Cypress tree roots on the St. John River, Florida [source: city-data.com]

Friday, April 8, 2011

THE ALLURE OF ALOE VERA

Photo by Nora Dockery

The Allure of Aloe Vera was written by Dianne Durham, a poet and writer who enjoys cooking.

A month ago, I moved from the dark green majesty of northern California’s Mendocino County to what I thought was a sand box, most commonly referred to as San Bernardino County. I moved there to become a partner in developing a 2+ acre plot of land into a community agricultural project. My first “hands in the soil” task was to transplant several potted Aloe vera plants to a plot of ground that my partner had designated specifically for them.

Below is image of a replanted Aloe vera plant. Photo by Dianne Durham


As I gently massaged the tightly bound roots that were from years of being potted, I remembered the few times I’d used the plant many years ago on small burns. In my mind, Aloe vera meant burn relief, period! But my partner told me about an incident he had some years ago cutting his hand “stitches deep.” Almost by instinct, he cut off a leaf of a nearby Aloe vera plant, sliced the leaf open, slathered the cold, clear jelly inside all over the cut, then applied a bandage. Within hours, the cut – its pain and depth – was hardly noticeable.

Photo: healthysnips.com

With this story in mind, I began researching the benefits of Aloe vera gel (the pulp inside the plant leaves) and Aloe vera juice, made from cells of the leaves’ inner skin and taken internally. I naively approached this research with the idea of gathering basic facts and saving them for easy reference. To my pleasant surprise, the spirit of Aloe vera moved and humbled me almost to tears from the very first page of information I read.

I want to share with you what I am learning about this powerful healing agent. Below are three stories that testify to Aloe vera’s remarkable curative properties, followed by factual information I found during my research.

ALOE VERA BALM AND DADDY'S LOVE

The first narrative is from Kheepsiyah Isreal who lives in Dimona, Israel. She communicated this story to me via email:

Whenever I say Daddy I'm talking about Jimmy Lee, he is my father. He raised me. He gave me sound teachings that I use to this day.

When I was hospitalized after an accident, he came to the hospital the next morning and when he saw my face he broke out into tears. I had just regained consciousness and was wondering what was wrong with my face that he would have to try and hold back the urge to cry. He wrapped me in the bed sheet and picked me up and carried [me]out with momma almost on his back begging him not to. They wanted to do plastic surgery on my face and Daddy kept repeating, "they're not cutting my baby’s face." The doctors rushed him and he kept walking with me in his arms. They finally asked Daddy to sign papers so they would not be liable for what would happen to me because he was removing me too soon from the hospital. My brain was swimming around in my head, because of the blows I took to my head in the accident. I was in a lot of pain because of the blows to the rest of my body, but I was holding on to Daddy, cheering him on in the spirit to get me out of this place. My poppa bear signed them papers with me in his arms without breaking his stride, and took me home. He was my hero that day, because I had resolved also that I would never get surgery or go under the blade for any reason. I had asked the Creator to protect me from that. You see, the doctors wanted papers signed so they would not be liable, but my father made a stand and was no chump about it, he needed no papers to validate his cause and surely wasn't looking for their consent or approval. Well, Yah answered that prayer because he put the spirit in my father not to let them cut my face.
Use Aloe vera gel for facial scars. Photo: healthveda.com

Daddy healed my face his self. He rubbed Aloe gel on my face every morning before he left for work and in the middle of the day he would come home, check on me and rub some more on my face (we lived in the suburbs of Maryland so he crossed the state line every day during his working hours to come home and put it on my face himself). He slept in my room every night in my orange leather reclining chair. I could not walk in the beginning, so he carried me to the bathroom and would stand outside the door and carry me back to bed. I know living heroes and Daddy is a "I am that I am."

When I got home the mirrors in the house were all taped up with news paper. I did not get to see my face right away. The doctors said my eye brow on the right side would never grow back and that I was going to have bad scars, well we know that was a lie because I got eyebrows on both sides and no scars on my face, thanks to my Daddy.

My best friend Cynthia's parents took [her] out of school and she stayed with me until I went back to school which was almost a month later. I never took the pain pills, the Aloe helped me a lot but my Daddy's love was the real healing balm.


ALOE VERA AND SPIDER WEBS TO STITCH IT UP

Anon Forrest shared the following Aloe vera incident with me in a phone conversation. Anon is an earthy wise woman in her late ‘60’s who is adept at natural healing and has lived remotely on a mountain in northern California for 41 years.

