Food Matters | 6 Health Benefits of Aloe Vera + 3 Simple Ways to Use It
Anyone who has been sunburnt is likely to be familiar with aloe vera and its soothing effects. But did you know that this super plant has many more health benefits?
Aloe vera produces two substances – gel, which is the clear substance and the most obvious when you peel open the leaf, and the second substance is latex, which can be found just under the plant’s skin and is yellow in color.
Both the gel and the latex can be ingested or applied topically to the skin and have a whole host of health benefits, even more, reasons to have a few aloe vera plants in your garden.
1. Healing Antioxidant and Antibacterial Properties
Aloe vera has more than 75 potentially active components, including vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, and salicylic acids. It provides 20 of the 22 amino acids that our bodies need to grow and function properly, and all eight of the essential amino acids we need for tissue growth, energy production, immune function, and nutrient absorption.
Aloe vera also provides 12 anthraquinones, which are organic compounds that act as analgesics/pain killers, antibacterials, and antivirals. Also within aloe vera are hormones called auxins and gibberellins, which help heal wounds and have anti-inflammatory properties – pretty powerful stuff!
2. Helps to Heal Burns
Aloe vera has long been used as a home remedy for burns, the most commonly known would be sunburn. But did you know that it can also be used on burn wounds? A study on patients with burn wounds tested aloe vera gel against vaseline gauze and it was found that the aloe vera-treated burns healed faster.
3. Acts As a Laxative for Constipation
Aloe latex, found underneath the plant’s skin, contains natural laxatives called anthraquinones that, when taken orally, help with constipation. The recommended dose for overcoming constipation is 100-200 milligrams of aloe juice daily, as needed.
4. Helps Soothe the Lining of The Gut
If you’re suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or Ultrativecolatis, aloe vera can be used to soothe the lining of the gut and settle down any inflammation. Lee Holmes describes it as “putting on a layer upon the mucous membrane and lining of the gut”, which acts as a shield against anything acidic, which means it’s not going to burn as much.
5. Can Relieve Skin Conditions
You can apply aloe gel to the skin for a whole range of skin conditions including psoriasis, acne, dandruff, diaper rash, and bedsores. Because aloe vera improves the circulation of blood to the affected area and prevents cell death, it increases your body’s healing capabilities.
6. Heals Cold Sores
Aloe vera has antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties that speed up the healing process and reduce pain associated with cold sores, and vitamin B6 acts as a natural pain treatment and helps our immune system. So next time you’re rundown with a cold sore, apply aloe gel a few times a day to kick start the healing process and also ease any discomfort.
Three Simple Ways to Use Aloe Vera
As a Face Mask
David Wolfe considers aloe vera as one is his top 10 beauty foods, and simply applying it to your skin once a day will soften your skin and reduce any redness or inflammation. To make a revitalizing face mask, all you need to do is wash the leaves, peel them open, and scoop out the flesh. Rub it on your face and leave it on for about 20 minutes or until it dries. Peel the mask off, wash your face with water and pat dry.
Made Into Gummies
Most gummies are made using gelatin, which is an animal byproduct, so to make vegetarian/vegan gummies, Lee Holmes shares her recipe. Heat 12 fl oz of aloe vera juice in a saucepan, add 1/2 teaspoon agar-agar powder and stir for a couple of minutes. When the mixture starts to boil, remove it from the heat, add liquid stevia, vanilla extract and whatever natural flavor you choose such as berries or chopped mint and pour into an ice-cube tray and refrigerate for about 1 hour or until set.
Added to a Cleansing Juice
Aloe gel contains enzymes, minerals, antimicrobial, and amino acids to help digestion, reduce inflammation, and cleanse the body. So why not try our cleansing juice? Take the gel of 2-3 leaves of aloe vera, 1 cup coconut water, 1 small cucumber, the juice of half a lemon, and a quarter of a small pineapple and blitz all of the ingredients in a juicer or blender. Drink immediately.
We recommend that you ask your doctor for advice on how to use aloe vera before consuming too much, as high oral doses can be dangerous.
Written for Food Matters.