When you think of Aloe vera, chances are you quickly think of it as a natural cure for the sting of a sunburn. It won’t take much more study to understand the vast varierty of uses that make aloe vera a go-to remedy for the skin, body and other health concerns. This comprehensive guide will explain the ancient plant’s origins and how you can use it to enhance your personal wellness.
What is Aloe Vera?
Aloe Vera is a cactus-like succulent plant species, easily recognized for it’s green color and thick, fleshy, almost tentacle like leaves that contain the gel that makes aloe such a beloved plant. Aloe vera originates from the Arabian Peninsula and thrives in hot, dry climates but also grows wild in tropics climates around the world.
The species is cultivated for agricultural and medicinal purposes, but can also be used for decorative purposes and grows successfully indoors as well. The color and texture can be very attractive in the garden and it is said to help clear indoor air quality.
Aloe vera is one of approximately 420 species of the genus Aloe. It is considered to be the most biologically active of the Aloe species, with over 75 potentially active components, including vitamins, minerals, saccharides, amino acids, enzymes and more. It provides 20 of the 22 human-required amino acids and 8 out of 8 essential amino acids. Both the green, fibrous skin and the clear gel-like substance on the inside of the plant are beneficial for the skin, diet and other personal wellness uses.
From Cleopatra to Christopher Columbus, some of history’s most famous figures relied on aloe for its healing properties. Aloe vera has a 6,000-year history of use, and can be traced back to early Egypt, where the plant was depicted on stone carvings.
It is known as the “plant of immortality,” as aloe was presented as a funeral gift to pharaohs. It is one of the oldest mentioned plants on record due to its medicinal properties and health benefits. Some other common names are “burn plant,” “lily of the desert,” or the “wonder plant.”
Ancient Chinese and Egyptians would use aloe vera to treat burns, wounds and reduce fever. Legends report that Alexander the Great conquered the island of Socotra, off the coast of Africa, in order to secure supplies of aloe vera to treat wounded soldiers. Cleopatra used aloe in her daily skin treatments and was known to drink aloe vera leaf juice for its legendary powers as a health tonic.
Ancient civilizations eventually brought the aloe plant to the Mediterranean region and other warm climates around the world. A timeline of the aloe vera plant is as follows:
A record of aloe vera’s benefits appear on a Mesopotamian tablet.
A description of aloe vera’s medicinal purposes is documented. An Egyptian text details how to use aloe vera for both internal and external symptoms.
The Greeks use aloe vera to treat wounds, hair loss and other issues.
First mention of aloe vera in the English language.
The U.S. Phamacopeia says aloe vera can be used to protect skin.
Aloe Vera is used to treat radiation dermatitis.
Aloe vera is commonly used around the world to improve for topical and internal ailements.
Benefits of Aloe Vera in Skin Care
Many of us are familiar with the presence of aloe vera in cosmetics and skin creams. It moisturizes as well as offers anti-aging effects but conditioning the skin and promoting a glow for the complexion. It penetrates the skin four-times faster than water and the gel can actually penetrate through all seven layers of the skin which is why it’s such a superior moisturizer.
As we all know, Aloe vera helps comfort sunburns when use topically on red, inflamed skin. It acts as a protective layer on the skin and helps replenish moisture levels and take out the haet of the burn. Because of its nutritional qualities and antioxidant properties, the skin is able to naturally heal faster.
Aloe vera promotes collagen production and is made up of 96-percent water, which is why it makes for an excellent skin hydrator. Aloe moisturizes the skin without giving it a greasy feel, so it’s perfect for all skin types, especially anyone with an oily skin complexion.
For women who use mineral-based makeup, aloe vera can be used as a moisturizing face primer, preventing skin from drying after applying your make up. For men, aloe vera gel can be used as an aftershave treatment as its calming properties can treat small cuts and lessen the irritation from razor burn.
Along with the other healing properties, aloe vera’s antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties accelerate healing and reduce pain associated with cold sores or other sores on the mouth. When it is applied to a cold sore a few times a day, it eases the discomfort and helps speed the healing process.
Aloe vera is also great for treating acne-prone skin as well. It’s gel contains two hormones: Auxin and Gibberellins. These two hormones provide wound healing and anti-inflammatory properties than reduce skin redness and inflammation. Giberellin in aloe vera acts as a growth hormone stimulating the growth of new skin cells. This allows the skin to heal quickly from breakouts and prevents harmful scarring.
