Do you have an aloe vera plant sitting on your kitchen window sill or on your patio? If you do, it is likely you use it for when you burn yourself on a hot pot or get a little too much sun. These are the top reasons people turn to this attractive succulent, and there is good reason for it!
In addition to burns, aloe vera has been studied and shown to be effective for many health challenges. A quick look at the many active components of the succulent explains why. For example, aloe vera contains the potent antioxidants vitamins A, C, and E, as well as vitamin B12, folic acid, and choline.
The minerals calcium, chromium, copper, magnesium, manganese, potassium, selenium, sodium, and zinc are also found in aloe vera. Anti-inflammatory properties are offered by fatty acids, while a dozen anthraquinones act as laxatives while some also are pain relievers, antibacterials, and antivirals. Hormones called auxins and gibberellins are important for wound healing and fighting inflammation.
So, if you want to take full advantage of the many medicinal benefits of aloe vera, check out some of the following possibilities. In some cases, you can simply pluck a leaf from your home plant and extract the gel or juice. However, you can also use a commercial certified organic aloe vera gel or juice*.
1. Cold sores
We all know how annoying and unsightly cold sores can be! Applying aloe vera gel to a cold sore several times a day can accelerate the healing process as well as reduce pain. The amino acids, B vitamins (especially B6), and vitamin C in aloe vera are part of the reason for this healing advantage.
The latex in aloe vera leaves, which is found just below the surface of the leaf, contains anthraquinones, which have a laxative property. In a double-blind trial, aloe vera latex had a strong laxative effect when compared with a placebo.
A number of studies have indicated that aloe vera may alleviate chronic low blood sugar. In one trial, for example, 72 women with diabetes were given either a placebo or one tablespoon of aloe vera gel for six weeks. Both blood glucose and triglyceride levels declined significantly in the aloe vera group but not in the placebo group.
In another trial, the 72 women were given either aloe vera gel or a placebo combined with a common antidiabetic drug, glibenclamide. The women in the aloe vera group showed significant reductions in blood glucose and triglyceride concentrations.
4. Digestive problems
Because aloe vera has anti-inflammatory and laxative properties, it has been helpful in managing digestive issues. For example, aloe vera juice balances acid/alkaline and pH balance, reduces the formation of yeast, and stimulates digestive bacteria.
Ingestion of aloe vera juice can be effective in treating patients with irritable bowel syndrome as well as soothing and healing stomach ulcers. One-quarter cup of aloe vera juice three times a day, for example, can assist in the healing of stomach ulcers.
5. Hair and scalp
If you suffer with an itchy scalp or dry hair, then aloe vera gel can come to the rescue. The antibacterial and antifungal properties of the plant, as well as its wealth of vitamins and minerals, can support and promote strong, healthy hair and help eliminate dandruff.
Massage aloe vera gel into your scalp and allow it stay on your scalp for 30 minutes. Then rinse and wash your hair with an all-natural shampoo. Use aloe vera gel every other time your shampoo your hair.
6. Heart health
Aloe vera can help reduce the impact of various risk factors for heart disease and cardiovascular disease. A study in the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, for example, showed that aloe vera reduced production of cholesterol by about 30 percent. Aloe vera juice also reduced bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglyceride levels while boosting good cholesterol (HDL) in several studies.
7. Immune system function
Aloe vera contains bradykinase, which stimulates the immune system and destroys infections. Another ingredient in aloe vera, zinc, is helpful because this mineral is critical for proper immune function.
Aloe vera contains more than a dozen vitamins and minerals that reduce inflammation and fight cell damage from free radicals. Topically applied aloe vera juice or gel, for example, helps reduce inflammation associated with acne and other skin conditions.
The vitamin C in aloe vera protects against cardiovascular disease, which is associated with chronic inflammation. Vitamin A is an antioxidant that helps maintain healthy neurological function by lowering inflammation.
Application of aloe vera on skin affected by chronic psoriasis has proven to be most helpful. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, patients with the skin condition who were treated with aloe vera showed a cure rate of 83 percent compared to only 7 percent among those treated with a placebo.
* I recommend Lily of the Desert.
- Agarwal OP. Prevention of atheromatous heart disease. Angiology 1985 Aug; 36(8): 485-92
- Axe J. Ulcer symptoms, diet and natural remedies.
- Foster M et al. Evaluation of the nutritional and metabolic effects of aloe vera. Chapter 3. In Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd ed. 2011
- Khedmat H et al. Aloe vera in treatment of refractory irritable bowel syndrome: trial on Iranian patients. Journal of Research in Medical Sciences 2013 Aug; 18(8): 732
- Lim BO et al. Efficacy of dietary aloe vera supplementation on hepatic cholesterol and oxidative status in aged rats. Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology 2003 Aug; 49(4): 292-96
- Rajasekaran S et al. Beneficial effects of aloe vera leaf gel extract on lipid profile status in rats with streptozotocin diabetes. Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology & Physiology 2006 Mar; 33(3): 232-37
- Syed TA et al. Management of psoriasis with aloe vera extract in a hydrophilic cream: a placebo-controlled, double-blind study. Tropical Medicine & International Health 1996 Aug; 1(4): 505-9
Author Bio: Andrea Donsky, Registered Holistic Nutritionist (R.H.N) and Founder of Naturally Savvy Media Inc. is a pioneer and visionary in the Natural Health Industry. Andrea inspires people to make healthier choices through her businesses, books, articles, videos, speeches, hosting, and media appearances. She has appeared as a healthy living expert on TV and radio across North American networks that include: NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox, Univision, WGN, KRON4, Better TV, City TV, CTV, CBC, and Global. Andrea founded Naturally Savvy Media Inc. in 2007, a website (www.naturallysavvy.com) with unique content dedicated to healthy living from a holistic perspective. To learn more about Andrea, visit www.AndreaDonsky.com.
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