Aloe vera has been used since time immemorial to treat skin infections and boost immunity. It is also known to lower cholesterol, speed up the healing process of wounds, and reduce stress. It might even boost memory, treat neurodegenerative disorders, and lower blood sugar levels. However, studies have found that prolonged use could lead to diarrhea, dehydration, kidney diseases, or liver failure.
Aloe vera is a succulent plant species of the genus Aloe. An evergreen perennial, it originates from the Arabian Peninsula but grows wild in tropical climates around the world and is cultivated for agricultural and medicinal uses.
The most commonly noted health benefit of aloe vera is relieving constipation. Usually the yellow latex from the leaf is had to tackle constipation. It contains an organic compound called anthraquinone, which has potent laxative properties and can stimulate bowel movements. In ayurveda, a formulation using the dried yellow latex, is used to treat constipation and other digestive disorders.
LOWERS CHOLESTEROL LEVELS
If your cholesterol levels are high, you may incorporate aloe vera juice into your diet. Studies have shown that a compound called beta-sitosterol present in aloe vera can increase the HDL “good” cholesterol levels in your body which, in turn, lowers the LDL “bad” cholesterol. By bringing your cholesterol levels under control, aloe vera can also reduce your risk of related conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
If you have a weak immunity, it might do you good to include aloe vera in your diet. Aloe vera has antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties, which makes it effective in preventing infections. Studies have found that it could enhance white blood cell activity and promote the production of certain proteins that help fight viral infection. Aloe vera also contains complex carbohydrates, which have shown an immunomodulatory effect.
MAY MANAGE TYPE 2 DIABETES
When it comes to managing high blood glucose levels, aloe vera might come in handy. But the evidence on its direct effect on blood glucose levels seems to be mixed. Certain studies have noted a blood glucose reduction in women with type 2 diabetes who consumed aloe vera pulp, while other studies did not. The exact mechanism isn’t clear either. One line of reasoning is that aloe vera lowers cortisol (stress hormone) levels in the blood and improves glucose metabolism. Besides, it also lowers the levels of bad cholesterol, a comorbid factor in diabetes.
If you’ve been feeling stressed of late, consider using aloe vera. Ayurveda considers aloe vera to be a rasayana or an adaptogen, a substance that supports the body’s ability to deal with stress, whether that stress is from anxiety, fatigue, trauma, or even infection. And a study has found that beta-glucans (sugars that are found in the cell walls of bacteria, fungi, yeasts, algae, lichens, and plants) in aloe vera lower levels of cortisol in your body
MAY IMPROVE MEMORY, REDUCE DEPRESSION, AND FIGHT NEURODEGENERATIVE DISEASES
Certain studies have hinted at the possibility of aloe vera improving brain function, apart from relieving stress. In one such study, it was observed that aloe vera extract slightly altered the function of neurotransmitters. This, in turn, was found to improve memory and reduce depression. Another study found that taking a supplement containing aloe vera significantly improved the symptoms of Alzheimer’s in both men and women.
FIGHTS SKIN CONDITIONS, MAKES SKIN HEALTHY AND YOUTHFUL
Of all the uses of aloe vera, skin care tops the list. Here are a few skin-related factors
that aloe vera can benefit
Skin diseases: Aloe vera has anti:-
inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties which make it effective against acne and skin conditions like hives, eczema, and psoriasis. These properties have also made the topical application of aloe juice and gel effective against lichen planus, a skin disorder which leads to purple, itchy, flat-topped bumps on the skin as well as white patches and sores in the mouth.
Aging: Aloe improves skin elasticity, promotes skin cell regeneration by boosting collagen production, and protects the skin from harmful UV rays, in turn preventing wrinkles and dark spots.
Dryness: Aloe vera also moisturizes the skin and is loaded with skin-friendly vitamin C, keeping it healthy and supple.
Dandruff: One study that compared several different formulations of anti-dandruff products found that the one with aloe vera were the most effective
MAY AID WEIGHT LOSS
If you’re trying to shed those excess pounds, aloe vera gel powder might come in handy. A study found that rats on a high-fat diet experienced a reduction in their body fat accumulation after being given 20 mg of aloe vera gel powder per kg of body weight for 90 days. The researchers stated that this could be because aloe increases energy expenditure in the body. Understandably, several weight loss pills have aloe vera extract in them. That said, further research is required to confirm this benefit.
FIGHTS DENTAL DISORDERS
Aloe vera could save you a trip to the dentist or speed up your recovery if you’ve got a dental condition. In fact studies have found that using aloe vera tooth gel can prevent cavity-causing bacteria better than most other toothpastes, thanks to antibacterial and anti-inflammatory anthraquinones. Besides, aloe gel doesn’t contain abrasives like most toothpastes and is less harsh on teeth. Here are a few other conditions that research has looked into:
Oral submucous fibrosis: This is a condition that causes lesions, ulcers, and scars in the mucus membrane of the oral cavity (mouth). Topical application of aloe vera juice and gel for 3 months could counter symptoms including burning sensation, problems with mouth opening, lowered cheek flexibility, and tongue protrusion
Oral lichen planus: This auto-immune condition leads to white, lacy patches as well as red, swollen tissues, and open sores. Topical application of aloe gel for 8 weeks could heal the symptoms of oral lichen planus without any serious side effects.
Canker sores: Topical application of a gel containing 2% of aloe extract lowers the pain caused by canker sores and speeds up healing.
Gingivitis: This condition refers to the inflammation of gums, often caused due to the buildup of bacteria through plaque. It can lead to swollen, puffy, receding gums that might feel tender or bleed easily. Studies have found that scaling and using a mouthwash with aloe vera lowered inflammation and other symptoms associated with the condition.
Perodontis: This is another gum infection that is caused due to poor oral hygiene. Applying aloe vera gel to the peridontal pockets (gaps that form when the disease forms pockets around the teeth by destroying tissue and bone) can speed up healing.
Dry socket: Also known as alveolar osteitis, this painful condition occurs after a tooth is removed. One study has found that a freeze-dried soft patch-like product containing aloe gel could prevent the occurrence of dry socket if used immediately after the extraction of a tooth. However, further studies are REQUIRED TO FULLY UNDERSTAND THIS BENEFIT.
MAY FIGHT EPILEPSY
One study has found that an extract of aloe vera leaf powder can lower the incidence of seizures, when given at a dose of 400 mg per kg of body weight. It was also found to fight free radicals, which play a role in the initiation and progression of epilepsy.
MAY AID IN THE TREATMENT OF MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS
An autoimmune disease of the central nervous system, multiple sclerosis could cause vision loss, pain, fatigue and impaired coordination. Some studies with experimental models of multiple sclerosis show that 120 mg/kg aloe vera powder per day slowed down the progression of the disease by countering oxidative stress. That said, the studies are preliminary and need further research before aloe vera can be considered for the treatment of this hitherto incurable disease.