Known to the Egyptians as the “plant of immortality” and Native Americans as the “wand of heaven,” aloe vera has long been lauded for its boundless healing properties. Nowadays, we might refer to it as, “the essential smoothie booster” or “the OG superfood.” But whatever you want to call it, there’s no doubt that this plant has far more to offer than soothing the unfortunate sunburn you’re probably sporting from July 4th weekend.
Just to give you a peak at the tip of the iceberg, aloe vera contains minerals including calcium, magnesium, zinc, chromium, selenium, sodium, iron, potassium, copper, and manganese; enzymes including digestion-aiding amylase and lipase and anti-inflammatory bradykinase; vitamins including B12—an essential for the production of red blood cells; and 20 of the 22 essential amino acids required by your body.
So yeah, I guess you could say aloe is kind of good for us. But what do all these minerals, enzymes, vitamins, and amino acids actually do for our bodies? Here’s a short breakdown of the benefits:
- Packed with Polyphenols: Polyphenols found in aloe vera contain instrumental anti-inflammatory properties that may help alleviate symptoms of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes.
- Diminishes dental plaque: Aloe has been found to reduce the amount of plaque that clings to your teeth. One study found aloe just as effective in reducing plaque stores as chlorhexidine—the most prevalent ingredient in mouthwash.
- Expediates the healing of sunburns: You’ve probably been smearing aloe on sunburned skin since you were a child. It’s known for healing both first-degree and second-degree burns, and four experimental studies found that the plant’s slime may reduce the time it takes to heal your sunburn by nine days.
- Help treat canker sores: If you’ve ever had a canker sore, you know that they can make eating, drinking, and even talking an extremely painful task. But one study found that aloe vera can not only accelerate the disappearance of these sores but also reduce the amount of discomfort associated with them.
- Lowers blood sugar: Early studies have found that aloe vera may increase insulin sensitivity, thus helping with blood sugar management.
- Treats constipation: The latex of an aloe plant, found just under the skin of the leaf, contains a compound called aloin that is well known for its laxative effects.
- May increase collagen levels: One study of 30 women found that the topical use of aloe may increase collagen production and promote skin elasticity.
Now that you know about all the things aloe can do for you, it might be time to invest in a succulent of your own. While the gel you can get at the store works, there’s nothing quite like growing your plant from scratch (mine is about to overtake our kitchen).
Here are six recipes you can use to incorporate this “plant of immortality” into your daily routine—topically and beyond.
Now that it’s summer keeping an ice cold pitcher of aloe vera juice in the fridge sounds like just the ticket for staying cool in the sweltering afternoons. This beauty blogger has come up with nine recipes that you can test out by the pool (but just remember, this drink is not a replacement for sunscreen).
If you’d rather enjoy your aloe in topical form, test your DIY skills with this essential oil. Rub it onto your lips, hair, and skin for an all-around glow.
Kickstart your morning with this ultra-digestive drink. Whether you overindulged the night before, or just want to begin your day on a healthy note, this elixir provides the ultimate reboot for your body.
These ice cubes are an essential for damage control during the summer. Massage them on your skin post-sun burn, or let them melt in your hands for a thick, revitalizing lotion.
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