Aloe vera belongs to the cactus group of plants, more specifically in the Liliceae family. As a cactus plant, it flourishes in dry environments, like in parts of India and Africa. Historically, in Egypt, it used to be referred to as “the plant of immortality” – emphasizing its powerful medicinal abilities. It’s been in use medicinally for ages. Skin injuries, hair boosts, scalp issues, health problems and even weight loss are just a few of the things people have used aloe vera for over the years.
Aloe Vera’s gel is surprisingly 99% water and 1% other ingredients which are beneficial and highly effective.
Here are a few of such active ingredients :
- Proteins & amino acids, that strengthen the hair
- Fatty acids, useful for handling itchy scalp
- Vitamins A,B1, B2 B6, C and E
- Alkaline, which is especially useful for balancing the pH of the scalp and hair, and also for retaining moisture.
- Enzymes, responsible for breaking down skin cells on the scalp
Health Benefits Of Aloe Vera
1. Possesses Antibacterial and Antioxidant Properties
There are powerful antioxidants in aloe vera’s gel, antioxidants which are part of a family known as polyphenols and are paramount to the health. These antioxidants (polyphenols), and other compounds also found in the aloe vera gel possess the ability to inhibit the survival of certain pathogenic bacteria in the body. Thus, aloe vera acts as an antibacterial substance, and protects the body from bacterial infections.
2. Handles Constipation
It comes as a pleasant surprise that aloe vera is able to treat constipation. This time though, it is not the gel that works the magic, it’s the latex This latex is usually found just under the leaf’s skin, a yellow substance which has laxative effects. It contains aloin, also called barbaloin, a compound which is responsible for the laxative effects of the latex. Aloe Vera, does not seem to have same effect on other digestive problems like IBD (Inflammatory bowel disease) and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) apart from constipation, however. Using this frequently though has some side effects, which has sprung up safety concerns. It is therefore advised that you take as little of it as possible.
3. Reduces Blood Sugar Levels
Aloe vera has been used traditionally as a remedy for diabetes. This is not far from promising, as several studies have been carried out, both on humans and animals with diabetic issues. The results, although not high, were found interesting as it reduced the blood sugar to manageable levels. It is able to do this because it is said to possess an insulin sensitivity enhancement. However, as mentioned before, it is not entirely safe to ingest any parts of the aloe vera plants or even supplements for long, frequently and in large quantities.
4. Treats Dental Plaques
Remember that the aloe vera gel possesses antibacterial properties? These properties are useful in fighting or at least reducing dental plaques. Plaque buildup is caused by Streptococcus mutans or Candida albicans , microorganisms responsible for the production of plaques. In one study involving three hundred healthy individuals, it was found that aloe vera was just as effective as clorhexidine, an ingredient in the mouthwash used by part of the individuals used for the study. A different but similar study also revealed that using aloe vera as a mouthwash for 15-30 days produced same results as any good mouthwash. This is possible because aloe vera is able to inhibit the survival of the pathogens, thereby killing them off and reducing the production of plaque which in turn reduces or prevents tooth decay or gum diseases.
Hair Benefits Of Aloe Vera
1. Enhances Hair Growth
Sometimes, hair growth is inhibited by dead skin cells which clog the scalp and follicles. What aloe vera does is that it acts as an exfoliant as a result of the proteolytic enzymes it contains. Thus, it is able to clear the dead cells, leaving room for the minerals and vitamins it contains to get to work on the hair. Not forgetting, blood flow becomes easier as well. Aloe Vera also contains natural enzymes that stimulate hair growth, thereby preventing hair loss and hair thinning.
2. Adds Shine
Aloe Vera possesses conditioning properties that add a natural shine to your hair. It also causes the hair to become pleasantly soft without losing its strength.
3. Healthy Scalp
Aloe vera is able to keep the scalp healthy as a result of its anti-fungal and antibacterial properties. A healthy scalp means the absence of dandruff and dryness. Aloe vera works on reducing dandruff with the enzymes and anti-inflammatory properties which help to add moisture, prevent itchiness and soothe the scalp. It also improves the circulation of blood in the scalp and improves the production of moisturizing oils.
4. Helps Retain Moisture
If you have dry hair, here’s where you pay close attention. Apparently, aloe vera is a natural humectant, just like honey. This means that it is able to draw moisture from the environment and retain it. It also balances hair that is too oily by reducing the excess production of natural oils in the scalp. The cuticles of the hair are made smooth, the hair shaft is kept moist, the elasticity of the hair is preserved to prevent hair breakage, all by the awesome ability of aloe vera.
Skin Benefits Of Aloe Vera
1. Has Anti-aging Benefits
It’s common fact that antioxidants are wonderful for the skin and improve its firmness. Aloe vera of course, possesses antioxidants as we have seen before. These antioxidants improve the skin’s elasticity and firmness. Other ingredients that contribute to the anti-aging property of aloe vera include : vitamin C and E. They also help to keep the skin hydrated.
2. Used to Treat Sunburn
As a result of aloe vera’s antioxidant and nutritional qualities, healing of the skin can occur at a more faster pace. Sunburn has especially been treated with aloe vera for the longest of times. Aloe Vera carries out this healing activity at the skin’s epithelial level. It also replenishes moisture, thereby improving the skin’s quality.
3. Combats Acne
Aloe vera possesses anti-inflammatory properties that are able to combat skin problems like acne, psoriasis and eczema. It also is able to soothe inflammations and reduce itchiness as it helps healing take place. This is possible as a result of two important hormones contained in the gel :auxins and giberellins. They’re practically responsible for its anti-inflammatory properties and healing. Giberellin for example, stimulates the growth of new skin cells, causing the skin to heal naturally and quickly.
4. Acts as Moisturizer
Aloe Vera, as earlier mentioned, is a natural humectant. This means that it is able to absorb moisture from the environment and retain it. With this property, aloe vera is the perfect moisturizer as it moisturizes the skin without making it greasy – it can thus be used by people with oily skin as well. It could be used prior to make-up application and for shaving in men because of its healing properties which is able to take care of minor shave cuts.
If you cannot find an aloe vera plant, then it is possible to use products orssupplements with aloe vera as their major ingredients. You could find it in stores or purchase them online. Don’t forget to speak with your doctor before using any of the substances. You could also grow your own aloe vera and use them whenever you need to. You’d be grateful for the benefits you eventually get out of this amazing plant .