Aloe vera has many health benefits like a healing sunburn, moisturizing skin, reducing acne, and helping with digestion. The gel from the aloe vera plant is also highly nutritious and contains vitamins A, B12, C, and E. You can use aloe vera topically for skincare benefits, or consume it orally for nutritional benefits.
Aloe vera is a succulent plant that’s believed to have been used medicinally since 1500 BC in various countries due to its anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral properties. Not to mention, it’s full of nutrients, and it can be consumed in foods or as a juice.
Aloe vera can be ingested orally or applied topically, depending on the health benefits you’re looking for. Here’s what you need to know about the science behind why aloe is so beneficial and how to use it safely and effectively.
To Heal sunburn
Aloe is one of the most popular natural remedies for sunburn relief, and for good reason.
Prevents inflammation: Aloe vera inhibits inflammation pathways. These anti-inflammatory properties can help with the pain, redness, and swelling associated with sunburn.
- Moisturizes skin: Aloe also contains mucopolysaccharides, which are sugars that can help soften skin and keep it hydrated. This can help the healing process of sunburn by the soothing burnt skin.
- Stimulates collagen production: The gel also heals sunburn by stimulating the production of collagen, which is a protein that is crucial to the structure of your skin.
Additionally, a 2007 systematic review of four small studies found that aloe was beneficial for first and second-degree burn wound healing, and shortened the overall amount of healing time.
It’s best to use aloe gel straight from the plant since bottled aloe can contain numbing agents like lidocaine that may have adverse effects or added fragrances that can irritate the skin. For extra cooling effects, keep your aloe in the fridge and apply to sunburn when the gel is cold.
To moisturize skin
Aloe can moisturize the skin by triggering the production of hyaluronic acid, which hydrates and plumps skin, Rahman says.
Additionally, the mucopolysaccharides in aloe that help moisture bond to the skin.
To help with digestion
Aloe vera is great for the gut, especially if you have trouble with digestion. Taking aloe orally can actually help to protect the gut since it contains mucilage, which is the gel-like substance in aloe, says Monica Auslander Moreno, MS, RDN, founder of Essence Nutrition in Miami.
Auslander Moreno says mucilage can calm irritation of mucous membranes, like those in the gut, as well as bulk up fecal mass, which is helpful for people with certain types of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Additionally, aloe can have a laxative effect, which is beneficial for those with constipation, Auslander Moreno says. However, she warns that a little goes a long way, and drinking too much may cause diarrhea.
It is highly nutritious
Aloe vera is rich in vitamins. According to a 2008 review, aloe vera contains:
- Vitamin A, B12, C, E
- Folic acid
It’s no wonder that aloe has been used medicinally for centuries. Just remember to start slow when consuming aloe orally and opt for more natural products when applying topically.
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