Benefits of Aloe Vera
I have many Aloe vera plants at home. They grow really well on their own without much care and are also really easily to propagate. I know about the health benefits of aloe vera and have drunk aloe vera juice many years ago. Recently, I have had a couple of friends come over to my place and see my aloe vera plants who suggested that I should eat it for its nutritional and health benefits. I thought I would dive a bit deeper into the health properties of Aloe vera and share them with you….
So what is Aloe Vera?
Aloe vera is a spiky succulent plant that grows in naturally dry and tropical climates. It has been known for its healing properties for at least 6000 years (Ref 3). In the early days, the plant was known for being a “plant of immortality” and was presented to Egyptian pharaohs as a funeral gift (Ref 3). Over time, groups from many geographical areas have used aloe vera, including Indians, Chinese, Mexicans, and North Americans.
Humans have long known about the plant's healing benefits, and over the years have used aloe to treat many conditions, including to help treat wounds, skin conditions, and digestive issues (Ref 3).
Aloe vera is also commonly used in cosmetics and personal care products including moisturisers, soap, shaving cream, and suntan lotions. It has also been made into drinks and juices (e.g. aloe juice and aloe waters) and is also made into supplements.
What are the medicinal parts of the Aloe Vera plant?
There are 2 medicinal parts of the aloe vera plant:
Leaves are filled with a clear gel:
This gel is extracted from the plant and is usually used on the skin to treat burns and skin conditions.
This is the yellow pulp that is found just under the outer part of the plant leaf (Ref 3).
This has been shown to have laxative properties
Taken orally to treat constipation.
Aloe vera on its own can taste a little bitter, so aloe vera juice and water often has sugar, flavours and additives added. It is important to check the ingredients when buying aloe vera juice to ensure it is 100% aloe vera juice and doesn’t contain any additives.
Aloe vera juice straight from the plant contains vitamins, minerals, natural sugars, amino acids, antioxidants, enzymes, lignins, saponins and anthraquinones, all of which are beneficial to the body.
What are the health benefits of Aloe vera?
The health benefits of Aloe vera are:
Can be applied to external wounds as it has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties (Ref 1, 2)
Contains polyphenols which help to inhibit the growth of certain bacteria that can cause infections (Ref 1). Research has shown that aloe vera has been shown to have anti-parasitic and anti-microbial properties (Ref 2).
Helps in the healing of burns when used topically, including sunburns, and first and second degree burns. It has also been shown to speed up the healing process (Ref 1).
Has been shown to help treat skin conditions such as psoriasis and acne (Ref 3). Aloe is calming on the skin and has been shown to reduce itchiness and inflammation (Ref 3).
Has been shown to treat and heal mouth ulcers (Ref 1, 2).
Boosts the immune system due to the detoxifying components of aloe vera. This helps the circulatory and digestive system. The aloe vera is able to increase the absorption of nutrients by the body (Ref 2).
Has been shown to sooth and cleanse the digestive system and improve digestion (Ref 1). It has been shown to decrease irritation in the stomach and intestines (Ref 4). It may help people with conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other inflammatory disorders of the intestines (Ref 4).
Has been shown to relieve heartburn (Ref 2). It has also shown to reduce the symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) (Ref 3).
Has been shown to treat constipation. This is due to barbaloin (also called aloin) which is found in the younger leaves of the aloe vera plant, which is known to have laxative properties (Ref 1, 2, 3).
May help lower blood sugar levels (Ref 1, 2, 3). People with type 2 diabetes should speak to their doctor before taking aloe latex as it may lower their blood sugar levels too much (Ref 3).
How to use Aloe vera?
The outer green skin is bitter and tough. Although it can be eaten, it can be removed so only the clear inner portion is consumed.
The best way is to peel the skin away using a knife and then eating the inside part.
Some people add it to salads or drinks.
The aloe vera can be made into a juice:
Once the skin has been removed, the inside gel can be mixed with water and drunk.
The aloe vera can be cut into pieces and placed in water overnight. The following day, you can drink only the water.
The aloe juice can be blended in with fresh fruit juices e.g. orange, lemon.
Aloe vera can also be cooked using methods such as steaming or poaching. It can then be added into juices, salads, soups or stir fries. Fully cooked aloe does not have a slimy texture, which may make it more appealing.
Topical use of aloe vera has not been associated with significant side effects.
Care must be taken with oral ingestion as it may cause abdominal cramps and diarrhea and may decrease the absorption of any prescription medication, so always consult your doctor before consuming it.
Over the past week and a half, I have been having the gel from a small leaf from the aloe vera plant every night after finishing dinner, and I have to say that I definitely notice the difference and find that it is soothing on my digestive system.
Have you tried it? Let me know your comments below?
Dannie, M. 2019. How to Eat Raw Aloe. https://www.livestrong.com/article/395374-how-to-eat-raw-aloe/
Alive By Nature. 2019. 15 health benefits of Aloe Vera. https://alivebynature.com/15-health-benefits-of-aloe-vera/
Lawler, M. Aloe Vera 101: What It’s Good for, and Its Proposed Benefits and Possible Side Effects. Everyday Health. https://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/diet/aloe-vera-benefits-risks-uses-more/
Salyer, J. 2019. 9 Healthy Benefits of Drinking Aloe Vera Juice. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/aloe-vera-juice-benefits
Wikipedia. Aloe vera. 2019. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aloe_vera