Aloe vera is a short-stemmed shrub that is widely popular for its amazing health benefits. Several research studies prove some of these benefits, and at the same time, some of these claims are still being investigated.
The use of aloe vera is widely popular in traditional Indian and Chinese medicines, and even in Western medicines. The gel obtained from the aloe vera plant helps in the treatment of inflammation and various skin disorders. There are several other benefits of the aloe vera plant, and in this article, we will know about them in detail.
What Is Aloe vera And How Does It Work?
Aloe vera is a short-stemmed shrub that is also known as a wonder plant because of its amazing nutrition profile that constitutes about 75 compounds that provide numerous health and beauty benefits. There are about 500 species of aloe vera, the majority of which is found in North Africa.
Aloe vera is the scientific name in which aloe is the name of the genus, and vera is the name of the species. It is widely used in foods, cosmetics, herbal remedies, and food supplements.
This plant is also found in the Middle East and various islands in the Indian Ocean. Several historical records state that aloe vera was being used even in the 4th century BC.
It is widely popular for treating skin disorders, wounds, and infections.
Being an excellent source of powerful constitutes such as vitamins, minerals, enzymes, saponins, salicylic acids, amino acids, antioxidants, and sugar, etc., it provides numerous health and beauty benefits.Source-Pixabay.com
Nutritional Profile of Aloe vera
Aloe vera is an excellent source of 75 essential nutrients. Some of these are
- Vitamins- Vitamin A,B12,C,E,folic acid and choline.
- Minerals such as calcium,copper,chromium,magneisum,manganese,selenium,potassium,zinc and sodium.
- Enzymes such as aliiase,alkaline phosphatese,amylase,catalase,cellulase,lipase,bradykinase,carboxypeptidase,and peroxidase
- Sugars such as monosaccharides and polysaccharides
Additionally, aloe vera is also a rich source of phytonutrients, polyphenols, flavonoids, fatty acids, amino acids, and anthraquinones, etc.
Health Benefits Of Aloe vera
(1) Provides Anti-Inflammatory Benefits
Aloe vera is anti-inflammatory, and this property helps provides relief from the pain and inflammation caused by inflammatory diseases such as rheumatism, arthritis, gouts, asthma, and bronchitis, etc.
A study conducted on 40 volunteers found that aloe vera gel was much more effective in fighting against inflammation and redness, in comparison to conventional medicines such as hydrocortisone cream.
As per another study, Aloe vera extract is also known to reduce edema in rat paws as it inhibits inflammation.
This anti-inflammatory benefit of aloe vera is mainly due to the presence of vitamin C and other antioxidantal compounds like phytonutrients and polyphenols etc.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that is known for its anti-inflammatory benefits, and as well as for protecting our cells and tissues from the ill effects of the oxidative damage caused by the free radicals.
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(2) May strengthens immunity
Our immune system plays an important in keeping us healthy. It is the defense mechanism of our system that protects us from the disease-causing microbes such as bacteria virus and fungi etc and thus minimizes the risk of getting infected by cough, fever, cold and flu, etc.
Even if these microbes manage to enter our body and make us sick, the immune system that fights against them and makes us healthy again.
This benefit of Aloe vera is primarily due to the presence of vitamin C and other antioxidantal compounds like phytonutrients and polyphenols in them.
These compounds protect our cells including the white blood cells from the oxidative damage caused by the free radicals, and thus improves our immune system.
By protecting our immune system from oxidative damage, it strengthens it and when our immune system is stronger we are less likely to get infected by microbial infections, and our risk of getting a cough, cold, flu and fever, etc diminishes automatically.
Antioxidants not only protects white blood cells from oxidative damage but also improves their functioning and is thus good for our health.
Other nutrients like vitamins and mineral etc also plays a significant role in strengthening immunity.
(3) Promotes Digestive Health
Aloe vera is good for our stomach and also helps in maintaining our digestive health.
This benefit is mainly due to the presence of essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and dietary fiber in them.
The latex of the Aloe vera acts as a natural laxative called “anthraquinone glycosides” which improves bowel movement and ensures smooth elimination of stool from our system, and thus provides relief from constipation, and chronic constipation. It is also effective for reducing the pain associated with constipation.
