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What are the various benefits of aloe vera?
Aloe vera gel may act as an anti-inflammatory and pain reliever at the site of skin injury. These effects are due to the enzyme activity of carboxypeptidase inactivating bradykinase, which is responsible for inducing pain and vasodilation during the inflammatory response.
It also may help to relieve itchy, irritated skin, which is one of the allergic responses when histamine is released.
C-glycosyl chromones have also been discovered in the aloe plant and are known for their anti-inflammatory characteristics. (1)
A randomized, triple-blind clinical trial showed that aloe gel applied twice daily for 10 days significantly reduced the risk of pressure injury to the hip, heel, and sacrum in 80 patients on the orthopedic unit. (2)
The aloe vera plant is known in early Egypt as the “plant of immortality” and in Ayurveda as the “young girl.” The plant is thought to return femininity and youthful vibrancy to its users.
Oral intake of aloe sterol of 40 µg for 12 weeks in Japanese women over 40 reduced the appearance of wrinkles by stimulating the production of hyaluronic acid and collagen. It also improved the overall skin elasticity in women 30-59 years old. (3)
Is it safe to consume the skin of the aloe vera plant?
Some cultures use the leaves of the aloe vera plant, much like a vegetable, including the young stem of its flowers. The inhabitants of Western Rajasthan (India) were found to make pickles from the leaf pods of the plant. (1)
However, it is not recommended to eat aloe leaves as the leaf extract contains aloe latex, which is not likely safe for consumption.
Is it safe to use aloe vera extract on the hair?
Aloe vera contains ample amounts of magnesium, which combines with lactic acid inside the body to form magnesium lactate. Magnesium helps stimulate hair growth by activating the follicles in the scalp. This mineral supplement is known to halt the formation of histidine decarboxylase from histamine, which is derived from the amino acid histidine.
Aloprogen, a glycoprotein also found in aloe, has anti-allergenic properties.
Around 68 aloe species are known to exude a compound called aloin, which also goes by the name of barbaloin. This compound is responsible for the cooling and moisturizing properties of aloe gel.
Thus, the soothing sensation of aloe-containing products, such as lotions, body gels, and shampoo, can be traced back to the presence of aloin.
Moreover, this compound can also help undo hair damage and make your tresses soft and shiny due to its inherent ability to moisturize.
What is the most effective way to use aloe vera?
Proper processing of the aloe vera gel is essential to preserve its vital nutrients. After it is harvested, careful handling of the leaves and refrigeration during transport help to preserve the active ingredients. It is likely recognized as safe for short-term use of aloe vera extracts of 15 ml daily for up to about 40 days.
What are the benefits of aloe vera for the skin?
Aloe vera gel has been used for centuries generally to protect the skin, aid wound healing, relieve burns, and even treat frostbite. Aloe gel is rich in antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E, minerals, protein, and amino acids.
Just like proteins are described as the building blocks of the body, amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. All kinds of body tissue, such as the skin, muscles, nails, and hair, are made up of proteins, which themselves are composed of organic compounds called amino acids.
Aloe vera is replete with these structural components and therefore helps in repairing any kind of tissue damage in the body. In fact, aloe vera gel contains 19 out of the 20 amino acids needed by the body to function, and 7 out of the 8 non-essential amino acids needed under times of stress or illness. The amino acids that are not made in the body must be ingested through foods.
Long-term treatment of aloe gel or cream twice daily or more may also be effective in reducing the appearance of acne-related scars.
A 2018 review found that the compound aloesin in aloe vera may help to reduce the production of melanin, which is the dark pigmentation that can make acne scars more pronounced. (9)
For psoriasis, apply a cream containing aloe twice, daily for 2 months or 0.5% aloe extract three times, daily for 1 month. Polysaccharides found in aloe were found to be beneficial in the treatment of psoriasis.
The aloe vera treatment for psoriasis likely works best in conjunction with other treatments for the condition. Consult a doctor if you have the condition.
Rashes such as heat or mild irritation from an allergy response may be treated with aloe vera gel. Its cooling and anti-inflammatory effects can soothe mild skin irritation.
You will likely need multiple applications for rashes, and effectiveness is typically inadequate when aloe vera is used on its own.
Note: Aloe vera is NOT a cure for skin conditions, and a doctor or dermatologist should be consulted beforehand.
Can aloe vera be used to treat diaper rash?
