Aloe vera is a succulent plant species of the genus Aloe. An evergreen perennial, it originates from the Arabian Peninsula but grows wild in tropical climates around the world and is cultivated for agricultural and medicinal uses. The species is also used for decorative purposes and grows successfully indoors as a potted plant.
It is found in many consumer products including beverages, skin lotion, cosmetics, or ointments for minor burns and sunburns. There is little scientific evidence of the effectiveness or safety of Aloe vera extracts for either cosmetic or medicinal purposes. Studies finding positive evidence are frequently contradicted by other studies.
The incredible Aloe Vera needs no introduction. Its benefits are well-known, which is why it has earned a permanent place in many a household. Be it a sunburn or a bad case of acne, aloe vera is a treatment you can always rely on. But, did you know that the humble aloe vera has so much more to offer? Aloe vera is a succulent plant and stores water in its leaves, which are thick and fleshy. The leaves produce two substances – the gel, which is more or less water with several other nutrients mixed in, and the sap, which is also known as aloe latex.
The ‘plant of immortality’, as it was called by Egyptians, also known as ‘Ghritkumari’ in Hindi, ‘Kalabanda’ in Telugu, ‘Katralai’ in Tamil, ‘Kumari’ in Malayalam, ‘Lolisara’ in Kannada, ‘Koraphada’ in Marathi, and ‘Ghrtakumari’ in Bengali can perform miracles not just for your skin, but for your hair and health as well.
According to Kew Gardens, England’s royal botanical center of excellence, Aloe vera has been used for centuries and is currently more popular than ever.
It is cultivated worldwide, primarily as a crop for “Aloe gel,” which comes from the leaf.
Aloe vera is widely used today in:
- Food – it is approved by the FDA as a flavoring.
- Food supplements.
- Herbal remedies.
The earliest record of a human use for Aloe vera comes from the Ebers Papyrus (an Egyptian medical record) from the16th century BC. According to a study published in the Indian Journal of Dermatology, in ancient Egypt, they called Aloe vera “that plant of immortality.” The authors added that the plant has been used therapeutically for many centuries in China, Japan, India, Greece, Egypt, Mexico, and Japan.
Aloe Vera is an ingredient that needs no introduction. It has become a rage in the beauty and health world because of its beneficial properties. You can consume aloe vera juice for a healthy body and use aloe vera gel in your beauty regime to get a flawless and radiant skin. It also works wonders for your hair.
This green colored plant stores water in its leaves making them fleshy and thick. When you slice through an aloe vera leaf, what you get it fresh aloe vera gel. Apart from the gel, the leaf also produces sap called aloe latex. This sap is loaded with nutrients and is beneficial for your body and hair. But if you think all this is too much of a hassle, the easy alternative is to buy aloe vera gel online. You can also purchase aloe vera juice online or from the market. Include it in your daily diet for a healthier you.
Be it sun burn, dull lifeless skin, a rash or a cut, dry frizzy hair, aloe vera will help you with a lot of your skin and hair problems. It is also known to fight acne and blemishes effectively. Mix aloe vera gel with a few drops of lemon and use this as a night treatment. Use it regularly and you’ll see blemishes and dark spots reduced.
Benefits of Aloe vera
Teeth and gums
A study published in General Dentistry reported that Aloe vera in tooth gels is as effective as toothpaste in fighting cavities.
The researchers compared the germ-fighting ability of an Aloe vera tooth gel with two popular toothpastes. They found that the gel was just as good, and in some cases even better than the commercial toothpastes at controlling cavity-causing oral bacteria.
The authors explain that Aloe latex contains anthraquinones, compounds that actively heal and reduce pain through natural anti-inflammatory effects.
The scientists warned that not all gels they analyzed contained the proper form of Aloe vera – they must contain the stabilized gel that exists in the center of the plant to be effective.
Germany’s regulatory agency for herbs – Commission E – approved the use of Aloe vera for the treatment of constipation. Dosages of 50-200 milligrams of Aloe latex are commonly taken in liquid or capsule form once daily for up to 10 days.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ruled in 2002 that there is not enough data on the safety and efficacy of Aloe products; so, in the U.S., they cannot be sold to treat constipation.
