For many centuries, aloe vera has been celebrated for its healing abilities. Back in the ancient times, this plant was also dubbed as the plant of immortality that it was even given as funeral gifts to Egyptian pharaohs.
Over times, ethnicities from different geographical areas also started to use aloe vera, including Chinese, Indians, North Americans, and Mexicans.
Today, an entire industry relies on aloe. Its juices are added to cosmetics and different personal care products like suntan lotion, shaving cream, soap, and moisturizers. It also comes in supplement form that is believed to provide similar potential benefits to the digestive system and skin like other forms of the plant.
Aloe Vera and Its Potential Benefits for Your Health
While the evidence is insufficient to prove aloe vera’s ability to treat all health problems it is believed to help with, the plant is associated to several possible benefits, including the following:
- Treatment of skin conditions like acne and psoriasis
Aloe creams produce a calming effect on skin and are proven to help reduce inflammation and itchiness.
- Digestive aid
Aloe latex has aloin, the anthraquinone responsible for the laxative properties of the plant and can help in treating constipation.
- Heartburn relief
Researchers discovered aloe vera to help reduce several symptoms of GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease including vomiting, belching, and heartburn.
- Sunburn relief
There are people who swear by how aloe calms sunburn although the research to back up the claim is still lacking.
- Wound healing
The aloe gel can help speed up the process of healing of cuts or burns on the skin.
- Lowers blood sugar
One study discovered that drinking two tablespoons of juice of aloe vera daily for 2 weeks can help lower levels of blood sugar among people who have type 2 diabetes.
Health Risks and Side Effects
Aloe gel or the plant’s part commonly found in moisturizers and creams is generally safe to use. This can also help heal the skin once applied topically.
However, aloe latex can be quite dangerous. Oral consumption of latex can result in diarrhoea and cramps and this can reduce the effectiveness of the rest of the oral medications you are taking.
Aloe latex may also result in more serious issues as well. Taking just one gram orally on a daily basis for several days can cause kidney damage and worse, it can even become fatal. This also lowers blood glucose levels. Thus, people suffering from type 2 diabetes should be extra careful and discuss with their doctor before they add aloe latex to their care routine.
One more possible downside of aloe latex is that it can have some compounds that can cause cancer. One study discovered that whole leaf aloe vera extract caused the formation of cancerous tumours in large intestines of rats. However, there is no need to be alarmed since no humans were involved in this study and experts say that nothing suggests researchers are going to find similar results in humans.