It also improves our overall digestive health and reduces the risk of various gastrointestinal problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, abdominal pain, gas, bloating. And flatulence etc.
The antioxidants in the Aloe vera fight with the free radicals in our system, stabilize them, and thus prevents them from causing oxidative damage to our cells and tissues, and thus minimizes the risk of various cancers such as common cancer, abdominal cancer, intestinal cancer, and pancreas cancer, etc.
However, it is suggested to use Aloe vera latex only after consulting with a doctor’s advice as it’s safety is still a subject of research.
Aloe vera is also effective for treating various symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). When it comes to treating GERD, it is as effective as commonly prescribed medicines such as Omeprazole and ranitidine.
It protects the inner lining of our stomach from excessive stomach acid and provides relief from heartburn and acidity.
Aloe vera is also effective against ulcerative colitis, gastric ulcers, and hemorrhoids.
(4) Maintains Blood Sugar Level And Controls Diabetes
Aloe vera is very useful for people with diabetes and for those who are at the risk of developing diabetes as it helps in managing our blood sugar levels.
This benefit of Aloe vera is mainly because of its low glycemic index.
Glycemic index is a numerical scale ranging from 0 (lowest) to 100(highest) that determines the rate at which a particular food item releases sugar into the bloodstream.
Aloe vera has a low glycemic index, so it releases sugar into the system at a slow pace.
Studies conducted on fasting individuals found that oral Aloe vera was able to reduce blood sugar level by 46.6 mg/dl
Aloe vera is also found to regulate glycated hemoglobin level which is a measure of glucose in the last 2-3 months.
Studies conducted on pre-diabetics found that the use of Aloe vera not only regulated blood sugar levels but also regulated their abnormal lipid profiles within four weeks.
Various compounds present in the Aloe vera such as glucomannan, hydrophilic fiber, and phytosterol made Aloe vera very effective for increasing insulin sensitivity.
Interestingly studies conducted on the rats found that pulp of Aloe vera leaves without gel was able to reduce blood sugar level, while the one with the gel increased blood sugar level.
For using Aloe vera for diabetes management, simply consume one tablespoon of Aloe vera twice a day.
Aloe vera gel can also be applied to diabetic boils and inflammation for quick relief.
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(5) Aids In The Treatment of Interstitial Cystitis
Aloe vera is very effective for the treatment of Interstitial cystitis or painful bladder syndrome. This is a chronic bladder health issue characterized by unbearable pain and pressure in the bladder area.
Because of its nutraceutical properties, it is very effective for the treatment of Interstitial cystitis. Aloe vera is effective in treating various symptoms of interstitial cystitis as it is a naturally occurring mucopolysaccharide.
Mucopolysaccharides are long-chain sugar molecules that are found throughout the body and are mainly present in the mucus and the fluid around the joints.
Although aloe vera is effective for the treatment of Interstitial Cystitis, it is suggested to consult with your doctor about the same. If you are already taking medication for the treatment of painful bladder syndrome, then there are chances that aloe vera may interfere with the medication.
Also, some anecdotal evidence suggests that aloe vera might irritate the bladder.
So, it is better to be cautious and go with the doctor’s advice.
(6) Aids In Weight Loss
If you have put on some extra pounds and would like to get rid of them, then aloe vera is your friend as it helps with the weight loss in several ways.
Dried Aloe vera gel powder helps in reducing the body fat mass as it stimulates energy expenditure. In other words, it increases our metabolism allowing our body to burn calories and stored fat at a higher rate.
Studies have also found that Aloe vera is also effective for the prevention and improvement of diet-induced obesity.
Studies concluded on the obese mice found Aloe vera to be effective in reducing the obesity-induced inflammatory response.
One can also enjoy Aloe vera juice for weight loss. In comparison to other juices such as fruit juices, it has almost no calories which means you can consume them without a worry of counting calories, and at the same time, this juice provides tremendous health benefits.
Aloe vera also affects serum levels of glucose, cholesterol, and triglycerides.
