Aloe vera is one of the most well known plants and remedies out there – and for very good reason. It’s so versatile and effective that it can be applied to nearly anything.
Colic? Aloe vera’s got it covered. Skin conditions, infections, and diseases? Oh yeah – gonna turn to amazing aloe vera. Want to get rid of a fungal infection? Once more, aloe vera has your back.
If that’s all it did, it would already be an incredibly versatile plant and remedy. But we’re just getting started.
Want to know what makes certain cosmetic products so effective? It’s aloe vera. Want to know one of the main compounds and ingredients in many different pharmaceutical processes? I’m sure you can guess the answer.
And that’s not even covering all the different applications in the food industry, medical industry, and a huge list of other remedies it’s good for.
Point being: aloe vera has pretty much got it all. If you’re looking to solve a health problem, chances are aloe vera can at least help you out.
So that’s what this article is going to be all about. We’re going to cover everything about aloe vera – the biggest benefits, the most common uses, what it is, how it’s used, different types – everything.
Are you ready? Let’s get started.
What Is Aloe Vera?
Aloe vera is a plant in the Liliaceae family, named Aloe barbadensis miller. It’s a type of succulent plant, with green, serrated leaves that are soft, fleshy, and filled with gel.
It’s just one species of aloe plant, but it’s by far the most commonly used, grown, and cultivated of all of them. Aloe vera is believed to have first been cultivated in Sudan, spreading after that through the Mediterranean and from there all over the world. (1)
Today, you can find aloe vera on every continent (besides maybe Antarctica, although it’s a near certainty that they have at least products with aloe vera in them), and its uses are manifold and nearly uncountable.
Organizations that cultivate and harvest aloe vera generally do so for two different parts of the plant. Companies that produce aloe latex harvest the yellow substance that’s directly underneath the plant’s skin and turn it into latex.
Companies that produce aloe gel harvest the gel-like substance that’s found inside aloe leaves. If you’ve ever broken open an aloe leaf from an aloe vera plant, chances are you’ve found the clear jelly inside. Some companies use the entire aloe plant in their products – combining the latex and the gel.
What’s In Aloe Vera?
Want the short answer? A ton of stuff.
Aloe vera contains a mind boggling amount of biologically active components that affect your body in one way or another. Let’s do a quick rundown:
Aloe vera contains four different kinds of fatty acids – cholesterol, lupeol, beta-sisosterol, and campesterol. They’re natural anti-inflammatories, which means that aloe vera is great for bringing down inflammation.
Aloe vera contains hormones in it too – auxins and gibberellins. They’re great for promoting a healing response from your body and helping your body to close up wounds faster. They’re also both natural anti-inflammatories. (2)
Let’s keep going. Aloe vera has laxative properties, thanks to the compounds in it called anthraquinones. Among the 12 anthraquinones in aloe vera are emodin and aloin, which are both great if you’re hurt. Why? They both are antibacterials and antivirals – which means they’ll help kill off any bad stuff in your wound that might cause an infection. Plus, they’re analgesics, which means they’ll help dull the pain of a cut or scrape and help you feel better faster.
Want more? Aloe vera has vital nutrients that your body needs – including potassium, zinc, magnesium, selenium, calcium, sodium, selenium, chromium, copper, and manganese. Your body requires every one of those nutrients in order to function properly and keep you healthy.
But that’s not all. Aloe vera contains no less than eight different enzymes your body needs. They are lipase, catalase, peroxidase, amylase, aliiase, bradykinase, alkaline phosphatase, and cellulase.
If you thought we were done, that’s totally understandable. However, we haven’t even touched one of the most important aspects of aloe vera – the enormous amount of vitamins and nutrients.
Aloe vera contains choline, vitamin B12, vitamin A, E, and C, antioxidants, and folic acid. It’s got a huge amount of the things your body desperately needs to function properly.
ok, now we’re done.
