From lotions to burn relief, aloe vera is found in many of the commercial cosmetic and health products we use at home, but there’s a reason why our ancestors began using the plant thousands of years ago. Aloe vera has antibacterial and antioxidant properties that make it ideal for medicinal purposes and, as the Egyptians would have it, the plant of immortality. The following benefits of aloe vera provide us mortals with a taste of that heavenly glow.
Burns are the most common ailment that aloe vera is used to salve. Aloe vera gel that is pulled from a cross-section of the plant’s leaves are used to provide relief on irritated skin. While it’s probably not a good idea to apply aloe vera directly to a wound, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, it does provide hydration, reduces irritation and quickens the healing process. Aloe vera can also be used effectively to treat inflammatory conditions of the skin, such as psoriasis and acne.
For our friends with the kinkiest of hair types, aloe vera can be a lifesaver for dry or curly hair. Naturally Curly chemist Tonya McKay explains how the gel can be used directly on the scalp to break down dandruff and dead skin cells, unclogging hair follicles and promoting hair growth. Aloe vera hydrates and repairs broken hair bonds and restore the natural pH of the scalp. The polysaccharides, protein lectin and amino acids in aloe vera provide cells’ structural integrity.
According to the Lily of the Desert website, aloe vera contains vitamin C & E, vitamin B-12 and zinc. Vitamins C & E are antioxidants that prevent free radical damage, the kind that is caused by ultraviolet rays or toxins in the environment. When taken orally it can stimulate immune system functions. Dr. Axe claims that the zinc in aloe vera boosts cell function because it kills bacteria and strengthens cell membranes, which is why it can also be used for anti-aging.
Authority Nutrition has pointed out that aloe vera gel is equally as effective as mouthwash when it comes to preventing plaque from forming on tooth enamel and eradicating the germs that cause bad breath.
Aloe vera is also known to be a common remedy for constipation and is an effective laxative. However, the National Center for Biotechnological Information warns against long-term effects of using the aloe latex as a laxative. Some of the conditions including potassium deficiencies, cramping, diarrhea and red urine.
Forever the bane of human existence, cankor sores are bumps that can appear in or outside the mouth when the immune system has been compromised or the body is under stress. Aloe vera alleviates the symptoms by soothing the painful sensation in or outside the mouth and its antiseptic properties inhibit the growth of bacteria in the affected area while the antioxidants boost the body’s natural immune system.
Lowering Blood Sugar
For patients with type 2 diabetes, aloe vera has been found to lower blood glucose levels when mixed with water in liquid form. However, the University of Maryland Medical Center warns that these studies are preliminary and some side effects, such as liver damage, may occur from ingesting aloe vera. Before self-medicating with herbal remedies, it is always prudent to consult your primary care physician first.
Fresh aloe vera preferable to store bought gels and liquids. The plants are very easy to care for and are aesthetically pleasing as well. If you don’t have time to care for the plants or just don’t have a green thumb, aloe vera is available in many different forms at your local health food store. Stock up on aloe vera today.
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Sources: [Authority Nutrition, Lily of the Desert, Natural Curly, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, National Center for Biotechnology Information, University of Maryland Medical Center] Featured image credit: Eyana Salon via Flickr
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