Aloe Vera : What It’s Good for, Its Proposed Benefits, and Its Possible Side Effects

Aloe vera

Aloe vera, often known as aloe barbadensis (aloe vera), is the most well-known of the aloe plant species and is highly valued in the health and beauty industries for its therapeutic abilities.

The spiky succulent plant is native to arid, tropical regions of Africa, Asia, Europe, and the southern and western United States.

People discovered that the plant had more to offer than simply being attractive a long time ago. According to a previous article and another one published in September 2019 in SAGE Open Medicine, the gel and juice found within aloe vera became a popular herbal treatment that was used to cure everything from skin complaints to digestive difficulties.

Aloe vera

Let’s look at the history of aloe vera and its potential advantages.

Where Does Aloe Vera Come From and What Does It Do?

For at least 6,000 years, aloe vera has been recognized for its healing capabilities. The plant was revered as a “plant of immortality” in ancient times and given to Egyptian kings as a memento mori, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH).

After a while, people from many regions around the world have used aloe vera, including Indians, Chinese, Mexicans, and North Americans.

Humans have utilized aloe — also known as “burn plant,” “lily of the desert,” and “elephant’s gall” — for hundreds of years to cure wounds, hair loss, hemorrhoids, and digestive difficulties.

Aloe vera’s popularity has increased dramatically in recent years, owing to its wide range of health benefits. Its nectar is utilized in cosmetics and personal-care goods like as moisturizer, soap, shaving cream, and suntan lotion these days. The term “aloe vera” might bring to mind a bright green gel that’s available on pharmacy shelves. You’ve undoubtedly used it to treat a scorching sunburn.

Aloe vera juice is also sold in pill form, which has been shown to have the same health benefits for the skin and digestive system as other forms of the plant.

What Are the Most Common Types of Aloe Vera?

The leaves of the aloe vera plant are both therapeutically beneficial and full of a translucent gel. A thick liquid obtained from the plant that’s usually applied to the skin to cure burns and a variety of skin diseases. The gel is also available in liquid or capsule form for oral consumption.

Under the outer layer of the plant leaf, the second substance produced by it is known as aloe latex. This is the yellow pulp found just beneath the outside surface of the plant leaf. Aloe latex has been proven to have a laxative effect and is most often consumed orally to relieve constipation.

The newest development in aloe vera fashion is the use of aloe-based beverages, such as aloe vera juice and aloe vera water. Aloe vera juice or water is commonly created by combining plant juices with citrus.

Because Aloe vera has a harsh flavor on its own, many manufacturers add taste or sweeteners to the bottle. Examine the contents of the bottle to ensure there is no extra sugar.

What Are the Health Advantages of Aloe Vera?

There’s not enough evidence to suggest that aloe vera can cure all of the ailments it is purported to cure. There are a lot of claims, many and various:

Digestive system

According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), aloe latex contains aloin, an anthraquinone that gives aloe vera its laxative effects and which can help with constipation.

Constipation is a common primary care symptom, and it can also occur in individuals with chronic digestive problems like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

According to an analysis of three randomized controlled trials published in October 2018 in the Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility, aloe vera may help those suffering from constipation, especially those affected by IBS. Because of aloe vera’s laxative effect and capacity to increase water in the intestinal lumen, it causes frequent defecation.

Treating Skin Disorders, such as Psoriasis and Acne

Aloe extracts are frequently used in over-the-counter anti-itch creams and lotions. Aloe vera has been shown to reduce itching and irritation, which makes it a popular ingredient in skin care products.

In a previous study of aloe vera, it was reported that the plant has the ability to limit prostaglandin E2 production. According to prior study, these are lipids that not only participate in the inflammatory process, but they may also be involved in inflammatory skin disorders.

Relief from Sunburn

Some people swear by aloe to reduce the intensity of a sunburn. You may have felt the gel’s cooling sensation firsthand, and according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, aloe vera is typically safe for soothing minor burns. However, there is no scientific evidence demonstrating that it helps speed skin healing.

A small study published in the Annals of Dermatology in 2002 found that applying aloe vera topically after laboratory-induced sunburn had no effect on redness reduction when compared with a placebo.

Healing Wounds

Although aloe vera is not considered a sunburn treatment, it can provide some relief for minor burns such as first- and second-degree burns. In a study of 4 clinical trials involving 371 sunburn patients, researchers found that individuals who used aloe vera on their burns had healing times of approximately nine days shorter than the control group.

Relieves heartburn

In a four-week pilot trial published in the Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine in December 2015, researchers discovered that a standardized aloe vera extract in syrup helped reduce several GERD symptoms, such as heartburn, belching, and vomiting.

The link between GERD and inflammation may explain this. Aloe vera has anti-inflammatory agents in addition to antioxidant and anti-ulcer effects that have been researched in animals with IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) before, according to previous study.

Lower Your Blood Sugar Levels

Drinking two tablespoons of aloe vera juice every day for two weeks decreased blood sugar levels in individuals with type 2 diabetes, according to a previous clinical trial. Triglyceride levels in the participants of this research improved, which might be beneficial for people with diabetes: They are more likely to get heart disease, in which triglycerides and cholesterol abnormalities are linked.

Aloe Vera Can Be Used in a Variety of Ways

You may be wondering whether there are any other advantages to using aloe vera supplements. It’s a good idea to consult with your regular doctor, nutritionist, or another healthcare expert who understands how to use aloe safely, particularly if you want to use it internally. The plant has been found to have a few unexpected uses in addition to the

A method to keep fruits fresh One study published in March 2014 in the International Journal of Tropical and Subtropical Horticulture discovered that aloe vera gel put on the outside of tomatoes helped delay ripening, enhance their quality and freshness, and prevent certain germs from developing.

