Aloe vera has been a popular medicinal plant for thousands of years, but it is still largely misunderstood. With claims of its health benefits abound, let’s separate the fact from fiction.
Aloe is a genus that contains more than 500 different flowering succulent plants. It originates from a mountainous area of the southeast Arabian peninsula, but has naturalized in many parts of North Africa and Southern Europe and is grown in tropical and subtropical areas worldwide. Its medicinal usage stretches back 5,000 years to Ancient Egypt.
Aloe vera leaves are dense, succulent, and erect, forming a rosette. A mucilaginous gel is taken from inside the leaves which are the main source of its many medicinal properties.
Let’s look at some of the benefits of Aloe Vera:
Helps Wound Healing
Perhaps the most common use of aloe vera is not for consumption, but rather as a topical application. It has a long history of being used in the treatment of burns and sunburns. Studies suggest that it is a potent topical treatment for both first- and second-degree burns.
Aloe vera can also be used to keep your skin clear and hydrated as well, as the plant is known to thrive in dry and unstable conditions. To do this, it stores water within its leaves. The combination of these water-rich leaves and plant compounds called complex carbohydrates make it an effective moisturizer and pain reliever.
Visit Wellness Nova for more hints and tips on natural skin and health care.
Aloe vera is considered a natural laxative. It is the latex – the yellow liquid that exudes from the cut leaves – and not the gel that provides this benefit. The main compound responsible for this is called aloin, or barbaloin, which has well-established laxative properties. However, there is some concern and uncertainty over the continued use of latex.
Improves Skin Condition
Some preliminary studies are suggesting that aloe vera can help slow the aging process of the skin. A 2009 study showed that taking aloe vera gel increased collagen production and improved skin elasticity in 90 days.
Contains Antioxidant and Anti-Bacterial Properties
Aloe vera gel contains powerful antioxidants from a large family of substances known as polyphenols. It is these polyphenols in conjunction with some other compounds that give aloe vera gel its anti-bacterial and antioxidant properties by inhibiting the growth of certain bacteria that are harmful to humans.
These antiviral, anti-bacterial, and antioxidant properties are what make aloe vera gel useful in treating wounds and skin conditions.
Can Lower Blood Sugar Levels
Taking 2 tablespoons of aloe vera juice a day can help lower blood sugar levels in those who suffer from type 2 diabetes, according to this study, the results of which have since been replicated in further studies. This means that aloe vera could be included in future treatment for patients with diabetes.
The Bottom Line
Aloe vera is a flowering succulent plant grown throughout the world in tropical and subtropical environments. Its medicinal properties have been well-known for thousands of years. The gel inside the water-rich leaves, and the yellowish latex both contain medicinal benefits. These benefits include helping to heal wounds and various skin conditions, burns and sunburn, and in treating constipation.