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Using aloe vera for health has been practiced for hundreds of years. It has been used to remedy of many conditions, from skin ailments to digestive disorders. Described the plant of immortality, the plant of harmony, and the royal plant, aloe vera was considered as a gift from the gods to provide health, safety, security, and protection in ancient times.
Today, aloe vera changes lives by treating wounds, optimizing system functioning, cleansing the blood, increasing immunity, and increasing life through the prevention of illness, disease, and degeneration.
Aloe vera’s abundant vitamins and minerals and numerous phytochemicals combine to produce beneficial results in many areas of the body.
Aloe vera is a medicinal plant with a long history. It is depicted on the walls of ancient Egyptian temples, referenced in songs sung thousands of years ago, and repeatedly mentioned in the Bible. It was valued for its drought-resistant hardiness, its extraordinary beauty, and notably its healing qualities.
Even today using aloe vera for health is one of the most recommended natural remedies—found in skin medicines, digestive aids, and anti-inflammatory juices. It’s useful in calming skin irritation and burns, guarding against infections in cuts and gashes, and decreasing inflammation of the throat and digestive tract.
Used both externally and internally, aloe is believed to soothe the respiratory and cardiovascular system, repair skin, and treat constipation.
While many people across the world have an aloe vera plant in or around their home, few know information relating to using aloe vera for health, its comprehensive uses, applications, or benefits.
With its natural form available year-round, regardless of your location on the globe, aloe vera can easily be grown, harvested, and applied. Needing little attention and even less energy, your aloe plant can provide you with year-round benefits.
9 Aloe Vera For Health Benefits
- Aloe vera is useful in controlling blood sugar levels and is the ability to increase the body’s capacity to produce and utilize insulin is showing promise in the development of natural treatment techniques for diabetes.
- Aloe vera has antibacterial benefits and has proved to enhance the immune system’s function and better the body’s ability to fend off bacterial infections.
- The B vitamins contained in aloe vera may help decrease the incidence, regularity, and severity of mood disorders and depression.
- Aloe vera’s phytochemicals allow for deeper penetration of the skin’s layers and may improve the effectiveness of topically applied creams, lotions, and medications.
- These same phytochemicals help reduce inflammation, aloe vera has been discovered to be an efficient anti-inflammatory agent that can be ingested and used topically, giving relief internally and externally.
- Aloe vera provides a number of essential and nonessential amino acids, and can improve the body’s muscle health.
- It supports the body’s absorption of essential vitamins and minerals, aloe vera can also help decrease the risks of incurring severe degenerative illnesses and diseases that affect the eyes, bones, skin, and organs.
- Aloe vera not only improves the body’s healing process but also defends against infections that can occur in an open wound.
- With antiseptic benefits, aloe vera is able to help enhance overall health by cleansing the blood and improving the functioning of all of the body’s systems that receive nutrients via the bloodstream.
Aloe Vera Nutrients
Researchers have spent years looking into the exact science behind the aloe plant’s effectiveness and have determined that the modest aloe plant contains a remarkable number of vitamins, minerals, and specific phytochemicals that come together synergistically to improve the body’s health.
Aloe contains vitamin B12, folic acid, choline, and vitamins A, C, and E.
- Aloe vera is one of the few that not only provides a number of beneficial B vitamins but also contributes B12.
- Vitamin B9 (also known as folic acid or folate) is a water-soluble vitamin that helps optimize blood functions like production and circulation.
- Vitamin A also aids in the synthesis of your body’s proteins and helps your eyes by preventing premature aging, free radical damage, and diseases specific to the eyes.
- Vitamin C is highly regarded as a protector of the immune system and works as a multi-tasking agent for your body’s overall health.
- Vitamin E works to correct the damage to the body’s cells and plays an important role in the communication between the body’s cells by keeping fluid levels healthy.
Aloe vera contains several of these vital minerals, including calcium, zinc, selenium, magnesium, chromium, copper, manganese, potassium, and sodium.
- Calcium is most often associated with healthy teeth and bones and promotes proper hormone release and regulation.
- Copper is of the utmost importance to the health of the blood and all its functions; without it, red blood cell production and cell quality would be severely impaired.
- Magnesium plays an important part in almost every body function, from insulin production and utilization to the generation of healthy cells, and from bone strength to proper blood clotting.
- Potassium’s main priority is to maintain proper fluid balance within your body by keeping the fluid balance within all cells of the body at optimal levels.
Aloe vera is rich in amino acids and contains lysine, methionine, leucine, threonine, valine, tryptophan, isoleucine, and phenylalanine.
- Appropriately referred to as the building blocks of the body, amino acids play an intricate role in processing a number of important elements.
- From the breakdown and utilization of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, to fighting off illnesses and preventing dangerous changes from occurring within the body.
- Amino acids are required in every bodily function.
Aloe vera also contains twelve nonessential amino acids, including alanine, arginine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, histidine, proline, serine, and tyrosine.
Anatomy of the Aloe Plant
Most people know aloe as a plant that requires little to no attention or care, which is true of many of the aloe varieties. Because several parts of the aloe plant have distinct structures and uses, it is helpful to have an understanding of the parts of the plant and the products created from each.
