There are multiple benefits of aloe vera. And many of these benefits are backed up by scientific evidence. So there are plenty of reasons to add aloe vera gel to your non toxic living routine.
Aloe Vera belongs to the lily family and is related to onion, garlic and asparagus. It’s been used for thousands of years to treat a variety of different ailments.
Back in the day, and I mean waaay back, I had a beautiful, big aloe vera plant. I managed to keep it alive and thriving for over 10 years.
And that’s quite a feat, because although I’ve had great success with outdoor gardening, my houseplants always die. Either I forget to water them or water them too much, or they get too much sun or not enough. But I digress.
The point is, I used that plant all the time. I harvested the gel as a moisturizer and astringent, to soothe sunburn and other burns, and to ease the itch of bug bites.
Aloe gel is still an important part of my non toxic skin care routine. But, according to Google, there are a lot more benefits of aloe vera.
And, while research validates many of these uses, some of the suggested benefits aren’t backed by much evidence. At least not yet.
Based on the research I’ve read, I’ve come up with a list of the benefits of aloe vera that are backed by scientific evidence. But first, a little about this remarkable plant.
The leaf of an aloe plant consists of a hard outer rind, followed by a thin sap (latex) layer and a mucilage layer below the rind and the inner aloe gel. The sap contains high levels of anthraquinones like aloin, that are laxatives.
The mucilage layer is very high in mono and polysaccharides and acts as a barrier that keeps the inner gel very sterile. The transparent gel, also known as parenchyma, is where the leaf stores all its nutrients.
These inner two layers of the Aloe vera leaf contain about 98% water. And about 75 different biologically active components that have been identified.
And the benefits of aloe vera are a result of these components, listed in the table below.
Aloe vera contains many vitamins, including the antioxidant vitamins A, C, E. Plus, B1, B2, B3 (niacin), B6, choline, folic acid, alpha-tocopherol, beta-carotene. A. vera is also one of the few plants that contain vitamin B12.
Aloe vera provides 19 of the 20 amino acids your body needs for good health and seven of the eight essential ones. Essential amino acids are the ones your body can’t make. You need to get them from food.
Aloe vera contains many enzymes, which can be divided into two groups, those that aid digestion and those that are anti-inflammatory. Of the ones that aid digestion some, like amylase, break down starch and sugar, while others, like lipase, help break down fats. Bradykinase is an Aloe vera enzyme that reduces skin inflammation.
Minerals make up 16% of aloe gel. They include that potassium, chloride, sodium, calcium, magnesium, copper, zinc, chromium and iron.
Salicylic acid is broken down in your body to
an aspirin-like compound which, together with lupeol, provide some of aloe's painkilling properties. Salicylic acid helps to relieve inflammation by
β-Sitosterol and lupeol are anti-inflammatory sterols. Campesterol and cholesterol are antiseptic.
Aloe vera gel contains two types of sugars. 17% are monosaccharides like glucose and fructose and 55% are long chain sugars called polysaccharides.
The main polysaccharide is Acemannan. Acemannan accelerates wound healing, modulates immune function, and is also said to have antineoplastic and antiviral effects.
Also in aloe is Glucomannan, an emollient polysaccharide that is a good moisturizer and used in many cosmetic products. And Magnesium lactate helps reduce itching by blocking histamine production.
A 2017 review of studies conducted on the benefits of aloe vera concluded that
“Aloe possesses numerous activities including, anticancer, antioxidant, antimicrobial, antiallergic, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, hepatoprotective, antiulcer and antidiabetic."
Some researchers attribute many of the benefits of aloe vera to it's polysaccharides. But increasing evidence suggests that the synergistic action of the compounds contained in aloe is responsible for the multiple and diverse beneficial properties of the plant.
In other words, the benefits of aloe vera are more than the sum of its parts. They include benefits to your skin, teeth and gums and overall health.
There are so many ways you can use aloe vera to benefit your skin. And from the perspective of non toxic living, that means you can avoid the toxic chemicals found in so many skin care products.
Just be sure to use a good quality, 100% pure, stabilized aloe. That way you'll avoid the chemical solvents and thickeners used by some companies in their aloe gel.
A lot of research during the past decade has focused on the benefits of aloe for your teeth and gums. The evidence suggests that the active components of Aloe vera gel like aloe-emodin, aloemannan, acemannan, aloeride, naftoquinones, flavonoids, saponins, sterols, amino acids and vitamins are very beneficial to your oral health.
There's little doubt that aloe benefits your skin, teeth and gums. But, does drinking aloe vera have any health benefits?
Aloe vera juice provides a fantastically rich cocktail of vitamins, minerals, trace elements and antioxidant components like flavonoids and phenols. And, in addition to its own stores of antioxidants, Aloe may also activate your body’s own antioxidant enzyme system.
So it makes sense that drinking aloe vera would benefit your overall health. A typical dose is one – three ounces (2 – 6 tablespoons per day) or 15-60 drops of aloe tincture. Start with small amounts to make sure you’re not allergic to aloe.
But the internet is full of claims about dozens of specific health benefits. Drinking aloe gel is used for weight loss, diabetes, hepatitis, inflammatory bowel diseases including ulcerative colitis, osteoarthritis, gastroduodenal ulcers, asthma, radiation-related mucositis and fever.
And there’s limited or inconsistent evidence to support many of the claims. There is, however, increasing evidence that aloe may be useful for treating diabetes, strengthening your immune system, reducing inflammation and protecting your liver.
Keep in mind though, that the amount of aloe you need to drink to achieve specific health goals is unclear.
The benefits of aloe vera include skin and oral care and as an overall health tonic. Using aloe instead of toxic skin care and dental care productsalso reduces your exposure to toxic chemicals. In my opinion, that’s the biggest benefit of aloe vera.
Plus, there’s also some evidence that it helps in the treatment of diabetes, improves your immune system, reduces internal inflammation and protects your liver.