aloe vera

How to Use an Aloe Vera Plant

Pelvic Floor Doctor

Medically Reviewed By Dr. Amanda Olson,DPT, PRPC

Aloe vera plant is has been used for centuries as a medicinal remedy to address a myriad of different ailments. It can be grown at home and harvested or bought in various forms.

The soothing, healing, and moisturizing properties make it an ideal plant to use in many forms. Aloe vera capsules, gels, creams, and ointments are made from the gel in aloe vera plants. They can be applied directly to the skin in topical format or purchased in capsule format and ingested by mouth.

How to Harvest Aloe Vera Plants

For the best active ingredients and highest concentration, you will need a mature aloe vera plant that is at least a year or two old. To harvest the gel or juice from an aloe vera plant:

  1. Choose 3-4 of the largest leaves on the plant, usually those at or near the base of the plant.
  2. Inspect the leaves to ensure that they are healthy and without mold or injury.
  3. Cut leaves close to the stem and wash them with water and mild soap, pat dry with a soft towel.
  4. Use a knife to trim the rough edges and the to open the plant and separate the interior gel from the leaves.
  5. The yellow gel is aloe vera latex, if you intend to use the latex catch this yellow liquid in a separate container.
  6. Cut the aloe gel into small slices or cubes and store in an airtight container.
  7. The slices or cubes of gel may be put into the blender for a softer gel and/ or placed into the refrigerator for additional soothing qualities.

Uses for Raw Aloe Vera

Harvested raw aloe vera may be blended with other ingredients into a smoothie, or applied topically to the skin to soothe abrasions, sun burns, dry or irritated skin.

If you plan to consume the aloe slices as a juice, smoothie, or gel snack orally, be sure to consume it within a few days of harvest for optimal freshness and to prevent bacterial growth. It will keep best in the refrigerator for a few days. Aloe vera gel can also be stored in the freezer if you do not intend to use it immediately.

Health and Wellness

Promote Oral Hygiene

Aloe vera based mouthwash and toothpaste have been shown to decrease levels of candida, plaque, and gingivitis1. The great news is this study shows that subjects who used the aloe-based toothpaste experienced superior oral hygiene without negative side effects.

Acne Treatment

Aloe not only sooths the skin, but active ingredients can help to decrease acne as well. A study found that an aloe-based blend was more effective at treating mild to moderate acne2.

Soothing Sunburns

Topical aloe vera has been shown to be more effective and treating skin burns than medical 1% silver sulfadiazine cream. Aloe vera was not only more cost effective but healed the skin faster3.

Decrease Bladder Pain Associated with Interstitial Cystitis and BPS:

Aloe vera used in capsule format has been shown to decrease pain and improve bladder lining health4. A preliminary study on animals found that oral capsule format aloe vera increased the production of the glucosaminoglycan (GAG) molecules- the primary component of the bladder lining.

    References:

    1. Khatri SG, Samuel SR, Acharya S, Patil ST. Antiplaque, Antifungal Effectiveness of Aloevera Among Intellectually Disabled Adolescents: Pilot Study. Pediatr Dent. 2017 Nov 1;39(7):434-438. PMID: 29335048.
    2. Zohreh Hajheydari, Majid Saeedi, Katayoun Morteza-Semnani & Aida Soltani (2014) Effect of Aloe vera topical gel combined with tretinoin in treatment of mild and moderate acne vulgaris: a randomized, double-blind, prospective trial, Journal of Dermatological Treatment, 25:2, 123-129, DOI: 10.3109/09546634.2013.768328
    3. Shahzad MN, Ahmed N. Effectiveness of Aloe Vera gel compared with 1% silver sulphadiazine cream as burn wound dressing in second degree burns. J Pak Med Assoc. 2013 Feb;63(2):225-30. PMID: 23894900.
    4. Whitmore KE. Complementary and alternative therapies as treatment approaches for interstitial cystitis. Rev Urol. 2002;4 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):S28-S35.