The protein present in the Aloe vera regulates the hunger hormone ghrelin, and by doing so it helps in keeping cravings at bay.
(7) Promotes Oral Health
Aloe vera is very beneficial for maintaining our oral health as it makes our teeth and gums stronger, and also reduces the risk of various oral problems. It helps in the treatment of those oral problems.
The anti-inflammatory properties of the aloe vera help in providing relief from the pain and inflammation of the gums and the presence of vitamin C reduce the risk of scurvy.
Scurvy is a health risk associated with the deficiency of vitamin C in our system. It is characterized by the symptoms such as swollen, spongy, and purplish gums that are prone to bleeding, loose teeth, bulgy eyes, scaly, dry, and brownish skin, severe bruising of the skin, etc.
Because of its powerful antiseptic properties, it is very effective for killing harmful microbes from every corner of the mouth, including the hard to reach areas that get skipped during normal cleansing. The antiseptic and antimicrobial properties make it a natural mouth wash that maintains oral health without the risk and worry of harmful chemicals.
Aloe vera extract is also useful for treating cracked or split corners of the mouth
It is also effective for quick healing of wounds after tooth extraction.
Using aloe vera as mouth wash was found to be as effective as chlorhexidine, a commonly used antiseptic found in the mouthwashes.
If you have sensitive teeth our gums then Aloe vera gel is a better alternative to various commercially available toothpaste as they are not loaded with harsh chemicals, and at the same time provide antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
The antiviral properties of the Aloe vera gel help in the treatment of soreness experienced by some people while using oral dentures.
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(8) Keeps Us Well Hydrated
Water plays an essential role in keeping us healthy. It is required for many biological functions such as digestion, absorption of nutrients, respiration, detoxification, electrolyte balance, and so on. Our body is made up of 70 percent water, and for some vital organs like lungs and kidneys, this ratio is as high as 83 percent. The importance of water can be known from the fact that even our bones are made up of 31 percent water.
Keeping us well hydrated is important for maintaining good health, and Aloe vera can help in doing the same.
This water-dense plant is ideal for preventing and treating dehydration. It helps with the detoxification and thus removes toxins and other impurities from our system. When there are fewer toxins are in our system, they don’t accumulate in our skin pores, and thus minimizes the risk of several skin problems such as acne and pimples, etc.
By helping with the detoxification, it also reduces the burden of toxin removal from our vital organs like the liver and kidneys and allows them to focus on other functions they need to perform.
Aloe vera can juice also be consumed for quick recovery after heavy exercise. It replenishes the fluid lost during exercise and also helps in the removal of toxins and lactic acids that builds up during exercise
Additionally, aloe vera juice is also a good source of other nutrients like vitamins and minerals that nourishes us and is an effective alternative for coconut water.
(9) Might Prevent Some Forms Of Cancer
Aloe vera is also effective for the treatment of some forms of cancer because of its rich nutritious profile. Antioxidants such as vitamin C and other compounds such as polyphenols and phytonutrients present in it, protect our cells and tissues from the oxidative damage caused by the free radicals of the body.
Free radicals are the unstabilized ions that form in our body during the oxidation process. As these are unstabilized, so, they steal electrons from the neighboring molecules and while doing so it causes oxidative damage to them
Aloe vera can inhibit the growth of human breast and cervical cancer cells. It also cooperates with cisplatin, a drug widely popular in cancer chemotherapy.
Although Aloe vera is effective against cancer cells, some contradictory studies suggest that Aloe vera might aggravate cancer in certain cases.
For this reason, it is suggested to be on the safe side and consult your doctor on this matter
(10) Maintains Liver Health
Aloe vera is very effective for keeping our liver healthy because of its detoxifying properties. One of the important functions of the liver is the removal of toxins and other impurities from our system.
Aloe vera reduces the level of toxins from our system so that our vital organs such as the liver and kidneys don’t get overburdened.
This keeps our liver healthy and allows them to focus on other functions they need to perform.
Some of the major functions performed by the liver are production and excretion of bile juice, metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, and protein, excretion of bilirubin, hormones, and cholesterol, enzyme activation, storage of vitamins, minerals, and glycogen, synthesis of plasma proteins such as albumin and clotting factors.
