Ghritkumari (Sanskrit Name), commonly known as Aloe Vera in English is one of the prominent herbs mentioned in Ayurveda and is being used since ages for its innumerable benefits. It is a medicinal succulent plant which is used in the treatment of various disorders like digestive problems, skin problems, etc. The botanical name of Aloe Vera is Aloe Barbadensis. It is said that Aloe Vera was used by Alexander the Great to heal the wounds of soldiers. The herb finds mention in ancient Ayurvedic texts like Charaka Samhita.
Ghritkumari: Anatomy And Distribution
Aloe Vera belongs to the Liliaceae family (lily family). Onions and garlic belong to the same family. Aloe Vera is a succulent plant species of the genus Aloe and is an evergreen perennial plant which originated in the Arabian Peninsula. A xerophytic and shrubby plant, it grows up to the height of 80 to 100 cm. The herb has thick fleshy leaves which are pea green in colour. The leaves are pointed and triangular and grow up to 2 inches in width. They consist of three layers – inner layer made of water and biochemical, the middle layer of latex and an outer thick layer to protect the plant. The roots of the plant are thick and fibrous. Aloe Vera produces white to yellow flowers in summers. Aloe Vera grows in tropical, semi-tropical, and arid climates around the world.
Ghrit Kumari: Uses And Properties
Aloe Vera is cultivated for agricultural as well as medicinal purposes. It is used as an ingredient in beverages, cosmetics and medicines. It is also grown as an ornamental plant.
The medicinal properties of the plant are:
- Immunity booster
According to Ayurveda, it is useful in:
- Shwashara – disorders pertaining to the respiratory system
- Vishahara – antitoxin
- Granthihara – useful in treating fibroids and small tumours
- Bhedani – in treatment of constipation
- Jwarhara – useful in fever
- Tvak roga – in skin disorders
- Vata hara – in the treatment of Vata related disorders
- Vrushya – works as an aphrodisiac
- Rasayana – anti-ageing and rejuvenating herb
- Agnidagdha – helps in quick healing of burn wounds
Ayurvedic Properties or Gunadharma of Ghrit Kumari
- Physical property (Guna) – heavy (guru), slimy (snigdha) and sticky (pichhila)
- Taste (Rasa) – bitter (tikta)
- Potency (Veerya) – sheeta or cool
- Conversion after digestion (Vipaka) – pungent after digestion
- Effect on doshas – balances all the three doshas of Vata, Pitta and Kapha
Ghritkumari is classified differently by different Ayurvedic scholars in different Ayurvedic texts:
- Acharya Shodal calls it Kushthavinashini or the group of herbs useful in the treatment of skin-related disorders.
- Acharya Kaiyadeva calls it Vrushya or aphrodisiac group of herbs and Rasayana or rejuvenator.
Ghritkumari Miraculous Benefits
Works Miracles On Skin
Aloe Vera can be called a miracle plant which helps in enhancing the health of the skin and thereby is even used as a major constituent in many products in the cosmetic industry. However, the advantage of using plain Aloe Vera instead of products that contain it is that you get all the benefits and don’t need to suffer side effects due to the chemicals in these products.
- Aloe Vera has anti-inflammatory properties. It is often used in the summer to protect the skin against sunburn. Not only this, but it can also help cure any insect bites or allergic reaction on the skin. It is quite helpful in providing relief from rash and acne breakout. When Aloe Vera is applied on a burnt patch of skin, it provides immediate relief and coolness.
- Aloe Vera is especially beneficial for people with dry skin for it is a natural moisturizer.
- It is equally beneficial for people with oily skin. Oily skin often is a good breeding ground for microorganisms and mixed with dirt, it can clog the skin pores. Aloe Vera helps in keeping the skin clear of any bacteria and any blackheads or pimples which might be caused due to oily skin.
So Ghritkumari works wonders on the skin and helps in keeping it healthy and glowing.
Is Wonderful For Hair
Aloe Vera is just as beneficial for the hair as it is for the skin. It is especially recommended for people suffering from dandruff. It has moisturizing, anti-fungal and emollient properties and it can help maintain the pH balance of the scalp, setting it right to where it does not let dandruff form. It provides a soothing effect to the scalp and makes the hair healthy from the roots promoting hair growth. It provides the required nutrition to the hair follicles and helps to get the scalp clear of all the dead cells which help in reducing hair fall, making the hair thick, long and shiny.
Suggested Remedy: In case you are suffering from dandruff, a suggested remedy is to apply a mix of Aloe Vera and lemon juice on your scalp. Gently massage and then cover your head with a warm damp towel for about half an hour before you wash it off. This remedy can be used once or twice a week until one starts seeing the desired effects. This will not only help clear dandruff but make the hair healthier.
Aloe Vera For Muscle Growth
It is a great supplement for muscle growth due to its high protein content (10.50%). It is also a great source of carbohydrates, fat & phosphorus and can help in combating micronutrient deficiencies. Below is the chart showing the nutritional content.
Antimicrobial And Enhances Immunity
Aloe Vera as a herb helps in enhancing immunity naturally. A weak immunity doesn’t only make it easy for you to catch the flu but can make things worse by making your body vulnerable to many perilous disorders. This happens as the macrophages which fight the foreign cells become weak.
