What Is Aloe Vera, and Where Does the Plant Come From?
Aloe Vera has been known for its healing properties for at least 6,000 years. In the early days, the plant was known for being a “plant of immortality” and was presented to Egyptian pharaohs as a funeral gift.
Over time, groups from many geographical areas have used aloe vera, including Indians, Chinese, Mexicans, and North Americans, too.
Humans have long known about the plant’s healing benefits, and over the years have used aloe — which is also known as “burn plant,” “lily of the desert,” and “elephant’s gall” — to help treat wounds, hair loss, hemorrhoids, and digestive issues.
These days, aloe has an entire industry behind it. Its juices are used in cosmetics and personal-care products such as moisturizers, soap, shaving cream, and suntan lotion. The aloe vera product that probably comes to mind most easily is the bright green gel that’s stocked on drugstore shelves. You’ve probably used it to soothe a nasty sunburn.
Aloe vera is also available in supplement form, which is said to offer the same possible benefits to the skin and digestive system as other versions of the plant.
POTENTIAL HEALTH BENEFITS OF ALOE VERA?
There’s not enough evidence to prove that aloe vera can treat all the health issues it’s said to help with. But the plant has been linked to many potential benefits, including:
- Digestive help Aloe latex contains aloin, which is an anthraquinone that gives aloe vera its laxative properties and may help treat constipation
- Treating skin conditions, such as psoriasis and acne Aloe creams have a calming effect on the skin and have been shown to help reduce itchiness and inflammation
- Sunburn relief Some people swear by aloe to calm a sunburn. You might have experienced the gel’s cooling effect yourself, but the research backing up the claim that it can speed skin recovery is lacking. One small study, for instance, found aloe vera didn’t have any effect on treating a sunburn when compared with a placebo
- Wound healing Aloe gel may help expedite the healing process of burns or cuts on the skin
- Heartburn relief Researchers found aloe vera helped lessen several symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), including heartburn, belching, and vomiting
- Lower blood sugar A study found drinking two tablespoons of aloe vera juice every day for two weeks helped lower the blood sugar levels among people with type 2 diabetes
- Triglyceride levels of the study participants also improved — a big deal for those with diabetes, because they’re at an increased risk of developing heart disease