There’s no question that our country loves home remedies and natural health products. The issue is that with many of them there is little evidence to support the claims made about them. However, certain natural herbs and remedies really do seem to have a strong impact on our health, and a perfect example of this is the aloe vera plant. It has been utilized in herbal medicine since the first century, and throughout the centuries it has remained an important part of numerous treatments for a variety of issues.
The Aloe Plant
Aloe vera itself is a succulent plant with no stems. It commonly grows to around 24 to 39 inches in height and flowers in the summertime. It is the thick leaves of the plant that are used in medicine, and their interior is filled with a gel-like substance that is the key to its health uses.
Best Aloe Uses
Aloe is commonly used for skin conditions, and the gel itself is often used directly from the plant and applied to conditions like sunburn, burns, and cuts or sores. It is also included in a wide range of skin care products, medications, and even in oral supplements that are used for various issues. Here is a look at some of the most common uses for aloe vera.
- Burns – Topical use of aloe and aloe-rich products has been the most common use for the plant over the years, and studies have shown that aloe could indeed have a positive impact on the treatment of these issues. Some studies are inconclusive, but for now aloe remains one of the go-to ways to reduce the pain and duration of burns including sunburns.
- Wound Care – Throughout history, aloe has been used to help surgical wounds, cuts, scrapes, and bedsores heal faster. Again, the evidence seems to support this and shows that aloe could improve circulation in the skin’s blood vessels while also killing bacteria on the wound. Studies are still being done into this, but the evidence is positive.
- Constipation – Oral use of aloe has been shown to help treat constipation. The aloe gel is commonly used to form aloe latex that is placed into pills, and these supplements have been proven to help soften stool and fight constipation in a natural way.
- Beauty – Over the last few years, aloe has become a key ingredient in a wide range of beauty and skin care products. The study has found that it could help revitalize the skin, moisturize it, and potentially combat the small wrinkles that are the signs of aging. The moisturizing properties of the gel help keep the skin pliable and healthy.
- Rashes and Acne – Skin conditions like psoriasis, acne, and rashes can be calmed and soothed with aloe. While it won’t cure the condition, it can help to ease the burning, stinging, and itching that come with them.
- Cold Sores – There are studies that have proven that the use of aloe extract is effective and reducing the appearance of cold sores on and around the mouth.
- Scar Prevention – Many people utilize aloe to help prevent scarring and to reduce stretch marks. This is why aloe is continually utilized in most major skin care products.
- Insect Bites – Aloe can be used to sooth the itching and stinging of insect bites and stings.
- Upset Stomach – Oral use could also help to calm the stomach and reduce the discomfort of stomach ulcers and congestion. However, studies are still being done into the overall effectiveness of this.
- Cholesterol – Surprisingly, studies have suggested that the use of aloe orally can actually help reduce total cholesterol levels and reduce the levels of bad cholesterol. Studies are ongoing, but the preliminary evidence is impressive.
Methods of Action
Obviously, aloe has numerous uses and it continues to pop up as an ingredient in everything from oral supplements to anti-aging creams to burn remedies. Due to its popularity, numerous studies have been done into the various methods of action within its chemical makeup. It works in several ways, depending on the usage.
- For burns and wound treatment, the aloe works by improving blood circulation within the areas. It also helps prevent cell death that is common in and around a wound.
- Aloe contains properties that help fight various types of fungi as well as certain kinds of bacteria, helping prevent and control infections.
- While not completely understood, aloe also triggers some changes in the skin that help control skin conditions like psoriasis.
- The chemicals within the aloe gel or latex actually work as a natural laxative in the same way that man-made medications do.
Limited Side Effects
Unlike over the counter or prescription drugs, aloe has very small potential side effects. Most of these are directly related to the oral use of the plant, and experts agree that high doses are to be avoided and can lead to diarrhea, kidney issues, and cramps. As a result, caution is advised when using oral supplements. For topical use of the plant, allergic reactions are the only real concern and most experts agree that it is a viable option for use by nearly anyone.
Benefits of Aloe Use
The key benefit and the main draw of aloe is simple – it offers a natural alternative to numerous health condition treatments. Side effects are very limited, especially when compared to man-made treatments, and as a result it stands out as a viable option for many who want to rely on a more natural method of action.
For those looking for skin care solutions and beauty treatments, few natural ingredients have been studied or have been found to be as potentially beneficial as aloe. As a result, it continues and will likely continue to be a key ingredient in most of the more popular treatments on the market.
Simply put, aloe deserves the attention it has received over the years due to its effectiveness and its ability to provide a natural method of healing to those who are looking for one. It has a wide range of uses, and studies continue to show that it is effective at numerous things.