This article is part of the Money Crashers Natural Medicine Cabinet Series, outlining 20 of the top natural home remedies and treatment.
Some of you probably have an aloe vera plant or two hanging around your house. Aloe vera is one of the most common houseplants in the world.
But the spiky little plant is a powerhouse when it comes to healing. In fact, many experts consider aloe vera to be one of the most beneficial plants on earth.
This new insight makes you look at that pointy plant in a new way, right? I know I sure did once I learned about the many health benefits of aloe vera.
Benefits of Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is a succulent – meaning that it stores water in its leaves, using a thick gel. This gel is what makes aloe vera, and all succulent plants, so valuable to us.
The long stalks of aloe vera act as food and a water reservoir for the plant. If those stalks get torn by an animal or a storm, you would think that this would spell disaster for the plant, right?
Well, no. Succulents are all self-healing. When any part of the plant is torn, the gel, which is full of beneficial phytochemicals, immediately goes to work repairing the skin and essentially knitting it back up. This enables the aloe plant to survive multiple “injuries.” Aloe is also antiviral and antibacterial; if it wasn’t, every tear would introduce damaging bacteria into the nutrient-rich gel and potentially destroy it.
The gel is rich in anti-inflammatory compounds as well as bradykininase, which is a topical painkiller for the human body. There is also plenty of magnesium lactate, which helps stop itching, and other compounds that dilate blood vessels and increase blood flow around the injured areas.
Humans have been using aloe vera for thousands of years to heal themselves. In fact, ancient Egyptians called aloe vera “the plant of immortality.” And this is appropriate since the phytochemicals found in aloe gel can do much more than just soothe a sunburn.
Home Remedies with Aloe Vera
So what can you use aloe vera for?
- Burns. This is the remedy that most people have heard of. Aloe works great for soothing topical burns, whether you burned your hand on the stove or stayed out in the sun too long.
- Cuts and scrapes. Remember how aloe vera knits itself back up? Well, it can help your skin do the same thing. Spread pure aloe gel (it’s best from the plant itself) on a cut, and it will heal faster. This is only for mild cuts and scrapes however; Reader’s Digest reports that researchers found that aloe vera actually prolongs healing time for serious cuts.
- Acne. Spread the gel on acne spots and watch them disappear. One study found that 90% of skin sores were completely healed with aloe in five days, which is twice the success rate of those using medicinal creams.
- Bruises. Put aloe on a bruise. It reduces swelling and discoloration.
- Hives and rashes. If you have hives or a weird rash, put aloe on it.
- Athlete’s foot. Smear aloe and it will soothe burning. It will also help get rid of the fungus.
- Blisters. Enough said.
- Face moisturizer. My husband uses aloe vera every day to moisturize his face (I use olive oil). He swears by it. Putting aloe on your face will also help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and it helps brighten skin.
- Psoriasis. Soothe and eliminate Psoriasis.
- Hair growth. Put aloe on your scalp, massage it in, and let it sit for 30 minutes. Then, rinse out.
Drinking Aloe Vera Juice
Many people don’t know that aloe vera can actually be consumed. Many of the health benefits you get from aloe vera come from ingesting the plant.
Now, you shouldn’t snap off a stalk and start munching. The skin of the aloe plant is an incredibly strong laxative, and this would cause some immediate problems. Aloe vera juice should be bought from a health food store and taken in small quantities, mixed in other foods like fruit smoothies or drinks.
What can drinking aloe vera juice do for you?
- Reduce or eliminate heartburn.
- Strengthen gums and improve teeth health.
- Boil aloe leaves in a pot and breathe in the vapor to alleviate asthma symptoms.
- Reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack. Aloe helps unclump blood cells so that you’re less likely to suffer a blockage (which means your high blood pressure goes down). Your blood flows faster, which means your skin and organs receive more oxygen and nutrients.
- Heal radiation burns from cancer treatment.
- Soothes arthritis pain.
- Extend your lifespan by up to 10%. Sounds impossible, right? Scientists have proven that aloe extends the life of rats. You can read the abstract if you’d like to learn more.
Do any of you use aloe vera on a regular basis? Do you have any uses or tips I haven’t covered here? If so, I’d love to hear them!
(photo credit: Shutterstock)