Aloe vera, also known as Aloe barbadensis, has been a staple resource in many cultures around the world for thousands of years. While the plant originated in southern Africa, you can find it growing around the world in places as varied as the Mediterranean and the southern United States. Traditional uses for aloe vera include soothing burns, moisturizing skin, and helping small wounds heal.
There are a lot of nutrients and potential health benefits packed into this easy-to-maintain plant—over 200 different biologically active substances. Because of its impressive profile, it’s used in lotions, ointments, creams, sunburn remedies, and many other types of cosmetics. Many people even apply it to acne, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Let’s take a look at some uses you may not know about.
1. Aloe Vera Supports the Immune System
Your immune system requires oxygen-rich blood. Aloe vera supports nutrient absorption from the gut; this includes iron absorption. Iron carries free oxygen molecules from your lungs around the body, and proper iron absorption is a key factor in maintaining blood-oxygen levels. One of the ways aloe helps you absorb nutrients is by keeping the digestive tract clear of debris through bowel regularity. This allows the food you’ve eaten to better come into contact with the intestinal lining, increasing nutrient exposure and absorption.
Aloe also acts as an adaptogen, which helps keep your cells and tissues in balance. It makes the immune system’s job easier by protecting cells from oxidative stress and other factors that disrupt their function.
Aloe vera is a rich source of polysaccharides. Research shows these complex sugars improve the efficiency of the immune system. Aloe is also rich in the antioxidants that protect cells from free radical damage.
2. Aloe Vera Supports Normal Digestion
Aloe vera contains two enzymes—amylase and lipase—that help encourages normal digestion. The plant also helps keep your stomach acid levels balanced to support a normal gut environment.
Aloe contains acemannan. Acemannan and other polysaccharides are prebiotics that supports probiotics in the gut. When you have these ‘good guys’ in your gut, you’re apt to digest your food better, get more nutritional value from it, and enjoy better overall health. A University of California, Davis study found that people who consumed aloe vera were able to more efficiently absorb vitamins C and B-12.
3. Eases Digestive Discomfort
Common digestive concerns like gas, diarrhea, constipation, and abdominal pain affect a lot of people. If you’re looking for a natural solution to ease your digestive discomfort, then aloe vera may be able to help. Studies show decreased gas, bloating, and discomfort in those who take regular aloe supplements.
Some preliminary research suggests aloe may also help with certain types of intestinal ulcer. In a clinical trial, 30 patients suffering from the condition were given aloe vera by mouth. Fourteen of the thirty patients reported some form of improvement; only four patients in the placebo group reported improvement.
Aloe is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, including:
- Vitamin A (beta-carotene): Important for healthy skin, teeth, bones, and eyes.
- Vitamin C: Vital for metabolism, skin health, and immune function.
- Vitamin E: Protects the skin from UV damage.
- Vitamin B12: Keeps nerve and brain cells healthy. Necessary for DNA replication.
- Folic acid: Essential for brain function, liver health, and metabolism.
- Choline: Supports metabolism and the production of neurotransmitters responsible for memory, focus, and a positive mood.
5. Aloe Vera Is a Great Source of Nutrients and Enzymes
Aloe vera is often called a superfood because, in addition to vitamins and minerals, it offers more than 200 other bioavailable nutrients. It’s especially rich in the following enzymes, which support metabolism, hormone function, digestion, and detoxification:
- Alkaline phosphatase
There is a group of nutrients known as secondary metabolites which are found in aloe and other plants. Some of these include aloe emodin, chrysophanol, aloesin, and aloin. Research shows these nutrients can offer a number of other significant health benefits which include antioxidant support.
6. Aloe Supports Cardiovascular Health
Aloe vera is a rich source of beneficial plant compounds called phytosterols. Phytosterols promote normal lipid levels and support cardiovascular health. In a five-year study of 5,000 heart disease patients, researchers found those who consumed aloe vera and another plant called Husk of Isabgol had better lipid and blood sugar levels.
7. Aloe Vera Boosts Dental Health
A recent study involving 345 participants suggests aloe makes an effective mouthwash that supports healthy teeth and gums. Other research indicates that aloe vera gel can help resist Candida albicans, a common oral yeast.
8. Aloe Resists Harmful Organisms
Some plants contain a variety of chemicals and compounds that help suppress harmful organisms. Aloe vera itself contains six separate antiseptic agents: lupeol, salicylic acid, urea nitrogen, cinnamic acid, phenols, and sulfur.
9. Aloe Vera Is Ultra Soothing
Aloe vera is ultra-soothing for cuts, sunburns, and scrapes. Whether it is a topical gel, lotion, or just breaking open a fresh leaf and rubbing it onto a problem area, aloe helps calm red, swollen, and irritated skin. One reason for its soothing properties is an enzyme called bradykinase that helps soothe agitated tissue.
10. Aloe Vera May Have Anti-Aging Properties
Aloe vera does more than soothing and moisturize. It also offers anti-ageing benefits that smooth the appearance of wrinkles from the inside out. In one study, 30 women over the age of 45 took an aloe vera gel supplement for 90 days. By the end of the study, the appearance of facial wrinkles softened, and their skin looked healthier.
History of Aloe Vera
While the benefits of aloe are impressive, they’re not entirely new to us. We are only rediscovering what our ancestors already knew. Egyptians prized the plant over 6,000 years ago. One of the first mentions of aloe vera appears in the Papyrus Ebers around B.C. 1550, which shows 12 formulas for using aloe vera therapeutically. It proved so useful that it was known as the “Plant of Immortality.” People would even present aloe vera as a burial gift to deceased pharaohs. It is widely believed that Egyptian queens Nefertiti and Cleopatra used aloe vera cosmetically.
Egypt was not the only part of the world that found value in the aloe vera plant. As early as 600 BC, there’s record of Arab traders bringing aloe vera to India—which they called “desert lily.” Arabs were already separating the inner gel and sap from the outer rind, even grinding the leaves into powder. This aloe powder was highly valued. In fact, records from as early as the 17th century show the East India Trading Company relied heavily on aloe for its commercial value.
With such amazing historical uses, aloe vera has earned nicknames from all around the globe–names like the “silent healer”, “sabila” “burn plant”, “ghai kunwar”, “elephant’s gall”, “isha irazu”, “cape aloe”, the “medicine plant”, and the “first aid plant”. And, while there are many other aloe species, none are so heavily utilized as aloe vera.
Today, aloe vera gel is a common additive in beauty products and used for a wide arrange burns, cuts, and other skin concerns. Many people drink aloe vera juice for its nutritional value. You can even find edible gels from the inner leaf of the plant in many grocery stores, and it has gained popularity as a smoothie ingredient.
Choosing the Right Aloe Vera
As more and more aloe products arrive on the market—gels, lotions, creams, juices, and capsules—it’s easier than ever to access the benefits of the plant. When choosing a supplement, always check the ingredients. Some products include fillers and may not contain the nutrients, ingredients, or concentrations you expect.
For a supplement with the full nutritional force of aloe, I recommend Aloe Fuzion™. It’s a highly bioavailable aloe vera supplement made from organic inner leaf aloe vera gel. It contains the most acemannan content of any aloe product available and the feedback has been outstanding.