Aloe vera also has amino acids that do your body worlds of good. Out of the 22 different acids that your body requires, aloe vera provides twenty of them. Out of the eight that your body desperately needs – aloe vera has them all covered.
So it’s not a stretch to say that aloe vera is insanely useful and well suited for the human body. The amount of different positive interactions between aloe vera and your body chemistry is simply staggering.
And do you want to know what the craziest part is? We haven’t even gotten to the list of benefits yet.
So without further introduction, let’s talk about the biggest benefits of aloe vera.
The Biggest Benefits Of Aloe Vera
1. Helps Get Rid Of Dental Plaque
Let’s start with one of the most unknown aloe vera benefits. Did you know that it helps reduce the buildup of plaque on your teeth?
Without taking precautions with your oral health like brushing and flossing regularly, you run the risk of tooth decay and other gum diseases that can cause serious problems down the line. Nobody likes going to the dentist, and nobody likes going to the dentist for something that’s going to hurt a lot and cost you an enormous amount of money.
Enter aloe vera. Researchers have looked at the effect of using aloe vera juice as mouthwash, rather than the normal mouthwash ingredient chlorhexidine. (3)
What did they find? They found that aloe vera is exactly as effective as clorhexidine! Meaning that if you don’t want to use a harsh mouthwash, try aloe vera juice instead.
The way that aloe vera is effective is because it will kill off the bacteria that cause plaque buildup and other disease in your mouth, called streptococcus mutans. It will also kill off candida albicans, which is a type of yeast that also causes plaque build up. (4)
Bottom line? Aloe vera juice is just as effective as any commercial mouthwash product available – who knew! (5)
Just remember, always use organic aloe vera juice, and avoid any aloe vera juice that has lots of sugar and other ingredients added – you want as close to pure, unadulterated aloe vera juice as you can find.
2. Aloe Vera Helps Get Rid Of Canker Sores
Want to get rid of pesky, nasty canker sores in your mouth? Also known as mouth ulcers, these raw patches under your lips and on the sides of your mouth last for more than a week most of the time and are incredibly annoying (not to mention painful).
Enter aloe vera juice. There has been a wealth of research done on aloe vera (unsurprisingly, since aloe vera has proven so useful), and scientists have found that aloe vera will help heal canker sores more quickly and easily than just letting them heal on their own. (6)
Studies have also found that aloe vera will reduce the pain of a canker sore as well as its healing time – thanks to its analgesic effect and its strong healing properties.
If you get chronic canker sores or you are otherwise directed by your doctor, you should still use the over the counter medical treatment of corticosteroids.
But if you’re looking for an all natural way to reduce the pain of canker sores and get rid of them faster – use aloe vera gel to heal them away as an amazing natural remedy.
3. Aloe Vera Can Help Prevent Wrinkles
Aloe vera is amazing for your skin – I’m talking truly amazing. Researchers have been looking at the link between aloe vera and skin health for a long time now, and have found that there’s some evidence that aloe vera slows down the aging of your skin.
Your skin has a layer of collagen underneath it. Collagen is the compound in your body that keeps your skin smooth and supple, and is generally associated with healthy, young skin. (7)
When your collagen layer deteriorates and wears due to aging, it produces wrinkles and otherwise aged looking skin. That’s where aloe vera can help.
One study found that aloe vera gel applied topically boosts the production of collagen in women over the age of 45, leading to healthier, younger looking, and more supple skin. Skin elasticity improved as well. (8)
So if you’re trying to avoid wrinkles, as an addition to your normal moisturizing routine try applying aloe vera gel as well – and watch for new scientific developments in the field.
4. Aloe Vera Helps To Heal Burns
Let’s talk about the most obvious aloe vera benefit that everyone thinks of first – aloe vera is amazing for healing burned skin and helping to reduce the pain. (9)
That’s because when aloe vera is applied to the skin, it will prevent UV-induced suppression from delaying and lengthening the healing process – letting your skin heal undisturbed and stopping the burn from becoming more irritated and unpleasant.