When my daughter was 4, she severed her little toe on a split Manzanita branch while runnin’ around in her flip flops. I mean, that toe was hanging by a thread, so I decided to just take it off. My daughter thought differently. So, instead of amputating, I cleaned the stub and toe by soaking them in a strong salt water solution of tepid water. I found a brand new cobweb about 4” wide, folded it until I had a nice wad of clean cobweb, applied it to the toe and stump, lined up the parts and mitered them, then squeezed Aloe vera leaves, soaking the cobweb. Then I wrapped the toe in sterile gauze, closing the gap between the foot and the rest of the toe, and bound her little toe to the neighboring toe to prevent the re-attached toe from moving away from the foot. I took this wrap off every 3-4 days to make sure it was clean and to reapply the Aloe vera by squeezing the juice over the gauze of the first wrap.

Photo: Asual Aswad

About a week later, my neighbor, who’s a doctor, looked at it with her flashlight and magnifying glass, and she saw connective tissue growing between the little toe and the stump. I waited about 6 weeks to make sure the toe had completely re-connected. The toe was fine, and my daughter went on and played soccer and everything else.

I learned about using Aloe vera gel from my mother-in-law, whose own mother reconnected a finger bone that was completely severed in a lawn mower accident. Even the bone and nerves reconnected!

Spider web in Aloe vera plant. Photo: Nora Dockery

The last testimony is from my sister-in-law, Barbara Conolly. She recently told me she received a second-degree burn from hot grease and applied Aloe vera gel 3 or 4 times that same day. By evening she had no pain or swelling.

ALOE VERA FACTS

Photo: Nora Dockery

The plant genus, Aloe, is comprised of about 400 species, the Aloe vera being one species. This species makes a great houseplant because it requires little water or care, yet it is priceless. Aloe vera has anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral healing properties. It contains minerals that are necessary for the growth process and healthy function of all human body systems. Aloe vera is the only known vegetarian source of vitamin B12, and contains protein, calcium, magnesium, zinc, vitamins A, E, and essential fatty acids. It is rich in vitamin C, amino acids, enzymes, and germanium (a mineral espoused by some health authorities to have therapeutic benefits for pain, circulatory distress, immunodeficiency, cardiac disorders, and eye problems). Aloe vera juice is used to relieve heartburn, ulcers, diverticular disorders, and other digestive problems. Aloe vera is a general tonic for the immune system, and in high concentration, can stimulate the production of white blood cells. In 1994, the US Food and Drug Administration approved this medicinal plant for the treatment of HIV.

Information taken directly from herbwisdom.com states:
In 1997, University of San Antonio researcher Jeremiah Herlihy, Ph.D., conducted a study to observe any negative effects of drinking Aloe daily. Rather than exhibiting negative effects, however, test animals receiving daily Aloe showed a remarkable reduction in leukemia, heart disease, and kidney disease. Dr. Herlihy concluded, "We found no indication of harm done to the rats even at high levels." In fact, the Aloe-drinking animals actually lived 25 percent longer than those in the control group (IASC Conference, Texas, 1997).

Photo: Dianne Durham

OTHER CLINICAL RESEARCH

The Mayo Clinic’s webpage summarizing clinical evidence about Aloe vera listed several ailments for which the effectiveness of the plant had been researched, including: constipation, genital herpes, psoriasis vulgaris, sebhorreic dermatitis, diabetes (type 2), HIV infection, ulcerative colitis, and many others. None of the summaries noted a negative outcome, however the summary of evidence presented for most ailments listed ended with the following or similar words: “Further study is needed in this area before a recommendation can be made.” There are several websites where people give personal testimony on the benefits of Aloe vera that suggest otherwise, and are worth reading. Simply search “Aloe vera benefits” and you’ll find a wealth of testimony regarding its healing power.

I encourage you to learn more about Aloe vera. A couple of final notes regarding dosage and product purchase: Aloe vera juice, taken twice daily in 2-4oz doses, is generally said to help maintain good health. If you are buying an Aloe vera product, always purchase those made from 100% pure Aloe vera. Look for the International Aloe Science Council Seal of Approval as a guide.

Sources:
Herbwisdom.com
Mayoclinic.com
Aloe-vera-studies.org
Newworldencylopedia.org
Castleman, M. (1991). The Healing Herbs: The Ultimate Guide to the Curative Power of Nature’s Medicines. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press.