) of those powerful polysaccharides you’re getting. Univera ensures that there is a standardized and verified amount of the most beneficial polysaccharides included in each Aloe vera product produced. This guarantees that you get more of the right kind of polysaccharides and eliminates the guessing game.

For more information about Aloe vera, check out this article published in the US National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine about the various health benefits and properties of the plant.