Wednesday

Aloe Vera - Natural Healer

It was narrated from Nubayh Ibn Wahb that: ‘Umar Ibn ‘Ubaidullah Ibn Ma‘mar had an eye infection, and he wanted to apply kohl to it, but Abaan Ibn ‘Uthman told him not to do that and told him to apply aloe vera to it, and he narrated from ‘Uthman Ibn ‘Affan, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Prophet, blessings and peace of Allah be upon him, did that. (Narrated by Muslim)
According to a report from ‘Uthman Ibn ‘Affan, may Allah be pleased with him, from the Messenger of Allah, blessings and peace of Allah be upon him, a man had a problem in his eyes when he was in Ihram and he said: “Apply aloe vera to them.” (Narrated by Muslim)
It was narrated from Qais Ibn Rafi‘ Al-Qaisi that the Messenger of Allah, blessings and peace of Allah be upon him, said: “Do you know how much healing there is in the two bitter things: Aloe vera and cress?” (Narrated by Abu Dawood in his Maraseel and by Al-Baihaqi, and narrated from them by Al-Suyooti in Al-Jami‘ As-Sagheer, and there is some weakness in it.)
It was narrated that Umm Salamah, may Allah be pleased with her, said: “The Messenger of Allah, blessings and peace of Allah be upon him, entered upon me when Abu Salamah died, and I had put aloe vera on my eye. He said: ‘What is this, Umm Salamah?’ I said, ‘It is aloe vera, O Messenger of Allah; there is no perfume in it’. He said: ‘It makes the face bright, so do not use it except at night, and do not apply perfume when combing your hair, or henna because it is a dye.’ I said, ‘What should I use when combing my hair, O Messenger of Allah?’ He said: ‘Use lotus leaves, cover your head with them’.” (Narrated by Al-Nasa’i and Abu Dawood. Its isnad includes Al-Mugheerah Ibn Al-Dahhak, who was not regarded as Thiqah by anyone except Ibn Hibban. It also includes two unknown female narrators.)
Al-Baghdadi said, “Aloe vera is a plant that is harvested and pressed and left to dry. The best is that which is brought from Suqatra in Yemen. It wards off the harmful side-effects of medicine if it is mixed with it, and it is beneficial in cases of swelling in the eyelid. It opens blockages in the liver and takes away jaundice, and it is very good for stomach ulcers.”
Al-Kahhal Ibn Tarkhan said, “A man from Oman told me about the place where they press aloe vera in their country. The aloe vera plant is like the green lily, but its leaves are much longer, wider and thicker. It contains a great deal of water. It is gathered and thrown in the press, then it is hit with wood until the juice flows, then this is left until it becomes thick and is exposed to the sun until it dries.”
Aloe vera is a laxative; it cleanses the stomach, dries up ulcers and speeds their healing. It is also clearly beneficial for treating ulcers which occur in the testicles, private part and buttocks, if it is sprinkled on them.
Al-Hafiz Al-Dhahabi says concerning aloe vera, “It is beneficial in cases of swelling in the eye; it opens up blockages in the liver, and takes away jaundice. It is also beneficial in treating stomach ulcers if taken in powdered form.”
Ibn Al-Qayyim said, “Aloe vera is very beneficial, especially the Indian type. It cleanses excess bile in the brain and optical nerve. If applied to the forehead with rose oil, it is beneficial in treating headaches, as well as ulcers in the nose and mouth. The Persian type alerts the brain, comforts the heart and removes excess bile and phlegm from the stomach, if two spoons of it are drunk with water.”
Aloe vera is a long-lived plant of the lily family (Lilasceae). It is a desert plant and evergreen which is widely cultivated in the Hejaz, Abha, Yemen, Suqatra, Hadhramawt, Oman, Egypt, and semi-tropical areas in Africa, Peru, Sumatra and elsewhere.
It may be grown in any month of the year apart from January, but it is preferable to grow it at the beginning of spring and summer. The plant reaches a height of 40 to 50 cm. Its leaves are thick, fleshy, succulent and compact with serrated edges. The base of the stem is surrounded by yellow flowers.
Aloe vera is one of the most ancient plants which have been used for medicinal purposes. It was used by the Greeks from the fourth century BCE. It was also known to the ancient Yemenis and the Pharaohs, and it is mentioned in their medical prescriptions. The Arabs brought it to Europe in the Middle Ages.
