Could Aloe Vera Help in Autism Spectrum Disorders?

Aloe Vera

The medicinal potential of aloe vera is astounding! Yet most people only know that aloe vera gel can be used topically for sunburns. In reality, aloe vera has been used therapeutically for over 5000 years as both an external and internal remedy.

Aloe vera is most commonly known as a skin protectant. In fact, it is widely used in cosmetic and beauty products. But the benefits of ingesting pure, food-grade aloe vera gel are far more impressive.

Aloe vera has been shown to aid in a variety of ailments. But for our purposes, healing the gut so we can boost brain power, I will focus on its medicinal properties and how it can improve digestion and strengthen the immune system.

Aloe Vera

Although aloe is about 99% water, the remaining 1% is extremely powerful with close to 100 minerals, vitamins, enzymes and nutrients that synergistically work extremely well together.

Aloe vera nourishes the body with many vitamins including A, C, E, folic acid, choline, B1, B2, B3 (niacin), B6. It is also one of the few plants that contain vitamin B12. Because aloe enhances blood quality allowing for more effective transport of oxygen and nutrients to the body’s cells, it increases the efficacy of vitamin C, vitamin E and other antioxidants.

Amino acids, the building blocks of protein, are necessary for the human body to function properly. There are about 22 amino acids and it is said that 8 of these are essential (meaning that we must ingest them because our body doesn’t make them). It is estimated that aloe vera naturally has from 18-20 of the amino acids we need, including all 8 of the essential ones.

Some of the 20 minerals found in aloe vera include: calcium, magnesium, zinc, chromium, selenium, sodium, iron, potassium, copper, manganese. These all play a role in digestive, immune and brain health.

Poor digestion is related to many diseases and studies are showing this is also the case in Autism Spectrum Disorders. A properly functioning digestive tract is one of the keys and foundations of health. Aloe is known to soothe and cleanse the digestive tract which in turn improves digestion. Drinking aloe helps with both constipation and diarrhea, helping to regulate the elimination cycles in whatever way the body needs.

Aloe vera is a gelatinous plant food, just like seaweed and chia seeds. The main benefit to consuming gelatinous plant foods is that these gels move through the intestinal tract absorbing toxins along the way and eliminating them through the colon. Consuming these gelatinous foods is a great way to detoxify the body.

Aloe also decreases the amount of unfriendly bacteria in the gut, keeping the healthy intestinal flora in balance. Aloe vera contains substances that prevent the growth of disease-causing microorganisms (such as the yeast candida) and provides antimicrobial activity to prevent and treat bacterial, fungal and viral infections.

Aloe also seems to be excellent at regulating the immune system. This means it can stimulate the immune response for those with weakened immune systems, either from existing conditions or post-illness fatigue. But aloe can also calm the immune response, which would help people with seasonal allergies or food sensitivities, where less immune reaction is beneficial.

Aloe can also be used to reduce inflammation throughout the body. People who drink aloe vera for two weeks typically begin to experience a significant reduction of inflammation symptoms. In part, this is due to the fact that aloe alkalizes the body, helping to balance the overly acidic dietary habits of our standard American diet which contributes to internal inflammation.

Of course, drinking aloe vera isn’t a magic cure that will reverse problems after one glass. Most people who ingest aloe on a regular basis report positive results in 3 – 30 days, depending on their condition. In 1997, research done by the University of San Antonio found that ingesting aloe daily showed a remarkable reduction in leukemia, heart disease and kidney disease.

However, while this plant is incredibly medicinal, there are some cautions against long-term use. Just because a little is beneficial, doesn’t mean that a lot is better. This is an incredibly powerful plant and should be used with a level of respect for its potency.

If your child is experiencing digestive problems, consider using it for a short period of time (say 1-2 weeks) and then stop and wait at least a month before using aloe again. For use as preventative medicine, consider using aloe gel periodically by adding it into your menu rotation, along with a variety of nutrient dense foods and drink.

Buying Aloe Vera Juice

Aloe vera juice is popping up everywhere. Before purchasing the one your market sells, read the label. Make sure you are buying as close to pure 100% aloe vera juice as possible. Many brands are flavored or loaded with sugar or artificial sweeteners and contain almost no aloe vera juice whatsoever. Many are mixed with food thickeners to make them look like a gel, but may have been heated, destroying a significant portion of its healing effects. I’m currently using an aloe vera gel that I purchased at Trader Joes that is 99% aloe juice with added preservatives (preservatives are not desirable but I’m choosing my battles here).

