Complete Guide to Benefits of Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera is a succulent plant that grows in hot, sunny climates around the world. It has been used for centuries in Ayurveda as a medicinal and dietary supplement.
It is a popular ingredient in skincare products because it helps to improve the appearance of skin. It is used topically on the body to treat burns, cuts, and acne. It is also consumed orally as a supplement for its health benefits.
What is Aloe Vera?
Aloe Vera is a tropical plant that grows well in warm, arid weather conditions. The plant is native to the Mediterranean area of Southern Europe and Northern Africa. The gel inside the leaves is used for medicinal purposes. It is also used for cosmetic purposes and has been used as a household remedy for thousands of years.
It is known for its cooling effect on the body. Its medicinal properties have been explored since ancient times. In fact, it is believed that a few drops of its juice were used in King Tut’s ancient Egyptian tomb to help preserve his mummified body.
Characteristics of the Aloe Vera plant
The Aloe Vera plant grows up to 1 meter in height and has thick leaves that are covered with sharp bumps/points. The leaves can grow up to 45 cm in length, with a fibrous root system. The leaves have a milky-white substance oozing from the centre, known as Aloe Vera gel. It is often mistaken for a cactus.
The flowers of the plant are tiny and white. They are hidden among the leaves and are difficult to spot, usually growing in plants that are at least 4 years old.
The plant is easy to grow. It can be planted in a pot or container and needs light, moisture and warmth to grow well. When it is grown indoors, the soil must be kept moist but not wet so that it doesn't rot.
How is Aloe Vera gel extracted?
Most of the beneficial properties of the Aloe Vera plant are attributed to the gel contained between its leaves. The leaves of the plant are rich in water, so the plant can survive for a long time without it.
The leaves of the plant are harvested and peeled before the gel is extracted from them. The leaves are cut vertically to get a cross-sectional cut. The liquid part inside the leaves is then exposed and gel is squeezed from it.
What are the uses and benefits of Aloe Vera?
There are many uses for Aloe Vera. Traditionally, it is used as a moisturizer, sunscreen, hair conditioner, and many other home remedies. It is also used with the aim of treating acne on the face. The most common use is for skin care. It aims to reduce signs of ageing, heal burns, and reduce skin irritation.
It can be applied directly to the skin or hair, consumed either as a juice or in the form of a capsule, or used as an ingredient in many products.
- Anti-oxidant: An imbalance in the free radicals inside our body causes oxidative damage. Our cells are naturally equipped to get rid of these free radicals. Still, a chronic imbalance can lead to ailments and damage the cells. Aloe Vera possesses antioxidant properties that may contribute to a decline in the incidence of degenerative diseases.
- Anti-inflammatory: Chronic inflammation can lead to pain in the affected areas. Aloe Vera is believed to be an effective anti-inflammatory agent. Scientific research indicates that it can Aloe Vera benefits burns and wounds, significantly speeding up the healing process.
- Anti-bacterial: It contains potent anti-bacterial properties that can be helpful for the treatment of a few dental ailments. Depending on the area of application, this property can potentially benefit other skin conditions and ailments as well.
- Balances Sugar Levels: Aloe Vera intake can have a balancing effect on blood sugar levels, which can be helpful for people with Diabetes. Studies indicate that people with type 2 diabetes experience a lower fasting blood sugar level with its intake.
- Aids Digestion and Promotes Gut Health: Research suggests that Aloe Vera syrup can be helpful in acid reflux, medically known as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. Its extract also contains plant compounds that can help relieve constipation, having a balancing laxative effect on the digestive system.
Aloe Vera benefits for weight loss
A study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in 2016 found that Aloe Vera gel can help reduce body weight. It can help regulate the appetite and improve metabolism, which can potentially reduce food cravings and promote weight loss.
Its gel can prove beneficial for preventing obesity that is induced by food intake. When taken orally, Aloe Vera gel results in reduced body-fat accumulation, which can help keep the body weight in check. These benefits make it one of the best natural supplements to prevent weight gain.
Aloe Vera for hair growth
Ayurveda advocates the use of Aloe Vera for ailments of the scalp such as dermatitis, as well as for general hair growth and well-being. A study found that using crude Aloe Vera for hair is an effective therapy for people who are suffering from Seborrheic dermatitis, a condition affecting the scalp. It may also be a potentially effective natural remedy for dandruff.
As a natural supplement, it is rich in Vitamins A, C, and E. These three vitamins are known to promote healthy cell growth, which can potentially result in shiny, strong hair strands. Additionally, it also contains folic acid and Vitamin B12, both of which are believed to prevent hair fall.
