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Aloe vera has been used for centuries in Egypt, Greece, India, China, Japan, and Mexico for its health properties. (1)
The plant can be traced back to ancient Egypt, around 6000 years ago, where it was depicted in stone carvings. It was given as a funeral gift to pharaohs and was known as the “plant of immortality.”
Aloe vera is a succulent plant with long, fleshy, broad, thick leaves with notched edges. The leaves spread out from the center, and the plant grows up to a height of 2 feet.
When grown outside, it blooms in late winter or spring and produces yellow or red flowers on stalks emerging from the center. However, the plant can also be grown indoors but will be devoid of flowers.
Aloe vera contains vitamins, minerals, lignin, enzymes, sugars, saponins, amino acids, and salicylic acid. It is a source of antioxidants, including vitamins A (beta-carotene), C, and E. It also contains folic acid, choline, and vitamin B12. (1)
Uses of Aloe Vera
Aloe vera extracts are popular worldwide and a substantial part of botanical industries. The plant extracts are employed in various commercial enterprises, including:
- Topical cosmetic industry: Aloe vera is used as a base material of:
- Makeup creams
- Sun lotions
- Shaving creams
- Bath aids
- Food industry: Aloe vera is primarily used in the production of functional foods, especially drinks.
- Pharmaceutical industry: Aloe vera is used as a bitter agent for:
- Gels and ointments (topical application)
- Tablets and capsules (oral use)
Aloe vera may be beneficial for your skin and general health due to its rich nutritional composition. It may be consumed as a potent drink in the form of a juice or smoothie that can be easily prepared at home.
Aloe vera has been shown to have medicinal properties, which have been studied extensively in clinical studies.
Multiple studies suggest aloe vera may have a therapeutic role in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). (2)(3)(4) However, it should be consumed in moderation, and after consulting your healthcare provider, as excessive consumption of aloe vera may lead to diarrhea.
Various studies suggest that the oral administration of aloe vera may help decrease blood glucose levels and HbA1c in individuals with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. It has also been shown to help improve cholesterol in individuals with prediabetes and diabetes. However, the most efficient dosage or administration type is not yet determined. (9)(10)(11)
Aside from being an anti-inflammatory and antiviral agent, aloe vera is also immunomodulatory.
Some studies suggest aloe vera may be used as a potent treatment for dental problems such as lichen planus (12), oral submucous fibrosis (13), recurrent aphthous stomatitis, alveolar osteitis, periodontitis (14), gingivitis (15), and other conditions. (16)
Side Effects of Aloe Vera
Although generally good for health, aloe vera consumption may have a few side effects, including diarrhea, abdominal pain and cramps, potassium depletion, and muscle weakness in some individuals. People allergic to aloe vera may experience hives and skin irritation.
Individuals with gastrointestinal problems, cardiovascular disease, hemorrhoids, or kidney disease may need to avoid the use of aloe vera. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should also refrain from consuming aloe vera.
It is recommended to consult your doctor before taking aloe vera or any aloe vera supplements, as the plant can interfere with the action of certain medications.
Aloe Vera Recipes
1. Aloe Vera Orange Juice
Aloe vera juice has multiple potential health benefits and can be conveniently made at home by adding to juices or smoothies. Oranges are a good source of vitamin C and fiber and pair well with aloe vera.
Here’s a simple recipe for fresh aloe vera orange juice.
- 2 tablespoons aloe vera gel (about one leaf)
- 3 whole oranges (peeled)
- Water (optional)
- Cut the sides of the aloe vera leaf and slit the top layer along the length to reveal the gel.
- Scoop or peel out the gel from the inside of the leaf.
- Measure 2 tablespoons of the gel and put it in the blender.
- Blend to obtain a thin consistency.
- Juice the oranges.
- Add 1 cup of fresh orange juice to the aloe vera gel.
- You can add up to 1 cup of water as desired.
- Blend for approximately 1 minute.
- Pour into a glass and consume. Store any leftover in the refrigerator.
2. Aloe Vera Smoothie
Smoothies can be a healthy snack, a light meal, or even dessert. They are an excellent accompaniment for breakfast and a healthy choice for both kids and adults.
However, the nutritional benefits of the smoothie depend on its ingredients. Loading your smoothie with extra sugar will only increase the number of calories you consume.
On the other hand, ingredients such as fruits, vegetables, optional protein powder, dairy, and its alternatives, and optional fiber create a nutrient-dense smoothie rich in minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and other advantageous compounds.
Adding aloe vera juice in your smoothies is an easy, delicious way to get the health benefits of aloe vera.
Here is a delicious and nutritious smoothie recipe that combines various fruits and ground flaxseeds to enhance the taste and nutrition of aloe vera.
- ½ cup fresh aloe gel
- Half a green apple
- Half a cucumber
- 1 kiwi
- Half a lemon
- 1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds
- ½ inch fresh ginger
- ½ cup of water
- Honey (optional, to taste)
- Chop half a green apple, half a cucumber, and kiwi into small chunks and put them in the blender.
- Add a small piece of ginger and blend until incorporated.
- Pour a ½ cup of aloe vera gel and the juice of half a lemon in the blender.
- Add 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseeds.
- Pour 1 cup of water.
- Blend for a few minutes until a smooth consistency is achieved.
- Serve in a large glass.
You may also use honey to sweeten the smoothie. Adding fruits, such as bananas and strawberries, is optional to add color, taste, and nutrients to the smoothie. This smoothie may support your general health because it is abundant in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
- Check whether the aloe vera you are using is suitable for internal consumption. If it is meant for external use only, do not make the juice with it.
- Give the aloe vera leaf a thorough wash before extracting the gel.
- You may use ½ teaspoon of dried ginger if you are out of fresh ginger for the smoothie.
- You may replace drinking water with coconut water to boost the nutritional content of the smoothie.
- If flaxseeds are not available, you may add chia seeds soaked in water instead.
- Consume the smoothie immediately as it may start losing color if left for long.
- Use a small blender if you are making single servings of the smoothie, as a large blender may not be efficient due to its wide base.
- You may also serve smaller portions of smoothies as dessert, accompanied by a plate of bite-sized dark chocolate (optional).
Aloe vera gel is a viscous and sticky flesh of the plant leaf. It is often proclaimed as a treatment for various health issues, ranging from acne to digestive problems. It is readily available in many health and wellness stores.
Aloe vera juice may be added in moderation to your everyday diet to reap its health benefits. It is recommended to consult your doctor before consuming aloe vera, especially if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, on medication, or have any health ailments.