Aloe vera is probably one of the most famous medicinal plants in existence. Its cultivation is simple and it is very easy to have a pot on the balcony or inside the house. In addition, countless beneficial properties have been studied with scientific evidence. Although the Aloe vera gel It is well known for relieving skin burns and promoting wound healing, there are many more properties to use.
Aloe vera has a long history of use for medicinal purposes. The plant is native to North Africa, cultivated in southern Europe and also the Canary Islands. Today, aloe vera is grown in tropical climates around the world. From facilitating the relief of heartburn (Aloe vera juice) to delaying the spread of breast cancer, researchers have a long list of properties that are gradually discovering about this plant.
Proven properties of Aloe vera
1. Properties of Aloe vera on the skin
This medicinal plant has historically been used to improve skin hydration, wound healing and moisturizing effect. We can buy many creams and lotions based on this plant, although we can also use, at home, the gel that comes out of its leaves.
Due to its soothing, moisturizing and refreshing properties, Aloe vera is frequently used to soothe burns.
A 2013 study with 50 participants found answers that using Aloe vera against burns might be more effective than other medications such as 1% silver sulfadiazine. [Use of Aloe vera in burns]
However, although it has always been used for this purpose, more thorough research is still needed to improve the scientific evidence on this property.
In short, this plant can be effective for minor burns. If they are severe, it is better to consult a doctor as there may be better alternatives.
2. Bactericidal activity
Its use on the skin is also related to bacterid activity. In a 2014 clinical trial by Cambridge University Press, it found positive responses to the development of bacteria. [Bactericidal effect of Aloe]
In this case, its use was applied as wax in fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, obtaining similar results in apples. From here begins a study to know if applied on human skin can be achieved inhibit pathogenic bacteria, something that would be related to the improvement of wound healing.
3. Heartburn Relief
Heartburn is caused by the well-known gastroesophageal reflux disease. A 2010 review suggested that aloe vera consumed could reduce digestive problems stemming from this problem.
Among these plants are mentioned the Asian mugwort, marshmallow, celandine, comfrey or rosemary.
4. Alternative to mouthwash
Based on its bactericidal activity, its use as an ingredient in mouthwashes has been studied along with other plants, such as mint or the Triphala herbal mixture.
The Ethiopian Journal of Health Sciences conducted a study in 2014 evaluating its properties as an alternative in mouthwashes. It found positive effects to reduce the level of oral plaque, relief of inflammation and reduction of bleeding. [Anti-plaque effect of Aloe vera]
5. May lower blood sugar
Many medicinal plants are currently studied thinking about the possible activity against type 2 diabetes, an unstoppable disease due to the rise of poor diet and lack of daily activity. The International Journal of Phytotherapy and Phytopharmacy published the results of the study and the conclusions were very positive. [Antidiabetic activity of Aloe vera]
The possibility of combining with modern drugs for glucose control and interaction is currently being studied. Therefore, more studies are needed to confirm aloe’s ability to cope with this problem.
6. Activity as a natural laxative
The Aloe vera consumed, as we saw in the Article on Aloe juice, has a laxative effect as it accelerates the digestion process.
Preliminary studies conducted on animals found that the gel of this plant had activity against constipation. [See its laxative potential]
However, potentially negative side effects were found in that study, which is why the U.S. Food and Drug Administration agency demanded that all over-the-counter aloe laxative products be recalled from the U.S. market.
In any case, its use is not recommended for this problem if you suffer from previous digestive diseases such as hemorrhoids, colitis or Crohn’s disease.
7. Digestive health
Although not the most common use, the properties of Aloe vera can also benefit the digestive system with mild discomfort. Among them, there are studies that support the benefits against irritable bowel syndrome.
This study encompassed 150 people where they showed that those taking Aloe extract significantly reduced ailments related to this problem. However, a larger number of studies are needed to draw more comprehensive conclusions. [See study]
Other studies have also linked the properties of Aloe vera to the development of the bacterium. Helicobacter pylori, which can cause lesions and ulcers in the digestive tract. [See study]
8. Breast cancer
Many medicinal plants are being studied to see if they are related to the prevention of various types of cancer. In most cases, antioxidant phytoactive compounds and polyphenols that act against free radicals that we introduce through food are sought.
There is initial evidence that it reduces the activity of the tumor or breast cancer, although it is still too early to draw adequate conclusions.
How to harvest the plant
At the domestic level, we can take advantage of the properties of Aloe vera. The most frequent uses are applications on the skin, to improve hydration, facilitate wound healing or reduce the negative effect of burns.
In any case, Aloe vera is very easy to care for and we can extract the leaves as we need them.
To obtain these leaves where to extract the juice, we will do the following:
- We will cut the lower leaves, of greater thickness, being healthy and without wounds. We will use a sharp knife.
- We will wash the sheet to remove any element of soil or dust.
- With a knife, remove the jagged edges and leave only the meat inside.
- Remove the inner gel and put it in a container. That yellow sap can be used to apply it directly on the skin.