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Aloe Vera: Wonderful Health Benefits, Side Effects And Ways To Use

Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis) is a popular medicinal plant that belongs to the Asphodelaceae (Liliaceae) family. The aloe vera plant is prized for its antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and immunomodulatory properties. Due to its many properties, aloe vera is used in the pharmaceutical, cosmetic and food industries.

Aloe vera possesses 75 active compounds which include vitamins, minerals, enzymes, sugars, lignin, saponins, amino acids and salicylic acids which contribute to many of the health benefits aloe vera provides [1].

Aloe vera leaves have a translucent gel that contains 99% of water and packed with vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Aloe vera gel can be applied topically on the skin and can be consumed in the form of juice.

Nutritional Value Of Aloe Vera Juice

100 g of aloe vera juice contains 96.23 g water, 15 kcal energy and it also contains:

  • 3.75 g carbohydrate
  • 3.75 g sugar
  • 8 mg calcium
  • 0.15 mg iron
  • 8 mg sodium
  • 3.8 mg vitamin C

Health Benefits Of Aloe Vera

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1. Reduces blood sugar levels

Aloe vera can increase insulin sensitivity and help in improving blood sugar levels. A study showed the antidiabetic activity of aloe vera gel on diabetic patients. During the study, 1 tbsp of aloe vera juice was given to diabetic patients twice a day for two weeks and the results were significant improvement in blood sugar and triglyceride levels [2].

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2. Promotes oral health

Aloe vera contains anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that can help lower the severity of dental problems. A study has shown the effectiveness of aloe vera gel in treating plaque-induced gingivitis and periodontal disease [3].

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3. Treats constipation

In traditional Chinese medicine, aloe vera has been used to treat constipation. It is due to the presence of a certain compound called barbaloin which is known to have laxative effects that can help in treating constipation [4].

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4. Strengthens the immune system

Aloe vera contains antiviral and antibacterial properties that help trigger the immune system to fight against the pathogens and protect you from various diseases [1].

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5. Heals wounds

Aloe vera gel has wound healing properties that significantly increase collagen production in the skin. Due to this, the burns and cuts can heal at a faster rate when aloe vera gel is applied topically on the skin. In addition, aloe vera has been shown to accelerate wound healing in periodontal flap surgery [1].

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6. Relieves heartburn

Gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as acid reflux is a condition which occurs when the stomach acid flows back into the oesophagus. Aloe vera has been shown to have the ability to lower the symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) which includes heartburn, vomiting and belching [5].

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7. Cures sunburn

Another benefit of aloe vera is it can help in curing sunburn. Due to the cooling and antioxidant properties in aloe vera, it is used as a remedy for relieving sunburn. Also, aloe vera gel acts as a shield against radiation damage on the skin.

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8. Keeps the skin good

Aloe vera aids in the production of collagen and elastin fibres that make the skin more tight and prevents wrinkles. The amino acids and other nutrients in aloe vera soften hardened skin cells and act as an astringent to tighten skin pores. This improves skin health and decreases the appearance of wrinkles.

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9. Enhances hair health

Aloe vera is an excellent choice for promoting hair growth naturally and stopping hair fall. The anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties can effectively treat hair problems like dandruff, premature hair loss, and scalp inflammation.

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Side Effects Of Consuming Aloe Vera

Over-consumption or long-term usage of aloe vera can cause side effects like diarrhoea, red urine, hepatitis, worsening of constipation and stomach cramps.

Aloe vera, when used topically, may cause redness, burning or stinging sensation in the area, especially for people with sensitive skin.

Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers should avoid consuming aloe vera because it will stimulate uterine contractions in pregnant women and may cause gastrointestinal problems in nursing infants [1].

Uses Of Aloe Vera

  • Apply aloe vera gel on wounds, cuts and sunburns.
  • Use aloe vera mouthwash to reduce plaque.
  • Add the aloe vera gel in juice and smoothies
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