Aloe Vera: Skin and Digestive Soother

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Aloe isn't just for sunburns! Learn these unexpected benefits of Aloe Vera.

Cold winter winds can cause dry skin. Hot summer sun can cause sunburn. Which powerful plant can help with both? Aloe Vera. You can purchase this plant inexpensively. It requires minimal watering because it has adapted for desert conditions. It requires very little maintenance because you can grow it in a small pot on a windowsill.

The Aloe Vera plant has thick, spongy green leaves which contain three layers: an inner clear gel that contains 99% water and amino acids, a middle layer of latex which contains anthraquinone glycosides, and a thick outer green layer of rind. 

To apply it to dry or burned skin, you slice off a piece of the thick, spongy green leaves. Then you squeeze out the contents onto the affected skin. Spread this gel with your fingers to cover the area needed. Alternatively, you can also purchase this gel in packaged form at a local health food store. This gel applied topically helps heal cuts as well.

The juice of an Aloe Vera plant has demulcent properties, which means drinking the juice will soothe and calm your gut if it is irritated. You can buy Aloe Vera juice at the store. However, It is not advisable for you to attempt to extract Aloe Vera juice from a live plant because you may end up consuming anthraquinone glycosides—which in small amounts can speed up your bowels and in larger amounts can be toxic.

The Aloe Vera plant contains a variety of nutritive vitamins, enzymes, minerals, sugars, fatty acids, and amino acids. Other health benefits of Aloe Vera include:

  • Increases collagen synthesis
  • Sun protectant
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-viral
  • Antiseptic

So if you want to heal and strengthen your skin naturally, or if you would like a nutritive remedy to soothe your gut, consider Aloe! 

Since health needs vary from one individual to another, consult with a licensed naturopathic doctor to receive a thorough health assessment so you can determine if--and how much--Aloe is best for you.

Stefan Kasian, ND, PhD, first-year resident and adjunct faculty at Bastyr University California.

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