The stomach and intestines work together to sustain life. They extract nutrients, vitamins and minerals from the food that we eat in order to keep our cells alive and body functioning optimally. Digestion and gut health are vital for our wellbeing, which is why a balanced diet is always advised for good health. Nature has provided us with medicinal plants, like Aloe, that can help with digestion and numerous ailments.
The plant’s scientific name is Aloe ferox, but it has local names too, such as bitteraalwyn (Afrikaans), umhlaba (Zulu) and ikhala (Xhosa). Aloe is most commonly used in Traditional African Medicine to treat stomach issues and digestive problems. It can also be used to treat arthritis, eczema, conjunctivitis, hypertension, stress and improve skin conditions.
Source of Health offers a couple of products that contain Aloe; Healthy Digestion for gut functioning and Weight Loss for weight management and obesity. These two products use Aloe for its ability to improve digestion, bowel movements and a number of other ailments that arise from a bad diet.
Medicinal uses of Aloe
Aloe is a popular plant for use in traditional remedies. “Aloe has long been used as a remedy in many cultures. Aloe products, which include the latex, gel and whole leaf, are used, among other reasons, as laxatives, in creams for skin ailments and as a treatment for a wide range of diseases,” write Steenkamp and Stewart in their academic study of the medicinal applications and toxicological activities of Aloe products.
Most of the plant can be used in various forms and for a number of applications. The leaves can be tapped to extract a sticky juice from the secretory ducts of the leaves. This juice can be boiled and dried to form a concentrated powder that is then eaten or applied to the skin. Alternatively, the leaves can be harvested and dried or the gelatinous internal substance can be used as a topical cream and is said to have wound-healing properties.
Aloe has been used as a natural remedy for thousands of years. “Although the use of Aloe was recorded by the Egyptians, Assyrians, and Mediterranean peoples as far back as 1500 BC, the Greek physician Dioscorides was the first to describe the use of Aloe to treat mouth infections, sores, and wounds and as a purgative,” explain Steenkamp and Stewart.
“Aloe gel has a prophylactic and curative effect on gastric lesions and irritable bowel disease. The anti-inflammatory action of Aloe gel supports the proposal that it may have a therapeutic effect in inflammatory bowel disease,” they add. Cape aloe is a stimulant laxative that irritates the mucous membranes of the colon, resulting in an increase in the secretion of mucous and, hence, the stimulation of peristalsis.
Further studies reveal that Aloe can be used to treat a range of more ailments. “[A] literature survey revealed that the pharmacological effects of Aloe ferox range from anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-diabetic, cardiovascular diseases, neurodegeneration to anti-cancer properties,” writes Bhaludra et al in their study of the uses of Aloe ferox. The leaves and roots are commonly boiled in water and swallowed as a laxative.
More information about Aloe
Aloe is a common plant species and one of the most recognised in many South African landscapes. It has a wide distribution, ranging over 1000 km from the south Western Cape through the Eastern Cape to southern KwaZulu-Natal. It is also found in the southeastern corner of the Free State and southern Lesotho. It thrives in a wide range of habitats, from open grasslands to rocky hill slopes.
Formal legislation has been introduced in South Africa to protect and control the use of Aloe in KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State. Monitoring and regulation by the authorities are required to ensure the sustainable utilisation in regions where this species is heavily harvested in order to support local livelihoods of rural South Africans. Source of Health sustainably sources its Aloe from local agricultural projects.
Aloe ferox will reach two to three metres in height. The thick, spiny leaves are unmistakable and the old leaves remain after they have dried, forming a “petticoat” on the stem. The flowers are arranged in a long candle-like flower-head. There are usually between five and eight branches, each carrying a spiked head of many flowers. Flower colour varies from yellow-orange to bright red.
To learn more about African medicines and traditional plant-based remedies, please do not hesitate to contact us. Source of Health is a manufacturer of Traditional African Medicines under the brand Isiphethu Sempilo. We use biomedicine processes to create herbal remedies, combined with scientific methods to ensure the finest quality and trustworthy herbal extracts.
Source of Health offers a range of herbal products that are effective as natural remedies for pain, depression, illnesses and more. The use of medicinal plants as part of traditional African healthcare is one of the oldest and most assorted of all therapeutic systems. It has been used through the ages to maintain health, as well as to prevent, diagnose, improve or treat physical and mental illnesses.
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