Learn what are the uses of aloe vera and what research supports the many aloe vera benefits.
For over 6,000 years, aloe vera plants (scientifically named Aloe barbadensis) have been used around the world as a healing agent. From China to Egypt, there is historical evidence of the prolific use of this succulent plant for medicinal purposes. Its long history and widespread use have even made the aloe vera plant’s true origin a mystery, although it is thought to be native to Africa. Inside the broad leaves, this plant holds a slick gel and a juice, which are both used for their healing properties. The medicinal properties of the aloe vera plant are not just regulated to folkloric medicine. There is science to back up the medicinal benefits of aloe vera.
Natural Analgesic and Anti-inflammatory Properties
Aloe vera produces compounds that work together to help relieve pain and inflammation. These effects are similar to the effects of aspirin in that they reduce swelling and prevent pain. In part, these compounds inhibit the production of histamine, preventing swelling. The analgesic properties are believed to come from lupeol and salicylic acid, which are known analgesics.
The benefits of aloe vera include it's ability to inhibit the growth of bacteria, fungi and other microbes has been the focus of several studies, with positive results. Researchers at Griffith University found that the gel and the juice of the plant produced different compounds that worked against specific bacteria and fungi. For example, the leaf gel has been found to inhibit the growth of Aspergillus niger, a fungus resistant to nystatin fungal medications, and several bacteria. The aloe juice inhibited the growth of the bacteria E. coli in laboratory studies.
Amazon Price: $9.99 $6.99 Buy Now
(price as of Aug 10, 2013)
A penetrating carrier substance aids in the absorption of topical ointments through the skin. Aloe vera is one such penetrating carrier. One area of focus for this aloe vera use has been in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Patients suffering from this type of arthritis tend to have low amounts of vitamin C, which helps build cartilage damaged by the disease. It is possible that aloe vera can be adapted as a vitamin C carrier to treat this painful and debilitating disease.
Amazon Price: $10.99 Buy Now
(price as of Aug 10, 2013)
As with any herbal remedy, the use of aloe vera is not without controversy. Lack of scientific research brought questions and skepticism about the healing properties and medicinal benefits of aloe vera. However, many medical professionals saw the potential in aloe and brought the plant into the lab and under a microscope to understand its true medicinal qualities. This research is showing that the aloe plant really does have remarkable and multiple medicinal properties that go beyond just easing the pain of burns and superficial cuts and healing dry skin. It turns out that cultures around the world knew the secrets of aloe vera benefits thousands of years ahead of science.
Arizona State University: Growing Aloe Vera
A Chemical Investigation of Aloe barbadensis Miller
Antimicrobial Activity of Aloe barbadensis Miller Leaf Gel Components
Smart Supplementation: Aloe