Diabetes-induced foot ulcers
A study carried out at the Sinhgad College of Pharmacy, India, and published in the International Wound Journal looked at Aloe’s ability to treat ulcers.
They reported that a “gel formed with carbopol 974p (1 percent) and Aloe vera promotes significant wound healing and closure in diabetic rats compared with the commercial product and provides a promising product to be used in diabetes-induced foot ulcers.”
Antioxidant and possible antimicrobial properties
Aloe vera being used on skin for it’s antimicrobial and antioxidant properties.
Researchers at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain, published a study in the journal Molecules.
The team set out to determine whether the methanol extract of leaf skins and flowers of Aloe vera might have beneficial effects on human health. The scientists focused on the extract’s possible antioxidant and antimycoplasmic activities.
Mycoplasma is a type of bacteria that lack a cell wall; they are unaffected by many common antibiotics. Antimycoplasmic substances destroy these bacteria.
They reported that both Aloe vera flower and leaf extracts had antioxidant properties, especially the leaf skin extract. The leaf skin extract also exhibited antimycoplasmic properties.
The authors concluded that “A. Vera extracts from leaf skin and flowers can be considered as good natural antioxidant sources.”
Protection from ultraviolet (UV) irradiation
Scientists at Kyung Hee University Global Campus, South Korea, wanted to determine whether baby Aloe shoot extract and adult Aloe shoot extract might have a protective effect on UVB-induced skin photoaging; in other words, whether they could protect the skin from the aging effects of sunlight.
Baby Aloe shoot extract (BAE) comes from 1-month old shoots while adult Aloe shoot extract (AE) comes from 4-month old shoots.
Protection from skin damage after radiation therapy
A study carried out at the University of Naples, Italy, tested five different topical creams to see how effective they might be in protecting the skin of breast cancer patients receiving radiation therapy. One of these creams contained Aloe.
They divided 100 patients into five groups of 20; each was prescribed a different topical treatment. They applied the creams twice daily, starting 15 days before radiation therapy treatment, and carried on for 1 month afterward.
During the 6-week period, the participants underwent weekly skin assessments.
In the journal Radiation Oncology, the scientists reported that the preventive use of the topical hydrating creams reduced the incidence of skin side effects in the women treated with radiation therapy for breast cancer, none performed significantly better.
“All moisturizing creams used in this study were equally valid in the treatment of skin damage induced by radiotherapy.”
Depression, learning, and memory – an animal experiment
After carrying out experiments on laboratory mice, they concluded: “Aloe vera enhances learning and memory, and also alleviates depression in mice.”
Further studies are needed to establish whether humans might also receive the same benefits.
Wounds from second-degree burns
A team of plastic surgeons compared Aloe vera gel to 1 percent silver sulphadiazine cream for the treatment of second-degree burn wounds.
They reported in the Journal of Pakistan Medical Association that the burn wounds among the patients treated with Aloe vera healed significantly quicker compared with those treated with 1 percent silver sulfadiazine (SSD).
The researchers added that those in the Aloe vera group experienced significantly more and earlier pain relief than those in the SSD group.
The authors wrote: “Thermal burns patients dressed with Aloe vera gel showed advantage compared to those dressed with SSD regarding early wound epithelialization, earlier pain relief, and cost-effectiveness.”
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
A randomized, double-blind human trial carried out at St. George’s Hospital Medical School, London, United Kingdom investigated Aloe and IBS. Their results were published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice. Participants with IBS were given either Aloe vera or a placebo. After 3 months, there were no significant differences in symptoms of diarrhea.
Many claims about Aloe vera lack scientific studies
Person holding leaf of aloe vera plant.
Most global health authorities say that many of the dozens of therapeutic benefits associated with Aloe vera require further scientific evidence. This does not mean the claims are necessarily inaccurate.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) in the U.S., part of the National Institutes of Health, Aloe latex contains strong laxative compounds.
