Aloe Vera and other medicinal plants

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Plants have been utilised for thousands of years, in a vast range of preparations, to heal and soothe medical complaints. Aloe vera is one such plant that has many medical applications. It has anti-inflammatory properties resulting from the polysaccharides and glycoproteins contained within, which stimulate skin repair and growth[1] and reduce pain[2]. For this reason, many people use aloe vera gel to soothe burns to the skin, irritations and minor wounds. Secondly, the aloe plant is thought to stimulate the release of the gastric juice pepsin and, as such, it is a powerful laxative[3].

The aloe vera plant is also believed to have antiseptic properties, making it useful for a range of products including toothpastes and mouthwashes[4]. In 2009, a study by General Dentistry found that aloe vera tooth gel was just as effective at preventing cavities as regular toothpaste, whilst its anti-inflammatory properties helped to soothe gums[5].

Chamomile is a daisy like plant that, like aloe vera, is used for soothing skin irritations. It is often found in lotions as it is believed to have an anti-inflammatory effect[6]. Chamomile is popular as a tea too, and has been used in this way for centuries to relieve anxiety and stomach complaints[7], although medical evidence for these applications is limited.

Eucalyptus is another plant famed for its medicinal abilities. It is found in a vast range of cold and flu treatments due to its ability to relieve congestion. It contains tannins, which are believed to have anti-inflammatory properties, flavonoids which are antioxidants, and cineoyle (also known as eucalyptol) which has strong antibacterial qualities[8].

Guest post by Haylee Hulme:
Haylee Hulme is a huge fan of health and nutrition and everything related to vitamins. She is a freelance writer on these topics, publishing her work on a number of blogs and websites.

[1] University of Maryland Medical Center (2008). Aloe. http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/aloe-000221.htm
[2] Davis, R. (January 11, 2000). Polysaccharide in Aloe Vera, The Magic Bullet. http://wholeleaf.com/aloeverainfo/aloeverapolysaccharide.html
[3] University of Maryland Medical Center (2008). Aloe. http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/aloe-000221.htm
[4] Ayurvedictalk (August 22, 2009). Aloe Vera effective in treating teeth, gum problems too http://www.ayurvedictalk.com/aloe-vera-effective-in-treating-teeth-gum-p...
[5] Health Care n Diet (2010).Is aloe vera the most versatile plant of all? http://www.healthcarendiet.com/2010/04/12/is-aloe-vera-the-most-versatil...
[6] Annies Remedy (2008). Chamomile. http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail13.php
[7] Herb Wisdom (2010). Chamomile Benefits. http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-chamomile.html
[8] University of Maryland Medical Center (2008). Eucalyptus. http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/eucalyptus-000241.htm

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