Aloe vera has been in wide use since the first century AD in both herbal medicine and for countless other everyday purposes. Today, the spiky green succulent is commonly used to treat sunburns after time spent in the great outdoors with less than ideal sun protection. With its soothing properties, chockfull of vitamins and minerals, aloe can help to ease the pain and discomfort of a bad burn. But there are many other uses for the medicinal plant as well.
1. To relieve constipation
When taken by mouth, aloe latex (the yellowish fluid just under the rind) may be able to provide constipation relief, as has been indicated in research done on rats. In addition to the normal precautions we must take with the results of animal-based studies, users should be warned that the resulting effect can mean diarrhea. It’s a tradeoff that each person needs to decide for him or herself.
2. To aid digestion
For those suffering from GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), taking 1-3 ounces of aloe with meals can offer some relief from digestive issues, including heartburn. Consumption of aloe is deemed to be fairly safe because of its low toxicity.
3. To heal a cold sore
An uncomfortable cold sore is more than just an eye sore too. A result of the herpes simplex virus, it is essentially an oral lesion that can coincide with itching or sensitivity. But there’s evidence that indicates applying aloe extract (0.5%) cream daily is one way of helping to heal the unsightly spot.
4. To alkalize the body
A large portion of the population gives little to no thought regarding how acidic or alkaline their diets may be. In fact, most people are living largely on acidic-based foods. For optimal health however, striking an 80% alkaline and 20% acidic balance in foods and beverages is the best option. Towards that end, aloe vera is an alkaline forming food and consumption will help balance your overall pH.
5. For cardiovascular wellness
While the field is lacking research as to how aloe vera can benefit cardiovascular health, there’s some that has linked aloe vera extract (when injected into the bloodstream) with improved oxygen transportation in red blood cells. What’s more, a study in the British Medical Journal seems to demonstrate that beta sitosterol (a naturally occurring substance found in aloe) can lower cholesterol. This combined with aloe vera’s potential oxidation and circulation capabilities would likely lower the chances of heart disease.
6. To boost the immune system
Packed with powerful antioxidants, aloe vera is widely considered a boon to the immune system. With its macrophage-stimulating polysaccharides, the dynamic plant helps to strengthen the white blood cells that defend against viruses. Moreover, it’s an antipyretic and is intended to reduce fevers.
7. As a mouthwash alternative
Aloe can also do your mouth some good as a daily oral rinse. A recent study found that the plant’s extract may defend against plaque and soothe swollen or bleeding gums with its high dose of vitamin C. Aloe mouthwash is a great option for those looking for an alternative to harsh, chemical-based varieties.
8. For psoriasis relief
More than just dry, itchy skin, psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease that currently has no cure. In an effort to control the uncomfortable symptoms, aloe creams (containing 0.5% aloe) should be topically applied for 1-2 months to decrease the severity and the skin plaque coverage. Unfortunately, aloe gel probably will not calm down redness from psoriasis.
9. As makeup remover
Some store-bought or beauty brand makeup removers are made with harsh chemicals that can dry the delicate skin around your eyes. Use a cotton ball or tissue soaked in pure aloe gel instead and you can easily wipe away dark eye makeup with the flick of a wrist.
10. As a shaving cream
Shaving cream can be pretty pricey, especially if you want one that conditions try skin. But beauty experts know that aloe vera mixed with hand soap, almond oil, and some warm water can make for a great homemade shave agent. The aloe is naturally antibacterial—a big plus when it comes to working with razors. It allows for sleek movement across the skin and hydrates at the same time.