Products containing aloin, aloe-emodin, and barbaloin (components of Aloe) were once regulated by the FDA as oral OTC laxatives. In 2002, the FDA required that all OTC Aloe laxatives be removed from the market or reformulated because of a lack of safety data.
However, the use of topical Aloe vera is likely to be safe. If you choose to use it, do an allergy test (apply a small circle on the skin and wait 24 hours) before using it more widely on your body.
Some studies have shown that topical Aloe gel may help in abrasions and burns. However, the NCCAM wrote: “There is not enough scientific evidence to support Aloe vera for any of its other uses.”
Aloe Vera for Beauty
Bill C. Coats writes, “Since the skin needs nutrition of its own, Aloe Vera, when formulated into a properly designed personal care regimen, can treat, exfoliate, restore, reveal and provide constant, impressive nutrition to the human skin.” And we’re about to show just how you can do that. Once you move past the slimey texture of natural aloe vera gel and apply it to your skin, you’ll notice how soothing and cooling it is. And it’s for these exact reasons that Ayurveda refers to aloe vera as the miracle herb that can be used to treat wounds, minor cuts, dry skin and severe burns.
Aloe vera or aloe vera-based products can be used in the winter as well as in the summer and by people of all skin types. Aloe vera treats the cells on the epithelial level of the skin which is why it’s recommended by dermatologists to remove tan, treat sunburn and stretch marks. One way to use aloe vera is to apply the gel directly, another would be to make a pack using aloe vera along with some other special ingredients from your kitchen.
- Aloe Vera for Dry Skin – Take some aloe vera, a pinch of turmeric, a teaspoon of honey, a teaspoon of milk and a few drops of rose water. Blend this mix till you get a paste. Apply it and leave in for about 20 minutes or so.
- Aloe Vera Scrub – Grab half a cup of fresh aloe vera gel, a cup of sugar and two tablespoons of lemon juice. The sugar will help exfoliate and scrub off dead skin, the aloe vera will deep clean the skin and the lemon will help fade out scars and tan. Stir the three ingredients together and use it to scrub both face and body.
- Aloe Vera for Acne – Take some aloe vera gel, blended walnuts with a flour like consistency and honey. Aloe vera’s healing properties coupled with the anti-oxidants from honey will leave you with smooth and clear skin.
- Aloe vera for Sensitive Skin – Grab some aloe vera gel, cucumber juice, yoghurt and rose oil and blend them to a paste. Apply and leave for around 20 minutes, then rinse it off.
Aloe Vera for Weight-Loss
It’s not just the beauty industry that’s obsessing over the benefits of aloe vera, the health industry can’t stop raving about it either. According to Britt Brandon, the author of The Everything Guide to Aloe Vera for Health, “Aloe vera can improve the effectiveness of your diet and maximise your weight-loss potential. With ample amounts of vitamins and minerals that contribute to weight-loss, as well as amino acids, enzymes and sterols, aloe vera ensures your diet is not only supportive of weight-loss, but also improves the body’s absorption and utilisation, improving overall health as well as weight-loss success.”
Aloe vera is used in a wide range of health products, like diet supplements, juices etc. It’s rich in anti-oxidants which means it helps cut out free radicals in the body and boost your immunity. It’s also a good source of protein so it helps muscle development and gives you copious amounts of energy.
There are countless studies that prove how effective aloe vera is for weight-loss, but it should be consumed regularly and over a long period of time for it to really work.How to drink aloe vera juice: The natural taste of aloe vera is so bitter that you wouldn’t think of consuming it as is. Take the gel, dice it into small pieces and blend. Now mix a bit of this with some other fruit or vegetable juice that’s preferably sweet. You can also use the leaves of aloe vera, blend them, strain and drink. If you find it too bitter then mix it up with honey and drink. You can also add some lemon to this mix.