Additionally, antioxidants and other relevant compounds such as polyphenols and phytonutrients also play an important role in managing our liver health as they protect it from oxidative damage caused by free radicals.
(11) Keep Signs Of Premature Aging At Bay
Regular and moderate intake of Aloe vera and as well as topical application of the same is very effective for keeping various signs of premature aging such as fine lines, wrinkles, age spots, dark spots and skin blemishes, etc at bay.
This benefit is mainly because of the presence of a high level of antioxidants like vitamin C and other compounds such as polyphenols and phytonutrients. These compounds protect our cells and tissues from the oxidative damage caused by the free radicals, and thus reduces the risk of premature aging.
Studies conducted on several individuals found that intake of Aloe vera gel improves face wrinkles and skin roughness in the subjects within 3 months.
Aloe vera also enhances the production of collagen in our system due to the presence of “acemannan” in it. This is an important amino acid found in connective tissues such as bones, tendons, cartilages, and capillaries, etc., and is responsible for maintaining skin elasticity. This minimizes the development of fine lines and wrinkles.
Other compounds such as zinc, iron, copper, magnesium, and manganese, etc. also play a major role in maintaining our skin health.
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(12) Helps Treat Acne
Acne is a common skin problem that affects millions of people around the world. There are many factors responsible for the cause of acne, but a prime reason for the cause of acne is the accumulation of toxins and other impurities in our skin pores.
Aloe vera is very effective for reducing the risk of skin problems such as acne and pimples and it also helps in the treatment of the same. Studies conducted on 60 patients with mild to moderate acne vulgaris found that aloe vera was much more effective in comparison to over the counter medicines and creams. Patients using Aloe vera showed a greater reduction in acne severity and scars.
This advantage of Aloe vera is mainly because of its detoxifying properties. It helps in the removal of toxins and other impurities from our system, and when there are fewer toxins in our system, they don’t accumulate in our skin pores and thus minimizes the risk of acne and pimples.
The use of Aloe vera moisturizes our skin and keeps it healthy.
Studies have found that using products with a high concentration of Aloe vera gel helps in the treatment of skin inflammation. Aloe vera gel can also be added to Ocimum oil to enhance its acne-fighting abilities and for improving the condition of acne lesions.
The simplest method to use Aloe vera for acne treatment is to directly apply Aloe vera gel on the skin at night, and then wash off the face in the morning.
Another method is to mix 8 parts of Aloe vera with one part of lime juice. Apply this Aloe vera mask on the face (excluding the eye area and other sensitive areas of the face). Let it air dry for 10 minutes, and then wash off with water.
(13) Wonderful Skin Moisturizer
Aloe vera is a wonderful skin moisturizer that keeps our skin well moisturized throughout the day without the involvement of any harsh chemicals. The powerful ingredients like various vitamins, minerals, and water, etc present in the aloe vera are the major factor behind this benefit.
Because of its moisturizing properties, aloe vera extract is widely used in cosmetic produces meant for skin moisturization as it keeps our skin hydrated for a longer time and also helps in the treatment of dry skin.
It can also be used for treating skin pigmentation and for reducing stretch marks appearance.
The anti-inflammatory nature of the aloe vera makes it very suitable for treating skin inflammation, and as well as for minor irritations and burns, and suits most skin types at the least risk of allergy.
Topical application of aloe vera is also effective in the treatment of herpes and psoriasis, and also provides relief from itching and inflammation associated with poison ivy.
(14) Improves Hair And Scalp Health
Various nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, etc. present in the aloe vera are good for our hair and scalp and are very effective for maintaining scalp health. It helps in the treatment of itchiness, scaliness, and size of the scalp area affected by seborrheic dermatitis.
When it comes to scalp health, aloe vera is much better than most commercially available shampoos.
The antioxidants present in the aloe vera also plays a significant role in improving our scalp health as it protects our hair follicles and scalp from the oxidative damage caused by the free radicals. Iron and folate in the aloe improves blood circulation and thus promotes the growth of new hairs.
It keeps our hair healthy, and make them strong and lustrous, and prevents them from being dry and brittle.
