What is Aloe Vera?
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, semi-tropical, and arid climates around the world. It is cultivated for agricultural and medicinal uses. The species is also used for decorative purposes and grows successfully indoors as a potted plant.
It is found in many consumer products including beverages, skin lotion, cosmetics, ointments, or in the form of gel for minor burns and sunburns. There is little clinical evidence for the effectiveness or safety of Aloe Vera extract as a cosmetic or medicine.
Aloe Vera is a stemless or very short-stemmed plant growing to 60–100 centimeters (24–39 inches) tall, spreading by offsets. The leaves are thick and fleshy, green to grey-green, with some varieties showing white flecks on their upper and lower stem surfaces.
The margin of the leaf is serrated and has small white teeth.
The flowers are produced in summer on a spike up to 90 cm (35 in) tall, each flower being pendulous, with a yellow tubular corolla 2–3 cm (3⁄4–1 1⁄4 in) long. Like other Aloe species, Aloe Vera forms arbuscular mycorrhiza, a symbiosis that allows the plant better access to mineral nutrients in the soil.
7 Amazing Uses for Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera gel is widely known to relieve sunburn and help heal wounds. The succulent has a long history of being used for medicinal purposes, dating back to ancient Egypt. The plant is native to North Africa, Southern Europe, and the Canary Islands.
Today, aloe Vera is grown in tropical climates worldwide. From relieving heartburn to potentially slowing the spread of breast cancer, researchers are just beginning to unlock the benefits of this universal plant and its many byproducts
A new study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine looked at the therapeutic properties of aloe-emodin, a compound in the plant’s leaves.
The authors suggest that the succulent shows potential in slowing the growth of breast cancer. However, more studies are needed to further advance this theory.
You can use aloe Vera to keep your skin clear and hydrated. This may be because the plant thrives in dry, unstable climates. To survive the harsh conditions, the plant’s leaves store water.
These water-dense leaves, combined with special plant compounds called complex carbohydrates, make them an effective face moisturizer and pain reliever.
3. A natural laxative
Aloe Vera is considered a natural laxative. A handful of studies have looked into the benefits of succulent to aid digestion. The results appear to be mixed.
A team of Nigerian scientists conducted a study on rats and found that gel made from typical aloe Vera houseplants was able to relieve constipation. But another study by the National Institutes of Health looked at the consumption of aloe Vera whole-leave extract. Those findings revealed tumor growth in the large intestines of laboratory rats.
In 2002, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration required that all over-the-counter aloe laxative products be removed from the U.S. market or be reformulated.
The Mayo Clinic recommends that aloe Vera can be used to relieve constipation, but sparingly. They advise that a dose of 0.04 to 0.17 grams of dried juice is sufficient.
If you have Crohn’s disease, colitis, or hemorrhoids you shouldn’t consume aloe Vera. It can cause severe abdominal cramps and diarrhea. You should stop taking aloe vera if you’re taking other medications. It may decrease your body’s ability to absorb the drugs.
4. Lowering your blood sugar
Ingesting two tablespoons of aloe Vera juice per day can cause blood sugar levels to fall in people with type 2 diabetes, according to a study Trusted Source in Phytomedicine: International Journal of Phytotherapy and Phytopharmacy.
This could mean that aloe vera may have a future in diabetes treatment. These results were confirmed by another study Trusted Source published in Phytotherapy Research that used pulp extract.
But people with diabetes, who take glucose-lowering medications, should use caution when consuming aloe Vera. The juice along with diabetes medications could possibly lower your glucose count to dangerous levels.
5. An alternative to mouthwash
In a 2014 study Trusted Source published in the Ethiopian Journal of Health Sciences, researchers found aloe Vera extract to be a safe and effective alternative to chemical-based mouthwashes.
The plant’s natural ingredients, which include a healthy dose of vitamin C, can block plaque. It can also provide relief if you have bleeding or swollen gums.
6. Keeping produce fresh
A 2014 study published online by the Cambridge University Press looked at tomato plants coated with aloe gel. The report showed evidence that the coating successfully blocked the growth of many types of harmful bacteria on the vegetables.
Similar results were found in a different study with apples. This means that aloe gel could help fruits and vegetables stay fresh, and eliminate the need for dangerous chemicals that extend the shelf life of produce.
7. Heartburn relief
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a digestive disorder that often results in heartburn. A 2010 review suggested that consuming 1 to 3 ounces of aloe gel at mealtime could reduce the severity of GERD. It may also ease other digestion-related problems. The plant’s low toxicity makes it a safe and gentle remedy for heartburn.
