When you hear “aloe vera,” you may think of the gooey stuff your parents made you use after a painful sunburn. But you may not know about all of the amazing health benefits that aloe vera has to offer!
Known to the Egyptians as “the plant of immortality” and to the Native Americans as “the wand of heaven,” aloe vera has been used for its healing properties for many years. You’ve probably noticed aloe vera as an ingredient in some cosmetics and skin creams. It works great as a moisturizer, and it even has anti-aging effects. But the uses for aloe vera surpass the topical applications we’re all familiar with. There are two parts to an aloe vera leaf — the gel, and the juice. The gel is used to help soothe chapped skin. The juice is what seeps from the leaf when it’s cut.
The topical uses for aloe vera range from hair and skin care to a treatment for chapped lips! It has 74 active components which include naturally occurring vitamins, minerals and amino acids that are necessary for good health.
Check out this list of health benefits that aloe vera has to offer:
- A – helps fight off viral or bacterial threats to the body
- C – helps protect against cancer and cardiovascular problems
- E – helps protect against heart disease and supports a strong immune system
- B1 – plays a role in digestion and contributes to a healthy nervous system
- B2 – works as an antioxidant in your body
- B3 – cleanses the body of toxins and promotes good digestion
- B6 – imperative to the body’s immune, cardiovascular and digestive systems
- B12 – necessary for healthy blood cells
- Calcium – vital to the cardiovascular and nervous systems
- Sodium – essential to blood pressure, muscles and nerves
- Iron – makes up blood cells and is necessary for energy
- Magnesium – keeps the immune system strong
- Potassium – helps clean out cells and protect blood vessels
- Copper – helps maintain a healthy heart
… Along with 20 different amino acids! Aloe vera can do more than just provide your body with essential vitamins and minerals.
It’s often used as a digestion aid because of its antioxidants and its anti-inflammatory qualities. Furthermore, this powerful plant is also thought to help strengthen the immune system, lower cholesterol, and provide pain relief.
Here are 9 benefits and uses of aloe vera:
1. Soothes Rashes and Skin Irritations
Aloe vera benefits start with the ability to soothe irritable rashes and other skin irritations. For example, it can treat psoriasis, dermatitis, oral mucositis, surgical wounds as well as burns. Recorded studies involving the benefits of aloe vera date back to 1935, in fact.
And a study from 1996 out of Sweden examined aloe vera benefits regarding treatment of chronic psoriasis. Researchers found that in a randomized, double-blind controlled trial, the cure rate was 83 percent. In comparison, the placebo group saw a cure rate of only 7 percent. Furthermore, there were no relapses reported in the 12-month follow up.
Additionally, in 2009, a systematic review summarized 40 studies that evaluated how aloe vera benefits the skin and body. The results indicated that oral administration of aloe vera in mice effectively heals wounds, decreases papillomas, and reduces incidences of liver tumors, spleen and bone marrow. Moreover, the studies discovered that this plant effectively treats genital herpes, psoriasis, dermatitis, frostbite, burns and inflammation. (1)
2. Treats Burns
As mentioned above, aloe vera benefits include treating burns. In 1959, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of the ointment as an over-the-counter medication for healing burns. The gel, used on burns, prevents UV-induced suppression. This enables the burned area to heal more quickly. (2)
3. Heals Cold Sores
Also on the list of aloe vera benefits is the ability to heal cold sores. When it comes to your mouth, you have to be extra careful about what you put on or near it. However, aloe vera is safe to consume, so you don’t have to worry about applying it near your lips. Furthermore, it has powerful antiviral and anti-inflammatory agents that can speed up healing time.
Additionally, the vitamins and amino acids within aloe vera contribute to healing and reduce pain, as well.
4. Moisturizes Hair and Scalp
Aloe vera benefits continue with the ability to moisturize your hair and scalp. For example, the antibacterial and antifungal properties make it a great dandruff treatment. The gel’s enzymes can rid your scalp of dead cells as well as promote generation of new skin tissue.
Additionally, with all its vitamins, minerals and nourishing nature, aloe vera can help keep your hair healthy, shiny and strong.
5. Treats Constipation
Due to a component called anthraquinoes, aloe vera benefits include treating constipation. Anthraquinoes increases intestinal water content, stimulates mucus secretion and promotes contractions that break down food.
In fact, in a double-blind, randomized, controlled trial, aloe vera was found to be more effective than phenolphthalein, a stimulant laxative. (3)
6. Helps with Digestion
Aloe vera benefits your digestive system in other ways, as well. For example, it aids in digestion, balances pH, reduces the formation of yeast and promotes good bacteria.
The Journal of Research in Medical Sciences published a study that examined aloe vera benefits regarding the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. Researchers in the study found that 33 patients who drank 30 milliliters of aloe vera juice twice a day decreased the level of discomfort associated with their conditions. However, more research is needed in order to conclude that this substance is an effective treatment for IBS. (4)
Furthermore, this plant can also heal a stomach ulcer, as it has antibacterial properties as well as healing agents that can help get the lining of your stomach back to good working order.
7. Boosts the Immune System
This wonder plant can also boost your immune system. This is due to the enzymes it contains, which break down the proteins you eat into amino acids, fueling every cell in the body and enabling them to work properly. Furthermore, aloe vera contains bradykinase, which stimulates the immune system and kills infections. And this plant contains zinc, as well, which also plays a crucial role in immune function.
This healing plant is even being studied for its uses in dentistry. This is due to the fact that it’s antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antiviral and anti-fungal. Moreover, it’s fantastic for building up the immune system without side effects such as allergic reactions. (5)
8. Provides Antioxidants and Reduces Inflammation
Inflammation is the culprit behind many diseases. However, aloe vera, with its many nutrients, can help fight inflammation as well as fight free radical damage.
For example, vitamins A, C, and E are all powerful antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation. Specifically, A protects your eyes, neurological function and healthy skin. C and E help with wrinkles and slow the aging of cells, and C can also protect against eye disease as well as prevent prenatal health problems.
Furthermore, these antioxidants can protect the skin from UV rays as well as cigarette smoke. It’s also an asthma natural remedy, can treat depression, and, as it helps with the healing process, aloe vera can also treat acne.
9. Treats Diabetes
This plant can also treat and perhaps help reverse diabetes.
In two clinical trials, 72 diabetic women consumed one tablespoon of aloe vera gel or a placebo for six weeks. At the end of the first trial, researchers saw a significant decrease in blood glucose and serum triglyceride levels. In the second trial, aloe vera was coupled with a common antidiabetic medication. This also revealed positive results in treating these diabetic symptoms. (6)
For any internal use of aloe vera, avoid whole leaf versions. The aloe latex in whole leaf gels is considered to be unsafe for internal use. The safest (and tastiest) way to consume aloe vera is through aloe juice, which can be found in most health food stores. Look for juices that are more than 99% aloe to be sure that the latex has been removed.
You can also make your own fresh aloe vera juice at home! As with anything, use caution. Do your research and check out the potential side effects before consuming aloe vera, and make sure that it is safe for you and your body!
David uses aloe in his Ultimate Hydration Recipe!
Don’t forget to check out his Radiant Skin Elixir as well!
h/t: collective evolution