Another skin care benefit of aloe vera is it fights the appearance of fine lines and the loss of elasticity in the skin that comes with aging. With its plethora of antioxidants and vitamins, it can help improve the skin’s natural firmness and keep the skin hydrated, and prevent the look of further aging.
Benefits of Aloe Vera in Hair Care
Aloe vera is known to contain over 75 nutrients that can benefit your hair and scalp. It can actually strengthen your hair and make your scalp healthier with regular use.
Here are a few of the benefits aloe vera provides for your hair:
Calms Itchy Scalp
Many people are plagued with Seborrheic dermatitis, the clinical term for dandruff. The symptons of an itchy scalp and flaking skin can be treated with aloe vera. The fatty acids found in the aloe plant have anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce this problem and keep the scalp moisturized to preent the look of dndruff.
Aloe vera is also a great way to get healthier, skinnier, softer hair. It gently and effectively cleanses the hair follicle, removing excess oil and residue build up from other hair products. Unlike chemical hair products, aloe vera doesn’t hurt your hair strands while it cleans. It is gentle and preserves the integrity of your hair.
Strengthen and Repair
Aloe vera contains vitamins A, C and E which all contribute to cell turnover, promoting healthy cell growth and shiny hair. Further, Vitamin B-12 and folic acid keep the hair from falling out. The vitamin content in aloe vera also works wonders to repair sun damage to the hair too.
Incredibly, aloe vera has the ability to increase blood circulation to a certain area. When used on the hair and scalp, aloe vera helps to increase blood flow to your scalp. By stimulating this part of the head, hair breakage and hair loss can be slowed down with regular use.
The best kind of aloe vera to use on your hair is the raw gel of the plant. You can buy this at any pharmacy or scoop it out of the leaves of the plant if you have one at home. Rubbing aloe vera into your scalp and hair and letting it penetrate your hair follicles for up to an hour can condition and improve your dry, damaged hair.
Health Benefits of Aloe Vera
While it is best known for treating skin injuries, aloe also has quite a few popular medicinal benefits that have been used for thousand of years to treat health concerns.
Including aloe vera products in your regular nutritional plan will kick start your body’s regenerative efforts and help you to reveal a young, attractive. Here are five common health benefits of aloe vera:
Aids in Digestion
Aloe vera has become very popular in natural health as a digestive aid. Since aloe is full of antioxidants that promote a strong immune system and also have anti-inflammatory qualities. It helps maintain a healthy intestinal pH while promoting a friendly environment for probiotics in the digestive track.
The adaptogenic properties of aloe vera are beneficial for proper digestion. Adaptogen is a natural substance that helps the body adapt to stress and exerts a normalizing effect upon bodily processes. This ensures better nutrient absorption and eliminates harmful elements through smooth excretion.
A healthy digestive system can positively affect your everyday life, leading to improved thoughts and actions, thus promoting overall health. Plus many skin irritations are also a product of digestive issues.
Some people use aloe to help with irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers and to detoxify the intestinal track. If you suffer from these issues,you’re your doctor about consuming aloe vera extract for at three to four weeks to notice positive results.
Boosts Immune System
Aloe has the ability to detoxify and keep the immune system in check by ridding the body from toxins that can make your feel and look sluggish.
Beverages made with aloe vera juice possess natural detoxifying properties that effectively cleanse the digestive system and boost the circulatory system. As the absorption level of nutrients accelerates, it results in better blood circulation and improved health. When the blood is rich in oxygen, it in turn provides nutrients within the cells more proficiently.
These healthy cells guarantee the body’s ability to ward off infections and sickness, thereby strengthening the immune system. Aloe vera’s rejuvenating properties work within your body to keep it fresh and active throughout the day. There is a reason people who eat plants have a good immune system!
Studies have indicated that aloe plays a role in lowering cholesterol. According to the National Institute of Health, a daily intake of 10 to 20 ml of aloe for three months was shown to reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol by 18 percent and total cholesterol by 15 percent.
When used internally, aloe vera gel automatically improves blood quality and thus helps in re-balancing components like cholesterol and glucose. Combine blueberries and aloe vera for a powerful, cholesterol-lowering remedy.
Aloe vera’s analgesic qualities are helpful in relieving muscle and tendon pain. The gel is used topically in sports medicine to soothe and alleviate achy muscles. When taken orally, the anti-inflammatory ingredients can also help with pain.
