As a kid growing up, one of my favorite plants we had in the garden was an Aloe Vera plant, and for good reason. It was so cool to know that this simple looking plant could not only soothe sunburned skin, but also help heal any cuts and scrapes I would acquire while playing outside.
The Aloe Vera plant has been around since the ancient Egyptians and is even depicted in many hieroglyphs on their walls and temples. The healing properties of this amazing plant have been used all over the world for many centuries, and is still being used today as a natural healing treatment.
Most people are familiar with using aloe vera gel for external use, but did you know that you can actually drink the juice for amazing internal health benefits as well?
What Is Aloe Vera?
Aloe vera is just one of over 420 species Aloe that belongs to the Liliaceae family. It’s a succulent plant with green triangular meaty leaves with spiny edges. When you break open a leaf you’ll find a jelly like substance known as aloe vera gel.
Aloe vera gel is the most common form you’ll see of aloe, and it’s used in most conventional and natural products. It contains a ton of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that are super important for the body. The active nutritional components of aloe vera include:
- Vitamins – Aloe vera contains vitamins A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B12, folic acid, and choline.
- Enzymes – Aloe contains nine enzymes of aliiase, alkaline phosphatase, amylase, bradykinase, carboxypeptidase, catalase, cellulase, lipase and peroxidase.
- Minerals – Calcium, chromium, copper, selenium, manganese, magnesium, sodium, potassium, and zinc are active in aloe vera.
- Anthraquinones — Also known as laxatives, there are aloin and emodin which act as analgesics, antibacterials, and antivirals.
- Fatty Acids – Aloe includes anti-inflammatory fatty acids known as cholesterol, campesterol, beta-sisosterol and lupeol.
Amazingly, 75 active components have been identified in the aloe vera plant, including vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, saccharides, saponins, and salicylic acids. Aloe provides 20 out of 22 human-required amino acids, and all eight essential amino acids required for optimal health and growth.
9 Amazing Health Benefits of Aloe Vera
With all those vitamins and minerals, it’s no wonder that more and more people are turning to aloe vera as a natural way to heal their health issues. You’ll be surprised at how aloe vera can help treat so many different ailments that plague us daily. Here are the top nine benefits of aloe vera:
1. Helps Eliminate Constipation
Due to its natural laxative effect, aloe vera is great at helping stimulate your bowels for easier movement. The latex derived from the aloe vera leaf and used as a laxative is incredibly potent. This is due to the anthraquinones present in the latex which increase your intestinal water content, help stimulate mucus secretion, and increase intestinal contractions that break down food for easier bowel movements.
While aloe latex is great for helping severe constipation, it’s definitely too potent for daily usage. If you’re looking to have smoother bowel movements overall, stick with aloe vera gel or juice. It will still aid in providing a laxative effect but at a much gentler rate.
2. Improves Digestion
While aloe latex is great for eliminating constipation naturally, aloe vera gel is even better for improving digestion. One main benefit is the anti-inflammatory properties that help digestion, normalize the acid/alkaline and pH balance in your gut, reduce yeast formation, and encourage more beneficial gut flora to regularize bowel movements.
A study in the ‘Journal of Research in Medical Sciences’ discovered that approximately 30 milliliters of aloe vera juice twice daily decreased the overall level of intestinal discomfort in 33 patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Although more studies need to be done, there is promising evidence that aloe vera is a beneficial treatment for those with IBS.
Aloe vera has also been used to help heal gastric stomach ulcers and diverticulitis due to its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.
3. Heals Skin Irritation and Rashes
We all know how soothing aloe vera can be on the skin which is why it’s widely used in conventional skin care products like sunscreen, moisturizer, hair conditioner, and body lotion. But what if it could heal more serious skin issues like dermatitis and psoriasis?
A 1996 study done at the Department of Clinical Physiology in Sweden included 60 patients with chronic psoriasis divided into two randomized groups, in a double-blind, controlled trial of an aloe vera cream versus a placebo cream. At the end of the study (approximately 16 weeks) 83 percent of the aloe vera group was cured compared to only 7 percent in the placebo group! Additionally, no adverse side-effects or relapses were reported after a 12 month followup.
4. Treats Burns
Aloe vera has been widely used as a natural treatment for burn wounds in hospitals and at home, and also has a protective effect against radiation damage to the skin.
When aloe vera is applied to burns, it protects against UV-radiation and allows the skin to heal faster.
