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What is Aloe Vera
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Although there are many Aloe's, the term Aloe Vera ("true Aloe") refers to the Aloe Barbadensis Miller. Fully grown the plant stands 60 to 90 cm high, and a mature leaf is 7 to 10 cm across at the base, weighing 1.5 to 2 kg.

The Aloe leaf structure is made up of four layers:

  • Rind - the outer protective layer
  • Sap - a layer of bitter fluid which helps protect the plant from animals
  • Mucilage
  • Gel - the inner part of the leaf that is filleted out to make Aloe Vera gel

Aloe Vera (inner gel) contains:

The 8 essential Amino Acids that the human body needs but cannot manufacture. There are 20 "critical" Amino Acids in human metabolism, but the body can only make 12, the other 8 have to be obtained from food. Thes are: Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Valine, and Tryptophan. All these are contained in Aloe Vera;

  • Enzymes - Amylase, Bradykinase,Catalase, Cellulase, Lipase, Oxidase, Alkaline Phosphatase, Proteolytiase, Creatine Phosphokinase, Carboxypeptidase. Most of these are beneficial to human metabolism;
  • Lignin - gives Aloe Vera its penetrating powers, but is not considered to have any other benefit;
  • Minerals - Calcium, Chromium, Copper, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Potassium, Phosphorous, Sodium, and Zinc. We do not need to be told how the western diet is mineral deficient mainly due to intensive farming on mineral depleted soils. Many bodily functions depend on minerals to work properly, and some minerals are critical to the metabolism of vitamins;
  • Mono - and Poly-Saccharides - The mono-saccharides are the familiar glucose, and fructose that we know as sugars. The more complex long-chain sugars are the poly-saccharides which are thought to give Aloe Vera its unique healing and immuno-stimulating properties;
  • Salicylic Acid - a substance similar to aspirin that can help reduce fever and inflammation;
  • Saponins - natural soapy substances that have both cleansing and antiseptic properties;
  • Sterols - naturally occurring plant steroids with analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic properties;
  • Vitamins - these include A (beta-carotene and retinol), B1 (thiamine), B2 ( riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B6 (pyridoxine), B12 (cyanocobalamin), C (ascorbic acid), E (tocopherol) and Folic Acid.

By Andrew Munro
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