Going back two years is when I was first introduced to Aloe Vera. Although I had heard of the plant and knew it had some topical uses I had never heard of ingesting it as a healthy tonic and knew very little about the amazing wonders it had hidden within its waxy green leaves!
My first introduction was by a lovely friend who handed me a bottle of Aloe for a babysitting job as payment, she knows how into my health and wellbeing I am. She told me to drink it daily and see if I benefitted from it. Obviously I was all up for it and welcomed the lovely gift, what better gift than the gift of health, right!?
So my first impressions…….. YUCK!!
I mean, it wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever tasted in my life, and I’ve definitely tasted worse things that are good for my health – its no sea kelp thats for sure! Its a very distinctive taste, quite clinical, clean and fresh tasting with a hint of….. I want to say “off” lemons, and the consistency of…. erm…. its thick, with bits in it!
Kind of like freshly squeezed orange juice but with a more egg white feel to it. Im laughing. Not creating a great impression am I? No, the first impression definitely isn’t a great one. I was not off to a great start, and the first few shots very nearly made a swift reappearance. It definitely awakens the taste buds first thing in the morning.
I actually tried blending it into a green smoothie but the whole thing just tasted of aloe so I just stuck to the “nip and neck” technique and that has since served me very well.
It took me about a week to start feeling any sort of benefit. My normal day to day activities would involve getting up around 8am, heading to the gym for about 10am to workout, then home, eat lunch, take a few dance classes mid afternoon then maybe working in a bar or restaurant in the evening.
My general health has always been great, although I suffered a lot with sore throats and colds, despite eating a very good diet, supplementing, and training lots. I really should not have been suffering with these things so often.
The first change that I started to notice after taking the aloe was a boost in my energy levels.
I was able to wake up earlier without an alarm (something I have never in my life been able to do). By this I mean 6am starts, just waking up with the sunlight naturally. I had tons more energy through the day.
I’m a napper usually, and in the afternoon or early evening I would usually get a crash. I don’t eat a lot of carbs – very little in fact – and I eat plenty of food which would provide me with the correct amount of energy to fuel my day, but I would always still get a crash.
This could play havoc with my daily routine as I am out in the car a lot going from job to job, and sleeping at the wheel is not advisable! Anyway, after a week or so of drinking the aloe I noticed a considerable change to my energy levels throughout the day, with less need for a nap, and more energy in my classes, which was amazing.
The second was definitely my joints, and as I mentioned earlier I go to the gym regularly. At that point in time I was training twice a day most days, doing weights and body composition sessions which would usually be HIIT sessions (high intensity interval training) that would involve lots of jumping and joint compression movements. I used to be very sore a lot of the time. I was most definitely over training which I have made big changes to now but at the time I didn’t really know better.
My joints were shot, all of them ached constantly, and I could hardly perform a press-up. This however started to ease off a lot, I was actually quite stunned at the relief of pain. I found myself being able to workout for longer and my recovery was miles faster than it had been.
After a few weeks I got myself another bottle of aloe and began to up the game. I had originally started with drinking 30mls in the morning on an empty stomach and I built up to 60mls morning and night. The benefits from this just started to flow! I noticed massive changes in my stomach and digestion.
Now I have some pictures of my stomach in its bloated state, literally looking like I am pregnant! I actually get accused of pushing it out (because thats such an attractive look, said no one ever!). Basically I am a worrier, and worrying and stress lead to a build up of bad bacteria which literally ruins the guts and has all sorts of health implications.
I know now how to deal with this problem naturally but then I just didn’t have a clue (seems as though the docs didn’t either).
The state of your digestive system plays a major role in the workings of the rest of your body, so looking at all of my problems, some of which I outlined earlier, my stomach was the main culprit. After beginning the aloe gel drink I saw a succession of improvements in things related to my stomach.
My burping pretty much stopped…… and I can burp like a man……a big pint guzzling man! Some people are impressed by this, others utterly disgusted, me, I don’t really care, as I get a lot of discomfort and thats the only way to relieve it so its tough what others think. I would obviously rather not sound like an animal at the table though, very un-lady like.
