What is Aloe Vera and How Can You Use It?
Known for its thick and fleshy leaves, aloe vera plant is a popular species that's been a cornerstone in herbal medicine for millennia. But what exactly is it, how can you use it, and what benefits does it provide? Stick around because we are breaking it down below.
What is Aloe Vera?
Aloe vera is a succulent plant species from the Arabian Peninsula but is known to grow in many regions of our planet.
Its defining characteristic is the thick, fleshy leaves containing gel, which is praised for its many health benefits.
Throughout history, this plant has also been known as "the plant of immortality," by the ancient Egyptians, and "the silent healer" by the ancient Greeks.
Is Aloe Vera a Cactus?
Technically it's classified as a 'cactus-like' plant, which can grow in hot and dry climates worldwide. Because of that, aloe vera is relatively easy to look after at home. It mainly needs sunlight (preferably six or more hours daily) and survives fine with almost no fertilizer or water.
Can You Eat Aloe Vera?
Though it may come as a surprise, parts of this plant are safe to eat when prepared right. There are three main sections to the leaf you must understand.
- The outermost part of the leaves, also known as the rind, is thick, smooth, and tough, with a vibrant green color and occasional pale spots or stripes. It features a slightly waxy surface for water retention.
- The outer leaf pulp, located just beneath the green rind, contains a yellowish latex rich in aloin, a potent laxative compound.
- The inner leaf gel is a clear and moist substance, is safe for consumption, and boasts numerous health benefits. It's known for its soothing, hydrating, and healing properties, widely used in skincare and health products.
In summary, the inner leaf gel of aloe vera, rich in nutrients and health benefits, is safe for consumption. The outer leaf pulp or latex and the skin should be avoided due to its potent laxative properties.
Aloe Vera Benefits1. It Can Relieve Acid Reflux
Research suggests that aloe plant can relieve acid reflux, also known as heartburn.
For example, in one recent review, researchers noted that consumption can significantly improve all gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) symptoms, except for vomiting, within two weeks.
2. It Can Reduce Dental Plaque
A 2014 paper found that using aloe vera as mouthwash can be an effective alternative to chemical formulas (typically containing chlorhexidine) for reducing plaque.
It can also reduce gum swelling and bleeding.
3. Skin Care
Aloe vera's skin benefits are famous and are one of the primary reasons people purchase aloe vera gel or products containing an extract from the plant.
Specifically, aloe vera gel contains auxins, gibberellins, and salicylic acid, which are anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and may aid in providing anti-aging benefits.
It can also moisturize the skin making it a perfect remedy for skin irritation and minor degree burns.
4. Potential Blood Sugar Control
Aloe vera is promoted for its potential anti-diabetic properties. In one paper, subjects with diabetes took one tablespoon of aloe vera juice twice daily and experienced a marked reduction in blood sugar levels within two weeks.
Other research also finds aloe vera to help reduce blood sugar levels and even improve insulin sensitivity.
This is beneficial as it means the body can more effectively control blood sugar levels with less insulin, thereby reducing the burden on the pancreas (the organ that produces this hormone).
Aloe vera is a multifaceted plant celebrated for its extensive benefits, from skincare to digestive health, and a testament to nature's capacity to nourish and heal. Rich in essential nutrients, it has been used throughout history in various cultures for its healing properties. For those looking to easily incorporate this plant into their daily lives, check out our frozen Aloe Vera bite-sized pieces. They are perfect for adding a refreshing twist to any beverages and smoothies.