According to a small study conducted in 2012, aloe vera gel exhibits certain anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties that can help soothe and heal a diaper rash. (10)
The topical use of aloe gel for treating a diaper rash is generally considered safe for infants who are aged 3 months or older.
Note: Before trying this remedy, you must consult your pediatrician to see if it is suitable for your baby.
Can aloe vera application fight off sunburn?
Aloe vera gel for sunburn has been a long-time, natural home remedy due to the cooling sensation on the hot, reddened skin.
Vacationers to hot, tropical destinations who did not use sunscreen will tell you they have cut open the leaf and put raw gel directly on the burn.
If you know you are not allergic to aloe vera, using it may be safe. Using a dermatologist-approved over-the-counter aloe vera gel is also appropriate in this case.
Can aloe vera be used as a mouthwash?
Recently, in a randomized placebo double-blind study, it was found that aloe vera gel in a mouthwash significantly reduced the swelling and pain associated with the postoperative tooth extraction. (4)
Similarly, in another study, aloe vera mouthwash was found to improve the condition of oral stomatitis in patients with cancer by decreasing both pain and intensity. Patients undergoing chemotherapy are subject to the ulcerative condition, especially those with head and neck cancer. (5)
Can consuming aloe vera juice relieve constipation?
Aloe is known to have been used to relieve constipation in traditional Indian medicine. The latex found in aloe vera juice contains anthraquinones, which are primarily responsible for the plant’s laxative effects.
For relief of constipation, 100-200 mg of aloe or 50 g aloe extract at bedtime was found effective. An alternative treatment is 500 mg aloe capsule, which is started at one capsule per/day and suggested to increase to up to three capsules per/day if so needed.
If you are experiencing constipation, adequate fluid and fiber intake is the safest way to relieve symptoms. Including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your daily diet will provide fiber for healthy gut motility.
A phone call to your primary care doctor for recommendations is another safe solution.
Does aloe vera increase the levels of estrogen?
Recent research has been conducted on aloe and its reproductive effects. However, the results were conflicting and null due to the use of animal subjects. (6)
In major literature reviews, there is no mention of aloe vera having any effect on levels of estrogen. (7)
What are the side effects of the regular consumption of aloe vera?
As always, never begin a new supplement without consulting your physician.
Pregnant women should be advised AGAINST taking herbal supplements during pregnancy and should always consult a doctor regarding supplements even before conception if trying to become pregnant.
Breastfeeding mothers should also avoid supplements and consult their doctor for safe use as chemical compounds can be transferred to the infant via breast milk.
Daily use of aloe is not recommended. Incorrect oral consumption of aloe vera can cause cramping and diarrhea. For instance, aloe leaf extract and aloe latex are not safe to be taken orally, and 1 g daily of aloe latex can be fatal after just a couple of days.
Long-term intake of aloe is known to have adverse effects, such as hematuria (blood in urine), kidney problems, and cardiac irregularity. It is not recommended in the treatment of irritable bowel disease (IBD), hemorrhoids, kidney disorders, and diabetes and in those who are presurgical candidates. (7)
Furthermore, oral ingestion of aloe vera was found to have counteracted the effect of diabetes medications. Several cases of hepatic (liver) toxicity requiring hospitalization were reported for short- to long-term use of aloe preparation. (7)
It is known that many herbal supplements can have food-drug interactions with prescription drugs. Hence, it is important to discuss any interest in adding herbal supplements to your diet with your doctor.
The topical use of aloe vera gel is typically safe for most people. If you are allergic to the plant, it can also cause hives, itching, irritation, and swelling.
Can regular consumption of aloe vera cause cancer?
There is research being conducted to find preventative uses of aloe in certain cancers. However, no conclusive human research suggests that aloe vera causes cancer.
Aloin, emodin, and aloe-emodin are some of the compounds found in aloe latex that have been studied relating to genotoxicity and carcinogenicity in lab rats in both in vivo and in vitro studies. (7)
What important points should be kept in mind when including aloe vera in the daily diet?
Aloe gel is like any juice that comes from a fruit or vegetable – it is unstable until processing, which makes the product safe for shelf storage by preventing any growth of microorganisms. You should not ingest the gel directly from the aloe plant.
DO NOT consume aloe leaf extract or aloe latex by mouth. For maximum safety, the International Aloe Science Council indicated that the maximum allowable aloin content in aloe-derived material is less than 10 ppm (parts per million) for oral use, and the recommended limit is 50 ppm or less for non-medical use. (7)