Aloe Vera: Uses, Benefits & Side Effects

Botanical name

Aloe barbadensis miller

The Aloe vera is known to everyone, and its name is derived from the combination of Arabic and Latin word that is “Alloeh” means a shiny bitter substance, whereas “vera” means true. The Aloe vera is also known as the plant of immortality by Egyptians. The Aloe vera is gel prepared from its leaves for thousands of years, and people use it to soften skin and wound healing. Aloe vera is a small shrub, xerophytic, perennial, and green color plant.

The most important part of the Aloe vera plant is triangular, fleshy, with serrated margins. At its fully grown stages, it shows pinkish-yellow colored flowers and fruits containing numerous seeds. Aloe vera’s leaf comprises three layers; the inner layer contains 99% water containing vitamins, lipids, sterols, amino acids, and glucomannans. The middle layer of Aloe vera contains latex, which is composed of glycosides and anthraquinones. The rind is the outer layer of Aloe vera, which is very thick and protects the Aloe vera leaves. 

Sources of Aloe vera

Aloe vera grows very well in less humid or dry regions like America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. In India, the Aloe vera is grown as a cash crop in some states like Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh.

Other Names for Aloe vera

  • In Hindi, it is known as Ghritkumari.
  • In Marathi, it is known as Korphad.
  • In Telugu, it is known as Kalabanda.
  • In Tamil, it is known as Katralai.
  • In Malayalam, it is known as Kumari.
  • In Punjab, it is known as Ghae ghwwar. 

Important chemical constituents of Aloe vera

  • Aloe vera is composed of different sugars. It has monosaccharides such as glucose and fructose. It is also composed of some polysaccharides like polymannose and glucomannans. The mucilaginous structure or jelly-like nature of the Aloe vera leaf core is due to the mucopolysaccharides. There are some glycol-conjugates or glycoprotein present in Aloe vera, which has antiallergic properties. 
  • Aloe vera contains water-soluble vitamins like vitamin C, vitamin B12, folic acid, and choline. There is a presence of fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A and vitamin E in Aloe vera.
  • Aloe vera is a storage tank of different enzymes like alkaline phosphatase, bradykinesia, aliiase, catalase, amylase, carboxypeptidase, cellulase, peroxidase, and lipase. Most enzymes help break down fats and complex carbohydrates, whereas the Bradykinase enzyme is specifically used in topical formulations, which reduces inflammation.
  • Aloe vera contains 12 types of anthraquinones, which are known to possess laxative properties.
  • Aloe vera extract contains auxins and gibberellins hormones, which possess anti-inflammatory and wound healing properties.
  • Cholesterol, β-sitosterol, lupeol, and campesterol are some fatty acids present in Aloe vera, and they possess analgesic and antiseptic properties.
  • Aloe vera juice is rich in minerals like calcium, zinc, potassium, sodium, magnesium, manganese, selenium, chromium, and copper. 

Medicinal uses of Aloe vera

  • Aloe vera gives a by-product, which is a bitter exudate, and it is used as a natural drug due to its cathartic effect, which possesses laxative properties. It is mostly used as a bittering agent in alcoholic beverages.
  • The dried latex of Aloe vera contains a high amount of barbaloin, which has strong laxative properties.
  • Aloe vera gel is used to manufacture topical formulations that can be applied on burns, wounds, dry skin, psoriasis, rashes, cold sores, and frostbite.
  • Aloe vera gel is used as a natural “band-aide,” which helps to keep out infection-causing bacteria. Aloe vera gel contains lots of moisture, and this helps in protecting the wound. 
  • There are scientific studies on Aloe vera, which showed anti-inflammatory, analgesic, immune-modulating, wound healing, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and antitumor.
  • The intake of Aloe vera juice can improve liver function. In some cases, it can act as an antidote for treating the individual with excessive alcohol consumption. This helps in preventing further liver damage. 
  • Aloe vera juice can help bowel management, digestion, intestine transit, eliminate constipation, and cures ulcers.
  • Aloe vera juice contains strong anti-inflammatory components that have fewer side effects and effectively inhibiting inflammation.
  • The mobility of muscles and joints is enhanced with regular intake of Aloe vera juice. 
  • The research studies show that Aloe vera can stimulate the pancreas to release insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. 
  • Aloe vera juice can reduce bad cholesterol in the body and thereby help treat heart diseases.
  • Aloe vera juice contains antiviral and antioxidant components that can help the body keeping away from viral infections and tumor disorders.