Aloe Vera for Hairfall
Aloe vera contains something called proteolytic enzymes which repairs dead skin cells on the scalp. It also acts as a great conditioner and leaves your hair all smooth and shiny. It promotes hair growth, prevents itching on the scalp, reduces dandruff and conditions your hair. Diane Gage, author of Aloe Vera: Nature’s Soothing Healer says, “Keratin, the primary protein of hair, consists of amino acids, oxygen, carbon, and small amounts of hydrogen, nitrogen, and sulphur. Aloe vera has a chemical make up similar to that of keratin and it rejuvenates the hair with its own nutrients, giving it more elasticity and preventing breakage.”
Mix equal quantities of aloe vera juice and extra virgin coconut oil. Apply and leave it in for as long as possible for strong, smooth and bouncy hair.
Aloe Vera Uses
Using one or the other form of aloe vera would have great benefits for your skin, hair, and overall health. You may use Aloe vera for the face in various ways. Also using aloe vera juice in limited quantity can be beneficial for your health. Start your day with an aloe vera gel drink.
If you have an aloe vera plant, you can extract organic aloe vera gel. But for all those who think it is a tedious task, you can easily buy aloe ver gel online or from the market.
Aloe Vera Uses For Skin
The thick gel is known to be highly beneficial for your skin. It fights dry and flaky skin by keeping it hydrated and moisturized. If your skin is feeling dull and tired, you can use aloe vera gel as a quick face pack, you can add aloe vera gel in your DIY face packs to make them more effective.
1.Prevents Premature Aging
Fine line and wrinkles are first signs of pre-mature skin ageing. Rather than spending a bomb on cosmetic treatments and chemical products, it is a good idea to take care of your skin from an early age.
Use aloe vera gel for face and let it work its magic. Aloe vera leaf is enriched with a host of antioxidants like beta-carotene, Vitamin A, and Vitamin E. All these ingredients improve your skin’s texture and help keep the natural firmness intact.
Aloe Vera face pack –
Mix 1 tsp each of aloe vera gel and instant oatmeal with ½ tsp olive oil to form a smooth paste. Apply it all over your face and neck and let it dry for 30 minutes. Rinse off with cold water. While oatmeal will scrub your face, olive oil with add nourish, and aloe vera gel will replenish the lost moisture.
2.Helps Soothe Sunburn and Reduce Tan
Aloe vera gel acts a protective layer for the skin to replenish the moisture. It provides great healing activity at the epithelial level of the skin. Because of its high antioxidant content, the skin heals faster.
Refrigerate aloe vera gel for a couple of hours and apply a generous amount on sun burnt skin. It would give instant cooling and would also heal your skin.
3.Effective In Treating Rashes and Cuts
Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, aloe vera gel is effective in calming insect bites and rashes on the skin. You can use it as a topical treatment even for small cuts.
The soothing property of aloe vera gel makes it effective to be used as an after shave lotion. You can also use it after waxing or shaving your arms and legs. It’ll cool your skin and replenish the lost moisture.
Aloe Vera Uses For Hair
A Great Conditioner
The conditioning power of aloe vera is such that it can even give high-end conditioners a run for their money. Aloe vera is rich in proteolytic enzymes. These enzymes remove dead cells and help in cell regeneration, thus, repairing your hair.
Aloe vera is moisturizing in nature. It nourishes and strengthens your hair and gives it a natural shine as well. You can use aloe vera gel as a conditioner after shampoo, or even as a leave in conditioner.
Mix equal parts aloe vera gel and water in a spray bottle. Spray this concoction at the ends of your hair. It’ll keep frizz at bay and give you silky smooth hair.
Maintains pH Balance Of The Scalp
The ideal pH balance of our scalp is 5.5. When this balance is disrupted, it leads to hair problems. A large number of shampoos contain surfactants. Since these are alkaline in nature, they may alter the normal pH of your scalp.
To restore moisture and pH of your hair, aloe vera is a great ingredient. It gives your hair a smooth texture and helps in hair growth.
Helps get rid of dandruff
If you are battling dandruff and problems related to dandruff like flaky, itchy scalp, then aloe vera enriched shampoo can come to your rescue. Dandruff can be caused either due to the oily scalp or due to an infection on the scalp. Aloe vera gel is the solution to all these problems. It is very effective in removing dead skin cells and unclogs your pores. The anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties fight against infection.