The name of aloe vera is also given to the substance that is obtained by drying the juice of the leaves, which may be in the form of lumps or powder, with a greyish black or green colour and an unpleasant odour and a very bitter taste, as in the Arabic saying “as bitter as aloe vera”. It dissolves easily in alcohol of 60 percent concentration and in hot water, but it does not dissolve in ether.
There are a number of ways of preparing this juice, the simplest of which is to cut the leaves into small pieces and put them in a vessel made of tin with holes in its base, and leave it for the juice to drain out through the holes.
The modern way is done by pressing the leaves mechanically, after cutting them into small pieces. Then the juice is strained and placed in a kettle and heated to a temperature of 50 to 60°C for a period of several hours, and it becomes concentrated by letting hot air go through it until it is dried completely.
Aloe vera contains an effective substance which is a group of anthraquinoglycerides. The mixture is called barbaloin, which breaks down in the intestine and colon to give arabinose and aloe emedin. Hence, this drug is not given to those who are suffering liver or bile complaints.
A small amount of aloe vera (20 to 100 milligrams) is regarded as stimulating the appetite and aiding digestion. Moderate amounts act as a laxative and expel bile. Large amounts (more than 300mg) act as a harsh laxative, regulate menses, expel water and have a laxative effect which is connected to their effect on the large intestine, which appears 8 to 10 hours after taking it. It causes swelling in the pelvis. Hence, it cannot be given to pregnant women or in cases of heavy vaginal bleeding, hematuras (blood in urine), hemorrhoids or swelling in the prostate.
Allen Natow (Aloe Vera, Fact or Fiction, Cutis, 1986, p. 37) mentions that there are over 300 types of aloe vera, and he describes how it is used to treat burns, insect bites, sunburn, inflammation of the joints and constipation.
He mentions its benefits in treating abrasions and skin wounds, and he confirms that it is very beneficial in treating corneal ulcers. Natow listed the active substances in aloe vera, of which he mentioned the following,
• Bradykinase, which produces protease which breaks down the bradykinin which causes pain in the sites of skin inflammation, and also constricts the blood vessels of the skin, hence Aloe vera is included in creams for sunburn.
• Magnesium lactate: This prevents formation of histamines, which is regarded as the primary reason for itching and other skin sensitivities. This explains its effectiveness in treating insect bites.
• Substance that fights prostaglandin. Prostaglandin is the main substance which causes inflammation and pain.
• Anthraquinone: This is what causes diarrhea, and from it is extracted anthralin which is used to treat psoriasis.
Dr. Shahat Nasr stated that fresh aloe vera juice may be applied to the skin that is affected by sunburn, and it will reduce pain and speed up healing. In the cosmetics field, it moisturises the skin and softens it; hence, compounds of aloe vera glycoside are included in cosmetics preparations and moisturisers, especially creams, soaps and shampoos.
We may understand the miraculous nature of the Prophet’s words to Umm Salamah, may Allah be pleased with her, when she put aloe vera on her face and he said to her: “It makes the face look bright”, so it makes it look fresh and radiant.
Abu Zaid also said that which proves that emodin had the effect of slowing down the growth of some skin tumors.
Books of folk medicine state that aloe vera strengthens the libido; protects against poison; expel worms; is beneficial in treating diseases of the eye, bronchitis and retention of urine; and its juice may be applied to the scalp to make the hair grow long and prevent it falling out, and to treat dandruff and ringworm. Russian doctors have used Aloe vera for decades. Mashofsky has written about a number of medicines derived from Aloe vera, including the following,
• Aloe extract that is prepared for use in injections. It is a watery extract from the small leaves of aloe vera. It is a thin, clear liquid which is light yellow in color or even reddish, and has a bitter taste. It is produced in small vessels, 1 mm in size, to be injected under the skin daily (between 1 and 4ml); for children under the age of five (0.2 to 0.3 ml) and for children over the age of five (0.5ml). This series of treatment may be repeated if necessary after three months. It gives good results in treating a number of eye diseases (myopia; inflammation of the retina, eyelid, conjunctiva, cornea and iris; and in treating opacity of the vitreous humor). It is also beneficial in treating duodenal ulcers and asthma. Here the miraculous nature of the Prophet’s words becomes clear, when he said to the man who complained about an ailment in his eyes: “Apply aloe vera to them.” This injection should not be given to people with cardiovascular problems, those whose blood pressure is too high, pregnant women after the seventh month or those who have inflammation of the kidney.
