Tuesday, October 6, 2009
AN ODE TO ALOE
Oh, but if only I were a poet... I would write the most beautiful sonnet to praise my precious aloe. But alas, I am not, so I shan't.
Instead, I will try to compile a legible list of all the amazing properties this plant has to offer.
Aloe Vera has often been referred to as the "Miracle Plant", and for good reason - it's juice is the first thing I reach for if I get "glutened" (what we in the gluten-free community call accidentally ingesting gluten). Being a natural healer, it immediately soothes and calms down my upset insides, and kick-starts the healing process. In Ayurveda, inflammation is classified as a pitta dosha imbalance - ok wait, what is Ayurveda and what the hell is a pitta dosha you ask? I promise to tackle that subject in a future blog, but for now a quick overview:
Ayurveda - a 5000 year old natural healing system originating in the ancient traditions of India.
Dosha - a unique mix of three mind/body constitutional "types": earthy Kapha, fiery Pitta, and airy Vata. We are a blend of all three, but usually one or two stand out.
I am without a doubt a pitta dosha (the fire principle), and I display many of the classic pitta traits: I've always had rosy cheeks, which a few years ago developed into an attractive case of rosacea. I now know it was because of all the inflammation I was causing on the inside by ingesting gluten. I hate heat. I can't stand hot tubs or saunas. I love my drinks ice cold. And I might be a tad hot-tempered from time to time. Fortunately, Ayurveda teaches us that simple adjustments to your diet along with some natural food supplements can help cool an overheated system - one of which is - that's right - ALOE!!!
Taken internally, 98- or 99-percent pure aloe vera is known to aid in the healing of the stomach and small intestine lining - which can not only help those of us with celiac disease, but also those with ulcers, hemorrhoids, colitis, and all colon problems. Aloe helps promote bowel regularity and it contains aloin, which is responsible for it's purgative action, so it's also known to relieve constipation. It regulates the peristaltic movements of the intestines, promotes digestion, and the liver and spleen function are also stimulated by this herb. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, they would consider most people with celiac disease as having a spleen-pancreas qi deficiency - but now I'm really all over the map (literally ha!) - more on that later, I swear.
This gem of a plant also enhances your body's defenses. Glucosamine and other sugar aminos are found in aloe - they bind and dispose of undesirable microbes that otherwise bind to you... ewwwwww.
In a perfect world, the best source of aloe is the fresh inner gel from a live plant - it's rich in mucilaginous polysaccharides (it's active compounds), which can be depleted in processing. But for those of us pressed for time or just damn lazy, you can find the juice pretty easily. My personal favorite is the one gallon jug from Trader Joe's for only $7.99! Drink 2 to 8 ounces once or twice daily for optimal benefits. Other advantages of drinking aloe juice are:
• improves circulation
• helps regulate blood pressure
• promotes the healing of bones and joints
• supports normal muscle and tissue functions
• helps maintain healthy gums, mouth and throat environment
• strengthens the immune system
• defends the body against bacteria and yeasts
So pour yourself a glass and “bottoms up”, people!
Until next time... may the gluten-free force be with you!