Anyone who’s ever had a particularly bad sunburn and used aloe vera knows the magic of applying it to that terrible sunburn and feeling the cool, sweet relief. (10)
In fact, one of the biggest benefits of having an aloe vera plant growing in your house is the immediate help and relief of cracking open a leaf and applying fresh aloe vera gel to a burn as soon as you get it. That alone is worth the effort of growing an aloe vera plant in your house – and it helps the burn to heal more quickly too.
5. Aloe Vera Strengthens Your Immune System
Remember how we talked earlier about the essential compounds and nutrients in aloe vera? It turns out that some of those are vital to your immune system.
Like we referenced before, aloe vera contains enzymes that help to break down proteins into essential amino acids and produce fuel for your cells and every system in your body. (11)
One of those enzymes was bradykinase, which will boost your immune system and help it to become more effective at killing off infections faster.
In addition, aloe vera contains lots of zinc – which helps to boost your body’s ability to fight off infection. There’s a reason that all those natural cold remedies that promise to ease colds and reduce their lengths are super high in zinc. (12)
If you’re not getting enough zinc in your diet, it means you have a zinc deficiency – which means your immune system won’t function properly and you won’t be able to protect your body from disease and infection. Zinc is crucial to your immune system function – without it you’re wide open for any germ that comes your way.
That’s why aloe vera is getting so popular in many different applications, including medical ones like dentistry. Because it’s so good as an antimicrobial and antibacterial agent, it can help to kill off the stuff that makes you sick – while also making your body more resistant to infection and sickness from within.
6. Aloe Vera Helps With Irritated Skin
The same properties that make aloe vera so good at helping to heal burns also apply to aloe vera and irritated skin and rashes.
That’s because of its nutrients, as well as its analgesic effect – reducing the pain and itchiness of irritated skin and rashes and helping you leave them alone so that they can heal faster and you can get out of pain faster. In fact, studies have found that aloe vera is more than 80% better at curing rashes and skin irritation than a placebo cream, without risk of relapse.
But that’s not all. Scientists have been hard at work looking at many different applications of aloe vera and aloe vera extract. They’ve found that aloe vera is effective against frostbite, inflammation, burns, genital herpes, dermatitis, psoriasis, and more. It will also kill off fungal and microbial infections in your skin as well. (13)
All of the above, combined with the fact that aloe vera is completely safe for consumption and for topical application to the skin, results in a legitimate wonder plant that can help heal an enormous variety of conditions.
7. Aloe Vera Helps Relieve Constipation
We talked a little bit before about some of the compounds in aloe vera called anthraquinones. They’re the compounds you can find in aloe latex that work as laxatives.
The mechanism by which they work is that they stimulate your intestines to produce more mucus and increase the water content of your intestines – and also work to produce intestinal contractions that help to digest your food.
The result is an effect that “gets things moving” in your intestines – helping to clear out your digestive tract and stop the effects of constipation. (14)
Aloe vera latex has even been found to beat out traditional laxative medications like phenolphthalein. In a double blind study, it’s a more effective laxative and has a stronger effect than the medical option – meaning that if you’re looking for an amazing, all natural laxative, look no further than aloe vera latex.
8. Aloe Vera Helps Treat Diabetes
While you should always talk to your doctor about the most effective and safest treatment options for you and your specific situation – you should also consider using aloe vera to supplement your treatment plan.
That’s because aloe vera has been found by researchers to help treat diabetes in a variety of ways. Studies have found that aloe vera can help enhance your insulin sensitivity – which helps you to manage your blood sugar and manage diabetes. (15)
In addition, clinical trials have been performed where patients were instructed to take aloe vera gel or a placebo. Those who took aloe vera gel had decreased blood glucose levels compared to the placebo – which suggests that the aloe vera helped them to control their blood sugar and their diabetes symptoms.
The early research on this is very preliminary – so don’t run out and decide that aloe vera can cure diabetes. Way, way more research needs to be done in order to draw any sort of reasonable conclusions.