• Aloe liniment, which is made from the juice of aloe vera leaves (78g), castor oil (11g), eucalyptus oil (0.1g) and emulgator (11g). The liniment is cream-colored, with the texture of thick cream. It is to be applied to burns and to protect against and treat skin problems resulting from sunburn.
• Aloe juice, which consists of the juice of the leaves (80ml) ethyl alcohol (20 to 95 percent), hydrochloride butanol (0.5ml). It is an opaque liquid with a light orange colour and a bitter taste, which becomes darker when exposed to light and air. It may be poured or sprinkled on ulcerated wounds, burns and inflammatory skin conditions. There are recent studies referred to by Dr. Muhammad Al-Zawahiri (in a lecture given by him entitled “Aloe Vera and its Medicinal Value”, which he gave in the Conference of Arab Dermatologists which was held in Damascus in 1992 and published in Majallat Al-Jild which is published by the Syrian Association of Dermatologists in issue No. 2, 1993), including the study by Flag, 1959, on the benefits of aloe vera for treating ulcers caused by sunburn, and the study of Blits and his colleagues in 1963 on treating stomach ulcers with aloe vera, and the study of Riner and Gjestad in 1968 on the cosmetic uses of aloe vera. Al-Zawahiri spoke of the field study in which he tested the use of aloe vera gel to treat a number of stubborn skin conditions.
The gel is formed from the inside of the leaves of the aloe vera plant, and is extracted by cutting the fresh, fleshy leaves at the base and leaving them for two days so that the bitter juice may flow out, then the leaf is opened and the gel is taken from the inside, then it is rubbed together and mixed, then strained and a preservative is added to it, and it may be left in the fridge so that it can be used for a whole month. It is applied in this manner, like a cream, without adding anything to it or diluting it. The gel contains carbohydrates, astringents, fats, steroids, unsaturated components, organic acids, and minerals such as chloride, sulphur, iron, copper, sodium and potassium. It is sticky, shiny, and colorless, with a distinct smell. It is acidic and turns crimson when exposed to air. Three patients with chronic skin ulcers were treated, which in one case was accompanied by eczema and discoloration around the site of the problem, or the onset of gout. The Aloe vera gel is applied directly to the ulcers two or three times a day, after cleaning them with a cleansing solution. The ulcers were long-term, having lasted for anything between five and 15 years. They were infected, deep and had not responded to any known treatment. They also noticed an improvement in the blood vessels in the area from the first weeks of applying this remedy, which was known from the appearance of grainy tissue with a pinkish colour.
It was also noted that the gel allowed integration of the eroded tissue, which then fell off, leading to the disappearance of the offensive odor and to the growth of grainy tissue at the bottom of the ulcer.
After that, epithelialisation (growth of epithelial tissue) was noted on the sides, which advanced slowly toward the ulcer area, which was an indication of the effectiveness of the drug and which led within several weeks to the gradual decrease of the surface area of the ulcers and then to healing.
The reason for the effectiveness of the aloe vera gel in healing the ulcers is attributed to one of the many viscous sugars which are found in high concentrations in it.
The remedy was successfully applied to 3 patients affected by a kind of seborrhoea alopecia, which was accompanied by widespread falling out of the hair and oiliness of the scalp. It became apparent that the gel has a drying effect on the excess oil, followed by stimulation of hair growth. It may be understood that it has an astringent effect on the oil-secreting glands, thereby reducing the flow of oil through the sebaceous glands
In cases of acne, aloe vera gel led to drying of the skin and reducing excess oil, and led to a reduction of the problem within a month of treatment.
Applying it in cases of ringworm or Alopecas areata led to regrowth of the hair and to complete healing within a few weeks. It was tested on 10 patients affected by hair loss due to various diseases, and it led to encouraging initial results.
Based on this, Al-Zawahiri thinks that aloe vera gel is a safe drug with no side-effects, which may be applied like a lotion, 2 to 3 times a day, as an important ointment for treating skin ulcers and especially corneal ulcers.
