The benefits of aloe vera or aloe are numerous: it has healing properties for the hair, improves acne and even helps you lose weight, being described on many occasions as a “miracle plant”, which is why in recent years scientific studies on its properties.
Aloe Vera – also known as aloe vera – is made up of 96% water, some organic and inorganic compounds, a type of protein that contains 18 of the 20 amino acids found in the body, and finally vitamins A, B, C and E. Another part of the aloe plant used is “SAP”, a yellow liquid stuck to the skin inside the plant.
Its incredible potential ranges from the effectiveness it has in dermatological diseases, to being a possible ally against cancer. For something in Ancient Egypt, it was known as “the plant of immortality”.
Historical facts about aloe vera
The earliest records of the use of aloe vera on humans appear in the Ebers papyrus (Egyptian medical papyrus) from the 16th century BC, and called it “the plant of immortality”.
This plant has been used therapeutically for many centuries in China, Japan, India, Greece, Egypt, Mexico and Japan. Cleopatra and Nefertiti, two queens of Egypt, used aloe vera to keep their skin supple.
In the time of Alexander the Great, soldiers used it to heal their wounds. Dioscorides (40-90 AD), a Greek physician, mentioned the therapeutic qualities of aloe in “De Mataria Medica”, a five-volume encyclopedia on medicinal substances and herbal medicines. It has been widely read for over 1,500 years.
Cayo Plinio Segundo (23-79 AD), better known as Pliny the Elder, Roman author, naturalist and philosopher, mentioned the therapeutic benefits of aloe in ” Natural History “, an ancient encyclopedia that has survived from the Roman Empire.
Healthy properties of aloe vera
Protects the skin from sun damage
A study by the Institute of Chemistry at the University of São Paulo, Brazil, proved the remarkable ability of aloe to protect against cell death caused by UVA rays, which makes it a great candidate as a complement in dermatological protection formulations.
An article published in 2010 by the journal “Alternative and Complementary Therapies” suggests that consuming 30 to 90 grams of aloe gel before food can reduce the severity of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a digestive disorder that often results in heartburn.
Many studies have been published on the benefits of aloe to facilitate digestion. The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota recommends using it to relieve constipation, but in moderation, as the dose should not exceed 0.04 to 0.17 grams of dry juice.
Ally against breast cancer
A publication by the Department of Life Sciences at National Chung Hsing University, Taiwan, demonstrated the therapeutic properties of aloe in retarding the growth of breast cancer. However, more studies are needed to support it.
A team of plastic surgeons from the Department of Plastic Surgery at Nishtar Hospital in Multan, Pakistan, conducted a study to verify the effectiveness of Aloe Vera gel in healing and relieving the pain of second degree burns, concluding that the cream is Highly effective in curing these injuries.
Benefits in dental treatments
A study by the Department of Pediatric Dentistry and Preventive Dentistry at the Dental University of Tamil Nadu, India, ensures that aloe can play an important role in dentistry as a complement in the treatment of lichen planus, oral submucosal fibrosis, recurrent aphthous stomatitis, alveolar osteitis, periodontitis , among other conditions.
Alternative to mouthwash and toothpaste
The Public Health Department of Dentistry in Lansdowne, India, conducted a study on the use of aloe as a mouthwash. The results showed that it was effective in reducing plaque and there were no obvious side effects either.
On the other hand, a study published in General Dentistry reported that aloe in dental gels is just as effective as toothpaste in fighting tooth decay.
Keeps skin hydrated
Due to the amount of water the plant stores and in combination with its special compounds, aloe is effective as a skin moisturizer. This was confirmed by a study by Dal’Belo et al, in 2006.
Keeps fruits and vegetables fresh
Research published by the University of Cambridge showed that the aloe vera coating blocked the growth of many types of harmful bacteria on vegetables .
Similar results were also found in a study with apples, meaning that aloe vera gel helps keep fruits and vegetables fresh, which may address the need to use hazardous chemicals to extend the shelf life of products.
