What is aloe vera?
Aloe vera is a medicinal plant that’s been used to treat various health conditions for thousands of years. It’s usually safe to use also vera directly from the plant or you can buy it in gel form.
Aloe vera creams, gels, and ointments contain the clear gel found in aloe vera leaves. These products can be applied topically to treat various skin conditions. Aloe is sold in capsule or liquid form to take internally to promote health and well-being.
Aloe vera gel is widely known to relieve sunburn and help heal wounds. But did you know that your favorite potted plant can be used for much more than sunburn relief and household décor?
The succulent has a long history of being used for medicinal purposes, dating back to ancient Egypt. The plant is native to North Africa, Southern Europe, and the Canary Islands. Today, aloe vera is grown in tropical climates worldwide. From relieving heartburn to potentially slowing the spread of breast cancer, researchers are just beginning to unlock the benefits of this universal plant and its many byproducts.
Aloe Vera Health Benefits ## Heartburn relief
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a digestive disorder that often results in heartburn. A 2010 review suggested that consuming 1 to 3 ounces of aloe gel at mealtime could reduce the severity of GERD. It may also ease other digestion-related problems. The plant’s low toxicity makes it a safe and gentle remedy for heartburn.
Keeping produce fresh
A 2014 study published online by the Cambridge University Press looked at tomato plants coated with aloe gel. The report showed evidence that the coating successfully blocked the growth of many types of harmful bacteria on the vegetables. Similar results were found in a different study with apples. This means that aloe gel could help fruits and vegetables stay fresh, and eliminate the need for dangerous chemicals that extend the shelf life of produce. Shop for aloe gel
An alternative to mouthwash
In a 2014 study trusted Source published in the Ethiopian Journal of Health Sciences, researchers found aloe vera extract to be a safe and effective alternative to chemical-based mouthwashes. The plant’s natural ingredients, which include a healthy dose of vitamin C, can block plaque. It can also provide relief if you have bleeding or swollen gums.
Lowering your blood sugar
Ingesting two tablespoons of aloe vera juice per day can cause blood sugar levels to fall in people with type 2 diabetes, according to a study trusted Source in Phytomedicine: International Journal of Phytotherapy and Phytopharmacy. This could mean that aloe vera may have a future in diabetes treatment. These results were confirmed by another study trusted Source published in Phytotherapy Research that used pulp extract. Shop for aloe vera juice
But people with diabetes, who take glucose-lowering medications, should use caution when consuming aloe vera. The juice along with diabetes medications could possibly lower your glucose count to dangerous levels.
A natural laxative
Aloe vera is considered a natural laxative. A handful of studies have looked into the benefits of the succulent to aid digestion. The results appear to be mixed.
A team of Nigerian scientists conducted a study on rats and found that gel made from typical aloe veras houseplants was able to relieve constipation. But another study by the National Institutes of Health looked at the consumption of aloe vera whole-leave extract. Those findings revealed tumor growth in the large intestines of laboratory rats.
In 2002, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration required that all over-the-counter aloe laxative products be removed from the U.S. market or be reformulated.
The Mayo Clinic recommends that aloe veras can be used to relieve constipation, but sparingly. They advise that a dose of 0.04 to 0.17 grams of dried juice is sufficient.
If you have Crohn’s disease, colitis, or hemorrhoids you shouldn’t consume aloe vera. It can cause severe abdominal cramps and diarrhea. You should stop taking aloe veras if you’re taking other medications. It may decrease your body’s ability to absorb the drugs.
Aloe Vera Health Benefits ## Antioxidant and antibacterial properties
Antioxidants are important for health.
Aloe veras gel contains powerful antioxidants, which belong to a large family of substances known as polyphenols.
These polyphenols, along with several other compounds in Aloe vera, can help inhibit the growth of certain bacteria that can cause infections in humans.
Aloe Vera Health Benefits ## Skincare
You can use aloe vera to keep your skin clear and hydrated. This may be because the plant thrives in dry, unstable climates. To survive the harsh conditions, the plant’s leaves store water. These water-dense leaves, combined with special plant compounds called complex carbohydrates, make it an effective face moisturizer and pain reliever.
Aloe Vera Health Benefits ## Potential to fight breast cancer
A new study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine looked at the therapeutic properties of aloe-emodin, a compound in the plant’s leaves. The authors suggest that the succulent shows potential in slowing the growth of breast cancer. However, more studies are needed to further advance this theory.
There are a number of ways to use the aloe veras plant and the various gels and extracts that can be made from it. Researchers are continuing to discover new methods to put this succulent to use. Be sure to consult your doctor if you plan to use aloe vera’s in a medicinal manner, especially if you take medication.
Carefully follow the dosage information when taking gel or latex internally. Limit your use to small periods of time. After a few weeks of use, take a break for at least one week. Always buy from a reputable brand to ensure safety and quality.
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