Chances are that you’ve heard of aloe vera, even if you’ve never used it before.
Since antiquity, aloe’s been a key ingredient in many health and beauty products. And, as is common these days, what is old has become new again. This means there’s a renewed interest in the benefits of aloe.
The difference between today’s aloe and that of the days-of-old is that today’s aloe can be enhanced by scientific progress. So, plant applications like aloe are being reinvented and improved in many ways.
Read on to learn about the different ways aloe can help your body and the different ways in which you might ingest or apply it.
The Origin of Aloe
Now, the first uses of aloe date back to one of history’s oldest civilizations — the ancient Egyptians.
In ancient Egypt, the plant was actually buried with pharaohs. In those times, it was known as “the plant of immortality.” Later, Native Americans would refer to it as the “wand of heaven.” 1
And aloe was useful worldwide and commonly grown in subtropical climates like South Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean.
Now, if you see aloe on the shelf at your local pharmacy, you’re likely looking at aloe vera gel. This is the clear, thick gel found on the inner part of the leaf. You might also stumble across aloe vera latex — a yellow part of the plant found just under the plant’s skin.
But What’s Aloe Good For?
Well, in the 18th and 19th century, aloe became popular as a laxative and people would ingest aloe vera latex. Today though, you may want to be wary of taking this orally because of the potential for intestinal cramps and diarrhea.2 Other historical uses included treatment for hair loss and hemorrhoids.3
That’s not to say aloe vera gel and aloe vera latex aren’t safe to use orally. They are. But, in the modern era, aloe vera gel is most commonly used as a homemade wound remedy. Generally, aloe vera gel is applied to the skin to treat a variety of skin conditions.
- Cold sores
And while science has yet to determine exactly how aloe vera gel helps the skin, looking at its nutrients has pinpointed a few potential clues.
The Nutrient Makeup of Aloe Vera
Look: Aloe vera is 99% water but it happens to have over 200 biologically active compounds.
- Amino acids.4
Another important nutritional component of aloe vera is its antioxidant content. To date, the benefits of aloe have been associated with therapeutic and curative properties, but there’s never been any formal explanation as to why.5
Now though, researchers have figured out that antioxidants are a potential key contributor.
You see, antioxidants help mitigate cellular damage — a major precursor for many different conditions.6
Along with treating skin issues, there may be potential for aloe gel to help with the appearance of skin. In fact, one study showed that topical application of aloe gel increased collagen production and skin elasticity.
It’s a big deal, because when combined these factors can potentially slow the aging of the skin. Turns out, antioxidants are often associated with helping to slow down the aging process.7
How To Use Aloe? Let Us Count the Ways…
Aloe gel and aloe latex are the two original versions of aloe, but there are other preparations of aloe that are finding new ways to be useful.
Aloe Vera Juice
One such application is aloe vera juice. It’s kind of a different spin on aloe. You see, it’s technically a food product, extracted from the leaves of the aloe vera plant. Some brands also market it as aloe vera water, but it’s all the same.
Now, brands may differ when it comes to what they put in your aloe vera juice. Some brands may contain small bits of aloe gel (called pulp). While others may include aloe latex and plant matter. No worries though — these natural substances are safe to consume in smaller quantities.8
And aloe juice can be consumed on its own or added to smoothies, juice blends, and even cocktails.
Here’s another great tip: Did you know a major contributor to tooth decay and gum disease is plaque buildup? Well, most people use mouthwash to complement brushing their teeth and flossing. However, aloe may be a great potential alternative.
In one study, 100% pure aloe vera juice was compared to chlorhexidine. Chlorhexidine is a common mouthwash ingredient. Anyhow, the study showed that aloe vera juice was just as effective in reducing plaque.9 It does this by killing plaque-producing bacteria. And aloe vera could also help soothe canker sores.10
The Aloe Vera Plant
Of course, most people associate herbal remedies with ingestion or topical application. But, the aloe vera plant might actually help filter the air in your home. Since plants can absorb carbon dioxide, they might also be able to absorb some of the chemicals used to clean your home.11
In fact, studies have shown that aloe vera can actually help absorb formaldehyde and benzene. Benzene, in particular, is a common component in paints and household cleaners.12
And, if you grow your own aloe, you’ll always have a source of gel on hand if you want to use it for other purposes.
The Benefits of Aloe In Review
In the end, aloe is one of the most popular plants being studied today. But it’s best to think of aloe as a complement to rather than a replacement for general medicine. This is especially true when talking about serious conditions.
In addition, aloe products are also very common. Whether you want to ingest it, use an aloe-based beauty product, or extract aloe gel from the plant itself, the options are wide open.
And though aloe is safe to use, you should chat to your healthcare professional about using it as a remedy. When you get this important advice, you’ll likely learn how exactly to make the most of the aloe plant in your life.
Learn More About Natural Remedies:
7 Herbal Remedies for Bloating & Gas Relief
DIY Constipation Remedies (7 easy things you can do)
6 Natural Remedies For A Runny Nose (most are already in your pantry!)