Protects the skin from radiation damage
A study carried out by the University of Naples, Italy, proved the effectiveness of five topical creams in protecting the skin of patients who received radiotherapy.
Over six weeks, participants underwent evaluations, all moisturizers in the study, including the one containing aloe vera, were effective.
Improves herpes conditions on the skin
As published by the University of Maryland, evidence suggests that aloe vera gel may improve symptoms of genital herpes and some skin conditions, such as psoriasis.
Angina pectoris relief
In a study carried out by Agarwal in 1985, improvements were observed after 2 weeks of applying an aloe-based gel in combination with seed bread.
Useful for treating acne
A team from the Department of Dermatology, Faculty of Medicine, Mazandaran University of Medical Sciences, Sari, Iran, conducted a study to see whether combination therapy with natural preparations such as aloe vera could be effective in treating and decreasing common acne
They concluded that the applications were well tolerated and significantly effective.
Effective in wound healing
An investigation carried out by Dermatol Surg Oncol in 1990 showed that wound healing is approximately 72 hours faster with the application of aloe than with a standard gel.
According to the author, this acceleration in wound healing is important to reduce bacterial contamination, the formation of posterior keloids and/or changes in pigmentation.
Extends the lives of cancer patients
The Division of Radiological Oncology, Hospital San Gerardo, Milan, Italy, conducted a study with patients with intractable metastatic solid tumors, to assess whether the simultaneous administration of aloe vera and pineal indole melatonin (MLT) could improve therapeutic results.
The study included 50 patients suffering from lung cancer, tumors of the gastrointestinal tract, breast cancer or cerebral glioblastoma.
The 1-year survival rate was significantly higher in patients treated with MLT and aloe vera, so this preliminary study suggests that this treatment may yield therapeutic benefits, at least in terms of disease stabilization and survival.
Aloe Vera appears to be safe and has been well tolerated in most studies conducted to date. However, there are contraindications that must be taken into account.
The use of aloe vera preparations should be avoided in people with known allergies to plants of the liliaceae family (garlic, onions and tulips).
The use of aloe as a laxative during pregnancy may pose possible teratogenic and toxicological effects on the embryo and fetus.
Kidney or heart disease
Prolonged use of aloe has been linked to watery diarrhea that results in electrolyte imbalance, and reports suggest that increased potassium loss can lead to hypokalemia. Therefore, it is contraindicated in patients with a history of renal or cardiac disorders.
There is a clinical case of a 35-year-old woman who lost 5 liters of blood during surgery as a result of a possible interaction with aloe vera and sevoflurane.
There are also other interactions that can be dangerous; therefore, you should always consult your doctor before starting any treatment.
- For burns : pure gel inside pure aloe or preparations containing 10% to 70% internal gel. It must be stabilized by pasteurization at 75-80 ° C for less than 3 minutes and applied to the affected area 3 times a day.
- For seborrheic dermatitis : 30% aloe vera in a hydrophilic emulsion, twice daily on the affected area.
- For psoriasis and genital herpes : hydrophilic cream containing 0.5% aloe gel 3 times a day on the affected area.
- The treatment of diabetes and angina pectoris : 100 mg of fresh internal gel every day or 1 tablespoon twice a day.
- For ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel syndrome : a dose of 25-50 ml of 95% gel inside aloe vera is recommended 3 times a day.
How to cut aloe vera for use
Use a sharp knife to extract a leaf from the plant at its base, close to the ground. Select one of the outer leaves better as they contain more gel.
With the knife, carefully cut the thorny edges of the end of the blade. If you use all the gel from the leaf, wrap the remaining leaf in a plastic bag and store it in the fridge until you need it again.
How to drink aloe juice
The natural taste of aloe is so bitter that you won’t be able to drink it alone. The solution is to take pieces of the gel and mix them with another fruit or vegetable juice that is preferably sweet, then add honey and a little lemon.