Monthly Archives: March 2011

Aloe: sunburn relief and more

Aloe extracts soothe a sun burn. I don’t know if that is FDA approved or not. However, I would not use any thing else if I were to be sunburnt. The reason being I have been sunburnt badly and I was saved by Aloe. I was vacationing in Barbados and fell asleep under the sun by the poolside. A few hours later, I was in much pain and my skin was peeling. The local people quickly slit open a few thick, fresh Aloe leaves, emptied it’s contents into a little bowl and applied it all over my sunburnt skin. I healed so quickly. I became a convert and a staunch Aloe worshipper. I got an Aloe plant and repotted it as it grew. It does not need much water. I can even leave on vacations to get sunburnt again and return to an Aloe plant that was thriving in spite of not being watered while I was away! That’s my kind of house plant: Low nurture – High value. I include several photos below.

By the way, I was vacationing in the Maldives, a country where the people have this fabulous skin that has been genetically selected to never get sunburnt. So naturally, they had no idea what the Aloe plant was when I got sunburnt, again. They handed me some bottled concoction recommended in medical lectures to diligent students, who had never heard of or taught about Aloe for free, natural sunburn relief. I was left with a hefty fee and I was very disappointed with it’s results. Once burnt with no Aloe, I am twice shy. I now always travel with bagged slices of the leaves of my Aloe plant. I am so Brilliant! I found that in Hawaii and Florida too, the doctors do not prescribe free Aloe for sunburn.

The international varieties of Aloe are seemingly endless, as you can see from the photos below. I have no idea if all the Aloe varieties behave the same way or not. If you do know the species names of the Aloe that do give sunburn relief then please share it here. Below, I am including photographs of all the varieties that I saw at the New York Botanical Garden conservatory. I would highly recommend that trip just to see this fascinating display of Aloe in the most beautiful display. It will make you want to go home and uproot your manicured garden and replace it with a low water requiring stunning Aloe garden. However, unless you are in a desert climate you may have to invest in a sunroom – just a minor adjustment but a fabulous mood enhancer and spirit uplifter.


There have been claims of both effectiveness and ineffectiveness of Aloe gel in wound healing, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-diabetic, anti-neoplastic, immunostimulant and promotion of radiation damage. The differences in activity may be because of seasonal fluctuations and the several cultivar varieties around the world (see photos below). Conflicting results in wound healing in particular may be dependent upon compound stability as time of treatment after harvesting was an important factor. A 5.5kDa Glycoprotein isolated from Aloe gel has shown increased cell migration and mobility. This in my opinion is good news for wound healing and explains why my sunburns may have responded so well to freshly harvested Aloe leaves.

A Pharmaceutical scientist from Tshwane University of South Africa, has reviewed in great detail the effects and applications of the Aloe leaf gel and if you are interested in one content filled article, then this 2008 review is the one I would recommend. 75 ingredients in the inner leaf gel have been identified but only a few have been correlated with therapeutic activities. A synergistic effect of many components in the leaf gel probably bring about the healing that I raved about above.  Aloe vera is the single most Aloe species that is used in large scale manufacture of Aloe leaf gel for cosmetics, pharmaceutical products and health drinks.

The Aloe leaf has an outer hard green rind and an inner colorless viscous liquid gel. The gel is over 99% water and about 1% enzymes, minerals, vitamins, polysaccharides, phenolic compounds and organic acids. The large varieties of Aloe show variations among cultivars and seasonal fluctuations in their mannose containing polysaccharides. The acemannan found in Aloe is structurally unique and is a characteristic of Aloe species.

Aloe vera gel increased the bioavailability of Vitamin C in the laboratory. The Aloe vera gel is being researched as a vehicle to enhance transdermal delivery of drugs.

Aloe juice is being bottled and sold. Now, I have no comments on that. If you do, please, discuss it here. A scientist at University of Karachi, Pakistan has studied the anti-epileptic properties of Aloe for a doctoral thesis. Also, some have bottled Aloe as a laxative ingredient.

Why should you not use aloe extracts as a laxative? The FDA (The Food and Drug Administration, USA) has issued a warning about Aloe after reviewing data. The FDA’s final warning in 2002 advises that aloe extracts and flower extracts are generally unsafe, ineffective or misbranded as stimulant laxative ingredients. So, my advice would be to avoid using laxatives listing aloe extracts as an ingredient. The scientists at University of Illinois at Chicago’s Department of Pharmacy explains why. Anthraquinone category of stimulant laxatives are derived from natural sources such as Aloe extracts. The International Aloe Science Council filed a petition saying that FDA did not base that decision on appropriate data but that decision remains unchanged. So, if you visit a foreign country and finds the natives using Aloe extract as a laxative successfully, you may want to bring it to the attention of a reputable Department of Pharmacy.

Photos of Aloe plant from the New York Botanical Garden Conservatory are below:

Large, Grey leaves

Large Green Leaves

Dark Green Medium Leaves

Dark Green Small Leaves

Light Green Variegated Leaves

Light Green Small Leaves

Dark Green Tiny Leaves

The Tree Aloe

Soft Green White Flecked Leaves

Dark Green White Flecked Leaves

Spiky Dark Green Small Leaves

Dark Green Very Small Leaves

Light Green Large Slim Leaves

Light Green Large Upright Leaves

Purplish Green Small Variegated Leaves

Yellow Green Small Bushy Leaves

Light Green Small Orange Spiked Leaves

Dark Green Small Bushy Leaves

Purplish Brown Small Leaves

Now, that you can that there are several varieties of Aloe plants all over the world beginning exploring how you can benefit from it. Especially, when you are planning a vacation on the beach (1,2, 3,4,5,6, 7,8, 9, 10, ). You may want to begin today.