9. Aloe Vera Can Help Heal Cold Sores
If you get cold sores, try applying aloe vera to the sore a few times per day – it could really help, for several reasons.
First off, aloe vera acts as an analgesic – which means that it helps to relieve the pain and discomfort associated with cold sores. It also speeds up the healing process, because of its antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties that help to shrink your cold sores and kill the viruses that are causing them.
In addition, the vital nutrients in aloe vera will help speed up healing and possibly even cut down on the number of cold sores you get. Vitamin B1, B2, B6, and vitamin C are all amazing for building your body’s internal resistances, and the amino acids in aloe vera will also help make your body more resilient to infection and disease. (16)
The best part about using aloe vera to treat cold sores is that because it’s completely safe for human consumption, you never have to worry about swallowing it or ingesting it. Since it’s totally safe (and even beneficial) to ingest aloe vera, it makes it the perfect natural remedy to apply around the mouth.
10. Aloe Vera Is Rich In Antioxidants Which Help Fight Inflammation
We’ve already talked so much about aloe vera’s anti-inflammatory properties – now let’s talk about why that’s so important for your body.
A truly enormous amount of diseases and chronic medical conditions come down to one thing: inflammation. Too much inflammation results in painful symptoms and the hallmarks of certain chronic diseases like arthritis and cardiovascular disease.
That’s why aloe vera is such a useful remedy. It has tons of vitamins and minerals that fight against inflammation and leave your body healthier – not to mention antioxidants that fight the free radicals in your body that can cause inflammation in the first place. (17)
Vitamins E, C, and A are all powerful antioxidants that sweep up what are called “free radicals” that float around your body and cause cell damage and oxidative stress. By getting rid of those free radicals, those antioxidants help to control inflammation and keep your cells healthier. They also help protect against damage done by things like uv light from the sun and cigarette smoke.
Plus, those vitamins do a ton of other things to help your body too. Vitamin E slows down the rate at which your cells age and helps fight inflammation. Vitamin C increases the health of your cardiovascular system, protects you against eye disease, and helps keep your skin younger and healthier. Vitamin A helps keep your eyes healthy as well and makes sure that your brain is functioning at its peak, rather than running sluggishly without the vital nutrients that it needs.
11. Aloe Vera Helps Your Body To Digest Food
There are a number of different ways that aloe vera helps to promote healthy digestion and keep your digestive tract working well. When you drink aloe vera juice, you’re getting rid of yeast and other bad bacteria in your gut and intestines that can mess up your digestion. It also helps to keep the acidic balance of your stomach regulated and helps you become regular with your bowel movements. (18)
Aloe vera is so good for your digestion that it can help relieve and even help people recover from digestive problems. Studies have been done on how aloe vera can help people struggling with IBS, and found that patients who ingest aloe vera juice twice per day had significantly decreased discomfort associated with their ibs.
We already talked about how aloe vera can help with canker sores, which are also known as mouth ulcers. Fittingly, it can help with stomach ulcers as well, helping to soothe the irritated stomach tissue and help your body to heal the ulcer faster.
12. Aloe Vera Helps Keep Your Hair And Scalp Healthy
If you’re suffering from an itchy scalp, or a dry scalp, or a scalp infection – look no further than aloe vera.
The natural moisturizing and nourishing properties of aloe vera will help soothe irritated skin on your scalp and stop the itching – giving your skin time to heal and recover. Plus, because it’s an antifungal and antibacterial agent, it will kill off the stuff that causes dandruff and keep your skin healthy and infection free. (19)
Finally, aloe vera helps to promote the growth of your hair follicles and give your hair the nutrients it needs to grow healthy and strong – helping to reduce the incidence of brittle hair, split ends, and damaged hair.
Does Aloe Vera Have Any Side Effects?
While aloe vera has been proven beneficial and helpful for a variety of different conditions and health problems, there do exist side effects that can affect some people. Women who are pregnant or breast feeding should not take aloe vera gel or latex, as it’s uncertain whether it’s possible that aloe vera can cause birth defects or miscarriages.