So this brings me to the last, my skin. Over my teenage years I was always a spotty kid, still am (not a kid) but still have problem skin. It’s just not great, always struggle with blemishes and uneven skin tone, hide behind makeup. Im clean, healthy, don’t eat processed food etc. I just put it down to either my stomach or hormonal imbalance which I’m currently trying to rectify.
Since using aloe, I have noticed an amazing lift in the appearance of my skin which I had never seen before. It had usually been pretty oily – olive skin my mother calls it. Open pores, oily, and a nice sun kissed tone. It didn’t solve all my problems but it definitely brightened my face up and helped reduce the oil.
Next comes the science. I’m no brain box, but I was so interested in the benefits that I had been receiving that I started to do some research into why I was getting all these amazing effects from one little plant. I came across Dr Peter Atherton.
This guy had his own GP practice and was introduced to the power of aloe vera by one of his patients who had been using a cream for her eczema.
He was so intrigued by the benefits she had experienced from the cream that he decided to take a massive gamble, leave his practice and go back to university to study aloe vera. He’s now the worlds leading aloe vera expert and is on the board of advisors for the same company I was introduced to. He’s written an amazing book on his studies and findings “Aloe Vera The Medicine Plant”.
Dr Atherton details that out of hundreds of Aloe Vera species only a handful have all the great components that make ingesting the plant so good, the most popular one being Aloe Barbadensis – the only species that should be called Aloe Vera (translation- True Aloe).
The leaves of the plant are the nutrient stores and they are made up of two parts, an outer rind and an inner gel. The outer rind serves no purpose in terms of nutrition so always look for an inner leaf gel when buying, never whole leaf.
There are seventy five known ingredients divided into eight categories:
- B Vitamins
- Amino Acids
- Salicylic Acids
“Aloe vera is one of natures most potent cocktails” (Atherton, 2006)
He also tells of the the three most important qualities of the plant:
- It provides essential micro nutrients.
“Tissues that die and are rapidly renewed such as the lining of the gut need a rich supply of building material to produce and maintain healthy and efficient cells” (Atherton, 2006)
- It Kills bacteria, viruses, fungi and yeasts.
- “Experiments in the lab have been carried out on numerous organisms and have regularly shown that at a normal strength aloe vera gel can either destroy or inhibit the growth of several bacterial organisms, especially those that can cause skin and wound infection”(Atherton, 2006)
- It reduces inflammation. Inflammation is the response of healing tissues to injury. The positive combination of nutrients, a reduction in infection and inflammation, where appropriate, leads to the promotion of new cell growth and more rapid healing.
- “Fibroblasts are one of the most important types of cells involved in the healing process. They produce th collagen fibres of the scar tissue which knit wounds together, so the more that are working at the site of injury the better. This may be the single most important factor influenced by Aloe Vera in the acceleration of the healing process”
- (Atherton, 2006)
The main function of aloe vera in our body is to reduce and soothe inflammation. Inflammation is the bodies response to injury or irritation. Ill give you a few examples of what ailments in the body are due to inflammation and I’m sure you can work out from that what can be helped by the aloe vera plant.
IBS is inflammation of the bowels, eczema and psoriasis are inflammation of the skin, asthma is inflammation of the lungs, arthritis is inflammation of the joints.
Im a convert, I’ve been drinking the stuff for two years and I’ve never felt better. Don’t get me wrong, its no cure and I certainly feel it when I have a break for whatever reason but id rather drink a few shots of a horrible drink every day for the rest of my life than suffer some of the things I used to. I would bathe in the stuff if I could.
I’ve passed my findings on to so many of my friends and family now any they’re all addicted too and have all seen their own individual benefits. I regularly cleanse my insides using aloe which gives me such a massive energy boost! I wouldn’t be without it now.
It is most definitely the love of my life!
Thank You Aloe!
Atherton P.G. (2006) Aloe Vera, The Medicine Plant. KPM Co, New York