You’ve probably seen an aloe vera plant somewhere high and dry in the desert before and wondered what it is about that specific succulent that people can’t seem to get over. It’s on the front label of so many lotions and gels at the drug store and you’ve even heard of some people drinking its juice?! What’s up with that?
There are many benefits of aloe vera from its moisturizing capabilities to its healing powers, and it’s high time you become aware of them. Why does it seem to be a key ingredient in so many lotions, conditioners and balms? Why does everyone reach for a bottle after a wicked sunburn? We’re going to explore the many benefits of aloe vera usage and the plentiful ways you can apply it to your daily routine whether it’s for your skin’s benefit, to soothe your digestion or to increase your wellness in other ways.
From the juice to the gels and the plant itself, there are many ways to enjoy and reap the benefits of the aloe vera plant. We’ll cover them all and point to a few products we love that’ll give you a chance to make aloe a key healing modality in your kitchen, bathroom cabinet and beyond.
What is Aloe Vera?
Aloe vera is a succulent plant with many medicinal and healing qualities that can aid your body internally and externally. Known for its thick, fleshy green leaves aloe vera stores water in its tissues that turns into the gel we’re all familiar with. This gel contains bioactive compounds that are packed with vitamins, amino acids, antioxidants and minerals. Each leaf can grow up to 12-19 inches in length, giving you plenty to work with.
You can buy your own aloe vera plant and harvest the gel directly from the plant or buy it in gel form or mixed in with lotions and conditioners to receive the benefit that way.
It’s also sold in capsule and liquid form for consumption to aid digestive troubles and other ailments, more on that later on.
How to Grow and Harvest an Aloe Vera Plant
Taking care of an aloe vera plant is very similar to other succulents. They prefer bright, indirect sunlight and do best when watered heavily every 3 weeks or so, and even less in the winter.
You’ll need to wait until your aloe vera plant is at least a few years old before harvesting to ensure a high enough concentration of the key active ingredients. Once your plant is ready for harvest, remove 3-4 leaves at the same time cutting from as close to the stem as possible, there are more beneficial nutrients at the base of the leaves than the tip.
Wash and dry your leaves before using a knife or your fingers to separate the gel inside from the harder exterior of the outer leaf. Cut the gel into slices, cubes or blend up in a blender for smoother gel.
Benefits of Aloe Use
Aloe is a powerful medicinal plant in that it can be used both topically directly from the plant and internally as a medicine taken orally.
1. Aloe Soothes Burns
Aloe has naturally cooling and soothing qualities that make it a great topical treatment for sunburn, cooking burns and other skin ailments. It can be applied directly out of a leaf from your plant at home or bought at the drug store. Applying aloe a few times a day may help soothe burns and help the damaged skin heal faster, while also providing some relief from the pain and irritation.
2. Aloe Moisturizes Your Skin
The aloe vera plant is great at storing water in order to survive and thrive in the hot, dry and unstable climates it’s used to existing in. The water-dense leaves also contain complex carbohydrates in them that help skin absorb and retain the moisture as well. Aloe is great for applying to burnt and damaged skin but can also be used everyday by itself or in a lotion to keep skin supple and healthy.
Aloe vera is also an active ingredient in many shampoos designed to ease dandruff due to its moisturizing capabilities.
3. The Aloe Vera Plant Has Antibacterial Properties
Aloe vera contains antioxidants that are under the polyphenol umbrella of substances which may inhibit the growth of infection-causing bacteria in humans. We’re not saying it should replace your antibiotics, but it’s no friend of germs. That’s why humans have used aloe vera to treat wounds and burns for thousands of years, all thanks to its moisturizing capabilities as well as the antiviral, antibacterial and antiseptic properties it possesses.
4. Aloe Vera May Provide Heartburn Relief
Aloe vera has low toxicity and studies have shown that it’s a great natural remedy for GERD or Gastroesophageal reflux disease that often causes heartburn as a symptom. Consuming 1-3 ounces at mealtime may limit this acid reflux and limit heartburn as it eases digestive troubles in general. Consuming aloe gel can happen via a liquid or in capsule form for convenience.
5. Aloe Vera May Help Your Digestion System
Regularly consuming aloe vera, rather than applying it topically to your skin, may aid in a healthy digestive system and ease symptoms of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). Studies have shown that aloe vera has significantly improved symptoms of IBS when compared with a placebo with little to no adverse effects. The natural remedy may diminish the growth of H. pylori a bacteria that can cause ulcers in the digestive tract.
6. Aloe Vera May Help Keep Produce Fresh
Aloe vera may help fruits and vegetables stay fresher, longer through providing a coating against certain harmful bacteria that would otherwise grow and harm the produce. The high concentration of vitamins and enzymes in the natural, gentle formula also can help boost your plant’s immune system and help it ward off pests and other harmful pathogens. Many plant experts recommend applying gel straight from the aloe vera plant to your watering routine in order to fortify your plant’s soil with all of the benefits of aloe vera.
7. Aloe Vera for Oral Health
Aloe vera natural toothpaste and mouthwash have become trendy alternative options for taking care of oral hygiene, getting rid of plaque and lowering levels of candida and gingivitis. Aloe vera has natural antimicrobial properties that may be contributing to this as well as the high levels of vitamin C which can block the growth of plaque. It can also speed up the healing of cuts in your mouth, bleeding or swollen gums.
8. Aloe Vera’s Effects on Blood Sugar
Aloe vera juice may benefit individuals with diabetes. According to a study published in the International Journal of Phytotherapy and Phytomedicine, consuming two tablespoons of aloe vera juice per day can lower blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes. The results of this study were also confirmed by another study with similar results. This could make aloe vera a pivotal part of alternative diabetes treatment in the future.
9. Aloe Vera Benefits for Acne
Acne is a tricky business, and aloe vera may be able to help. It’s all about finding what works for you and if you haven’t tried remedies with a key ingredient of aloe vera, it might be time to try. Aloe vera has moisturizing effects for skin as well as soothing effects in the form of toners, creams and cleansers. These products may be less irritating than products with harsher ingredients. In fact, a 2014 study found that using a cream with aloe vera in combination with conventional acne medication was more effective in treating mild to moderate acne and produced lower levels of inflammation and fewer lesions.
Article by Taylor Galla for SPY©
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