All my close friends and family members have aloe vera plants of their own (especially after I gave the plants as gifts for Christmas a few years ago). Why? Because of the seemingly endless aloe vera plant uses for natural healthcare in the home.
We all love having fresh aloe on hand. Aloe may be best known for it’s use as a natural treatment for sunburns, but the benefits of aloe extend far beyond helping your skin heal. Learn how aloe can help keep your heart, teeth, digestive tract, and more healthy.
Aloe vera: an impressive medicinal plant with versatile qualities
The aloe vera plant contains an abundance of nutrients that make it incredibly healthy. These include vitamins like A, C, E, and B vitamins. It is also rich in antioxidants, antiseptic agents, immune-boosting compounds, enzymes, anti-inflammatory nutrients, and more. Each of these qualities has beneficial effects in the body, which range from speeding the healing of skin to keeping your heart healthy.
1. Healing wounds. Aloe is an excellent product to apply to wounds to help them heal better. It is a natural antiseptic agent, which helps to keep your wound clean and free of infection; it is anti-inflammatory, which helps aid in the healing process; it stimulates the growth and proliferation of new cells to help rebuild injured tissue; and it can even help reduce pain. Aloe has been an effective treatment for skin wounds ranging from burns (including sunburns) to C-section surgical wounds and more.[2-5] To watch a video on how to use aloe vera for burn treatment, click here.
2. Lower cholesterol and triglycerides. When taken orally, aloe can do wonders for bringing cholesterol and triglyceride levels down. In one study, people took either 100 mg or 200 mg of aloe vera gel powder daily for three months. Significant reductions in total cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL-cholesterol, along with an increase in healthy HDL-cholesterol, were seen in both groups. In another, 500 mg of aloe vera gel powder significantly improved cholesterol and triglyceride levels after eight weeks.
3. Reduce blood pressure. Aloe may also benefit heart health by lowering blood pressure. When people took 100 mg of aloe vera gel powder for three months, they saw significant drops in blood pressure. Systolic blood pressure decreased from an average of 140.1 mmHg to an average of 129.8 mmHg, and diastolic blood pressure decreased from 88.6 mmHg to 83.6 mmHg.
4. Improve dental health. One of the surprising applications of aloe is in dental health. Aloe has been shown to help conditions like gingivitis, periodontitis, and more. It also may be effective in helping prevent cavities, as it has antibacterial qualities. Studies show that is as effective as popular commercial toothpastes in controlling common bacteria responsible for cavities. Researchers note that as a toothpaste, it is also less harsh and can be good for people with sensitive teeth.
5. Treat ulcerative colitis. Because of its anti-inflammatory and wound healing properties, aloe is also helpful for those with the inflammatory bowel disease ulcerative colitis. It is known to help decrease compounds implicated in the disease called prostaglandins and interleukins. One study found that when patients with ulcerative colitis took 100 mL of aloe vera gel two times a day for four weeks, their symptoms improved significantly. After four weeks, 30% of the patients taking aloe experienced clinical remission of the disease, compared to only 7% of those on placebo. To read more about aloe and other natural treatments for ulcerative colitis, go here.
6. Manage diabetes. Aloe may help lower blood sugar, too. One hundred mg of aloe vera gel powder reduced fasting blood sugar significantly in diabetics after three months of treatment.
7. Relieve symptoms of psoriasis. Aloe is at least effective as a prescription cream (triamcinolone acetonid) in improving psoriasis symptoms. It works well applied directly to psoriasis patches to help find relief from rashes, dryness, itchiness, and more.
Growing an aloe vera plant in your home is easy. Find an aloe vera plant at a local nursery and plant it in a small to medium-sized pot. Aloe doesn’t need a lot of water, as it is a desert plant. Water your plant by pouring water slowly through the center of the plant. Water about once a week, letting the soil become dry in between. Keep it in a well-lit place where it will get plenty of sunlight.
When you are ready to use your aloe vera, all you need to do is cut a leaf (or part of a leaf) off of the plant. For topical applications on the skin, cut off the tip of a leaf. Slice it open to reveal the insides. Apply the clear, gel-like insides directly to the affected area on the skin.
For oral intake, you can try making your own aloe vera gel and juice. Cut an entire large leaf (or a few leaves at once) off of the plant. Peel off the green outer layer from one side with a knife, then use a spoon to scoop out the insides. Blend the gel in a blender until smooth. Store in the refrigerator. When ready to drink, place about 2 tablespoons into a glass of water and stir.
If you don’t want to make your own or you don’t want to grow a plant, you can purchase pre-prepared products, such as whole-leaf aloe vera juice, aloe-vera skin creams, aloe toothpastes, or pure aloe vera gel. Be sure to find natural products free of harmful additives.
Natural Health Advisory Institute contributing editor Chelsea Clark is a writer with a passion for science, human biology, and natural health. She holds a bachelor’s degree in molecular and cellular biology with an emphasis in neuroscience from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA. Her research on the relationship between chronic headache pain and daily stress levels has been presented at various regional, national, and international conferences. Chelsea’s interest in natural health has been fueled by her own personal experience with chronic medical issues. Her many profound experiences with natural health practitioners and remedies have motivated Chelsea to contribute to the world of natural health as a researcher and writer for Natural Health Advisory Institute.
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