In recent years, usage of Aloe Vera for inflammation has been a subject of scientific studies, with primary focus on its therapeutic properties. There are a wide variety of Aloe Vera benefits, from soothing and easing burns to supporting the immune system, hydrating the skin, and much more. But what about Aloe Vera’s effects on inflammation?
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to protect itself against harm, a defense mechanism for your body, and an essential part of the healing process. Inflammation is caused by a reaction from injury, irritation, or infection. The result is redness, swelling, pain, and burning that can occur internally or externally. Inflammation is necessary—without it infections and wounds would never heal and injuries could worsen and simple colds could become deadly.
Two types of inflammation occur, acute and chronic.
Acute inflammation is the more familiar of the two. It begins rapidly and becomes severe in a short space of time, and in most cases, recedes in a few days. Acute inflammation occurs when we bang an elbow, bump the head, or cut a finger. The immune system reacts. It recognizes damaged cells, irritants, and pathogens, and it begins the healing process by sending white blood cells to surround and protect the area, creating visible redness and swelling. The process works similarly if you get sick with the flu, sore throat, or bronchitis.
Chronic inflammation is long-term inflammation that can last for several months or even years. It can occur in response to other unwanted substances in the body, such as toxins from cigarette smoke, build up of fat cells, or exposure to industrial chemicals. It can also occur due to autoimmune disorders that attack normal healthy tissue, mistaking it for a disease causing pathogen. Chronic inflammation can eventually cause several diseases and conditions including some cancers, rheumatoid arthritis, atherosclerosis, periodontitis, asthma, and hay fever.
What is Aloe Vera?
Aloe Vera is in the family of succulent plants in the genus ‘Aloe.’ It is well-known as a medicinal aloe, with common nicknames as ‘lily of the desert’ and the ‘burn plant.’ Derived from North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, for more than 6,000 years the great medicinal virtues of the plant have been recognized by civilizations great and small.
Aloe Vera is a stemless juicy plant with saw-toothed leaves. Benefits from Aloe Vera are due to acemannan, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants contained within the inner gel. The extracted gel is then used topically or ingested for its therapeutic properties, one of which has been used for ages to support bodily functions that reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.
Aloe Vera’s Effects on Inflammation
Everything from modern studies to historical accounts point to Aloe Vera’s incredible wellness benefits. Topical applications ease inflammation directly on affected areas and aids in the healing process. Consuming Aloe Vera by drink or by capsule helps to support immune functions that reduce inflammation throughout the body.
Therefore, Aloe Vera has a long history of supporting overall wellness that significantly contributes to relief from both acute and chronic inflammation.
What Makes Aloe So Special?
A recent abstract in the U. S. National Library of Medicine supports the positive effects Aloe Vera has on inflammation and wound healing. Aloe Vera’s efficacy comes from compounds such as polysaccharides, enzymes, plant steroids, and chromones found in the inner leaf gel.
The polysaccharides are natural carbohydrates found in the plant. Two in particular, acemannan and glucomannan provide the following benefits to inflammation:
- Improve overall immune response
- Accelerate tissue regeneration
- Activate large white blood cells
- Stimulate the immune system
- Have antibacterial and antiviral effects
Most of the enzymes found in Aloe vera help to breakdown sugars and fats that can cause inflammation. But one, bradykinase, helps to reduce excessive inflammation when Aloe gel is applied to the skin topically. Plant steroids like Campesterol generate new cells which aid in healing inflamed areas and complements bradykinin to relieve pain and swelling. Other steroids like Lupeol and B-Sitosterol are also anti-inflammatory compounds. C-glucosyl chromone is an anti-inflammatory agent recently isolated in the gel.
Whether a blow to the knee or the severe pain of chronic inflammation, it is a widespread health issue that afflicts millions worldwide. As proven by numerous studies, incorporating Aloe Vera into your diet or daily regimen is a great way to support your body’s natural immune functions and overall wellness to help relieve bouts of inflammation.