Healthy Living

Everything to Know About Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is the gel extracted from the evergreen plant species of the genus Aloe. This succulent flowering genus grows all year round with over five hundred species. Although aloe originated in the tropical, arid climate of the Arabian Peninsula, it now also grows wild in North Africa, Southern Europe, and the Canary Islands.

Aloe is famous for the gel obtained from its leaves, which possesses unique curative and therapeutic qualities. For centuries physicians in ancient Asia and the Middle East used its gel to cure different ailments; in fact, the Ancient Egyptians referred to aloe as the plant of immortality. Today its use is even more popular and widespread than before, with aloe vera being the main constituent of many food supplements, skin care products, and herbal remedies.

Image of aloe vera and its gel.

Whether or not it is the plant of immortality, no one can deny that this potted plant comes in handy in many perilous situations, from relieving sunburns to healing wounds.

Keep reading this article to know the various health benefits of aloe vera and how you can incorporate its magic gel into your daily routine:

Say Goodbye to Skin Problems

To survive the harsh conditions of tropical areas where it grows wild, the aloe plant retains large amounts of water in its leaves. This quality allows aloe gel to keep your face hydrated, which is the reason why you will find so many skincare products on the market shelf with aloe gel as their active ingredient.

Not only it helps lock in moisture on your face, but it is also an effective deterrent to acne. You can use either an aloe product such as a cleanser or apply fresh aloe gel directly to your face and say goodbye to dark spots and acne. Moreover, it is also used to treat other skin problems such as psoriasis and seborrhea. Inflammation, itchiness, and redness caused by psoriasis can be reduced greatly by using aloe extract cream several times a day for a month. Have a look at our guide Health Benefits of Aloe Vera for Facial and Beauty Skin to know more.

Healing Burns and Relieving Pain

The water-dense leaves of the aloe plant possess exceptional cooling properties. Therefore, it is widely used to soothe the skin in case of any inflammation. It is an excellent pain reliever that helps relieve sunburns and lowers levels of inflammation instantly. Applying aloe gel to areas of mild sunburn a few times a day results in quick relief. According to a study conducted in 2013 on 50 people, those who used aloe gel to treat mild burns had faster recovery than those who used a cream with 1 percent silver sulfadiazine. Doctors also highly recommend the use of aloe gel to heal burn wounds due to its soothing properties.

Promotes Digestive Health

Aloe vera gel is a natural laxative that improves digestive health and helps relieve symptoms of several stomach ailments such as constipation and IBS ( irritable bowel syndrome). Studies prove that patients with IBS showed significantly improved symptoms when they consumed aloe gel compared to another placebo. Doctors at the Mayo Clinic also recommends the use of dried aloe juice to soothe symptoms of constipation.

Improves Oral Health

Aloe vera toothpaste and mouthwash are widely used because of aloe’s antiplague and antifungal effectiveness. According to a study conducted in 2017, adolescents who used toothpaste with aloe vera as its main ingredient had improved dental health.  When shopping for a mouthwash, choose one with aloe vera listed in its ingredients to prevent dental problems. The Vitamin C in aloe vera fights off plague and protects your teeth against bacteria. Moreover, due to its soothing properties, it works wonders for those with bleeding or swollen gums.

Relieves Heart Burn

Heartburn is one of the most frequently-faced symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease, a common digestive disorder. According to a study reviewed in 2010,  consuming one to three ounces of aloe gel at mealtime once a day can lower the frequency of heartburns in GERD patients. Therefore, doctors often suggest aloe gel to patients suffering from GERD to relieve heartburn. Since the plant has very low toxicity, it can also be used as a natural remedy to alleviate the symptoms of other digestion-related diseases.

Safe Use of Aloe Vera

Aloe vera gel is generally safe and well-tolerated by most people when applied to the skin to treat burns or other mild skin problems. However, your skin might react adversely to it in case of an allergic reaction; therefore, always start with a small amount of aloe gel and pay close attention to how your body reacts.

Stop the use of aloe gel promptly in case of the following conditions:

  • Allergic to garlic
  • Allergic to onions
  • Allergic to tulips
  • Have a surgery scheduled in two to three weeks

Keep the dosages of aloe gel low when taking it orally. Lactating and pregnant women are advised against using aloe vera orally. Consult your doctor before taking aloe gel orally if you are taking any medications or have other health problems such as diabetes or hemorrhoids.

Tips for Harvesting the Plant

Close-up picture of an aloe vera plant pot.

Although aloe vera is a relatively easy plant to harvest, the whole process might be confusing if you are new to gardening. Therefore, below we have prepared a thorough guide on harvesting an aloe plant with additional tips from experts to allow you to experience the full range of this plant’s magic.

  1. Get your hands on a mature aloe plant. The older the plant is, the higher the concentration of its active ingredients will be so, ensure that the plant is at least two-three years old.
  2. Cut a couple of thick and healthy leaves from the outer parts of the dense rosette of aloe. You will want to steer clear from leaves that exhibit any signs of molding.
  3. Once you have picked the leaves, slowly cut them near the stem as the base is packed with curative components and nutrients. While cutting the leaves, avoid the roots.
  4. Now wash them with water to remove all the dirt and tap dry with a towel.
  5. Make sure that you cut all the spikes and trim the rough edges to avoid any scratched fingers.
  6. Next, you must use a sharpened knife to peel off the outer layer and separate it from the gel inside.
  7. Finally, cut the gel into slices and use it directly or give it a go through a blender to remove the pulp.
  8. You can refrigerate the extra aloe vera to use it after a couple of days; however, it is recommended to use the freshly-extracted gel as soon as possible.

If you run out of your stock of fresh aloe gel, you can always go back to your favorite potted plant for a second filling; however, it is best to let the plant grow for two weeks before harvesting leaves again.

The Takeaway

We get to discover more and more health benefits of aloe vera gel with every passing day as scientists continue research on the therapeutic qualities of this succulent plant. This potted plant will keep you covered when you need quick relief for sunburns or heartburn. Say goodbye to expensive skincare creams and use aloe gel to keep your skin hydrated and moisturized. Although aloe gel is generally safe, it is best to consult your doctor before taking it orally.

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