Aloe Vera: The Wonder Plant

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It’s a well-known plant with many medicinal uses, but did you know there were more ways to use the gel or juice from an aloe vera plant besides applying it to sunburn? Of course, aloe vera is an esthetically pleasing plant that makes for beautiful décor both inside and outside the home, but after you read all the possible therapeutic uses for the plant, you might find yourself picking up a few more when you head to the garden center.

Along with other herbs and plants, aloe vera has long been used in ancient cultures, dating back to the ancient Egyptian period. Though it is native to regions in Southern Europe and Northern Africa, you’ll find aloe vera growing in just about every tropical climate around the world. So, just how can you use aloe vera? Let’s take a look at some of the most popular treatments.

For most, aloe vera comes in handy to treat that painful sunburn you inevitably get during summer months. Sunburn, and burns in general, are one of the most common uses for gel obtained within the aloe vera leaves. Studies show that when the gel is applied topically to burns and sores, the healing time is substantially reduced to about nine days! The cooling sensation is very therapeutic when dealing with sunburn, so, if you’ve neglected to apply a sufficient layer of sunscreen, be sure to have the plant on hand after long days out in the sun.

Reduces Signs of Aging
Plants and extracts have long been used in beauty and skincare treatments, and aloe vera is no exception! If you’re wanting to use natural resources to help manage common skin concerns or minimize signs of aging, try using aloe vera regularly in your skincare routine. Limited studies have shown that when applied topically, collagen production and elasticity improved over the period of 90 days. A slowdown of collagen or elastin in the skin is what causes fine lines and wrinkles, meaning the benefits of applying aloe vera might prove to be helpful, depending on your skin. Other skin conditions have seen improvement with regular application of the aloe vera gel, in particular, psoriasis and skin redness. As with any natural remedy, use aloe vera gel sparingly, as it might cause dehydration in the skin if overused.

Healthy Teeth and Gums
Oral health is very important, and you’d be surprised how much it affects other parts of your body! Dental plaque and buildup are harmful for teeth and gums; that’s why it’s vital to brush, floss and even gargle with a mouthwash daily. If your teeth are sensitive to the ingredients in conventional mouthwash, go natural with 100 percent aloe vera juice, which you can find in natural health food stores. In studies, results show that using aloe vera juice is just as effective as active ingredients in mouthwash for decreasing the amount of plaque buildup along teeth and gums.

Aloe vera juice is also great for bad breath and other oral hygiene concerns. Additional studies show the juice is effective in killing bacteria responsible for a host of issues, including candida and plaque-causing bacteria.

Heartburn Help
Do heartburn and indigestion keep you up at night? An ounce or two of aloe vera gel before meals might help reduce reflux associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. Before consuming aloe vera or any natural herb or remedy, be sure to speak with your doctor to ensure it is safe for your use and it does not interact with any over-the-counter or prescribed medications.

Aloe vera gel applied topically to acne or breakouts has been shown to reduce further breakouts in adults and children. For best results, apply the gel to any inflamed area two times a day, morning and night, in addition to prescribed acne medication or over-the-counter therapies. Aloe vera is beneficial in cleansing and treating the area and may even help prevent scarring commonly associated with acne breakouts.

While these are some of the most common uses, there are still plenty of other ways in which people integrate aloe vera into daily routines. Some say consuming the plant helps some conditions, but studies have been inconclusive on the ideal serving or type for best results. For the most part, aloe vera is used topically, whether it’s to relieve itching or burning associated with sunburn or other skin rashes.

Before using aloe vera in place of conventional medicines or therapies, talk with your doctor. While studies show promise in aloe vera and continue to test its benefit in other areas of health and wellness, it may not be the ideal solution for all. Be sure to get best advice from a health professional. ■

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