Aloe Vera Uses for Health
Using aloe vera juice can reduce inflammation. The cause of inflammation in our body is the oxidative damage caused by free radicals. Aloe vera is rich in antioxidants. These antioxidants
You can easily buy aloe vera drink and drink it. Using aloe vera capsules is also a good idea. Aloe vera juice can also prove useful in arthritis and rheumatism.
2.Aids in Digestion
Consuming aloe vera juice every day is a healthy practice. Using Aloe vera improves digestion and provides relief from ulcers. But it is highly recommended that you talk to your doctor to avoid any aloe vera juice side effects.
Aloe vera is known to boost immunity. Aloe vera causes cells to produce nitric oxide and cytokines which give that much-needed boost to your immune system.
4.Great for oral health
Various studies have revealed that aloe vera is as effective as any toothpaste when it comes to maintaining oral health. It treats wounds in the mouth and helps keep your gums moisturized. It also reduces swelling and inflammation of gums. The anti-bacterial properties keep cavity-causing germs at bay.
Aloe Vera Side Effects
Like they say, an excess of everything is bad. There might be chances that aloe vera might not suit your skin or body and can lead to side effects of aloe vera. Some people are generally allergic to aloe. This allergy is most common in people who are allergic to plants in the Liliaceae family (aloe vera is a part of this plant family). Plants in this family are – lilies, onion, garlic, hyacinths, and tulips.
You can be affected by aloe vera gel side effects or aloe vera juice side effects.
These are some of the side effects of aloe vera you must know about:
Aloe latex, which is a component of the aloe vera leaf may be unfit for consumption. It may cause gastrointestinal problems, stomach pain, ulcers, intestinal obstruction, and appendicitis. If consumed in large quantity it can be fatal.
Consuming aloe vera juice might cause your blood sugar level to drop. If you are diabetic, this can be a major concern. Thus, it is recommended that you talk to your doctor.
Pregnant and lactating mothers should strictly stay away from aloe vera juice because of its irritant qualities. It may stimulate uterine contractions in pregnant women. This may lead to birth defects in your child or even miscarriage.
Drinking aloe vera juice may cause allergic reactions for some like – rashes on the skin, itchy skin, difficulty in breathing, hives, tightness of chest, swelling of the face, lips, or mouth, and throat irritation.
Drinking unprocessed aloe vera juice may lead to electrolyte imbalance and dehydration in the body.
Aloe vera juice can also lower potassium level in your body. This may cause irregular heartbeat and weakness. Thus, elderly people and people with a medical history should not drink aloe vera juice.
If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome or any gastrointestinal problems, then you should not consume aloe vera juice. Due to the laxative effects of the plant, excess consumption may cause loose motions, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea.
An overdose of aloe vera juice may lead to building up in the pelvis, which can have an adverse effect on your kidneys.
Consuming limited amount of aloe vera juice on the recommendation of your doctor is fine. These side effects crop up when people consume excessive amount, higher than the recommended dosage.
How to Apply Aloe Vera Gel on Your Face
Many people keep aloe vera plants at home and use the thick, clear gel inside the leaves to help soothe burns and heal wounds. Health-care practitioners use aloe vera to treat skin disorders, wounds, sunburn, radiation burns and dermatitis, according to Deanne Tenney and Rita Elkins, authors of “Aloe Vera.” Regularly applying aloe vera gel to your face can help make your complexion clearer and smoother and reduce inflammation. Many health food stores and pharmacies sell aloe vera gel, but gel extracted from the plant is both fresh and economical.
Remove an aloe vera leaf from an aloe plant by cutting it at the base with a pair of scissors or a kitchen knife. Clean off any dirt from the leaf by gently scrubbing it with a wet toothbrush or nailbrush. Rinse the leaf under running water.
Slice the spines off the sides of the leaf with a sharp kitchen knife. Cut the leaf in half vertically and extract the gel inside with a spoon.
