The Aloe Vera Plant has been on this earth for millennia. Because it has thorny ridges that protect the soft leaf, it is often confused for a kind of cactus. Actually it is a member of the Lily family, the plant family Liliaceae, along with tulips, daffodils, onions, asparagus and many other species of aloe. In fact, a mature Aloe Vera plant will produce beautiful, fragrant lily-like blooms every spring and fall.
Where Does Aloe Vera Come From? A bit of History
Fast forward a thousand years and the Europeans began using it as an important ingredient in their herbal based medicines. The earliest recorded pharmacological usage was recorded in ancient Sumeria about 1750 B.C. where it was considered an excellent treatment for stomach irritations and nausea.
There is evidence of both Chinese and Egyptians using Aloe Vera to treat burns, wounds and to reduce fevers. American Indians called Aloe "The Wand of Heaven". They believed than anyone touched by Aloes' gel would be cured of their skin disorders. Also, the legend says that Cleopatra used Aloe Vera as part of her beauty regime.
Although many still consider Aloe Vera to be a folk remedy, it is important to remember that two-thirds of the world's population is treated with herbs and plant products that are not only effective, but offer benefits that are equal or superior to the synthesized, chemically-derived remedies of the western world.
How Many Species?
Although Aloe Vera is a member of the Lily family, it is very-cactus like in its characteristics. This unique plant also belongs to a larger plant family called "Xeroids". Of the 350+ species of Aloe, only four are recognized as being of nutritional value to humans and animals. Aloe barbadensis miller (Aloe Vera species) is the top of these four. Significantly the top. Thus, any aloe-based product you use should be made from barbadensis miller species.
What are the Uses for Aloe Vera?
To Drink or Not to Drink
Aloe Vera (barbadensis miller) contains over 20 minerals, all of which are essential to the human body. The human body requires 22 amino acids for good health -- eight of which are called "essential" because the body cannot fabricate them. Aloe Vera contains all of these eight essential amino acids, and 11 of the 14 "secondary" amino acids. Aloe Vera has Vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B12, C and E. Vitamins cannot be manufactured within the body, and some cannot be stored by the body, so it is necessary for the diet to sustain a continuous supply.
When drinking FLP Aloe Vera, it is recommended that - to get a steady supply of these minerals, amino acids and vitamins - one should drink between two to four ounces of Aloe Vera Gel twice daily.
How Aloe products are manufactured
is extremely important!
Thus, you want the manufacturer's reliable assurance, in writing, that not only is the species correct - but also from harvest, to filleting (removing the outer leaf to retain only the clear gel), to manufacturing the process is four hours or less. If you can't have this assurance, look elsewhere.
You want a manufacturer who grows their own Aloe Vera in their own fields. Some manufacturers may purchase Aloe Vera in bulk once or twice a year and it "sits around" while waiting for the manufacturing process. Thus, if the Aloe Vera is grown on company OWNED and CONTROLLED fields, you can be better assured of freshness and nutritional value.
Aloe Vera MUST be Stabilized.
If it is not properly stabilized (in four hours or less from the time the leaf is harvested), it may also be of no nutritional value. The reason is because Aloe Vera oxidizes within four hours (much as an apple or potato turns brown when exposed to the air for a period of time) from the time the gel is exposed to the air. Once so oxidized, the gel loses it's nutritional value.
Again - Aloe barbadensis miller, of the 200+ species of Aloe Vera, is the most potent and nutritious - with only mature plants bearing the greatest benefits. If your Aloe Vera product isn't produced from the Aloe barbadensis miller plant you are not getting the best quality product. If it is not properly stabilized (in four hours or less from the time the leaf is harvested), it may also be of no nutritional value.