- Roots – In contrast to other plants whose root systems grow down deep into the soil, aloe roots spider into the ground and remain close to the top of its ground cover. This natural design of the plant allows the roots to better absorb any available moisture (in the forms of precipitation and condensation), store that water for later use, and become self-sustaining in times when little or no water is available.
- Stems – The stem is an important part of the aloe plant. It channels nutrients from the roots to the leaves, and it provides the leaves with a strong core from which they can grow securely. It is important that the stem is not compromised by extreme conditions in order to protect the life of the plant and the quality of its aloe.
- Leaves – The leaves of the aloe plant grow in a variety of shapes, colors, and formations. Ranging in shades from dark to light green, aloe leaves are as different in appearance as the aloe plant is in a number of species. It is also within the leaves that the aloin and pulp can be found.
- Aloin – The yellow-colored sap that seeps from the leaves when cut is called aloin. Latex-based, this potent element of the aloe leaf is actually considered by many to be an irritant to humans and possibly even toxic to pets. It is this product of aloe plants that is processed into the common laxatives used to restore or promote regularity.
- Pulp – The pulp of the aloe plant is what most people picture when they think of aloe. When an aloe leaf is cut, the pulp is a clear substance resembling a gel. This portion of the aloe leaf is what is used to heal skin irritations and burns, and can be consumed for a wide variety of internal applications as well.
Aloe Plant Varieties
Aloe Vera L
Produces a large plant with a short stem. This rosette perennial succulent has pale grayish-green leaves that resemble swords, which grow to about 80 cm in length. The larger varieties of the plant produce yellow tubular flowers. This variety is normally found in tropical areas, as it can’t survive frosty conditions.
This variety, also known as bitter aloe, produces green leaves with a blue hue that can reach heights of 2–3 meters. Its thick leaves are lined with reddish-brown teeth. The flowers that bloom from the plant’s subspecies (Aloe candelabrum) in the winter months form a candelabra shape and are yellow, orange, or red in color. This aloe is best known for its medicinal qualities.
Or krantz aloe, produces multiheaded succulent shrubs. The short stalks have large, lighter-colored teeth and produce beautiful yellow, orange, and red flowers during the winter months. Surprisingly enough, this variety is the most commonly cultivated aloe and is the form that is found in most gardens with decorative appeal.
Known as haw aloe, this variety produces a centered main rosette that is surrounded by offshoots of smaller rosettes. Its lance-shaped succulent leaves are thick and green, with white speckles and dark brown teeth, and its center produces a beautiful purple stalk in the summer. Its tubular flowers are vibrant shades of yellow, orange, or red.
Blue aloe is a striking plant. The leaves are a beautiful green with a pink hue, and have a thick line of white teeth along the leaves’ sides. With vibrant orange and red flowers that grow in the fall and winter months, this variety of aloe can only be found in coastal areas that receive abundant rainfall and have rocky hillsides.
This aloe, of the Baker subspecies, is best known for being the aloe from which the highest-quality medical-grade aloes are derived. It has leaves in the shape of wedges and unique white flowers that form the shape of bells as they hang downward.
Tiger aloe only grows to a height of about 30 cm and has distinct rosettes that top one another as they grow, forming stacks of dark green rosettes and red flowers. Requiring little care, little water, and minimal sun exposure, this variety of aloe is the most common decorative aloe found in homes. Their height and slow growth make this aloe variety perfect for display on windowsills.
Growing Aloe Vera for health
Throughout the world, aloe vera is cultivated, harvested, and utilized in a variety of climates.
Able to thrive in the harshest of elements, the aloe vera plant can sustain itself in temperatures below freezing and up to temperatures in excess of 105°F.
Aside from extreme temperatures, aloe vera is also able to endure dry and wet conditions that would wipe out almost every other plant.
- While the frigid temperatures that can kill other crops barely affect the aloe plant, you can safeguard your aloe from unnecessary exposure by paying particular attention to the months in which you water the plant’s base.
- The months of April through September are fine for watering, but October through March watering should be minimized to just 1–2 times per month.
- When cultivating the aloe vera’s growths or “shoots” that can be self-sustaining to an area of soil, it is important to allow the cut growth to callus over for 2–5 days prior to planting.
When the growth is ready for planting, simply place the growth atop the soil and mist with water weekly; overwatering at this stage will only cause rotting, not growth.
The usable form of aloe vera moves from cultivation to harvest in just 18–24 months. The leaves are ready for harvest when the plant has flowered and there are enough large leaves that the common three-leaf removal will not disturb the growth or adversely affect the health of the plant.
After the plant is suitable for harvesting, it is processed using either the whole-leaf method or the separation method, depending upon the projected use of the aloe harvested. Each method has its own benefits and drawbacks.
The whole-leaf method refers to the processing of the entire aloe leaf in an effort to extract the juice. The pulp then undergoes a filtration process using various sizes of filters or a charcoal-filter method. Following the filtering of the aloe, which often leaves behind numerous bits of the aloe leaf, the juice that is produced is processed using extreme cold or heat to destroy any impurities left behind.
