You’re probably already aware of aloe vera’s long history for being a folk remedy for treating burns. I can still remember as a kid going out in the sun for too long and my grandmother slathering me with aloe vera gel.
And guess what – it really helped! Aloe vera is an amazing succulent plant that is known around the world for it’s healing properties, including many that we probably aren’t even aware of.
As a matter of fact, aloe vera has been used for thousands of years for medicinal purposes, going all the way back to ancient Egypt. The plant originally comes from Southern Europe and Northern Africa, as well as the Canary Islands. In modern times, aloe vera is grown around the world in more tropical climates.
From easing heartburn to the potential to diminish the spread of breast cancer, researchers are only now starting to discover the seemingly limitless benefits of this healing plant.
Benefits of Aloe Vera
Many of you have seen first-hand how our skin and bodies can heal faster when consuming aloe vera, or when using it topically on the skin after a sun burn. In fact, treating sunburn is its most common use today.
However, aloe vera has so many incredible healing properties that people may not be aware of them all, which is why I want to share some of those benefits with you now.
Natural Skin Care
You can use aloe vera to nourish your skin, keeping it clear and hydrated. Using aloe vera gel topically can slow down signs of aging skin.
In fact, a research study involving 30 women aged 45 and older demonstrated improved skin elasticity and increased collagen production from using aloe gel topically for three months.
One reason for these benefits could be due to the plant’s natural habitat, which is normally dry and unstable. As a way to survive in these sometimes harsh climates, In order to survive the sometimes extreme conditions, the plant stores water in its leaves. These water-filled leaves, combined with unique plant compounds, are what make aloe such an effective skin moisturizer and healer.
Clinical evidence indicates that drinking purified aloe vera juice can be a safe and effective remedy for easing acid reflux symptoms.
The 2015 research showed that aloe vera juice diminished the symptoms of heartburn as effectively as more traditional medications without any side effects being reported. In some cases, aloe vera was worked even better than traditional medications.
It is believed that aloe vera’s anti-inflammatory properties make it effective at reducing acid production in the stomach, and it could also relieve other digestive issues as well. Because of its natural and non-toxic nature, aloe vera is considered to be a safe and gentle remedy for heartburn.
Aloe vera is frequently used as a treatment for constipation. The laxative benefits don’t come from the gel, but the plant latex, which is the sticky yellow substance located under the leaf skin.
The compound aloin (or barbaloin) is primarily responsible for these well-documented laxative effects.
But there have been concerns related to the safety of the frequent use of aloe latex, which has resulted in it being banned as an ingredient in over-the-counter medications in the US since 2002. Somewhat surprisingly, it doesn’t appear that aloe vera is helpful in the treatment of other digestive conditions, like IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and IBD (inflammatory bowel disease).
Aloe vera is also an effective option for use as a mouthwash. Not only does it improve the health of mucous membranes, but it improves the health of the oral cavity, gums and teeth as well. Aloe also repels harmful bacteria while supporting friendly bacteria.
Research conducted in 2014 and published in the Ethiopian Journal of Health Sciences showed evidence that aloe vera acts as an effective and non-toxic alternative to chemical-based mouthwashes. The natural ingredients found in aloe help prevent the formation of plaque, and also work to alleviate swollen and bleeding gums.
Lowers Blood Sugar
According to research published in Phytomedicine: International Journal of Phytotherapy and Phytopharmacy, people with type 2 diabetes who consume two tablespoons of aloe vera juice daily can experience a decrease in blood sugar levels. The same findings were verified by additional research published in Phytotherapy Research by using aloe pulp extract.
However, individuals who have diabetes and take glucose-lowering medications should be cautious when consuming aloe vera. When combined with diabetes medications, aloe juice might actually lower glucose to potentially harmful levels.
Protects Against Breast Cancer
The latest research published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine studied the beneficial effects of the aloe compound emodin, which is found in the plant’s leaves. Researchers believe that aloe demonstrates potential for slowing down the growth of breast cancer, but further testing is needed to verify these findings.
Keeps Fruits and Vegetables Fresh
Another surprising benefit of the aloe vera plant is that aloe gel can be applied to the surface of fruits and vegetables to keep them fresh for longer, eliminating the need for toxic chemicals used to extend produce shelf life .
Research published by the Cambridge University Press in 2014 showed evidence that coating tomato plants in aloe vera gel blocked the growth of several kinds of harmful bacteria on the vegetables. Similar findings were observed with other research using oranges and grapes.
The gel, which has no impact on food taste or appearance, shows promise as a safe, natural, and environmentally-friendly alternative to the man-made artificial preservatives currently being applied to produce after harvesting.
There are several different ways that aloe vera juice, gels, and extracts are used for treating a wide range of conditions, and clinical research continues to provide us with new wats to put this miracle plant to good use. As always, make it a point to talk to your doctor before using aloe vera for medicinal purposes, especially if you’re currently on medication.