Some unique benefits of Aloe vera 

  • Aloe vera gels have extreme skin permeability, and thus it can penetrate up to the 7th deepest layer of skin.
  • Aloe vera helps in stimulating the growth of new healthy tissue.
  • Aloe vera contains antiseptic agents that help in killing viruses, fungi, and bacteria. 
  • Aloe vera has a strong cleansing ability, and thus it helps in body detoxification for normalization of metabolism.

Aloe vera and skin

In Dermatology, Aloe vera is used as excellent medicine as it is a cleaner, humidifier, astringent, and moisturizer. Aloe vera can help soften the skin, cures acne, psoriasis, mycosis, eczema, fever blisters, UV protection, and protective layer to avoid pollution. It can protect skin from sunburn, helps in the removal of dead skin and its repair.

Aloe vera and hair

Traditionally, Aloe vera gel extracted from the leaf is applied to the hair, and it is the most effective form. Due to its strong skin permeability, the rubbing of aloe vera onto the scalp and hair helps to penetrate hair follicles, which can help improve dry hair damage. Aloe vera has anti-inflammatory properties, which helps in resolving dandruff related issues. Aloe vera contains a good amount of fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins, which promote the healthy growth of cells and hair. Aloe vera products designed for hair applications can help in keeping away the hair fall.

Recommended Dosage of Aloe vera

The ayurvedic dosage of Aloe vera varies according to its variants. Different forms of Aloe vera products.

ProductPreparationDosage/ Day
JuiceTake 2-3 teaspoons of Aloe vera and mix it with the same amount of water with an empty stomach.
CapsuleTake 1 Aloe vera capsule after a meal.2 times
PulpTake ½ teaspoon of Aloe vera pulp with fruit juice during breakfast.

Side effects and Precautions While Using Aloe vera

  • For sensitive individuals, topical application can cause burning, redness, and stinging sensation. It is recommended to apply it to a small area of the body to test its allergenicity.
  • The laxative effect of Aloe vera products may lead to lowing potassium levels of the body. The excess oral intake of products can also lead to diarrhea, cramps, red urine, hepatitis, and constipation.
  • Aloe vera is not recommended for pregnant women as it may stimulate uterine contractions.
  • The combined use of furosemide and Aloe vera may increase potassium depletion risk.
  • The excess intake of Aloe vera product can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar levels. 

FAQs

Is it okay to apply the Aloe vera gel at night?

Yes, you can apply the Aloe vera gel at night. Aloe vera gel can maintain the skin hydrated and supple. It is also important to conduct a skin test to avoid any allergic reactions.

What is the best time to take Aloe vera?

There are different forms of Aloe vera products available in the local market, such as capsule, juice, and gel. Aloe vera juice is taken with an empty stomach during the early morning. Aloe vera capsule is taken after a meal. Aloe vera gel is applied externally at any time.

Can I take Aloe vera gel by mouth?

Yes, Aloe vera gel can be taken by mouth. It is used for treating mouth ulcers.

Aloe vera contains numerous health benefiting components, and therefore it is used for both external and internal application. It is an excellent drug for treating skin and hair. Aloe vera is the best home remedy due to its healing and cooling effect. Aloe vera is best known for its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-tumor activity, which further boosts the immune system of the body.

Disclaimer: The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.

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