Arthritis is defined by the inflammation in the joints which pose a problem in moving around. It can lead to stiffness, pain, swelling and redness in the joints.
There are many types of arthritis, namely osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, infectious arthritis, gout and psoriatic arthritis. Mostly arthritis is considered an age related disease however it can also occur in young people. Some of the causes for the incidence of this disease include injury, autoimmune response in which the immune system starts attacking its own cells and tissues, external infection and excess uric acid build up .
The symptoms of this disease include swelling in the joints, feeling of tiredness, redness near the inflamed joint, slight fever and joint deformation in extreme cases .
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Aloe Vera for Arthritis
Aloe Vera is a plant species whose extracts are used in numerous ways and it is mostly cultivated in parts of Europe and India. This plant produces gel and latex which are used in numerous beauty and medicinal products. The gel obtained from the inner part of the succulent leaf is a thick clear substance while the yellow latex is obtained from beneath the skin of the plant. The extracts obtained from this plant have been known to possess numerous properties which can offer treatment to diverse kinds of health conditions. It can either be consumed or applied on the skin for treatment .
The main constituents found in aloe Vera plants include anthracene, anthraquinone, anthranilic acid and cinnamic acid. This plant is also known to possess anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties.
Aloe Vera has been used for treating skin related problems, bowel diseases, diabetes, asthma, ulcers, inflammation and arthritis. The usage of this plant has been dated back to many centuries by the humans. This plant is very effective in treating arthritis as it can reduce the amount of inflammation in the joints when taken orally or applied on the area of inflammation. The constituent anthraquinone is responsible for stimulation of the immune system for the anti-inflammatory response.
It was reported by group of scientists in their study that neutral polysaccharides (aleomannan and acemannan) found in the species of aloe vera showed anti-tumor, immune-suppressive and anti-inflammatory properties. The anti-inflammatory property enabled it to inhibit the activity of COX-2 (cyclooxygenase) enzyme which is involved in the inflammatory pathways.
In a study carried out on rat models by Yoo et al., the rats with the arthritic condition were given aloe vera and there was an increased analgesic effect on the condition. In condition of osteoarthritis, it was observed that on administration of aloe extract there for reduction in the inflammation and a prophylactic against the effect of NSAIDs drugs which are known to have adverse side-effects.
The NSAIDs drugs are given as treatment for conditions like arthritis, however, they do more harm than treatment as these drugs are very strong and damage other parts of the body .
Among several types of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis is the one which can affect both young and old people equally. It occurs when the immune system attacks the synovial membrane which surrounds the fluid in the joints. This leads to damage in the bone, tissues and cartilage around the affected joints.
This damaged tissue is replaced by scar tissues which lead to formation of spaces in between the joints. The spaces are formed so that the tissues can develop folds and fuse together. This can at times affect the entire body leading to problems in other organs and tissues. Aloe vera has been observed to slow down the progression of the rheumatoid arthritis .
The main feature of arthritis is inflammation of the tissues due to injury of some kind to the tissues. The process of inflammation involves production and release of numerous factors like prostaglandins, platelet activating factor, leukotrienes and other mediators. Some of these mediators include tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-a), pro-inflammatory cytokines, nitric oxide and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS).
A study was conducted to see the effect of the dried exudate of aloe vera on the inflammation caused due to arthritis. The exudate is the substance excreted from the aloin cells in the vascular bundles of the plant. The exudate of the leaf of aloe vera plant was found to have anti-inflammatory property and it was able to inhibit the production of nitric oxide in the macrophages .
In artificially induced inflammation it was reported that there was an increase in the production of serotonin and histamine from the mast cells. In addition to this, there was also an increase in the production of prostaglandins. Treatment with aloe vera was found to reduce the effect of all these in the inflamed tissues.
Another rat model was artificially induced with adjuvant induced arthritis to mimic the incidence of rheumatoid arthritis. The incorporation of adjuvants led to the inflammation in the paws of the animals. This led to the activation of the macrophages, which further triggered the synthesis of cytokines like TNF-a and IL-1 (interleukins-1), and prostaglandins (PGE2). These products trigger the formation of enzymes which bring about the destruction of the bone and the cartilage .
Another main component in the procedure of inflammation is the nitric oxide synthesis. It plays as significant role in the signaling process required for inflammatory process. This molecule joins with the superoxide molecules and forms peroxynitrite. These molecules subsequently initiate the synthesis of prostaglandins.
