Aloe eases inflammation
Both in Folk Medicine and general home medicine in recent times, a very common use of Aloe Vera has been as a healing balm for cuts, wounds, burns and abrasions - or anything which has involved penetration or breakage of the skin surface
For example, among home remedies, the slit leaf was strapped onto the affected part to expose the surface tissue of the patient to the inner gel of the leaf. Two separate actions of Aloe are involved here. One is the alleviation of the painful inflammation which accompanies injuries and the other is the healing of the injury. In this article it is the alleviation of the inflammation which will be reviewed. However, the power of Aloe to alleviate the effects of cuts, wounds, burns and abrasions does not restrict its anti-inflammatory powers just to those particular uses. A very great range of internal illnesses also involve inflammatory processes and we can expect Aloe to alleviate these also.
The Nature of Acute Inflammation
Inflammation is the body’s first reaction to damage by whatever means, physical, bacterial, chemical, or damage of an internal sort known as “auto-immunity”. Whatever its cause, inflammation is a complex physiological process with several components to it, all of them aimed at dealing with a possible invasion by foreign organisms or substances and preparing the way for healing afterwards. It is accompanied by four particularly obvious effects which everyone has experienced when they are hurt. These are redness, heat, swelling and pain, often referred to by the rather similar sounding quartet of their names in Latin, i.e. they are respectively, rubor, calor, tumor and dolor.
Anti-Inflammatory Action of Aloe in Acute Inflammation
The anti-inflammatory action of Aloe in acute inflammation is one of its best known actions. It is clearly responsible for all the early benefits from applying Aloe Gel or Whole Leaf Extract, or various preparations and ointments and creams of Aloe to wounds, cuts and abrasions of all kinds. It must also be responsible for the early benefits in sports injuries, frostbite, burns and radiation burns, in the tissue-damage applications associated with dentistry as well as its earliest effects upon arthritis and upon infections. Many kinds of beneficial action which Aloe has been noted to have upon other conditions which are primarily inflammatory in nature, would also be examples of this same basis of action, including insect bites and stings of all kinds and also jellyfish stings. Much skin disease also is associated with a lot of inflammation and clearly benefits from the same action. It is certainly reasonable to list the anti-inflammatory action as being one of thie fundamental beneficial actions of Aloe..
Salicylic Acid and Salicylates
Another theory about anti-inflammatory action is that the aromatic acid salicylic acid, and its salts, the salicylates, make an important contribution. Salicylic acid is closely related to aspirin, which does reduce inflammation by inhibiting the production of some hormones called “prostaglandins”
The Nature of Chronic Inflammation
Where the cause of the inflammation is continuously applied, a type of inflammation known as “chronic inflammation” is set up. This may come about by repeated environmental exposure to an irritant, by a foreign body within the tissue, by bacteria which resist removal, by internal toxins which the body lacks the enzymes or the vitality to remove or which enter continuously while also being removed, or by a disordered immune system attacking the body's own tissues (auto-immunity).
Inflammatory Conditions That Benefit from Aloe
This is relatively little researched area and the tendency has been to investigate the performance of Aloe against named illnesses without seeking to ascribe the positive results to the exact mechanism of Aloe’s actions. It can be observed, however that the following conditions, which have been demonstrated to benefit from Aloe do involve chronic inflammation, peptic ulcer, leg ulcers, arthritis and Type II diabetes.