The health benefits of aloe vera include strengthening the immune system, delaying the aging process, curing dermatitis, alleviating menstrual problems, reducing arthritis pain, and healing wounds. It also cures nausea, eliminates ulcers, lowers blood sugar and cholesterol levels, reduces oxidative stress, inhibits cancerous growth, heals the side effects of radiotherapy treatments, promotes growth, and soothes acid reflux symptoms. It has been used for ages to alleviate pain since it has excellent anti-inflammatory properties.
What is Aloe Vera?
Aloe vera is also known as medicinal aloe, while its common names are lily of the desert, burn and elephant’s gall. It belongs to the family of succulent plants in the genus ‘Aloe’. The origin of this burn plant is believed to be in Sudan and has been used for more than 6,000 years. The great virtues of this plant have been recognized by many civilizations, including the Egyptians, Spanish, Persians, Greeks, Italians, Africans, Japanese, and Indians. It grows best in warm and dry climates and is densely found in India, Africa, and other arid zones.
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Aloe vera plant is often a stemless or sometimes very short-stemmed juicy plant that grows around 60–100 cm (24–39 inch) in height and the offsets spread out wide. The leaves of this plant are thick and fleshy and the color varies from green to gray-green. Some varieties of this plant have white flecks on the upper and lower portions of the stem surfaces. The margin of the leaves is like saw-tooth and the flowers bloom during the summer. This plant can be easily grown both, indoors and outdoors.
Aloe vera is a succulent plant with many amazing uses, and its benefits are typically obtained by breaking off a stalk to extract the gel-like substance within; it is then either applied topically to the skin and hair or ingested. The gel can also be combined with other natural ingredients to form part of your health or beauty routine.
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Aloe Vera Nutrition
For decades, the soothing nature of aloe vera has been known and respected by the people who believe in naturopathy. The aloe vera plant has compounds such as mannans, polysaccharides, lectins, and anthraquinones that are extremely beneficial for human health. It has 18 amino acids that work in association with other compounds of the human body to deliver numerous health benefits. According to USDA, aloe is a good source of energy, iron, sodium, and calcium.
Health Benefits of Aloe Vera
The common health benefits of aloe are discussed below.
The adaptogenic properties of aloe vera are beneficial for a proper digestion. It ensures better nutrient absorption and also eliminates harmful elements through smooth excretion. A healthy digestive process positively affects your thoughts and actions, thus promoting overall health. Dr. Meika Foster, University of Sydney, Australia, in her study reports that aloe vera latex has amazing laxative effects. Thus, it cures irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and keeps constipation, piles, and other gastrointestinal conditions from damaging your system.
Aloe vera has compounds called polysaccharides that have the ability to cure a host of digestive disorders and ulcers. Ulcers are one of the most prominent consequences of digestive problems that are effectively cured by this plant extract. Many studies have proven that it cures issues like Crohn’s disease, peptic ulcers, and other digestive tract disorders. If you suffer from ulcers and consume aloe vera extract for at least 3 – 4 weeks, you will surely notice positive results.
Beverages made with aloe vera juice possess natural detoxifying properties that effectively cleanse the digestive system and the circulatory system. As the absorption level of nutrients accelerates, it results in better blood circulation and also improves health. When the blood is oxygen-rich, it automatically provides nutrients within the cells more proficiently. These healthy cells ensure your body’s ability to ward off infections, thereby strengthening your immune system. It has the capability to neutralize harmful bacteria and its rejuvenating properties work within your body to keep it fresh and active throughout the day.
Inhibits Cancerous Growth
Aloe vera contains some effective macrophages that produce huge volumes of nitric oxide, which has antitumor potential. In naturopathy, there are innumerable methods of cancer prevention and the aloe vera-based has proven to be one of the most successful ones. Many studies have shown that these antitumor and immunomodulatory properties are due to the presence of polysaccharides in aloe vera. However, some experts say that, when used alone, it may not be very effective in advanced cases, so a combination of herbs like spirulina, cat’s claw, and therapies like intravenous vitamin C should also be included. It is always advisable to start any kind of cancer treatment after consulting a physician.
Heals Side Effects of Radiotherapy
During a cancer treatment, radiotherapy is inevitable in most cases. Cancer patients often experience uncomfortable side effects due to radiotherapy. According to a study cited in Radiation Oncology, aloe vera application helps prevent the acute side effects in patients treated with radiotherapy for breast cancer. It also accelerates healing. If you drink aloe juice in such conditions, it will also help you in healing the radiation burns.
Aloe has been used for skin ailments since ancient times. The pure inner gel extracted from the aloe leaf is the best natural remedy for skin abrasions and it also helps diminish the symptoms of aging skin conditions. Many skin care and personal care products, toiletries, and cosmetics include aloe extracts. In fact, if you have its plant at home, simply tear a small part of the leaf, take the gel and apply it in the raw form on your face. This therapy will prove to be far better and more effective than many expensive skin creams on the market. Most people prefer drinking its juice, which also enhances skin health, as the properties of the plant work internally. It also helps in curing stings, rashes, and psoriasis. Journal of Dermatological Treatment says that the topical application of aloe vera gel combined with tretinoin is extremely useful in the treatment of mild and moderate acne vulgaris. Another study has also proved the ability of aloe vera to cure suntan and sunburn.
