References to aloe vera’s uses have been found in early Chinese, Greek, Indian, Egyptian and Christian literature. The walls of the ancient Egyptian pyramids include drawings of aloe vera plants. Alexander the Great conquered the island Socotra in the fourth century B.C. because the precious plant grew there.
Modern research backs up what native people have known for over 6,000 years: aloe vera has remarkable health benefits due to its antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, demulcent, emollient, laxative and rejuvenative properties. One study found that burn victims treated with aloe vera healed three days faster than those treated with prescription ointments. Another study found that cuts healed nine days faster when aloe vera was applied.
But, aloe vera has benefits that go beyond healing cuts and burns. Read on to learn some of the more unusual uses for aloe vera.
Aloe vera gel makes a great cleaner for your dog’s ears. It cleans, deodorizes and acidifies your pup’s ears so they stay healthier. Use an aloe product specifically designed for cleaning ears or place a small amount of pure aloe vera gel in your pet’s ears. Allow your dog to shake head and dab any excess away with a cotton ball. Use once a week and after swimming.
Use aloe gel to treat your pet’s flaking, itching skin or to soothe poison ivy and poison oak rashes. Aloe vera juice has been used internally to treat arthritis in older dogs.
Cleopatra may have used aloe vera as part of her beauty routine and now researchers know why. Dr. Ivan E. Danhoff, president of North Texas Research Laboratories, found that aloe vera gel increases fibroblast production in the skin six to nine times faster. Fibroblast cells in the top layers of the skin produce collagen, which functions to keep the skin firm and smooth. As we age, fibroblast cells produce less collagen so our skin wrinkles more deeply. Aloe vera gel accelerates collagen production so skin looks firmer, tighter and younger — all without surgery or toxic injections.
Aloe vera gel is also an excellent topical treatment for acne. It soothes irritated skin, relieving the redness and swelling sometimes associated with acne. Since aloe vera is 99 percent water, it moisturizes acne-prone skin without oils that aggravate the condition.
Use aloe to treat dandruff, reduce eye puffiness and even as a shaving gel. Natural, inexpensive and highly effective, it treats a host of beauty problems without harmful chemicals. As a toothpaste, aloe vera gel strengthens gums and teeth, while leaving a clean taste in the mouth. Aloe vera gel also makes a pH balanced, natural personal lubricant.
Researchers have found that drinking aloe vera juice lowers blood sugar, a positive effect for those with type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome. But lowering blood sugar has other benefits. When blood sugar levels remain high, the body becomes resistant to insulin, a hormone that cleanses the blood of glucose. The hormones that regulate appetite suppression stop working and you crave sugar and carbs. Although research on aloe vera gel and weight loss is limited, scientists believe that by keeping blood sugar low, you’ll lose weight.
Hunters in Africa routinely rub their bodies with aloe to reduce sweating and mask their natural odor from animals, suggesting that aloe vera might be an effective deodorant and antiperspirant in our culture, too.
Parents sometimes brush a child’s fingernails with the juice, which has a very bitter taste to discourage nail biting.
Do an Internet search and you’ll find lots of outlandish claims for aloe vera gel’s benefits. Although aloe vera gel has been shown to have healing properties, it’s best to be skeptical about exaggerated claims. One study found that rats that were given aloe vera juice grew tumors, demonstrating the need for more study on the safety of aloe vera juice.
Additionally, drinking aloe vera juice can cause moderate cramping and diarrhea. It is considered unsafe for pregnant and nursing women and young children.
Buy pure, organic aloe vera gel without added dyes or fragrances. Read labels before buying products that contain aloe. Some products contain harmful additives and chemicals that cancel out aloe’s benefits.
For Further Aloe Vera Reading:
The Truth About Aloe Vera Juice from Shape magazine.
Aloe – University of Maryland Medical Center