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Medically Reviewed By Dr. Amanda Olson,DPT, PRPC
Aloe vera, a fleshy green plant packed with a nutrient-rich clear gel, has been used for centuries by the Indians, Mexicans, Chinese, Greeks, and Egyptians for its health benefits.
Today, aloe vera remains widely recognized as a medicinal plant and its gel is used extensively across the pharmaceutical, cosmetic, and food industries.
From relieving indigestion to treating Interstitial Cystitis and banishing wrinkles, some of the well-known, and less well-known, health benefits of aloe vera are listed below.
Dry skin causing cells to dehydrate and shrink is one of the main sources of wrinkles. And due to its large number of mucopolysaccharides - hydrating molecules that help to maintain moisture in the skin, aloe vera is considered nature’s anti-aging skin elixir.
While small amounts of aloe vera can be found in modern-day skincare products, recent studies have shown that a simple daily supplement of aloe vera, or using aloe vera gel on the skin, is largely effective in activating fibroblasts, which are cells found in connective tissues.
Activating fibroblasts increases the production of collagen resulting in fewer wrinkles and tighter skin.
Aloe vera’s natural antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antifungal properties are known to help reduce irritation and inflammation in the bladder. When ingested in capsule form, aloe vera supplements also help to rebuild the glucosaminoglycan - the protective layer of the bladder more commonly known as the GAG layer.
In addition, aloe vera is thought to soothe the burning sensation associated with Interstitial Cystitis and lower the frequent urge to urinate.
For external use, aloe vera gel can be mixed with warm water to provide a cleansing wash of the intimate areas.
Clinical trials have shown that combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise, aloe vera can help lower the risk of diabetes through its ability to reduce glucose absorption in the digestive tract and improve glycemic control.
When used as a supplement, aloe vera can also help to lower fasting plasma glucose in individuals with prediabetes and significantly improve A1C for those with type 2 diabetes.
Thanks to its natural anti-inflammatory abilities, aloe vera is also thought to aid in lowering both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Aloe vera contains magnesium too, which helps the body regulate blood pressure.
For example, in a study from 2011, involving 90 subjects who were not dependent on insulin, researchers found that a controlled consumption of aloe vera supplements over six months helped to significantly reduce the subjects’ blood pressure.
Aloe vera comes highly recommended as a natural alternative to commercially produced mouthwash containing chlorhexidine, because of its anti-plaque and anti-gingivitis properties.
In a 2014 trial over 30 days, an aloe vera-based mouthwash was found to be equally as successful in reducing dental plaque and gum bleeding as a popular brand containing chlorhexidine. The same results were produced in a trial that lasted just four days.
One of the most well-known benefits of aloe vera is its ability to soothe sunburn. And it is also effective in treating first and second-degree burns. This is widely thought to be due to its anti-inflammatory properties that help to reduce swelling, as well as the presence of a regenerative and healing compound known as glucomannan.
Research has concluded that due to its antibacterial components, aloe vera can also speed up the healing of wounds and minimize infections.
Aloe vera gel has been shown to be beneficial in treating skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema too.
According to the National Psoriasis Association (NPA), applying aloe vera up to three times a day helps to reduce irritation, scaling & redness. Similarly, an article from the National Eczema Association proposes that the anti-inflammatory properties in aloe vera gel help to ease eczema flare-ups and pacify intense itching.
Evidence suggests that a daily oral supplement of aloe vera can improve digestion, reduce indigestion, and relieve constipation.
As well as containing a host of nutrients like vitamins, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, and zinc, aloe vera helps break down fats and sugars and maintains a healthy pH balance in the gastrointestinal tract. This, in turn, reduces irritation like bloating and indigestion and can also help relieve bladder pain.
Regular consumption of aloe vera is also known to provide mild laxative properties through the absorption of small amounts of aloin found in aloe latex. In addition to the small doses of aloin, aloe vera is also rich in water. This extra hydration, combined with the aloin, helps to flush toxins & parasites from the digestive tract, thereby relieving constipation and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
The health benefits of aloe vera are numerous and far-reaching and ongoing research looks positive. However, due to some experiencing mild side effects, it is always recommended to consult with your doctor before using aloe vera to treat an ongoing condition.
National Center for Biotechnology Information – Hypoglycemic and Hypolipidemic Effect of Aloe Vera in Non-insulin Dependent Diabetics - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3857397/
Journal of Clinical Pharmacy & Therapeutics – Effect of Aloe Vera on Glycaemic Control in Prediabetes and Type 2 Diabetes- https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jcpt.12382
National Center for Biotechnology Information - Effect of Aloe Vera Mouthwash on Periodontal Health - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24603910/
National Psoriasis Foundation –Integrative Approaches to Care -https://www.psoriasis.org/integrative-approaches-to-care/
National Eczema Association – 10 Inexpensive Ways I Manage Eczema -https://nationaleczema.org/inexpensive-eczema-tips/
National Center for Biotechnology Information – Aloe Vera is Effective & Safe in Short-Term Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6175553/