Immune Support

6 Aloe Vera Benefits for Your Skin and Body

By Justin Fowler-Lindner
Alex Holyoake

Did you ever burn your hand on the hot stove when you were a kid?

Chances are, your mom went straight for the aloe vera gel.

That’s because aloe vera contains powerful anti-inflammatories, antifungals, antibacterials, and amino acids that can repair damaged skin.

In ancient Chinese Medicine, aloe vera has been used for centuries to strengthen the hair and skin, and today it has become one of the biggest plant-healing industries in the world.

But as it turns out, aloe vera can do far more than just heal the skin.

Here are the top aloe vera benefits for your health.

  • Supports the gut 
  • Relieves constipation
  • Boosts immunity
  • Heals burns
  • Relieves skin irritation
  • Moisturizes the scalp and hair

Keep reading to learn more about aloe vera’s exciting therapeutic properties.

What Is Aloe Vera?

Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis miller) is a succulent plant with long, rigid, triangular leaves.

It originates from Sudan, but over the years it has been introduced to warm climates around the world, including Europe and America.

Each aloe leaf is has three layers: the outer skin, the inner latex, and the gel.

  • Aloe skin contains all 75 of the plant’s active nutrients.
  • Aloe latex is the thin layer of yellow located directly underneath the skin. It’s packed with laxative compounds called anthraquinones and is used to treat depression and diabetes. 
  • Aloe gel is the jelly-like substance where the plant stores the majority of its nutrients. It’s used topically to treat conditions like frostbite, sunburn, contact burns, psoriasis and eczema.

Aloe vera juice is made from all three parts of the aloe leaf.

The entire leaf is crushed and then blended together before being filtered and processed into a thick, gooey liquid.

However, if you want to avoid the laxative effects of aloe vera, you can make homemade juice from fresh aloe leaves, but more on that later…

Drinking aloe juice is a great way to experience its system-wide benefits.

Aloe Vera Is Packed with Vitamins, Minerals, Antioxidants, Amino Acids, and Anti-Inflammatory Compounds

Inflammation is deeply involved in the development of most diseases.

Luckily, aloe vera contains an all-star cast of nutrients that fight oxidation and reduce inflammation, including vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, lignin, salicylic acids, anthraquinones, and saponins.

Here’s a closer look at aloe vera’s therapeutic compounds:

  • Enzymes: peroxidase, lipase, catalase, carboxypeptidase, amylase, alkaline phosphatase, bradykinase, and aliiase. Bradykinase can be especially effective at reducing severe skin inflammation when applied topically. 
  • Electrolytes: potassium, calcium, selenium, chromium, manganese, zinc, sodium, and magnesium. A diverse mineral profile is critical to energy production and other essential bodily functions. 
  • Fatty acids: lupeol, beta-sisosterol, campesterol, and cholesterol can reduce inflammation
  • Amino acids: 20 human-required amino acids and seven essential amino acids, including leucine, isoleucine, threonine, valine, methionine, lysine, and phenylalanine. 
  • Vitamins: A, C, E, B12, folic acid, and choline. Vitamin E is especially helpful for healing the skin, and Vitamin A is essential for neurological health. 
  • Anthraquinones: aloe vera contains 12 different natural laxatives called anthraquinones, including emodin and aloin. They also possess antiviral, antibacterial, and pain-relieving qualities. 
  • Hormones: aloe vera contains the hormones gibberellin and auxin, which have anti-inflammatory and wound-healing properties.

The antioxidants in aloe vera can slow cellular aging when taken orally.

6 Aloe Vera Benefits

Aloe vera can either be ingested or applied directly to the skin.

When you drink aloe vera juice, it can fight inflammation and destroy harmful pathogens from the inside-out.

As a topical ointment, aloe vera gel can heal and moisturize the skin.

1. Support Gut Health

Aloe vera juice can balance acidity levels, promote healthy gut bacteria, reduce excessive fungal growth, and promote digestion.

Studies show that aloe vera juice may treat abdominal pain and flatulence in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

In a 2013 study published in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences, 33 patients with IBS were given 30 milliliters of aloe vera juice twice daily. Although this study was not placebo-controlled, it was the first time that patients reported an improvement in IBS symptoms due to aloe vera use.

In a 2018 meta-analysis of three randomized-controlled trials, researchers concluded that, “The meta-analysis showed a significant difference for patients with AV (aloe vera) compared to the placebo group regarding improvement in IBS symptom scores.”

Aloe vera gel also has gastroprotective qualities that may help patients recover from gastric ulcers.

In a 2014 rodent study, a group of rats with intestinal problems were treated with aloe vera.

Researchers found that, “The administration of aloe vera has an inhibitory effect on gastric acid output.”

However, products containing aloe latex should be avoided by people with a history of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis because it may aggravate symptoms.

2. Relieve Constipation

Aloe vera has been used in ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years to treat constipation.

Today, researchers have discovered certain compounds in aloe latex (anthraquinones) that are responsible for aloe vera’s laxative effects.