Can You Eat Aloe Vera Leaves
Aloe Vera leaves are comprised of three parts: the skin, the gel, and the latex. They’re best known for their gel, which is responsible for most of its health benefits.
While most people apply the gel to their skin, it’s also safe to eat when prepared right.
Aloe Vera gel has a clean, refreshing taste and can be added to a variety of recipes, including smoothies and salsas.
Aloe Vera Gel Preparation
To prepare the gel, cut off the spiky edges on the top and alongside the aloe Vera leaf. Next, slice off the skin on the flat side, remove the clear gel and dice it into small cubes.
Make sure to wash the gel cubes thoroughly to remove all traces of dirt, debris, and residue. Latex residue can give the gel an unpleasant bitter taste.
The latex is a thin layer of yellow liquid between the skin and the gel of the leaf. It contains compounds with powerful laxative properties, such as aloin. Eating too much latex can have serious and potentially fatal side effects.
In contrast, the aloe Vera skin is generally safe to eat. It has a mild flavor and a crunchy texture, perfect for adding variety to your summer salads. Alternatively, the skin can be enjoyed by dipping it in salsa or hummus.
Aloe Vera Skin
To prepare the skin, cut off the spiky edges on the top and alongside the plant and slice off the skin on the flat side. Make sure to wash the skin thoroughly to remove any dirt, debris, and latex.
You can soak it in water for 10–20 minutes before eating it if you find it too tough to chew.
It’s very important to choose leaves from the aloe Vera plant and not from other aloe species, as these may be poisonous and therefore unfit for human consumption.
Many aloe Vera skincare products contain preservatives and other ingredients that are not meant to be ingested. Stick to eating the aloe Vera plant and not commercial skincare products.
Potential Benefits of Eating Aloe Vera
Consuming aloe Vera gel from the leaf has been linked to potential health benefits. Other parts of the plant have been linked to benefits as well.
Here are some potential benefits of eating aloe Vera:
- May reduce blood sugar levels: In human and animal studies, aloe Vera gel helped reduce blood sugar levels by increasing insulin sensitivity.
- May suppress inflammatory signals: In animal and test-tube studies, aloe Vera extract suppressed inflammatory signals such as TNFα, IL-1, and IL-6.
- Reduce dental plaque: If used as a mouthwash, aloe Vera juice may be as effective as a regular mouthwash in reducing dental plaque build-up.
- May boost memory: In one animal study, consuming aloe Vera gel helped enhance learning and memory while also reducing symptoms of depression).
- Rich in antioxidants: Regularly eating aloe Vera gel may raise blood antioxidant levels. Antioxidants help combat the damage caused by free radicals, which are compounds linked to many chronic diseases
The Potential Danger of Eating Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera latex can be harmful, especially to pregnant women, people with digestive disorders, and people on certain medications. You should also avoid aloe Vera gel if you take diabetes, heart, or kidney medications.
Never eat aloe Vera skincare products. They do not offer the same benefits as the leaf and are not meant to be ingested.
Aloe Vera for Weight Loss
There are two ways in which aloe Vera may aid weight loss.
May boost metabolism
Some research shows that aloe Vera could boost your metabolism, increasing the number of calories you burn throughout the day to promote weight loss.
In one 90-day study, administering dried aloe Vera gel to rats on a high-fat diet reduced body fat accumulation by increasing the number of calories they burned.
Other animal research has shown that aloe Vera could affect the metabolism of fat and sugar in the body while preventing the accumulation of belly fat.
Still, more studies are needed to determine whether aloe Vera may offer similar health benefits in humans.
May support blood sugar control
Aloe Vera may help improve blood sugar control, which may help increase weight loss.
In one study, consuming capsules containing 300–500 mg of aloe Vera twice daily significantly reduced blood sugar levels in 72 people with prediabetes..
Another study in 136 people found that taking an aloe Vera gel complex for 8 weeks reduced body weight and body fat, as well as improved the body’s ability to use insulin, a hormone involved in blood sugar control.
Improving blood sugar control can prevent spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels, which could prevent symptoms like increased hunger and cravings
Aloe Vera intake can cause several side effects and may decrease the absorption of certain medications. Unprocessed and unrefined extracts may also contain aloin, which is a carcinogenic compound.
Tell Us In The Comments:
1. What have you used aloe Vera for?
2. Have you tried eating the aloe Vera gel? If so, how did you prepare it?
3. Do you know of anyone who benefited from using the aloe Vera juice. If so, how?
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