After these artificially induced rat models were treated with the exudate of aloe vera, there was a significant decrease in the disease. It led to the reduction in the production of nitric oxide by the macrophages. Subsequently the production of prostaglandins was inhibited. The expression of iNOS in macrophages was measured to confirm the positive effects of aleo vera in reduction of inflammation in the rat models .
The juice from the aloe vera plant can be consumed for treating the symptoms of arthritis. The gel is equally effective as it is known to contain plant sterols. These sterols have been speculated to have similar effect on the body as that of steroidal drugs for reducing inflammation. However, unlike these steroidal drugs, the aloe extracts have no harmful side-effect like suppressing the regeneration of tissues for repair. On the other hand the molecules present in the gel induce regeneration of the injured tissues .
Moreover, the juice of aloe vera is known to contain an enzyme called bradykinase. This enzyme plays an important role in managing the pain during the progression of the disease. The juice also contains salicylic acid which has action similar to aspirin- pain relief and reduction of inflammation. The juice cleanses the body of most of the toxins and keeps the body rejuvenated. The juice absorbs these toxins which are produced in the inflamed joints .
The plant of aloe vera has been reported to contain glucosamine which is also found in the cartilage of the joints. This glucosamine can treat the pain and stiffness experienced in the arthritis condition. The beneficial juice also possesses some minerals which trigger certain enzyme reactions in the affected joints. These enzyme reactions speed up the healing process in the joints and slow down the progress of deformation .
Another study reported the significant positive effects of aloe vera on the prevention of adjuvant arthritis. It was able to effective both when ingested and applied on the skin. The scientists have found that different people react differently to aloe juice and gel. Some may prefer the juice while other may prefer applying it in the form of gel.
A group of researchers investigated the effect of aleo vera on arthritis caused by a certain bacterium. This bacteria triggered the typical symptoms of arthritis like inflammation and swelling. These animal models were then injected with aloe extract and the results showed that an organic acid found in aloe was able to reduce the swelling and inflammation in the animal models .
How to take aleo vera in diet
The aloe vera plant is easily available in the market and it can also be grown in the locality of one’s garden. It is a good houseplant and does not require much care. One can consume the leaves of the plant directly by mashing it and consuming the mashed product. However, one should be careful to remove the prickly thorns in the plant. The gel like liquid can also be squeezed directly from the leaves of the plant and taken in regular diet.
Commercially, the extracts of aloe vera are present in numerous ointments, creams and lotions. These products can be applied on the skin for beneficial effects. These products most commonly contain the gel of the aleo vera plant and it is highly effective in skin, beauty and cosmetic products. The aloe extract is also available in the form of capsules and tablets which can be taken under the supervision of a health advisor.
The aloe vera juice is also available commercially and can be taken as a treatment for diverse kind of medical conditions including arthritis. Some pain-relieving medical gels and ointments also contain extracts of aloe vera. These can be utilized for pain relief and reduction of inflammation in arthritis. It should be noted that if taken for medicinal use, the gel, extract or juice of aloe vera should be taken under the supervision of the doctor .
There is no specific recommended dosage for the application and consumption of aloe vera. However, it is recommended that one should take it under doctor’s supervision. It is not advised for children to consume aloe vera in any form. While applying on skin one should be careful to not to apply it to open wounds.
It should be applied to inflamed area after cleaning the affected area. One effective treatment one should consult the doctor for accurate dosages .
Although the aleo vera is considered safe for application and consumption, there are certain precautions which should be kept in mind while taking the extracts of aleo. Some people may develop allergic reactions to the extracts of aloe vera in rare cases. Moreover, the latex of aloe should not be taken orally as it can lead to cramps and diarrhea.
It is also not recommended for pregnant and lactating mothers to take aloe in the oral form. In addition to this, it can be harmful to take aloe extract prior to any surgery as it can increase the bleeding in the surgical procedure. People who are taking medicines of diabetes along with aloe vera extract should be careful as aloe can lead to hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. Lastly, taking aloe with digoxin and diuretics medicines can lead to lowering of potassium levels in the body .
Although there are many conventional drugs available for the treatment of many types of arthritis, these drugs tend to cause more damage than treat the disease.
These drugs cause adverse side-effects which can lead to injury in other parts of the body. In such cases, aloe vera offers a ray of hope for these patients as it treats the disease in natural way without any harmful side-effects.
The juice, gel and extract of aloe vera have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which enable it to relieve the patients from stiffness and soreness experienced due to various types of arthritis.