Aloe vera has proven to be an excellent option for promoting hair growth naturally. The hair products that contain it are essential to retain voluminous and healthy hair. You can apply its gel to the entire scalp and hair to treat hair loss as it has an enzyme that is beneficial for stimulating hair growth. Aloe vera shampoo improves blood circulation and keeps you away from stress and mental strain. In fact, it has anti-inflammatory properties that effectively treat androgenetic alopecia or male pattern baldness. If you use it regularly as a shampoo and conditioner, you are sure to prevent premature hair loss.
Reduces Arthritis Pain
Aloe is noted for its amazing anti-inflammatory properties that work instantly on the pain and swelling resulting from arthritis. Its juice is also extremely effective in calming the swelling and inflammation that are closely associated with arthritis. In fact, topical application, drinking aloe juice or eating aloe vera, its pills or capsules all show positive results in curing arthritis pain.
Other aloe vera benefits include:
Relieves Joint & Muscle Pain
The anti-inflammatory properties of aloe vera help it to work efficiently on joint and muscle pains. Applying aloe gel topically eases inflammation of the joints. Eating aloe vera, its capsules, or drinking its juice can reduce inflammation throughout the body, thus proving to be revitalizing. In some studies, it has been reported that people who regularly consume aloe vera juice for at least two weeks experience a significant improvement in inflammation issues. However, it works efficiently when your diet contains less intake of red meat, sugar, milk, fried foods, and white flour.
Aloe has been considered a natural healer ever since it was discovered thousands of years ago. According to a study by Dr. Amar Surjushe, Department of Dermatology, Grant Medical College and Sir J J Group of Hospitals, Mumbai, India, “Alexander the Great and Christopher Columbus used it to treat soldiers’ wounds”. If used externally, it is the best option for dressing wounds. In fact, in many cases, it is seen that aloe vera works like magic, even in the most serious of emergency room wound cases. The juice instantly seals the wound by drawing the flow of blood to the wound, thus enhancing the process of wound healing. In many studies, it has been proven that aloe effectively treats third-degree burn victims and it restores the burned skin faster. It is also known that a large amount of aloe vera gel can heal wounds of gunshots and tissue injuries.
Cures Menstrual Problems
The extract of aloe vera has shown to be an excellent stimulant of the uterus and eating aloe vera or drinking its juice is very beneficial during painful menstruation.
Nausea can occur due to a host of reasons, including consuming contaminated food, having a virus or flu, or even due to chemotherapy treatments. Oftentimes, feelings of nausea originate from disorders in the stomach or in the digestive tract. Aloe vera juice is excellent for a sick stomach and makes you feel better by bringing a calm feeling throughout the body.
Reduces Blood Sugar Level
Eating aloe vera pills has beneficial effects on reducing blood sugar levels. A study on the effects of aloe vera on diabetic patients, published in Phytomedicine, suggests that its consumption helps lower blood sugar and triglyceride levels.
Prevents Oxidative Stress
Aloe vera gel is rich in vitamins like vitamin B12, B1, B2, B6, and vitamin A, E, C, niacin, and folic acid. These vitamins are required for the proper functioning of the human body. The body’s defense system is thus kept intact by regularly eating aloe vera capsules or drinking its juice.
Soothes Acid Reflux
Acid reflux is often wrongly known as a disease, while it is actually just a symptom that involves heartburn and discomfort. Initially, you can try the natural remedy of consuming aloe vera juice, which usually works effectively and initiates proper functioning. However, you should try to avoid eating fried and processed food to evade the problem altogether. A study published in Elsevier’s Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine, aloe vera can provide an effective treatment against gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Aloe vera gel, when used internally, automatically improves blood quality and thus helps in re-balancing the other components in it like cholesterol and glucose. It effectively lowers cholesterol and total triglyceride content.
Improves Cardiovascular Function
Aloe vera extract accelerates the supply of blood and purifies it at the same time. This blood accelerates the delivery of oxygen to the organs in the body, thereby maximizing their functionality. A 2011 study shows that aloe vera gel can also prevent myocardial oxidative stress.
Cures Gum Diseases
Dental and gum diseases can also be cured by aloe vera. You can try out this natural remedy at home; put some aloe vera powder on your toothbrush, then brush normally. The aloe vera powder will soothe your gums and cure any kind of infection or bruises. Aloe vera juice can also help in keeping the gums healthy. Just gargle the liquid around your mouth before swallowing. Also, try to increase your intake of vitamin D. Both these measures will be enough to get your gums back in shape within a few months. A study published in the Ethiopian Journal of Health Sciences confirms its use as an effective mouthwash and its ability to cure dental plaque.
A thin layer of aloe vera gel can act as a natural food preservative. In an experiment, aloe preservative was able to keep grapes fresh for more than 35 days. Furthermore, a 2014 study cited in Cambridge Core shows that the pure aqueous extract of aloe vera can inhibit the growth of certain microbes. This extract when coated on tomatoes helped delay ripening and was effective in increasing its overall shelf-life.
Many scientists say that this benefit of aloe can bring a new dimension to food safety regulations around the world. Further experiments showed that dipping fruits and vegetables in aloe vera gel effectively eliminated E.coli, retained freshness, and also extended their shelf life. The FDA has also approved it as a natural food flavoring agent.
Boosts Blood Oxygenation
Blood oxygenation benefits the supply of CO2 (carbon dioxide) to vital organs. In some studies, it has been reported that aloe vera aids in blood oxygenation.
Aloe vera has been a primary component of many skin products that help in retaining youthfulness. The added support of aloe in any skin cream enhances its function as a wrinkle fader and skin rejuvenator. The anti-aging properties work on the skin and keep it fresh, supple, wrinkle-free, and bright. The properties of aloe make it penetrate quickly within the various layers of the skin, even to the muscles of the body.