12 Fantastic Ways Aloe Vera Can Benefit Your Health

by Shellie Renee'

Do you have an aloe vera plant somewhere in your house? If so, whether you realize it or not, you’ve got access to an incredible resource — one that the cosmetic, food, and even pharmaceutical industries rely on so much that its annual market value is around $13 billion!

Aloe vera is a natural resource that has been around for millennia. Throughout history, it’s been used medicinally in many cultures, including those of Greece, Egypt, India, Mexico, Japan, and China. Early Greeks considered the plant to be a catch-all for a variety of ailments. Today, it grows in dry climates around the world, in regions of Africa, Asia, Europe, and America, and millions of people love to use it for dermatological and health reasons.

Just what is it about aloe vera in all of its many forms (including gel, juice, and capsules) that makes it so special? The anatomy of the succulent plant makes it chock-full of antioxidants and antibacterial properties. The plant’s leaf contains three layers, each of which has its own different function and use. According to the Indian Journal of Dermatology, aloe vera is loaded with amino acids and vitamins like A, C, and E, along with B12, folic acid, and choline.

Who knew you could get all that health-boosting beneficial goodness in one plant? Most of us only think of aloe vera after a long day of too much fun in the sun. And while many of us are familiar with using products containing aloe vera gel to soothe a sunburn, there are plenty of other valuable health benefits that could come from breaking off a piece of aloe vera and using it topically or ingesting it orally.

Scroll through to learn all about this plant’s many uses — and perhaps if you don’t already have it, this might inspire you to buy one of your own!

What Is Aloe Vera?

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Aloe vera produces two different substances used in many food and health care products: a clear gel and yellow latex. The gel, which has a jelly consistency, is what you find inside this plant’s leaf when you cut it open. The latex is found just underneath the plant’s skin.

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, the plant’s use dates back to Egypt 6,000 years ago, with early Egyptians depicting aloe vera on stone carvings. It was even nicknamed the “plant of immortality” and gifted to pharaohs!

Nowadays, you can likely find this popular plant in local nurseries, shopping centers, and even home improvement stores. For those lacking a “green thumb,” you’re in luck: aloe vera is pretty low-maintenance and only needs to be watered every three weeks (and even less frequently during winter).

The Best Kind of Aloe Vera to Use

Aloe Vera plant
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Many companies manufacture aloe vera gel that can be applied topically, with various other additives included. If you want to use the gel in its purest form, you can simply purchase a plant, cut it open, and apply it directly to where it’s needed.

If you do decide to purchase some commercially manufactured gel, be sure to read the label first. The first ingredient you should see is either aloe vera or water. Some gels also contain alcohol, which can actually dry out your skin. Make sure the alcohol content in the gel you choose is very low, if included at all.

Aloe Vera Benefits

1. It Boosts Immunity

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One of the best things about aloe vera is its ability to boost your immune system, courtesy of the polysaccharides, enzymes, glycoproteins, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals that are in it. Some studies have shown that certain products containing aloe vera have proven effective in increasing white blood cell counts, which are the immune system’s defense against disease-causing particles in the human body.

The best way to consume aloe vera for your immune system’s sake is drinking 100% pure aloe vera juice that isn’t loaded down with sugary additives.

2. It Aids in Weight Loss

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Research has suggested that aloe vera can be beneficial to weight loss in two key ways.

First, bodily inflammation is tied to weight gain and problems with your metabolism. According to the World Health Organization, a number of studies have shown that aloe vera contains anti-inflammatory properties. Second, aloe vera latex has components called anthraquinones that act as a natural laxative, allowing you to flush out toxins in your system and making it easier to shed pounds.

Just make sure not to consume it when you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. The American Pregnancy Association reports that aloe has been rated as “possibly unsafe” when used orally by pregnant women.

3. It Softens Wrinkles

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The water content alone in aloe vera makes it a great moisturizer for your skin. It’s also been shown to increase collagen production by stimulating fibroblast, which produces collagen and elastin fibers that boost skin’s elasticity and decrease wrinkles. Enough of a reason to slather on a little each night, don’t you think?

In a study analyzing dietary aloe vera supplements published by the Annals of Dermatology, the daily intake of aloe vera supplements was found to “significantly” reduce the signs of skin aging in as little as three months!

4. It Prevents Acne

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One of the problems with a lot of commercial acne products is that they contain ingredients that can be way too harsh on the skin, leading to further skin irritation. This isn’t the case with aloe vera gel.

It’s cool and soothing, and it can help to cleanse bacteria from your pores and start to heal the skin, thanks to its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties. It’s also able to soften the appearance of scars that acne leaves behind. Used topically, it’s also very low risk (unless, of course, you have an aloe vera allergy).

5. It Promotes Healthy Hair

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Several studies have demonstrated that using aloe vera topically can help your hair in a variety of ways.

Aloe vera can treat scalp inflammation caused by dandruff, strengthen and repair sun-damaged strands, and even promote hair growth by increasing blood flow to your scalp.

6. It Decreases Respiratory Issues

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While most of aloe vera’s health benefits involve using one of its components, the plant is also beneficial in its whole, natural state.

According to Live Science, aloe vera is one of the plants found to be most useful in removing indoor air pollutants — and these pollutants are linked to many health conditions, like asthma, respiratory illness, and even cancer. Basically, aloe vera helps clean the air around you, making it healthier and safer to breathe!

7. It Relieves Menstrual Cramps

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PMS typically comes with pain and bloating. The anti-inflammatory properties in aloe vera can help to decrease both, especially if you consume it regularly throughout the month. You can simply add a teaspoon of pure aloe vera juice to your favorite drink, or even take it straight.

8. It Strengthens Teeth and Gums

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If you’re looking for a natural, chemical-free alternative to toothpaste, aloe vera is a safe bet. A 2009 study published by the Academy of General Dentistry found that aloe vera tooth gel has the ability to remove organisms that cause cavities and mouth disease just as effectively as popular toothpaste brands.

9. It Soothes Skin Ailments

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Probably the most popular and common way that aloe vera gel products are used is to heal sunburns. This is thanks to the plant’s anti-inflammatory properties and healing vitamins and minerals. But another benefit is that it contains properties that help to regenerate new cell growth in areas where skin is damaged, irritated, or broken.

10. It Could Kill Cancer Cells

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There continue to be studies about just how aloe vera might affect cancer, if at all. But at least one study has found that it can slow the growth of cancerous cells.

A 2015 study by researchers in Dubai found that aloe vera crude extract has the ability to inhibit the growth of breast and cervical cancer cells, both alone and when used in combination with the chemotherapy drug cisplatin. At the same time, it wasn’t found to harm normal, healthy cells.

11. It Makes a Great Foot Soak

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Feet can be prone to significant wear and tear and subject to issues like dryness and cracked heels. The moisturizing and hydrating properties in aloe vera that work to heal skin on other parts of your body can also help give you baby-soft, smooth feet.

12. It Can Keep Produce Fresh

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Researchers in Spain developed an aloe vera gel used as an “edible coating” to preserve produce. In their test study, they covered grapes in the substance and stored them alongside uncovered grapes in the same conditions.

The group that wasn’t covered in gel went bad in about a week, while those that were treated lasted up to 35 days. According to the study, the grapes coated with aloe vera gel retained more firmness, weight, and color than the plain grapes. A group of tasters also determined that the treated grapes tasted better!

So what are you waiting for? Head out and pick yourself up an aloe vera plant — or two!