Of course, fresh aloe vera gel is always best. Aloe plants can grow pretty much anywhere, outdoors or indoors. So you don’t need to buy the juice, just make it yourself. This guy will show you how: Learn How to Make Fresh Aloe Vera Juice.

It’s worth noting that there is a company in Arizona called Good Cause Wellness that sells a line of low-temperature dried aloe vera & berry products that you can use as ingredients in any smoothie. The product is a high-grade, pesticide-free, highly concentrated aloe vera gel powder available in two mixtures: Aloe Vera + Raspberry Powder and Aloe Vera + Blueberry Powder. This makes aloe vera gel easily available online.

One last note about Aloe Vera juice: it does have a strong pungent taste. To make sure your child will ingest it, mix it in a smoothie or add it to a green juice. If you get creative with the juice or find other ways to incorporate aloe vera juice into your diet, please post those ideas in the comments section below so we can all benefit from your culinary craftiness. J

Aloe Vera Smoothie

1 banana
½ cup blueberries
½ cup pineapple
1 cup aloe vera juice
Agave nectar (or stevia), to taste

For More Smoothies Recipes see the Free Aloe Vera Ebook.

SharingMom’s note: Many readers have asked me to recommend aloe vera products. Here are a few that I have tasted and consider worth recommending:

Taste Nirvana Coco Aloe Juice

Lily of the Desert Aloe Mix n’ Go Strawberry-Kiwi

 

 

 

Disclaimer
The information in this post is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be used in place of seeking proper medical treatment. The author disclaims any and all liability in connection with the application and/or use of any information offered in this particular post or the entire blog. The reader should use caution when trying any remedy as allergies and untoward reactions to plants and herbs used may occur in sensitive individuals. You should always consult a physician prior to use of any herbal remedy to be sure there are no contraindications in your or your child’s specific condition or with any other herbal treatments or medications that you or your child may be currently taking. Herbs can and do react with over the counter and prescribed drugs as well as other herbs and extracts. They are strong medicine and should be approached with the caution and respect due any healing drug.

Posts may contain affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of the links, your cost will be the same but SharingMom may receive a small commission. This helps to cover the maintenance of this site and keeps your subscription free. Thank you for your support!

Sources

http://www.naturalnews.com/002697.html

The Aloe Vera Miracle: A Natural Medicine for Cancer, Cholesterol, Diabetes, Inflammation, IBS, and Other Health Conditions

http://www.aloelf.com/wp-content/uploads/aloe-vera/aloebook.pdf

http://www.herbsarespecial.com.au/free-herb-information/aloe-vera.html

http://healthcoach.lu/DATA/PDF/PDF_e/CLINICAL%20ABSTRACTS%20-%20Single%20Chapters/04_Inflammation.pdf

http://www.naturalnews.com/021858.html

http://sacredsourcenutrition.com/top-12-benefits-of-aloe-vera/

3 Things You Can Do at Home to Help a Special Needs Child

3 Things You Can Do at Home to Help a Special Needs Child

3 Things You Can Do at Home to Help a Special Needs ChildParents of children with special needs, such as Autism Spectrum Disorders or ADHD, sometimes feel powerless when it comes to helping their children. Most of the therapies available to treat these and other neurobehavioral disorders need to be administered and monitored by professionals such as physicians, psychologists and occupational therapists.

Yet, the day-to-day challenges often faced by parents of these children can be overwhelming, especially while waiting to determine if professional therapies are producing desired results.  The good news is that parents do have the ability to implement a treatment modality that will affect a significant part of a child’s life – their diet.

According to the Journal of Pediatrics only 1 % of young people between the ages of two and nineteen eat a healthy diet. While there are increasingly more behavioral therapies available, there hasn’t been enough emphasis on how poor eating habits are jeopardizing the development of a healthy brain. Many children are fussy eaters and exasperated parents will allow their kids to eat anything, “just so they eat”.