Apply a thin layer of aloe vera gel over your face and allow it to dry for at least one hour. Remove the gel with warm water and a clean washcloth.
How to Use Aloe Vera to Treat Your Hair:
Keeping your hair damp, simply apply aloe vera gel using your fingers. This also provides a soothing effect to the scalp & helps in setting your hair in place.
Thoroughly mix the same amount of water and aloe and transfer the solution into a spray bottle. Add a few drops of an essential oil and you’re ready.
Thoroughly mix the same amount of olive oil and aloe gel. Using a comb spread the resulting mixture evenly on your hair.
4.Aloe Vera for Hair Growth:
Aloe vera for hair loss is a quite unexplored area in our hair care routine. However, these aloe vera hair packs are an effective way to curb hair fall and also a completely natural way to address this issue!
5. Aloe Vera and Egg Hair Mask:
You need eggs yolks, aloe vera, and coconut oil or olive oil.
- Mix all ingredients to make a smooth paste, without any lumps
- Apply the aloe vera egg mask on your hair and scalp. Ensure that your roots are covered in this mask
- Wash your hair with cold water and a mild shampoo and conditioner
6.Onion and Aloe Vera Hair Mask:
You need onion juice and aloe vera gel for this hair mask. Both these ingredients have well known medicinal properties that promote hair growth.
Apply the mixture of onion juice and aloe vera gel on your hair and scalp
After an hour, wash it with a mild shampoo and conditioner
7. Aloe Vera Hair Mask for Greasy Hair:
Make a mixture of aloe vera gel, a mild shampoo and lemon juice
Apply this mixture on your greasy hair
Rinse it off after 10 minutes with cold water
Aloe vera for Dandruff:
Aloe Vera with Coconut Oil
Mix aloe vera gel with coconut oil and cook this mixture over a low flame for 30 minutes
Get this concoction to room temperature
Massage it gently on the scalp and hair and ensure it has spread evenly
Wash it with a mild shampoo and conditioner after 3 hours
Aloe Vera and Honey, Yogurt Hair Mask for Dandruff:
Mix 2 tablespoons of fresh aloe vera gel, 1 tablespoon of honey and 2 tablespoons of yogurt and olive oil
Massage this paste on your scalp for 15 minutes
Wash it with warm water after 30 minutes
You can use this hair mask once a week
How To Harvest Aloe Vera Gel
Before we get into the “why” of using Aloe Vera gel for all of your natural health and beauty needs, let us briefly take a look at the process of harvesting gel from the plant.
First, select one or more large, fat leaves from around the base of the plant. Grip selected leaves near the base and pull gently but firmly. They should release fairly easily. Take care not to cut your fingers on the thorns lining the leaves as you do this.
Once you have harvested your Aloe leaves, use a sharp knife to slice away the thorny edge from one side of each leaf. Then slice the leaves open lengthwise so you have two long halves. Set the halves on your cutting surface, gel side up.
Finally, use a spoon to scrape the gel away from each leaf and into your chosen container. When you’ve finished using your harvested Aloe Vera gel, remember to refrigerate any unused portion.
If you don’t own an Aloe plant or if extracting the gel by hand is simply too cumbersome, I highly recommend Amara Organics Aloe Vera Gel as an excellent substitute for home-grown aloe.
Risks and warnings for aloe vera
There’s usually little cause for concern when using aloe vera gel, but some people are allergic to it. Before using aloe vera topically, do a patch test. Rub a small bit of aloe vera on the inside of your wrist and wait up to two hours to see if your skin reacts poorly. This will let you know if you have an aloe sensitivity.
You should also be careful with topical aloe if you’re using hydrocortisone cream on your skin. Aloe vera can increase the amount of cortisone that’s absorbed by your skin when the two are used together.
Aloe Vera is power packed with loads of nutrients to treat our body in the most natural way, however, in certain treatments it may cause adverse effects if not taken under supervision like excess amount may cause diarrhea and may lower blood sugar which leads to loss of potassium from the body. It may inhibit some drug reaction internally and may cause allergic reaction on the skin.
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