According to previous studies, an aloe vera mouthwash has been found to help prevent plaque on teeth in the short term. Aloe vera mouthwash, normal saline, and chlorhexidine gluconate mouthwash were tested in a study involving 300 individuals. Aloe vera was just as effective in reducing plaque after four days as chlorhexidine and caused no negative effects, according to a research. Additional research would be necessary to evaluate the long-term efficacy and safety of aloevera.

Salicylic acid, which is naturally present in aloe vera, is a chemical that gives aspirin its anti-inflammatory properties. More research is needed to determine the efficacy of aloe vera in pain treatment, but one previous study found that oral aloe vera helped decrease chronic non-cancer pain such as that experienced by persons with osteoarthritis. Meanwhile, a little amount of aloe vera applied topically has been found in mice to reduce inflammation caused by minor irritants, according to other research.

A Closer Look at the Beauty Advantages of Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is gaining popularity as a “it” ingredient in beauty and cosmetics. It may be found in lotions, toners, shampoos, and deep conditioners, among other things. There’s even a whole range of goods called Aloe Vesta, which are intended to soothe sensitive skin.

What’s the reason for the hype? The plant is known for supporting skin hydration and clarity. It’s rich in antioxidants such as vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E, and it contains seven of the eight essential amino acids. It’s also known for its anti-inflammatory properties, though some critics say more research is needed before we can say that for sure.

A modest previous study of 60 individuals revealed that combining aloe vera topical gel with a tretinoin cream improved acne lesion treatment. The researchers found that aloe vera gel has anti-aging properties in a previous uncontrolled study: for three months, they gave 30 women doses of aloe vera gel orally twice a day. The women saw a significant reduction in wrinkles and skin elasticity as a result of the treatment. It was suggested to be linked to an increase in collagen synthesis.

Hair-care products that contain aloe vera are also available. Some beauty experts, according to Byrdie, apply the gel found within the leaves to their hair and use it as a deep conditioner. It might leave a residue, so wash it out thoroughly and, if you have skin issues, see a dermatologist before applying raw plant components on your skin.

Aloe Vera’s Side Effects and Health Risks

Aloe gel (the portion of the plant that is most often found in lotions and moisturizers) can be used safely when applied topically, and it has the ability to help heal skin.

Aloe latex, on the other hand, might be hazardous. Aloe latex may cause cramps and diarrhea when taken by mouth, and it may reduce the effectiveness of other oral medications you’re taking.

Aloe latex has the potential to develop into more serious issues as well. Even taking only 1 gram of oral aloe latex once per day for a few days can cause kidney damage and even death.Type 2 diabetes is an illness in which the patient has high blood sugar levels and lacks insulin, a hormone that helps the body use glucose as energy. Aloe latex might cause hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar levels.

Another disadvantage of aloe latex: It may have tumor-inducing effects. In rats given whole-leaf aloe vera extract, the National Toxicology Program discovered that the large intestines developed cancerous tumors. Don’t be concerned: The research didn’t involve humans, and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences states that there is currently no evidence in the literature showing that researchers would find comparable findings in humans.

The good news is that the rats in the study were given water containing 60 ppm of aloin every day. That’s far higher than the 10 ppm maximum allowed by the industry, so you shouldn’t expect to reach hazardous levels.

Where to Find Aloe Vera and How to Choose and Store It for the Best Results

To discover about the ideal storage approach for your aloe vera gel or juice, look at the label on your product. Storing aloe vera gel and aloe vera juice in a cold, not-too- humid location, such as at room temperature or in the refrigerator, is typically preferable. Humidity and temperature can have an impact on the product’s shelf life. That is why aloe vera juice will frequently be available in amber-colored bottles. According to previous studies, the dark bottle is intended to prevent light from affecting the active components.

According to the United States Food and Drug Administration, aloe vera is a supplement. Because supplements are not regulated completely by the FDA, there’s no way to tell whether the quality, safety, or claims on the product are real. Many of the products that are claimed to be rich in aloe vera do not, or only contain a small amount of active compounds.

However, when purchasing your goods, look for the seal from the International Aloe Science Council, which has been operational since the 1980s. They verify that the aloe vera quality and purity of a product have been tested and verified.

How to Grow Aloe Vera in the Home

For non-green thumbs, the news is good: Aloe vera is simple to grow at home. It’s a succulent that prefers dry, warm climates and doesn’t need to be watered every day. It will not suffer from being neglected for a short time — in fact, it may profit from it, owing to the fact that this drought-tolerant plant thrives in dry conditions. When it comes to watering, you should be cautious not to overwater the plant, and if you have an outside plant, keep it covered when it rains.

Aloe vera plants, which reach a height of one to two feet and a width of up to 1 foot in tropical climates, thrive the best when planted outside. You won’t be able to keep it outside all year if you don’t live in Hawaii, Southern California, or Southern Florida. However, if you must leave it outside for an extended period of time (ideally any time the temperature drops below 50 degrees F), simply put it in a pot and bring it inside when the weather improves. Sunlight is essential for a healthy aloe vera plant, so place it on a sunny window sill or outdoors in a sunny location.

When planting your aloe vera in a pot, make sure the roots have room to expand and move as they grow. New seeds will sprout around the plant’s base, which you may then replant in a new container.