11 Incredible Health Benefits of Aloe Vera You Should Know

Aloe vera, or Aloe barbadensis, is a popular medicinal plant best known for treating sunburn and skin injuries, but it also has numerous other uses that could potentially benefit health. For centuries, different civilizations have used aloe vera for various health, skincare, and medicinal purposes.

Aloe vera repeatedly appears in the history books, from Alexander the Great’s first aid kit to Cleopatra’s bathroom cabinet. The Egyptians deemed aloe vera “the plant of immortality,” while the ancient Greeks declared it “the universal panacea.”

Today, aloe vera is grown in arid and tropical climates worldwide. The thick succulent-like leaves of the aloe plant house a clear gel that contains over 75 (and possibly up to 200) different active compounds, including minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, sugars, salicylic acids, enzymes, and amino acids. All of these components provide numerous benefits for skincare and beyond.

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Health Benefits of Aloe Vera

You can harness the benefits of aloe vera by drinking it, eating it, or smearing it on your skin. From reducing wrinkles to fighting plaque, here are 11 benefits of aloe vera.

1.) It Has Antioxidant and Antibacterial Properties

Aloe vera gel contains potent antioxidants belonging to a family of compounds called polyphenols. These polyphenols (along with other substances in aloe vera) help prevent the growth of certain bacteria that cause infections in humans.

Aloe vera is known for its antiseptic, antibacterial, and antiviral properties, which is partly why it may help heal wounds and treat skin conditions.

2.) Accelerates Wound Healing

As early as 1810–1820, the United States Pharmacopeia described aloe vera as a skin protectant. In addition, studies suggest that it is an effective topical treatment for first- and second-degree burns.

For example, a systematic review of experimental studies found that aloe vera could cut the healing time of burns by around nine days compared with traditional medication. It also helped prevent itching, redness, and infections. And while the evidence for aloe vera helping heal other kinds of wounds is inconclusive, the research is very promising.

Aloe gel
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3.) Anti-Aging

There is preliminary evidence that suggests topical aloe vera gel can slow skin aging. The sterols in aloe vera stimulate the production of hyaluronic acid and collagen – locking moisture into the skin and ironing out fine lines and wrinkles.

In a small Korean study of 30 females over 45-years-old, taking a low dose of aloe vera gel for 56 days significantly increased collagen, improved skin elasticity, and facial wrinkles. Additionally, the gel repairs damage from ultraviolet (UV) radiation, responsible for up to 80% of the visible signs of aging. Systematic reviews also suggest that aloe vera could improve skin integrity and help the skin retain moisture, which could benefit dry skin conditions.

4.) Fights Acne

One study found that applying a combination of aloe with tretinoin cream can effectively treat inflammatory and noninflammatory acne. Aloe vera contains salicylic acid – which has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties – thus, eliminating acne-causing bacteria and soothing stressed-out skin to reduce irritation and redness.

5.) Soothes Eczema and Psoriasis

Skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema indicate inflammation and a compromised skin barrier, which can be treated by aloe vera. Moreover, skin with a broken barrier is more prone to bacterial and fungal infections, and aloe vera “can be considered an antiseptic acting against fungi, bacteria, and viruses,” board-certified dermatologist Marisa Garshick, M.D. explained. The Mayo Clinic recommends using aloe vera cream on psoriasis to help reduce the redness, irritation, and scaling caused by the disorder.

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6.) Treats and Prevents Dandruff

Dandruff is a mild form of seborrheic dermatitis, affecting only the scalp. On the other hand, Seborrheic dermatitis can affect other parts of the body. Aloe vera gel has been found to effectively treat scalp irritation, flakiness, and scaliness, caused by seborrheic dermatitis.

For example, in one study, participants who applied the nutrient-rich gel onto the scalp saw significant reductions in symptoms, specifically itching and scaling. Another study found that the antifungal and antibacterial properties of the plant help prevent and treat dandruff.

7.) Reduces Dental Plaque

Aloe vera is effective in eliminating the plaque-producing bacterium Streptococcus mutans. In a mouth rinse study, researchers from India recruited 300 healthy people and compared 100% aloe vera juice with chlorhexidine, a prescription mouthwash for gum disease. After four days of use, the aloe vera mouth rinse reduced dental plaque as effectively as chlorhexidine. Another study, which recruited 345 healthy subjects, found similar benefits of aloe vera mouth rinse over 15 and 30 days.

8.) Helps Treat Mouth Sores

Aloe vera is a remedy for cold sores. Research has shown that the gel fights viruses, including herpes simplex – the leading cause of cold sores. In addition, studies have shown that aloe vera can quicken the healing of mouth ulcers. For example, in a one-week-long survey of 180 people with recurrent mouth ulcers, applying an aloe vera patch to the area effectively reduced the ulcers’ size. However, it did not outperform the traditional ulcer treatment – corticosteroids. In another study, aloe vera gel accelerated the healing process and reduced the pain associated with the ulcers.

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9.) Reduces Constipation

Aloe vera “latex” may also help treat constipation. The latex is the sticky yellowish residue found just under the leaf’s skin. The main compound responsible for this effect is aloin, or barbaloin, which has well-established laxative properties.

Keep in mind; a little latex goes a long way. Therefore, it is advised to consume in moderation. “Over-consumption of aloe vera juice can lead to diarrhea and stomach cramping,” warned registered nutritionist Clarissa Lenherr. However, many people have concerns about safety with frequent use; that’s why aloe latex hasn’t been available in the U.S. as an over-the-counter medication since 2002.

10.) Lowers Blood Sugar Levels

Previous research has shown that consuming two tablespoons of aloe vera juice reduces blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. The plant contains compounds that increase insulin sensitivity, allowing the body’s cells to use blood sugar more effectively.

11.) It Can Reduce Heartburn

GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) is a long-lasting digestive disorder that typically results in persistent heartburn. According to a 2010 review, consuming 1 to 3 ounces of aloe gel at mealtime could lessen the severity of GERD. It may also ease other digestion-related problems. In addition, Aloe vera’s low toxicity makes it a safe and gentle remedy for heartburn.