21st Century Medicine: Aloe Vera Rediscovered

Excerpts from the new book by Susan Ritter, RN, and Lee Ritter, ND

A funny thing happened on the way to the twenty-first century. For more than 4,000 years, aloe vera has been known for its therapeutic and healing properties, but only in the last 100 years have scientists and biologists "rediscovered" that this remarkable plant really does work better than some prescription drugs.

The atomic bomb of World War II introduced the people of the world to the devastation of radiation burns. In their search for an effective healing agent, scientists discovered that aloe vera is a most effective treatment. Based on that research, aloe vera is now being added to skin care products and health drinks to enrich their healing properties.
The Aloe Vera Plant

  • Aloe vera is a member of the lily (Liliaceoe) family, although many people mistakenly believe it is a member of the cactus family. Aloe vera plants are perennials, succulents, and xerophytes and grows in water-scarce semitropical regions of the world.
  • Aloe vera is in the same family as onion, garlic, lee, turnip, and asparagus plants.
  • There are more than 200 varieties of aloe vera, but only three have overall medicinal properties.
  • The aloe plant is sturdy and has few natural enemies. Chemical pesticides are rarely used (and never by Desert Harvest).
  • The mature leaves are harvested every 6-8 weeks, and one plant yields about 3 leaves each harvest. A single plant produces only one 180-capsule bottle of our super-strength aloe vera each harvest season. One acre will yield from 30,000 to 75,000 pounds of fresh aloe per year.

Processing Aloe Vera
The major challenge in processing aloe vera is collecting and storing its juices without chemically altering the product. When you cut an aloe leaf, it secretes enzymes that heal the severed tissues, thus lengthening its usable time. However, after a few hours, these same enzymes also begin the decomposition process. The best solution for ensuring the maximum biological potency of aloe is to process, stabilize, and preserve the leaf within 3 to 6 hours of its removal from the plant.

When the whole leaves of the aloe plant are ground up to make a liquid, the juice is 99.52% water and excess fiber and only 0.48% other ingredients. That means the juice must be filtered and concentrated in order to maximize the active ingredients. When processed correctly (with the anthraquinoes removed), the resulting juice has no toxicity and has the same pH as healthy skin.

What Is in Aloe Vera That Causes its Healing Properties?
In the opinion of most reputable researchers, the secret lies not in a single ingredient but in the cooperative action of all of its different components. Studies show that aloe vera contains a well-rounded number of enzymes, nutrients, minerals, vitamins, and amino acids, including the eight essential amino acids. Besides its nutritional components, aloe vera also contains: polysaccharides (complex, long-chain sugars), tannins, steroids, allantoin, apga, apolygol, organic acids, essential elements, natural analgesics, antibiotics, and other valuable ingredients.