Is Aloe Vera good for the skin?
Ayurveda provides a number of use cases where Aloe Vera can be used as a topical remedy for skin conditions.
With ageing, the number of cell layers in the skin remains unchanged, but the epidermis (the outermost layer of the skin) starts thinning. Melanocytes, or the cells that contain pigment, also start decreasing. The plant has the potential to rejuvenate and regenerate the skin, and looks promising in its use as an anti-ageing agent. 
With its rich nutrient profile, Aloe Vera can also be helpful with wounds and scars. A study indicates that using it for treating cutaneous wound healing. With its antibacterial and healing properties, it may also be beneficial for psoriasis, dermatitis, frostbite, and similar skin conditions.
Traditional connection of Aloe Vera with Ayurveda
Ayurveda uses the term Ghritkumari for Aloe Vera. The benefits of this plant for health and wellness have been explored in Ayurveda for centuries. It is used in a wide range of applications, from treating digestive disorders to managing skin conditions.
Ayurveda provides the following properties for Aloe Vera:
Rasa (taste): Bitter
Vipaka (post-digestion taste): Pungent
Virya (action): Cold
Ghritkumari is observed to be tridoshic, having a balance on all three doshas - Kapha, Vata, and Pitta. Ayurveda recommends the use of the leaf of the plant, with major benefits thought to be due to the gel contained within its leaves.
Modern Scientific Research on Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera has been used as a traditional remedy for a number of ailments and has health benefits. Recent scientific research has helped explore and verify many of these claims.
- A study found that tooth gel containing Aloe Vera can be effective in reducing the growth of cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth. In some cases, it was found to be more efficient than some commercial toothpaste brands. - https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/898528
- Researching its effectiveness against damage from sunlight, a study found that it can potentially protect the skin from damage induced by UV rays. - https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ptr.4943
- Exploring the effects of Aloe Vera gel on burn wounds, a study concluded that wounds treated with it healed remarkably quickly than treatment with a sulphadiazine cream. - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23894900/
- A study noted that it was significantly effective in the treatment of people suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome(IBS). - https://www.jnmjournal.org/journal/view.html?doi=10.5056/jnm18077
- Research conducted in 2014 found that a topical concoction combining acne medication with its gel was considerably more effective for treating acne. - https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.3109/09546634.2013.768328
How to take Aloe Vera as a supplement
Aloe Vera has traditionally been used in Ayurveda as a fresh extract, with the gel consumed soon after extraction. However, many more options for using it as a supplement are now available.
Aloe Vera Gel
Using Aloe Vera gel is the most popular way of using the plant’s medicinal properties. You can either get the gel extract from the market or extract it from the leaves yourself. While the former comes with preservatives and has a longer shelf life, the latter should be consumed as soon as possible.
Aloe Vera gel can be used on its own or mixed with other oils, like coconut or olive oil. The most common way to use it is by applying it to the skin directly. The gel is translucent when fresh, but will become opaque over time. You can also use the gel as a base for other moisturizers like lotions, creams, etc.
The gel may also be applied topically on cuts and wounds. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, it may help reduce pain and heal wounds faster. For deeper cuts and wounds, it is not recommended to use the gel without prior consultation with a GP.
Aloe Vera Juice
Consuming raw Aloe Vera gel can be tough since it has a thick texture. People who find it unpalatable prefer to consume it in the form of a juice. Aloe Vera Juice is the gel blended with water (usually in a mixer) to turn it into a thinner concoction that is easier to drink.
Aloe Vera Capsules
Aloe Vera capsules contain plant extracts filled inside vegan capsules that can be taken orally. These capsules tend to have a higher bioavailability, aiding in better absorption of the supplement inside the body.
Hesh’s Vegan Aloe Vera Capsules are made from plants that are ethically sourced from India using wild-harvesting techniques. They are 100% vegan and botanical, and the best way to take it as a supplement.
Aloe Vera Tablets
When taking Aloe Vera internally, some people might be put off by its taste or small. If you are one of those people, tablets can be an excellent way to avail the benefits of this Ayurvedic remedy. Depending on the concentration, you can take the recommended number of tablets once or twice a day with water.
Is it safe to use Aloe Vera?
Aloe Vera has now been in use as a traditional remedy for thousands of years. Ayurveda advocates that it is generally safe to use as long as the recommended dosage is followed.
When taking the supplement for the first time, it is good to exercise caution and look out for any side effects. It is recommended to consult your GP before using it as a supplement if you are already taking drugs or medication.