However, it is important to note that if you are using aloe vera to reduce inflammation, you should also rebalance your diet. A diet with moderate intakes of unhealthy foods such as red meat, sugar, milk, fried foods and white flour will help the aloe work better.
Aloe vera is also noted for its properties that work instantly on the pain and swelling associated with arthritis. Aloe vera juice is extremely effective in calming the swelling and inflammation resulting from arthritis. Combine topical application and drinking aloe juice for positive results in curing arthritis pain.
Aloe vera has been considered a natural healer ever since it was discovered thousands of years ago. It has been shown to work magic on wounds, even in serious conditions. The juice instantly seals the wound while drawing the flow of blood to the wound, thus enhancing the process of healing. It has been proven to effectively treat third-degree burn victims in order to restore the burned skin faster.
While most people are aware of Aloe’s cosmetic benefits, its highly nutritive qualities might come as a surprise. Aloe vera’s rise to superfood status has been slow but steady. While it is commonly used as a topical ointment for burns and skin abrasions, this ancient plant offers deeper healing abilities when taken orally. Many people who live according to a natural health philosophy have long regarded the plant as a potent superfood.
Move over kale and blueberries. As these more known foods have quickly ascended to the top of the superfoods list, aloe vera has remained a quiet competitor. If you walk into any health food store, you will be amazed at the array of aloe vera juices that are available.
With so many so-called superfoods out in the market, the meaning of the word can sometimes get diluted. However, it is correct to say that aloe vera is one of the original superfoods. Aloe vera is chock full of the good stuff-75 active components to be specific. The naturally-occurring vitamins, minerals and amino acids in the plant are necessary for good health.
To understand how aloe vera can be a disease-fighter, its best to understand what is exactly inside the gel.
Aloe Vera includes several necessary vitamins: A, C, E, B1, B2, B3, B6 and B12. To understand how aloe vera can be a disease-fighter, its best to understand what is exactly inside the gel.
- Vitamin A: Integral for a strong immune system and bone growth. Helps fight off viral or bacterial threats to the body.
- Vitamin C: Powerhouse vitamin believed to protect against cancer and cardiovascular problems. Also supports the immune system.
- Vitamin E: Protects against heart disease while promoting a strong immune system.
- B1: Also known as thiamine, B1 plays a role in digestion and contributes to a healthy nervous and immune system.
- B2: Also known as riboflavin, B2 works as an antioxidant. Provides the body with energy by creating fuel from food.
- B6: Important to a number of the body’s systems, including immune, cardiovascular and digestive. Also connected to the serotonin and dopamine process.
- B12: Necessary for healthy blood cells and helps make DNA.
Minerals are vital to humans, and they abound in aloe vera gel. Aloe Vera provides nine essential minerals that are necessary for the proper functioning of various enzyme and metabolic systems.
- Calcium: Strengthens bones and is vital to the cardiovascular and nervous systems.
- Sodium: Essential to blood pressure, muscles and nerves.
- Iron: Makes up blood cells and proteins in the body. Necessary for energy.
- Magnesium: Necessary for hundreds of processes in the body, including blood glucose regulation and keeping the immune system strong.
- Potassium: Helps clean cells out, protects blood vessels and helps lower the risk of heart disease.
- Copper: Needed for growth and general health. Helps maintain healthy heart function.
Aloe contains 12 organic compounds called anthraquinones. Aloin, which causes a laxative effect, and Emodin help with pain relief and work as antibacterial, analgesic and antiviral agents.
The aloe polysaccharide is the main naturally occurring active constituent in aloe vera that allows all of the benefits to be activated in the body. Aloe vera contains a unique type of sugar called Acemannan. The polysaccharide is believed to have antiviral properties, alleviate gastrointestinal problems and stimulate the immune system.
Aloe vera consists of four plant-based fatty acids, which are known to have anti-inflammatory and antiseptic qualities. They also contain pain-relieving components. All are helpful in reducing symptoms of allergies and acid indigestion.
Aloe Latex should not be taken in high doses because it can sometimes cause side effects, including stomach pain and cramps. Long-term use of large amounts of aloe latex might also cause diarrhea, kidney problems, blood in the urine, low potassium, muscle weakness, weight loss and heart issues.
Don’t take aloe vera, either gel or latex, if pregnant or breast feeding. Children under 12 may experience abdominal pain, cramps and diarrhea if taking aloe vera.
Before taking aloe vera, consult with your doctor if you are taking any medications such as diabetes medications, laxatives or diuretic medications.