Aloe vera Review: Benefits and Information
Though they look more like cactus plants, Aloe vera plants are actually members of the lily family and are classified as succulents. Aloe vera was originally native to Egypt, and the ancient Egyptians were among the first people to use it as a medicinal plant.
Though there are hundreds of Aloe varieties, Aloe barbadensis Miller is the one used for most commercial products, which range from creams and lotions to drinks to nutritional supplements. The products are made from the gel found inside the leaves.
One of the most common uses of Aloe vera gel is in topical creams to moisturize dry skin and keep it healthy. It’s also used to heal minor cuts/burns, psoriasis, shingles, itching, and other skin conditions. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, Aloe vera may also help soothe the pain associated with these skin conditions.
Some in-vitro and rodent studies suggest that Aloe vera gel may have also properties that enhance the immune system. Specific compounds in Aloe, such as aloe-emodin and Aloctin I, also have anti-tumor activity. Human clinical studies are lacking, however, so claims that Aloe vera juice can improve immunity or treat/prevent cancer in humans are premature.
There are a handful of animal and human studies that suggest oral Aloe vera or isolated constituents can also help normalize blood sugar and improve serum lipid levels.
More research needs to be done, however.
In addition to topical lotions and juice, Aloe vera concentrate is available in the form of gel capsules that can be used as a laxative or to promote wound healing.
To be effective, Aloe vera capsules should be highly concentrated and contain 90–99% pure Aloe vera. Concentrated Aloe vera soft gels can be taken internally or squeezed directly onto skin.
What About Aloe vera Side Effects?
Though some people may have allergic reactions to the plant or the gel, adverse effects from Aloe vera are relatively rare. Nonetheless, pregnant women and patients taking a range of diabetic, cardiac, diuretic and other drugs are advised to avoid oral Aloe.
Because they are relatively easy to grow, many people keep Aloe vera plants in their homes so the therapeutic gel is readily available. The plants need bright sunlight and light, well-drained soil to thrive. They should be watered less frequently in winter and fed a balanced liquid feed during the growing season (March-September).
If you’re looking to supplement with Aloe vera, it is readily available in various different formats. Aloe vera capsules are available at BodyBuilding.com, one of our recommended online retailers.