Guest Post by: Sasha de Beaussett, B.A., M.Sc.
Aloe vera is advertised as an ingredient in all different types of products. From sunscreen to hydrating drinks, it seems to have quite a range of somewhat “magical” properties.
What is aloe vera? Is it really as versatile as the food and beauty industries tell us it is?
Here is an introduction to everything you should know about the health benefits of aloe vera.
What is it?
Aloe vera is a succulent shrub, and its extended, triangular leaves form a dense rosette. The inside of the leaves contains a translucent gel, and that is typically what is extracted for use in various products. Some other common names for aloe vera include “burn plant,” “lily of the desert,” and “elephant’s gall.”
The discovery of aloe vera as one with various properties beneficial to human wellbeing is traced back as far as 6,000 years in Egypt. Here the plant is seen in stone carvings, and was known as the “plant of immortality,” communicating its sense of divine powers. It has been used historically to treat a variety of ailments, including wounds, hair loss, constipation, and even hemorrhoids.
Today, aloe vera is approved by the Food & Drug Administration for use in food, cosmetics, food supplements and herbal remedies.
What Are the Health Benefits of aloe vera?
Unfortunately, there have not been many studies to determine whether there is a scientific backing for many of the popularly claimed benefits of aloe vera.
However, centuries of treatment and millions of anecdotes will tell you about the beneficial effects of aloe vera.
One comprehensive scientific study published in the Indian Journal of Dermatology identified multiple active components in aloe vera, which suggest a potential mechanism of action for a range of uses. These uses include the following:
- Antioxidant properties: aloe vera contains vitamins A, C, and E, as well as various minerals, which are antioxidants that help neutralize free radicals to protects cells from damage.
- Reduces inflammation: aloe vera contains at least 8 enzymes, some of which help to reduce excessive inflammation when applied to the skin like a topical gel. This is why it is used for sunburns, bug bites, and jellyfish stings.
- Anti-allergy properties: some of the sugars that are found in aloe vera help to reduce inflammation caused by allergic reactions.
- Antibacterial and antiviral properties: some anthraquinones in aloe vera also act as analgesics, antibacterials, and antivirals. Adding to these properties are plant-based fatty acids, which also have antiseptic properties.
- Would healing: hormones called auxins and gibberllins assist in wound healing and help to reduce inflammation that may occur where a wound is found.
- Protects against UV and gamma radiation: while the mechanism isn’t exactly understood, when aloe vera is applied to the skin, an antioxidant protein is generated, helping to reduce hypersensitivity to UV exposure.
- Moisturizing and anti-aging effects: Aloe stimulates what is called the fibroblast in the skin, which, in turn produces collagen and elastin fibers. This helps to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, and prevents skin flaking.
While it may seem too good to be true, it seems there is a reason why aloe vera has stuck around for so many centuries as a treatment for a variety of ailments. Over time, aloe vera became, not only a home remedy, but also an active ingredient in a variety of commercialized products.
If you are looking to take advantage of all of the health benefits of aloe vera, there is no need to go running to the store. Why not have a small aloe vera plantation at home? Snip off a leaf when you are in need of relief, and you will feel the slightly sticky, yet cool relief sensation of aloe vera on your skin.
You can also soothe and stimulate your digestive tract with aloe vera by using The Natural Citizen’s Organic Digest blend. This unique powdered blend combines both soluble and insoluble fibers plus aloe vera to support digestion and daily regularity, click here to learn more about Organic Digest.