This article has been cited by DIDI of for “Top home remedies”.


Filed under FAT free diet, Health, Herbs, Medicinal spice

Our genes respond differently to our diets

How do our genes respond to our diet?

Researchers studied cholesterol genes in six generations of baboons and found that siblings may have totally different reactions to the same high-fat diet and identified 53 possible genes for regulating HDL, which is one of the traits associated with an increased risk of heart and blood vessel disease. These researchers are looking further into these pedigreed, baboon families on the same fatty diet but with different levels of HDL and LDL.

Baboon and human HDL genes, in particular, are very similar and on the same chromosome making such research very meaningful for Genetics researchers at the Southwest Center for Biomedical Research (Texas). The chief researcher, Dr. Laura Cox was inspired as a child to understand the basic biology of all living things. As a society, we owe Dr. Cox and her team, special thanks to the tremendous progress in medical research in the field of diet and heart disease. Her team has shown significant correlation between genes and circulating fat, glucose, body weight and diabetes related symptoms (Heredity, 2008).

If heart disease research is important to you, do send a note to your favorite scientists and encourage them.

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Too much Calcium can break bones and nails

Eating too much calcium in supplement form can be harmful. Women on calcium supplements long-term are breaking their femur – this is the main bone in their lower leg. Now, you would think eating extra calcium is good for your bones, so eating more calcium in supplement form should be great. Actually, it can do more harm than good in supplement form. It is perfectly alright to eat food with higher calcium content though.

We don’t understand how calcium works in the body. To understand calcium uptake and absorption, scientists are studying it in rats at the Department of food and nutrition at Purdue University in Indiana (2005). We do know that bones need calcium to form and be healthy. Biologists also know that calcium channels are in certain cells, including the brain, are controlled by proteins that guard and control how much calcium enters or leaves the cells. In such a situation, excess calcium has to be discarded by the body. The kidneys have the function to remove excess from the body but they can do their job right only for normal amounts of junk in the body. When the body asks the kidneys to throw out too much calcium, it cannot finish that job in a single day. The calcium it cannot throw out is stored. Too much excess calcium day after day creates a ‘storage overdose’. Kidney stones are one consequence and it is possible the lower leg femur bone breaking is a another consequence in young, strong women.

Who knows why supplements are treated differently by the cells of the body than when calcium enters the body through natural food sources like milk, yogurt, broccoli or fish bones. Until we know how much calcium in supplement form is ‘safe’ for your body to handle ( remember every body has a different body type), it may be safe to take calcium from natural food sources. Osteoporosis drugs were causing femurs to break in such high numbers that in 2010 the FDA actually put a black box warning but I doubt if desperate women heed a black box warning. So, if you love a woman, feed her and gently warn her. Men are also showing mysterious femur breaks (Medscape article, 2011). So, alert a man you love to eat healthy instead.

Check your daily multi-vitamin. Does the bottle list too many ingredients? Does it say it includes calcium? Does it say calcium at 5% of daily value recommended by Government sources? Well, then you should seriously think about discontinuing using that multivitamin. Why should you punish your body? Can the vitamin company guarantee that you won’t break a femur several months later; or guarantee that you will not break more than the normal number of nails?

Do your nails break too easily? First check if you are eating three servings of calcium rich food. If you are doing so then you are getting enough calcium. Then check if you are taking calcium supplements in any form. If you are then perhaps your nails are showing that you have excess calcium intake perhaps. Listen to your nails because they indicate if you are dehydrated, lack calcium or have fungal infections or vitamin deficiencies. First eat healthy. Then, begin to question.

Related Article
Too much Calcium and Autism


Filed under Health, Uncategorized, Women's Health

Lemons, Limes, and Oranges – Vitamin C and Prevention of cancer

The benefits of citrus fruits, Vitamin C and Citric Acid include prevention of cancer when included in a diet in combination with other minerals and vitamins.

Check out this colorful video about shopping for citrus fruits at Whole Foods, Columbus Circle location in New York City. However, this variety should be available in your local food market easily. Click on this Youtube video about a fresh fruit shopping experience at Whole Foods.

Vitamin C may prevent cancer. Researchers at the National Cancer Institute (Journal National Cancer Institute, 1993) have shown that Vitamin C in combination with beta-carotene, selenium, and Vitamin E could reduce the risk of cancer. However, it cannot treat cancer.  Scientists have shown that Vitamin C in high doses could not slow down the progress of colorectoral cancer (New England Journal of Medicine, 1985). Scientists have also shown that daily doses of Vitamin C did not benefit patients with advanced cancer (New England Journal of Medicine, 1979). It is so joyful to see the bountiful colorful citrus fruits piled up at the food market.

A Lemon Tree

Immunology and Respiratory scientists (at Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, Australia; 2007) have brought to our attention the fact that a person allergic to peanuts may also be allergic to citrus because of a slightly similar protein.

A Bunch of Limes

The average person is very well aware of the benefits of fresh fruits, especially citrus fruits as in Mignonesia’s blog.

An Orange grove

A Colorful Display of Citrus Fruits at Whole Foods, NY

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