The benefits of this method are that it tends to produce a high yield of aloe vera gel in a relatively short amount of time. The biggest downside to the whole-leaf method is its affect on the quality of the aloe vera gel produced. While the yields may be higher, the nutrient loss is huge
The Separation Method
Also known as the filleting method (as in “filleting a fish”), the separation method has been used for thousands of years and is still the favored method of aloe production today. A knife or sharp tool is run along the underside of the leaf’s exterior on each side, carefully revealing the intact meat and gel of the aloe. The health-based aloe vera juice made from this method is commonly found in grocery stores.
The gel (or sap) is allowed to drip from the leaf’s underside and the exterior of the meat into a collection drum. Once the gel is collected, it is prepared for storage and distribution for use in a number of applications.
Benefits of the separation method, the aloe vera gel that is produced is of the highest quality, with care taken throughout the process to preserve the nutrients. In terms of the amount of gel produced and the time required to process the leaves manually, the difference is dramatic, with the whole-leaf method producing far more product in far less time.
How to Use Aloe Vera For Health
Aloe Vera for Skin
Topically, aloe vera can be applied to skin to prevent infectious agents from being able to enter through cuts, scrapes, and burns, while also preventing them from being able to survive or thrive on the skin’s surface.
Luckily, aloe vera provides vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that act synergistically to improve the body’s natural healing and speed healing time, and also protect against infections that can quickly turn a slight cut or scrape into something much more seriou
Scrapes, Cuts, and Bruises – Applying ample amounts of aloe to the site of injury and then bandaging it is the treatment method most often recommended; in doing so, you can safeguard the wound from environmental factors while improving the body’s natural healing process.
Insect Bites and Stings – By applying aloe vera to the site of a sting, the naturally occurring phytochemicals are able to combat the insect’s poisons, reduce inflammation, and provide natural pain relief at the sight of the bite or sting.
Rashes, Eczema, Dermatitis, Rosacea – By ingesting aloe vera and applying aloe topically to skin irritations, it is possible to minimize not only the pre-existing conditions that contribute to skin conditions, but also the skin irritations that result.
Skin Care/Beauty – You can improve the health and appearance of your skin in a number of ways. Topically, the results can be seen immediately, increasing over the course of its use.
- By applying the aloe directly to the surface of your skin, the potent nutrients contained within the aloe are able to penetrate the skin’s surface, providing benefits externally as well as to the unseen layers that support the external layers.
- This process results in firmer, less blemished skin that is able to refute naturally occurring damage from the sun, and environmental exposures.
Aloe Vera for Hair
The hair is a reflection of the health of the body presently as well as up to 2–6 months prior. Knowing this, you can better understand why those months of illness or haphazard dieting resulted in lackluster hair that showed the lack of nutrients and healthy function your body experienced. With aloe, though, you can improve your body’s overall health and watch the difference in your hair as you use it topically as well as internally
- With aloe vera providing amino acids (the building blocks of protein)
- Vitamins B, C, and E; and the minerals iron, selenium, copper, and magnesium
- This all-natural beauty treatment improves the look of your hair through topical use and also improves the health of your hair as it grows through internal benefits.
Whether you utilize aloe vera for hair benefits through topical applications or include the potent product in your daily smoothies, snacks, and meals, the daily use of aloe vera can provide a wide range of benefits to every strand.
Aloe Vera for Health – Internally
With a a plethora of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that combine to provide a variety of benefits, aloe vera supplies the body with specific components needed for healthy energy production that transcends age.
Antioxidants protect the mitochondria from becoming damaged, which could reduce energy output. By improving the mitochondrial defenses of the cells, antioxidants safeguard the energy levels of the entire body.
Aloe vera contains a variety of nutrients and phytochemicals, such as vitamins A, C, and E, and anthraquinones, which promote antioxidant activity within the cells.
By supplementing your diet with aloe vera, you can ensure your body has the nutrients it needs and provide it with the added benefits of improved protection from aloe vera’s phytochemicals.
Adding aloe vera juice to your smoothies or drinking it daily can provide these benefits.
You can use aloe vera directly from the plat or purchase. Our favorite methods are drinking whole leaf juice and using a pure organic aloe vera gel. Whatever method you choose consider your lifestyle and how to best fit in aloe vera for health.
Who Shouldn’t Use Aloe Vera?
When it comes to people who have specific conditions, aloe vera hasn’t been studied to lengths that allow for safe recommendations on its usage. Because of the restrictions and concerns that relate to testing supplementation on developing children, women who are pregnant, and people with disorders that could possibly be adversely affected or aggravated as a result of experimentation with supplements, the information available on the safety of aloe is simply not available.
- Pub Med: The Effect of an Aloe Polymannose Multinutrient Complex on Cognitive and Immune Functioning in Alzheimer’s Disease
- Natural Medicine Journal: Aloe Vera Gel Research Review
- Pub Med: Effect of Aloe Vera Gel to Healing of Burn Wound: A Clinical and Histologic Study
- Pub Med: Herbs and spices in the treatment of functional gastrointestinal disorders: a review of clinical trials.