Aloe Vera helps in strengthening and stimulating the macrophages. It works as a health rejuvenator and creates an immune system that is capable to fight diseases like jaundice, tuberculosis and other chronic fevers. The antibacterial properties of Aloe Vera can help prevent growth and spread of bacterial infection in the body. Consuming Aloe Vera juice can free you from the numerous visits to the doctor by creating a healthier and stronger version of your body.
Rich In Antioxidants And Is Anti-Inflammatory
Being abundant in polyphenols, Aloe Vera turns out to be a strong antioxidant. It helps in flushing out free radicals from the body and saving it against the buildup of oxidative stress.
Proper Functioning Of The Digestive System
Aloe Vera helps in maintaining a smooth functioning digestive system and ensures free bowel movement. It ensures a healthy intestinal flora and keeps the gut free from infections and irritable bowel syndrome by increasing the number of good bacteria in the gut.
By aiding in the faster breakdown of fats and sugars, it ensures faster digestion. Aloe Vera is one of the best herbs for fighting constipation. A natural laxative with high fibre content, Aloe Vera helps in curing chronic constipation. An easy remedy is to drink Aloe Vera juice each morning on an empty stomach.
Aloe Vera also acts as a vermifuge and helps the body get rid of intestinal worms. Possessing a gelatinous texture, it absorbs toxins from the intestinal tract and eliminates them through the colon. It is also beneficial in hemorrhoids treatment.
Suggested Remedy: To get relief from chronic constipation, take about 10 grams of Aloe Vera pulp and convert it into a fine paste. Add a pinch of rock salt and boil this liquid till all the water evaporates. Consume it daily to relieve constipation.
Promotes Weight Loss
Aloe Vera quickens the process of digestion, improves metabolism and helps the body getting rid of toxins. Thereby it naturally aids on losing excess weight from the body. It lowers fatigue and exhaustion and significantly improves energy level. So workouts become easier.
Regulates Blood Sugar Levels
Aloe Vera can prove to be quite beneficial for patients suffering from type II diabetes as it helps in lowering the blood sugar level. Aloe Vera does this by reducing the triglycerides in the blood. To experience these effects, one can consume Aloe Vera juice for about 3 to 4 months.
Helps Relieve Pain
Aloe Vera has anti-inflammatory properties and it has been used since centuries to provide relief from pain and inflammation. Drinking Aloe Vera juice can help relieve inflammation of the stomach. It can be applied to joints to reduce the symptoms of joint inflammation like arthritis. These anti-inflammatory properties of Aloe Vera are attributed to the presence of high amounts of antioxidants.
Beneficial For Heart Health
Daily consumption of Aloe Vera juice can help control high cholesterol level in the blood. It has the ability to reduce the cholesterol level by 30 to 35%. Beta-sitosterol found in aloe vera helps to lower cholesterol. It has a blood-thinning action and can help in the treatment of atherosclerosis which is a condition in which arteries become hard and are clogged with fat. It even multiplies oxygen transportation and diffusion capabilities of red blood cells.
For Good Oral Health
Among the many benefits of Aloe Vera, there is its ability to promote good oral health. Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, it helps one getting rid of canker sores and cold sores. Aloe Vera also has anti-microbial properties and thus it helps in avoiding any kind of infections.
Suggested Remedy: For healthy and strong teeth, one can mix Aloe Vera pulp or powder in their toothpaste while brushing their teeth.
Aloe Vera For The Eyes
Aloe Vera has a cooling effect and can help provide relief from burning sensation in the eyes which is quite common nowadays due to the high amount of time people spend in front of screens.
Suggested Remedy: It is recommended to mix 2 grams of Alum powder in 20 grams of Aloe Vera pulp, tie it in two pieces of clean cotton cloth and tie them on the eyes overnight for quick relief. Aloe Vera even helps in improving vision.
Ghritkumari: How To Use And Dosage
Aloe Vera can be used externally as well as internally. One can just cut it open and consume its water-containing gel when it’s raw or can directly apply on the skin.
The general recommended dosage of Aloe Vera is:
- As fresh juice – 10 to 20 ml
- As leaf pulp – 1 to 3 grams
- As aqueous extract – 100 to 300 mg
Side Effects And Precautions
Although Ghrit kumari or Aloe Vera is a very beneficial herb and does not really cause any serious side effects. But consuming in more than recommended quantities can cause a few unwanted side effects and hence some precautions are required.
- Aloe Vera should not be consumed by women during menstruation as it can increase blood flow.
- Long term excessive usage of Aloe Vera can result in the loss of electrolytes like potassium from the body.
- Too much consumption can lead to increased pressure on the liver and can cause diseases of the gall bladder.
- Sometimes oral intake can cause diarrhoea and stomach cramps.
- There may be allergic reactions due to the presence of anthraquinones, such as aloin and barbaloin in Aloe Vera. Therefore in case of external application, it is best to perform a patch test before.
- Aloe Vera usage must be avoided by pregnant and lactating women.
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