Aloe Vera (Aloe barbadensis miller), a plant that is commonly found in every household, is a wonder plant that is in use for thousands of years now for treating acne, wrinkles and various other skin problems due to its antibacterial, antiviral, and antiseptic and antioxidant properties. This plant is not only used for alleviating skin problems but is used for treating various health problems, each of which we will look at in detail in this article.
Aloe vera is a thorny, perennial plant that is pea-green in colour. It is mainly found in the dry regions of Africa, Europe, Asia, and America. Both the gel and the latex of aloe vera are useful. The gel of aloe vera is translucent & is bitter in taste and is well-known for its healing properties. This translucent gel comprises around 96% water, few organic and inorganic compounds, Vitamin A, B12, C and E as well as a type of protein that contains major amino acids found in the body.
Health Benefits of Aloe Vera
Promote wound healing-
Aloe vera gel helps to increase the amount of collagen in wounds and also change the composition of collagen. This leads to an increase in the cross cross-linking of collagen, thereby promoting wound healing.
Helps in improving blood sugar levels-
Oral intake of aloe vera can help reduce blood sugar and HbA1c in people with type 2 diabetes. Regular intake of aloe vera assists in stimulating the secretion of insulin which is helpful for people with diabetes.
For Gastroesophageal reflux disease(GERD) disease-
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is a condition in which the stomach acid travels back from the stomach to the food pipe. Since Aloe Vera is a powerful detoxifier and has various anti-inflammatory properties that fight inflammation, it’s great for people having GERD. It is also beneficial in constipation due to its laxative properties.
For Dental problems-
Based on a study published in the Ethiopian Journal of Health Sciences, the extract of aloe vera is a safe and effective mouthwash that can be a good alternative to chemical-based mouthwashes. Aloe vera contains natural ingredients that include vitamin C, which can reduce plaque and provide relief in bleeding or swollen gums. Apart from this, it is also helpful in providing relief in canker sores.
In boosting metabolism which aids weight loss-
Aloe vera is rich in vitamins, minerals that support weight loss as well as amino acids, enzymes and sterols. All of these, not only helps in burning fat but also increases utilisation and absorption of nutrients by the body. It also contains vitamin B which helps to convert the stored fat into energy thereby boosting metabolism. This conversion of fat into energy leads to weight loss.
Benefits for Skin and Hair
Aloe vera might prove to help reduce the symptoms of psoriasis. The lubrication properties of aloe vera might reduce the number of flare-ups and also keep the skin hydrated.
For Oily skin-
Aloe vera is a rich source of vitamin C, E and beta carotene and also has various anti-ageing qualities. It nourishes and moisturises the skin taking away the excess oil from the skin. Thus, it is great for people with oily skin.
For Herpes sores-
Aloe vera is rich in wound healing properties which may soothe and heal herpes lesions. For this, apply pure aloe vera gel extract directly to the affected area without diluting.
The anti-inflammatory effects of aloe vera are helpful in the treatment of inflammatory forms of acne. For this, apply aloe vera gel with cotton directly on the pimple regularly thrice a day.
For Anal fissures-
Aloe vera assists in healing the symptoms and anal fissures due to its pain-relieving properties. According to a few clinical studies applying a cream having aloe vera extract can help chronic anal fissures. For this, apply aloe vera gel on the affected area, multiple times a day.
Aloe vera gel has a moisturizing effect on dry skin and helps reduce skin irritation. Aloe vera contains enzymes that help reduce inflammation. It also has antioxidant properties that prevent damage to skin cells. For this, apply aloe vera gel directly on the scalp.
For Hair growth-
Using aloe vera helps in the growth of hair follicles and thus helps in boosting the regrowth of hair. Since aloe vera is rich in enzymes that stimulate new growth, it can effectively be used for hair growth. For this, various hair masks can be prepared by mixing aloe vera with fenugreek seeds, olive oil, or castor oil.
Uses of Aloe Vera
- Aloe vera can be consumed by extracting the juice.
- Aloe Vera gel can be used as a pack for the skin and hair.
- The application of aloe vera gel provides relief from various ailments, as listed in the previous section of this article.
- Various aloe vera supplements in the market are used for health benefits.
- Aloe vera oil and powder are also used for skin & hair.
Side effects of using Aloe vera
- Aloe Vera used in a sufficient amount has no harmful effects. However, excessive use may lead to burning and itching.
- Oral use of aloe vera may lead to abdominal pain and cramps as it contains latex.
- Excessive use of aloe vera on the skin may lead to drying of the skin.
- Consumption of leaf extracts of aloe vera for a long time may cause acute hepatitis.
- Those who use glucose-lowering medicines for heart problems should use Aloe vera only after consulting a doctor as it may reduce the glucose level alarmingly.
- Oral consumption of Aloe vera, used in both gel and latex form may not be safe during pregnancy and for women who are breastfeeding. Therefore, they should use aloe vera only after taking advice from their doctor.