There are more than 300 species of the Aloe Vera plant, but only Aloe Barbadensis is what is known for its healing properties. It has thorns and grows in dry, tropical and subtropical climates in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Southern and Western United States.
For centuries, people have known that the plant has much more to offer than just looking good. The Aloe Vera gel and juice extracted from its leaves have been popular remedies for all skin problems and stomach ailments.
Let’s look at the plant’s healing properties first.
Aloe Vera health benefits
Aloe Vera has been known for its healing properties for more than 6,000 years. It was known as the plant of immortality. People have used it mostly to treat wounds, hair loss, hemorrhoids and stomach problems.
There are two parts of the plant that are used for medicinal purposes. The leaves, which are filled with gel, can be used directly to treat burns and various types of skin problems. The gel can be found in the form of a liquid (juice) or capsules that are taken orally.
The second part of the plant is called Aloe Latex. This is the yellow part of the outer shell of the plant. It has laxative properties and is usually taken orally to treat constipation.
Here’s a list of health problems that aloe can help:
- Digestion – the gel contains small amounts of Aloe latex, which has laxative properties and helps treat constipation.
- Skin problems, psoriasis and acne – the Aloe topical creams have a soothing effect on the skin and have been shown to help reduce itching and inflammation.
- Burns – some people apply Aloe gel when they get sunburned.
- Wounds and cuts – Aloe vera can help and speeds up the healing process of cuts.
- Stomach problems – scientists have proven that drinking gel or juice can help with some symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux, heartburn and colic.
- Diabetes – Aloe Vera has been shown to help lower blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes.
Aloe Vera side effects and risks
Aloe gel is usually safe and useful. But, remember that it contains aloin. Some manufacturers use technology to remove much of it. But, no matter how small the amount, if you overdo it with the daily dose of gel, it can lead to spasms and diarrhea. It can also make other medications you are taking less effective.
Aloin can also lead to more serious problems. Taking even just 1 gram orally a day for several days can lead to kidney damage and even be fatal. It can also lower blood sugar levels and people with type 2 diabetes should be careful.
Today, there is an entire industry dedicated to Aloe’s health benefits. Its extract is used in cosmetics and personal hygiene – in moisturizers, soaps, shaving creams, lotions and what not. The most common products that are being produced are juices, drinking gels, topical gel and skin care creams. Aloe is also available in the form of supplements that bring the same benefits to the skin and nutritional system.
Ways you can use it
In addition to the benefits, side effects and risks described above, the plant has been shown to have few surprising uses.
- It has an antiseptic effect and kills bacteria. The Aloe gel can be applied on the outside of vegetables. This will keep them fresh for a long time.
- Some use it as a mouthwash, because it has been found to reduce plaque. It also helps to heal from sores in the mouth. The salicylic acid contained in the plant acts as a painkiller.
Aloe Vera is often used as an ingredient in the cosmetics industry. You can find it in everything from moisturizers to shampoos. There are whole cosmetic lines designed to protect sensitive skin.
But what is the reason? The plant is known to keep skin hydrated and clean. It contains antioxidants such as vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, as well as 7 of the 8 essential amino acids. It is also known for its anti-inflammatory properties.
The Aloe gel helps treat acne when combined with tretinoin cream. Research has found that Aloe has rejuvenating properties. For three months researchers have given the drinking juice to 30 women twice a day. Women have seen significant improvements in their wrinkles and skin elasticity, thanks to increased collagen production.
You will also find aloe in hair products. Some people even apply gel from the leaves of the plant directly to their hair and use it as a conditioner.
Aloe Vera is a useful plant from which many different products for health and beauty are produced. However, our advice is to always be informed and watch what and where you buy. Most of all, we recommend that you get only a drinking gel produced only from the inside of the leaves. Also, do not overdo the daily dose, which is usually described on their packaging. And above all, consult your personal physician.