In addition, children should probably stay away from aloe vera. Any child younger than 12 years old can suffer from cramps, diarrhea, and abdominal pain, so to avoid those side effects it’s better if they don’t take any aloe vera.
Aloe latex is also considered a little bit more prone to bad side effects than aloe vera is. If you have hemorrhoids, stay away from aloe latex as it could exacerbate the condition. In addition, large amounts of aloe latex can cause kidney problems, blood in urine, weight loss, heart issues, diarrhea, and muscle weakness. If you suffer from frequent constipation, it’s a good idea to find another treatment rather than to use aloe latex long term to treat it.
Along the same lines, don’t take aloe latex if you have a history of kidney disease, as it’s been linked scientifically to kidney failure. Plus, don’t take aloe vera with digoxin, because of the complications caused by the lowered body potassium that come with aloe latex.
People with diabetes should monitor their blood sugar carefully if they take aloe vera. There is research suggesting that aloe vera can lower blood sugar, so if you do take aloe vera make sure that you’re monitoring your blood sugar in case it gets too low. The same goes for people who had recent surgery or who are going to have surgery, as messing with blood sugar levels around a surgery is a bad idea.
Always, always, always talk to your doctor about any health conditions you might have, and whenever you’re considering starting a new treatment or remedy. Only you and your doctor have all the information necessary to come up with a treatment that works for you. Your doctor will be able to tell you if there are any risks that you might not see from the treatment, and will guide you to make the best choice that’s right for you and your health.
If you take diuretics, stimulant laxatives, diabetes medication, warfarin, or sevoflurane, it is imperative that you talk to your doctor before you take aloe vera in any form. Your doctor will be able to recommend the right course of action for you.
How Much Aloe Vera Should I Take?
There are many different dosages and treatment patterns that you can follow with aloe, depending on the type you take and what you’re trying to achieve with it.
For instance, if you’re trying to lower your cholesterol, aloe vera capsules are best for you. Take a 300mg capsule of aloe vera twice per day for about 2 months to see whether it has an effect on your cholesterol levels.
If you’re trying to treat a burn, whether it’s a sun burn or otherwise, aloe vera gel is the treatment for you. Use 97.5% aloe gel on the burn until you’ve completely healed it.
If you’re trying to get rid of a skin infection or heal a wound, cut, or scrape, you want to use 0.5% aloe extract cream. You can rub it on 3 times per day until it shows signs of improvement.
If you’re constipated and trying to get things moving again, and you want to use aloe as a laxative, you want to take aloe vera. Take between 100 and 200mg of aloe vera per day for its laxative effect.
If you have inflammatory bowel disease, and you want to use the anti-inflammatory properties of aloe, take 100ml of aloe twice per day for a month, and see if it has a positive effect on your condition.
If you’re suffering from a dry, itchy scalp, or if you want to nourish your hair and get rid of dandruff, add a teaspoon of aloe gel to whatever shampoo you normally use to nourish the skin on your scalp and help get rid of any skin irritation or infections.
If you’re trying to improve your oral health and get rid of plaque and gum disease, pick a toothpaste that has aloe vera in it and use it consistently to brush at least twice per day. After about 6 months you should see serious improvement of your oral health and less incidence of plaque and gum disease.
The Best Aloe Vera Benefits And Uses
- Helps get rid of dental plaque
- Aloe vera helps get rid of canker sores
- Aloe vera can help prevent wrinkles
- Aloe vera helps to heal burns
- Aloe vera strengthens your immune system
- Aloe vera helps with irritated skin
- Aloe vera helps relieve constipation
- Aloe vera helps treat diabetes
- Aloe vera can help heal cold sores
- Aloe vera is rich in antioxidants which help fight inflammation
- Aloe vera helps your body to digest food
- Aloe vera helps keep your hair and scalp healthy