Anthraquinones work by stimulating mucus secretions, increasing intestinal contractions, and boosting intestinal water content.

As a result, food breaks down faster and travels through the digestive with greater ease.

In double-blind, randomized, controlled trial, 28 adults were treated with either aloe vera latex or the stimulant laxative phenolphthalein. Aloe vera demonstrated a stronger laxative effect compared to the phenolphthalein group.

A separate 28-day double-blind trial found that a laxative preparation of aloe vera, celandine, and psyllium can improve several indicators of constipation, including laxative dependence, consistency of stools, and bowel movement frequency.

3. Boost Immunity

The antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties of aloe vera may boost immunity when applied to the skin or ingested.

For instance, a 2015 meta-analysis found that aloe gel can help control the growth of organisms that cause infections.

A separate 2014 medical article concluded the following:

“Studies have proved the antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antifungal properties of aloe vera to be beneficial. This plant is proved to be non-allergic and very good in building up the immune system.”

Researchers believe that the enzyme bradykinase in aloe vera may be primarily responsible for boosting immunity and treating infections.

Aloe vera also contains zinc, which is critical to immune function.

4. Heal Burns

Fresh aloe vera gel can be applied directly to burns to reduce inflammation and blistering.

During the Cold War, the U.S. government conducted extensive tests and found that aloe vera can effectively treat radiation burns, and in 1959 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved aloe vera gel as an over-the-counter treatment for burns.

In a recent review of four clinical trials, researchers found that, “The meta-analysis of the efficacy of Aloe vera in burn-wound healing concluded that aloe vera treatments reduced healing time by approximately nine days compared to conventional treatment groups.”

5. Relieves Skin Irritation

Aloe vera juice is high in vitamins, antioxidants, and several other anti-inflammatory nutrients that are essential to skin health.

Plus, aloe vera leaves are extremely water dense and packed with electrolytes, making them a hydration powerhouse.

According to recent studies, aloe vera can improve skin vitality and treat inflammatory conditions like psoriasis, eczema, and acne.

In one study, 60 patients with chronic psoriasis were either treated with aloe vera or a placebo cream. The aloe vera group had a cure rate of 83 percent compared to only 7 percent in the placebo group.

Dietary aloe vera may also reduce facial wrinkles and improve skin elasticity. 

In a 2009 study published in the Annals of Dermatology, 30 healthy females over the age of 45 were treated with either low (1200 mg/day) or high (3600 mg/day) doses of aloe vera supplements for 90 days.

Both groups experienced a significant increase in type 1 collagen and a reduction in facial wrinkles.

However, only the low-dose group improved skin elasticity.

6. May Moisturize the Scalp and Hair

Aloe products, like shampoos and conditioners, are popular because they can soothe and moisturize the skin and hair.

Researchers believe that the antibacterial and antifungal properties of the gel’s enzymes can help remove dead skin cells from the scalp.

At the same time, these enzymes may promote skin regeneration.

Plus, the vitamins and minerals in aloe vera can fortify the hair, while its dense water content hydrates brittle hair follicles.

However, more research is needed before aloe vera can be considered a clinically-supported treatment for hair and scalp conditions.

How To Make Your Own Aloe Vera Juice

Aloe vera juice has a naturally bitter taste, so manufacturers tend to add sugar and other fillers like malic acid, maltodextrin, and glycerin to their aloe products.

However, these ingredients are pro-inflammatory, bad for gut bacteria, and may increase the risk of diabetes and obesity.

You should be able to find pure aloe vera juice in some health food stores, but they may already have lost much of their nutritional potency in the manufacturing process.

That’s why the best way to experience the benefits of aloe juice is to make it at home.

Fortunately, making your own homemade aloe vera juice is a piece of cake.

Here’s how:

  1. Wash the leaves thoroughly.
  2. Cut off the serrated edges.
  3. Slice off the outer layer of green skin. 
  4. Scrape out the inner gel. 
  5. Put 2 tablespoons of aloe gel into a blender.
  6. Add lemon juice, cucumber, and raw honey, all of which support a healthy microbiome.
  7. Run the blender for at least 45 seconds (or until an even consistency).

The main difference between homemade and manufactured juice is that manufactured juice typically contains latex, making it a better treatment for constipation.

Side Effects of Aloe Vera Juice

As beneficial as aloe vera juice can be, it’s important not to go overboard.

First off, the latex in aloe juice can cause stomach pains, cramps, and diarrhea in high doses.

Children under 12 years old are more likely to experience stomach pain.

Other common side effects of high doses of latex include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Potassium deficiency
  • Kidney problems
  • Heart issues
  • Weight loss
  • Blood in the urine
  • Muscle weakness

Ask your doctor for medical advice if you have a history of Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, kidney problems, or diabetes. Latex may lower blood sugar levels in unpredictable ways and interfere with diabetes medications.

For most healthy individuals, however, aloe vera can be a healthy way to reduce inflammation, boost antioxidants, and heal the skin and hair.

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