Aloe vera is a thick, short-stemmed plant that contains water in its leaves. Its primary use is for treating skin injuries and improving gut health. In this article we discuss the potential health benefits of aloe vera and give a brief history of the plant.
Aloe vera has a long history and has been used for medicinal purposes since ancient Egypt. It is native to North Africa, Southern Europe, and the Canary Islands (islands off the coast of Northern Africa), however, it is now also grown in tropical climates throughout the world.
From relieving heartburn to improving digestion and gut health to slowing the spread of breast cancer, there are a number of impressive benefits of aloe vera. Researchers actually believe that we are just now beginning to unlock the potential of this universal plant.
The use of aloe vera is increasing each year and as of 2021, the annual market value is estimated to be over $13 billion. Its uses range from the cosmetic to the food and supplement industry to pharmaceuticals.
Each leaf contains a slimy tissue that stores water. The water filled tissue is the aloe vera leaf "gel." The gel is full of beneficial bioactive compounds including antioxidants, amino acids, and vitamins and minerals.
Research suggests that aloe vera may help treat constipation and improve bowel movement frequency. It is the latex, the sticky yellow residue under the skin of the leaf, that provides the benefits.
Aloin or barbaloin is the compound mainly responsible for this beneficial effect.
Antioxidants are very important to your overall health. They are compounds that fight free radicals in your body which are unstable molecules that can cause damage to cells. Aloe vera gel is full of powerful antioxidants (belonging to the family of polyphenols) that prohibit the growth of certain bacteria that can cause infections.
It is known to be antibacterial and antiviral. This is, in part, one of the reasons aloe vera may help treat wounds and skin problems.
The most popular and perhaps well-known benefit of aloe vera is its ability to treat sunburns and skin abrasions. In fact, the United States Pharmacopeia began describing aloe vera preparations as a skin protectant in the early 1800's.
A review of clinical studies found that aloe vera can reduce the healing time of burns by an average of 9 days compared to prescription medication. It also helped prevent and treat itching, redness, and infections.
Gum disease and tooth decay are common health problems in the United States. One way to prevent these conditions is to decrease plaque buildup on the teeth.
One mouth rinse study that included 300 healthy particpants found that aloe vera mouth rinse was as effective as standard mouthwash ingredient chlorhexidine. In fact, after just one week of use aloe vera mouth rinse was shown to be more effective than chlorhexidine in reducing dental plaque.
Overall ,this study shows that aloe vera is effective in killing the plaque-producing bacterium in the mouth.
A 2009 study of 30 female participants aged 45 and up found that taking oral aloe vera gel increased collagen production and improved skin health over a 90-day period.
Additional research shows that aloe vera may help improve skin integrity and moisturize and soothe dry skin.
Aloe vera may enhance insulin sensitivity and improve blood sugar management. This may make aloe vera a useful remedy for people with diabetes.
A systematic review of eight studies found that aloe vera may benefit people with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes because of its beneficial effects on glycemic control.
More often than not, you will experience a canker sore at some point during your life. A canker sore is a small, shallow sore inside the mouth or at the base of the gums. Research suggests that aloe vera treatment may accelerate the healing process.
For example, one 7-day study with over 180 people with recurrent canker sores found that applying aloe vera gel to the affected area helped to reduce the size of the sore.
For the most part, aloe vera is safe to consume with little-to-no side effects. If you are on a specific medication it is best to consult with your doctor before beginning a new health regimen.
Aloe vera is a thick, short-stemmed plant that contains water in its leaves. It's used for treating skin injures, improving gut health, and more. Aloe vera has been around for thousands of years and is native to North Africa, Southern Europe, and the Canary Islands (islands off the coast of Northern Africa).
It is safe to consume with little-to-no side effects reported.
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