Aloe Vera: Benefits and uses
Dr. Sneha Ganatra
January 28, 2021
From beverages to skin product, Aloe Vera has found its use in many products for healing and repairing since ages. The history of Aloe Vera depicts its usage from 1500 BC by Egyptians for medicinal purposes. It is part of succulent family, which is known for storing water in their leaves and stems. This makes them easy to maintain. It is not just any other green cactus looking plant sitting in your garden, in fact it is used as a key ingredient in many products by multi-dollar companies. You can find Aloe Vera in soaps, shampoo, moisturizers, face and body creams, sunscreen lotions, hair gels, healthy drinks and beverages. When taken orally, it has shown results in constipation and other digestion problems. But are they safe to use? How to extract and use the gel? How exactly is it beneficial? Can people of age groups use it? You will find answers to all these questions in this article.
Aloe Vera and its extraction:
Aloe Vera has two parts, the gel part which is a clear jelly like substance in the innermost part of leaf and the latex which is yellow sticky liquid that seeps out when the leaf is cut. Follow this method to extract the gel from the leaf:
- Take a mature Aloe Vera plant and look for the leaves that are free from any mold or damage
- Cut the leaf closer to the stem. Check the bottom of the leaf, and if you see yellow liquid oozing, cut it off.
- Wash the leaf thoroughly under water.
- With the help of sharp knife, cut the top pointed segment of the leaf and then go ahead cutting the sharp edges on both the sides. Look for the yellow ooze, if present you might need to wash the leaf again as we require only the gel part.
- Place the leaf flat now, and carefully slice the green skin of the leaf with a knife. You can now see the clear gel which can be separated by removing the leaf on the other side.
- Wash the gel extracted properly with water, cut it into cubes and store it in a clean container for use.
How safe is it to use?
The gel of Aloe Vera is packed with antioxidants and is also known for it’s antiseptic, antiviral and antibacterial properties. Due to which it is been used for medicinal purposes. The vitamins, minerals and amino acids in this plant makes it beneficial for health and curing ailments.
The use of Aloe Vera gel tropically is considered safe, and there is scientific evidence proving it’s use for certain skin ailments. Although there is not enough evidence to prove its other benefits.
On the other hand, the use of Aloe Vera latex (yellow liquid) orally is considered toxic leading to abdominal cramps and diarrhea. Also, a research shows concern with regards to the Aloe Vera latex stating possibility of development of cancer.
For pregnant and breast-feeding ladies, Aloe Vera gel and latex when consumed orally is stated unsafe and can cause complications.
You need to consult your doctor before taking Aloe Vera orally if there are any other ongoing medications as there can be chances of drug interactions leading to adverse effects.
Benefits and various uses of Aloe Vera gel:
There are many potential benefits of Aloe Vera gel, not all are proven or has evidence showing the same.
- Skin benefits: Aloe Vera has been used in the form of homemade face masks and scrubs since many years. Companies manufacturing skin products all over the world have started using this as a key ingredient. This succulent plant, storing water in it helps hydrating the skin and keeping it soft. It has shown results in reducing acne and also skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema. The antioxidants and vitamins in Aloe Vera helps in slowing down ageing process by reducing wrinkles.
- Mild burns: From sunburn to mild burns, Aloe Vera when applied topically can be helpful in soothing, cooling and moisturizing. It can also help in pain relief and early wound healing.
- Digestion benefits: Aloe has been popular for aiding the digestive system due to its anti-inflammatory properties. It can be helpful in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and ulcers by its soothing qualities and being loaded with antioxidants.
- Weight loss: The benefit of Aloe Vera aiding digestion indeed helps in weight loss. The potential benefit of boosting metabolism and improving blood sugar control may help weight loss.
- Hair conditioning: Aloe Vera gel has been used in hair packs for conditioning the roots and promoting strength to them. It is either used solely or mixed with other ingredients like curd, honey, aamla powder etc.
- Immunity booster: Aloe Vera juices being loaded with antioxidants, minerals and vitamins is taken by many in the morning to strengthen the immunity. A strong immunity can help to ward off many infections and diseases.
- Pain relief in arthritis: There is not much evidence to prove, but some people use Aloe Vera gel orally to get relief from arthritic pain as it has anti-inflammatory qualities.
- Oral health: Aloe Vera is used in toothpaste and mouth wash for good oral hygiene and reducing plaque.
Aloe Vera either extracted fresh from a plant or bought from stores, can be used for multiple reasons. Topical application is potentially safe, but one should consult a doctor before taking it orally, especially if you are on any other medications to avoid drug interactions.