5. Natural Hair and Scalp Moisturizer
Aloe vera is a fantastic natural treatment for dandruff, itchy scalp, and dry hair. Because aloe vera has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, it helps heal dandruff, psoriasis, and dermatitis which can cause itchy, painful lesions on the scalp. The natural enzymes can also remove dead skin cells on the scalp and promote regeneration of skin tissue surrounding your hair follicles.
Most conventional shampoos contain dangerous chemicals like sodium lauryl sulfate that can cause irritation, inflammation, and damage to your scalp. Aloe helps reduce the itching and inflammation associated with dandruff and dry scalp. Add an ounce of aloe vera gel to your shampoo and conditioner for daily use, or make your own aloe vera conditioning treatment for moderate to severe dry scalp.
6. Reduces Inflammation and Pain
Inflammation in the body is at the root of most diseases, that is a known fact. Aloe vera contains an amazing quantity of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that help fight free radical damage and reduce inflammation naturally.
Vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant in aloe vera that is crucial in maintaining healthy vision, neurological function, and healthy skin by reducing inflammation. Vitamin C is another important component that protects you from cardiovascular disease and aids in boosting your immune system. Vitamin E is another powerful antioxidant that protects against free radical damage, fights inflammation, and naturally slows down the aging process.
When you’re exposed to cigarette smoke or UV rays from sunlight, these antioxidant properties are helpful in protecting the skin from skin cancer and inflammation after exposure. Aloe vera can also treat acne and eczema by helping the skin’s healing process.
Bradykinin is a chemical produced at the site of a wound on the body, which binds to receptors and causes pain. The enzyme bradykinase in aloe vera breaks down the pain-causing molecule bradykinin. Applying aloe vera to a burn or wound will naturally subside the pain caused by the inflammation.
7. Boosts Immune System
The enzyme bradykinase in aloe vera also stimulates the immune system to help kill infections and allow the body to heal faster. Zinc, an important property in aloe vera, helps us keep diseases at bay, kill bad bacteria, and protect our cell membrane functionality.
Zinc is also a key component for a ton of hormone receptors and proteins that contribute to a healthy, balanced immune function.
8. Heals Cold Sores
Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus type-1 and is extremely common among children and adults. Most everyone has experienced a cold sore at one point in their life and can attest to how unpleasant they can be. Fortunately, aloe vera has anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties that help treat and speed up the healing process of a cold sore.
Apply a pure aloe gel to your cold sore up to 3 times daily to help reduce pain, inflammation, and accelerate the healing process.
9. Natural Diabetes Treatment
Studies done on humans and animals suggest that aloe vera may alleviate hyperglycemia and the high lipid profile that are major risk factors for cardiovascular complications, common among those with diabetes.
One study showed a significant improvement in overall blood glucose and triglyceride levels in diabetic women.
72 diabetic women without drug therapy were administered one tablespoon of Aloe vera gel or placebo for 6 weeks. Blood glucose and serum triglyceride levels were significantly decreased with Aloe vera treatment, although cholesterol concentrations were unaffected (Yongchaiyudha et al. 1996). In the second trial, the effects of Aloe vera gel or placebo in combination with glibenclamide (a commonly prescribed antidiabetic medication) were investigated, similarly resulting in significant reductions in blood glucose and serum triglyceride concentrations in the Aloe vera group (Bunyapraphatsara et al. 1996).
Potential Side Effects Of Aloe Vera
Because aloe vera has a natural laxative effect, it can cause some unwanted bowel disturbances if taken in high doses, or by using the incorrect aloe product. Aloe vera most commonly comes in two forms: gel and latex.
The gel is the main jelly-like substance inside an aloe vera leaf when you split it open. The latex is derived from the actual leaf itself, which has very strong stimulant and laxative effects. The latex form is not what you want, unless you’re in need of a very strong laxative.
Best Aloe Vera Products
The purest form of aloe vera gel you’re going to find is by growing your own aloe plant and harvesting the gel at home. If you can do that, great! If not, no worries. There are plenty of organic, high quality aloe vera products out there you can use instead. Here are a list of my favorites:
Food and Diet
If you’re going to drink aloe, you want to make sure it’s the “gel”, “inner leaf”, or “juice” form and not the “whole leaf” form. Whole leaf will give you the strong laxative effects as it includes the latex portion of the leaf.
Skin, Hair, and Scalp
- Aloe Vera Shampoo Jason Natural
- Lily of The Desert Aloe Vera Products 100% Certified Organic Aloe Vera Gel
Have you used aloe vera for food or skin products? How did it help you?