(15) Promotes Quick Healing Of Wounds
Aloe vera is very effective for quick healing of wounds as it speeds up the healing process by promoting the proliferation of fibroblasts cells that are responsible for the production of collagen.
The topical application of Aloe vera is also effective for quick healing of cutaneous wounds.
Aloe vera extract is very beneficial for the treatment of scabies which is a contagious skin disease that causes severe itching and red spots. It is found to be as effective as benzyl benzoate, a chemical compound used for the treatment of scabies and lice.
Historical evidence suggests that Aloe vera was also popular for the treatment of cold sores. However, there are not many modern studies to support this claim and requires further research.
Aloe vera is also effective for healing radiation-induced dermatitis. This dermatitis is mainly an after effect of the high degree radiation therapies.
How To Include Aloe vera In Your Diet
There are several ways to include aloe vera in your diet and enjoy the amazing benefits provided by this wonderful plant. Some of these are:-
- Aloe vera leaves can be eaten as a regular snack between meals
- Gel made from the aloe vera extract can be diluted and consumed as a drink
- Aloe vera gel can also be added to smoothies to enhance the taste and benefits.
- Aloe vera gel can also be added during the preparation of salsa which can be served with tacos or chips. For this, add some aloe vera gel cubes to ingredients such as tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice, sea salt, and garlic, etc, and blend them properly using a blender.
- Aloe vera leaves (and gel) can also be used as a salad dressing.
Aloe vera can also be juiced and consumed for amazing benefits. And, aloe vera gel can also be blended with other fruit juices and consumed.
Other Uses Of Aloe vera
(1) Keeping Products Fresh
Aloe vera gel can also be used for keeping products fresh. For this reason, aloe vera gel can also be used for coating food items like oranges and tomatoes. The antimicrobial properties of the aloe vera inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria on the vegetables.
(2) As Mouthwash
Aloe vera gel is anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory and is very effective for maintaining oral health. It can be used as a natural mouthwash and is a wonderful alternative to most chemical-based mouthwashes.
Aloe vera gel is also added to skin creams, shaving creams, soaps, gels, toothpaste, and shampoos, etc. because of its antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties.
Frequently Asked Questions
(1) How Much Sugar Is There In Aloe Vera Juice?
Aloe vera juice is a healthier alternative to other fruit juices with a high concentration of natural sugars or added sugars.
A 4 ounce serving of aloe vera juice contains almost no calories which means you can enjoy aloe vera juice regularly in moderation to enjoy the amazing benefits provided by this plant.
No sugar means neither the risk of elevated blood sugar level nor the risk of weight gain.
(2) How Can Aloe Vera Be Stored Properly?
To store aloe vera leaves, wrap them properly in a plastic wrap, and then refrigerate. In the same way, to store aloe vera gel put it in an airtight container and refrigerate.
Your refrigerator is the best place to store aloe vera.
(3) Can Aloe vera Be Taken On Empty Stomach
Yes, aloe vera can be consumed on an empty stomach without any issue. It is recommended to consume aloe vera on an empty stomach so that our digestive system can absorb all the nutrients and essential compounds from it. Aloe vera can be consumed on an empty stomach by mixing 20-30 ml of aloe vera juice with a glass of water.
Regular consumption will provide amazing benefits such as weight loss, detoxification, blood sugar management, etc. that we have earlier talked about in this article.
When you start drinking aloe vera juice on an empty stomach then there are possibilities that you might experience some discomfort in the early days, but your body will adjust to it.
If the issue persists even after some days, then it is better to discontinue aloe vera juice on empty stomach.
However, for most individuals, this shouldn’t be an issue.
(4) How Long Does It Take To Enjoy The Benefits Provided by Aloe Vera
There is not much information or research in this regard. However, if you are consistent with the use, then you should start seeing the benefits within 2-3 weeks. This is the average period, and the actual period could vary from person to person.
The information contained in the post is for general purposes only and shouldn’t be considered as medical advice or as an alternative to medical advice. Although I’ve tried my best to keep the information contained in this post as accurate and updated as possible, I make no guarantee of the accurateness of the same.
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