However, poor nutrition is a big threat to brain development, because without the necessary building blocks, the brain can’t function properly. When the brain isn’t optimally equipped, the success rate of traditional therapies is reduced and, in many cases, undesirable symptoms commonly associated with neurobehavioral disorders are exacerbated.

Despite mounting evidence, many physicians still dismiss dietary intervention as an adjunctive treatment of these disorders. Some suggest that a healthier diet “won’t hurt,” but they may not necessarily encourage or recommend dietary changes even though it remains one of the safest, least invasive interventions available.

Anecdotally, parents around the world have reported dramatic progress after implementing a specialized diet. Such progress includes improvements in bowel function, behavior, attention, language and sociability. For a large number of children, a specialized nutritional plan is a critical piece of the therapy puzzle. For others, the results may be less dramatic. In a minority of cases, dietary changes do not seem to help at all. But there is no way to determine how dietary changes will affect your child until you implement the changes and allow a few weeks to properly evaluate whether there has been any  improvement.

Here are the 3 ways you can help your child at home:

1)      Eliminate

Eliminating known “food offenders” and suspected offenders is the best place to start. Stop stoking the fire. When the brain is continually irritated by these foods, it can’t focus on tending to its functions.  The most common culprits are gluten and casein but there are several others as well. (I will be covering them in upcoming posts. Subscribe to the blog to have the information delivered to your email once it posts).

Consider having your child tested for food sensitivities. This is different than common allergy testing which may not pick up on milder sensitivities. Food sensitivity testing is usually done by holistic physicians who practice alternative medicine.

If you cannot or choose not to have this testing done, you can try following the “elimination diet” protocol. This involves eliminating certain foods for a period of time, usually three or four weeks, then slowly reintroducing  individual foods and monitoring your child for reactions or return of behavioral challenges.

Once you discover which foods your child is sensitive to, eliminate them from their diet for an extended period of time.

2)      Add

Replace missing nutrients and restore depleted vitamin stores either via food replacements or supplements. For example, if you are removing gluten, you will replace wheat bread with gluten-free bread. If you have eliminated casein by removing dairy products from the diet, add a calcium supplement until you learn which vegetables are rich sources of calcium.

Seek the advice of your physician or nutritionist if you need help developing a balanced diet.  There are also many books available on the market which can help with your meal planning and guide you to boosting brain power through food.  (Again, I will be posting more on this topic in the near future, so stay tuned.)

3)      Teach

Children are inundated with fast food, candy and soda. So the earlier you start teaching them the truth about the foods they are eating, the better. Instilling an understanding of vitamins and other basic nutritional principles can lead to a lifetime of healthy eating habits. This will also help them make better food choices when you are not around.

Use language that your child will understand and can relate to. Explain that food isn’t just fuel it is also information.  Every bite of food you eat sends some sort of message to your body.  And your body responds accordingly.

The thought of implementing a specialized diet can seem overwhelming until you have a simple plan to guide you. By following the E.A.T. model (Eliminate, Add, Teach) you will have the power each day to improve your child’s quality of life and set them up for long-term success. Pacing yourself as you learn and apply the changes will lead to giant leaps for your child. Once you recognize the impact certain foods have on your child’s success in other therapies, you just might be inspired to continue on the journey.

Parents are notorious for saying they will do anything for their child. Even though it seems daunting, would you be willing to try a specialized diet? Have you already embarked on this journey? Have you noted improvements?

To encourage other parents who are considering this option, please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear your stories.

 

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Lentil and Buckwheat Soup

SharingMom.com

It’s been unseasonably cold here is SoCal so I decided to make this soup. It was divine and warmed us to the bone. Let me know what you think.

 

Lentil and Buckwheat Soup

This hearty soup is packed with protein (lentils) and complex carbohydrates (buckwheat).

1 cup of green lentils

1 leek, trimmed and diced (or use 1/2 cup diced onions)

½ cup carrots, cut into small pieces

1 medium potato, peeled and cut into small pieces

6 cups chicken stock

2/3 cup buckwheat groats

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan, combine lentils, leeks, carrots, chicken stock and salt. Bring to a boil. Add buckwheat groats and stir. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or until potatoes and groats are tender.  Add freshly ground black pepper to taste. Serve. Makes 4 to 6 servings.