It may also be used to dry up oil in cases of seborrhea, skin infections and acne. It is also an effective remedy which limits hair loss and helps the hair to grow back.
Conclusion
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A few years ago, in 1986, a professor at the University of New York published an important medical article in the Journal of American Dermatology on the topic of aloe vera, in which he said:
The word is derived from an Arabic root, namely the word Uluwwah which refers to a bitter and shiny substance. Aloe vera has been used for many years to treat burns, insect bites, acne, sunburn and joint inflammation. It is also used as a laxative.
From clinical studies it has become apparent that aloe vera has a role to play in treating skin inflammation resulting from sunburn, corneal ulcers and leg ulcers. This article stated that aloe vera contains four active substances, namely:
• Bradykinase, which is a substance that acts as a vasoconstrictor; when the blood vessels contract, this reduces swelling and redness that occur in the site of inflammation. This explains why aloe vera is included in some compounds that are used to treat sunburn.
• Magnesium lactate. This is a substance which prevents the formation of histamines, which are regarded as one of the most important causes of itching in the skin. Thus aloe vera reduces itching and inflammation, and this explains its effectiveness in treating insect bites.
• Anti-prostaglandins. This substance reduces pain and inflammation. The best example of that is Aspirin.
• After more than 1,400 years, modern science has confirmed to the world that what the Messenger of Allah, blessings and peace of Allah be upon him, prescribed to his Companions was the right medicine. This man who complained of an inflammation in his eye when he was in Ihram was complaining of pain and swelling. There was no aspirin at that time and there were no painkillers as we know them today. But Allah guided His Messenger, blessings and peace of Allah be upon him, to treat him by applying aloe vera to the inflamed eye in order to reduce the pain and take away sickness. There is another point to be noted here, which is that aloe vera is effective in protecting against sunburn. Hence the eyes of this pilgrim in Ihram were affected because the intense heat, and sunburn increases pain and swelling in the skin, but aloe vera is cooling and safe for the inflamed eye and the burned skin; it takes away the pain and eases it by the leave of its Creator.
• Anthraquinone. This substance has a local irritating effect on the digestive system, which explains the laxative properties of aloe vera. This substance is also the effective element found in Anthralin which is used to treat psoriasis.
Studies have also shown that it has a moisturizing and softening effect on the skin, as it retains moisture in that place, thus moisturising and softening it. Nowadays we find in the markets creams, powders, soaps and other cosmetic preparations which all contain aloe vera in their components.
Rheumatic arthritis is a very painful condition which leads to deformities in the joints as well as severe stiffness. The Journal of the American Union of Podiatrists published in 1985 research in which aloe vera was used topically on the inflamed joints in mice. The study showed that this remedy was able to reduce the inflammation in 88 percent of cases.
Al-Shahat Nasr Abu Zaid: An-Nabat Wal-A’shab Al-Tibbiyah. Dr. Muhammad ‘Ali Al-Barr: Hashiyah ‘Ala Kitab Al-Tibb An-Nabawi by ‘Abdul Malik Habeeb Al-Andalusi, Damascus, 1993. Al-Muwaffaq Al-Baghdadi: Al-Tibb Min Al-Qur’an Was-Sunnah. Ibn Al-Qayyim: Al-Tibb An-Nabawi. Al-Dhahabi: Al-Tibb An-Nabawi. Hassan Shamsi Pasha: Qabasat Min Al-Tibb An-Nabawi, 1993. Dr. Muhammad Al-Zawahiri, article entitled “Al-Sabr wa Qeematuhu Al-‘Ilajiyyah (Aloe Vera and its Medicinal Value”), Majallat Al-Jild, issue No. 9, Damascus 1993. Al-Kahhal Ibn Tarkhan: Al-Ahkaam An-Nabawiyah Fil-Sina‘ah Al-Tibbiyah. Dr. Mashkofisky, Al-Mawad Ad-Dawa’iyyah, (in Russian), Moscow 1972. Group of professors from the King Saud University in Riyadh: An-Nabatat As-Sa’oodiyah Al-Musta‘malah Fil-Tibb Al-Sha‘bi, published by the Department of Scientific Research. Qabasat Min Al-Tibb An-Nabawi.