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The gel within the skin of the aloe vera plant contains many beneficial vitamins and nutrients, including vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, C, E, and folic acid, iron, sodium, copper, zinc, calcium, potassium, chromium, magnesium, and manganese. This healing plant is known for its benefits to both the inside and outside of the human body.

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Treats Sunburn

Everyone should apply a broad spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 before spending time in the sun, but most of us forget once in a while. The resulting sunburn can be painful, but aloe vera gel can ease the pain and promote healing. The plant is also useful for treating blisters, other burns, and sites of allergic reactions. Aloe has been shown to protect against the sun's radiation damage. Some studies suggest that compounds in the plant can speed healing and encourage cell regeneration.

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Boosts the Immune System

Along with vitamins and minerals, aloe vera is rich in monosaccharides and polysaccharides. Together, these compounds strengthen white blood cells, making the body more capable of fending off bacteria, viruses, and other diseases. Aloe vera is also full of antioxidants that help block free radicals that adversely affect health and contribute to aging. Drinking aloe vera juice regularly could help to naturally enhance the immune system.

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Fights Gum Disease

Gums that bleed during or following brushing and flossing could be developing gum disease. Aloe vera gel has natural antimicrobial and antibacterial properties that can help heal mouth ulcers and bleeding gums and promote cell growth. Massaging the gel into the gums is one effective option, and some people brush their teeth with tooth powders or pastes containing the plant.

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Improves Digestion

Aloe vera contains active enzymes that aid in digestion. Alkaline phosphatase, catalase, lipase, and peroxidase are just a few; they help break down fats and sugars while promoting healthy nutrient absorption. People with acid reflux, indigestion, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can benefit from drinking aloe vera juice.

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Stops Constipation

The same qualities that make aloe vera good for the digestive system enable it to act as a natural laxative that can treat constipation. Fiber and compounds such as adaptogen promote regular bowel movements. Some research suggests drinking about two ounces of aloe vera juice each day when feeling constipated can alleviate symptoms, though the plant usually takes many hours to take effect.

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Reduces Inflammation

People with arthritis or general joint inflammation can benefit from the anthraquinones, including aloetic acid and cinnamic acid, in aloe vera. Rubbing the gel directly on the painful areas can alleviate discomfort, and the anti-inflammatory benefits of aloe vera juice can take effect internally, helping treat ulcers or conditions such as ulcerative colitis.

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Promotes Healthy Skin

Besides treating sunburns, aloe vera enhances skin health in general. Applying the gel to the face twice a day can help reduce acne pimples and scars. Facial cleansers and cosmetics with aloe vera are also helpful in treating redness and scars more naturally than the chemicals in some products. In addition to helping these problem areas, aloe vera can also hydrate and encourage cell growth from glowing, supple skin.

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Delivers Shiny, Smooth Hair

The moisturizing properties of aloe vera can help prevent hair breakage and promote growth. In addition to possible protection from radiation damage, aloe gel can also assist with scalp ailments such as dandruff, itchiness, and pH imbalance. A natural, at-home hair mask is easy to make by extracting the gel from two aloe vera leaves and combining it with the juice from half a lemon. Applying the mixture as a conditioner and leaving it in for around fifteen minutes can leave hair healthy and shiny.

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Stabilizes Blood Sugar Level

Aloe vera juice can help maintain blood sugar levels and reduce triglycerides in people with type two diabetes. Some studies suggest that regular consumption of the beverage can even decrease blood sugar. One study shows that an extract of aloe vera can help ease neuropathic pain common in people with diabetes.

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Lowers High Cholesterol

Research shows aloe vera may be able to lower cholesterol. The British Medical Journal published a study that indicated beta-sitosterol in the plant could reduce cholesterol levels. Aloe vera has a high concentration of this substance. Another study in Vitaminology and the Journal of Nutritional Science showed that consuming aloe vera supplements may assist in lowering liver production of cholesterol.

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Detoxifies the Body

Aloe vera gel could help absorb toxins. Ayurveda, the medical system of India, recommends extracting liquid from the leaves to rid the body of ama or toxic waste that builds up in the stomach and intestinal walls and plays a role in disease development.

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Keeps Infections Away

In addition to aiding the immune system, aloe vera contains compounds such as sulfur, lupeol, phenol, and urea nitrogen that have various antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties that can help fend off microorganisms that spread disease.

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Heartburn

People have long used aloe vera juice for heartburn, and research shows it may be an effective treatment. One study shows it works just as well as prescriptions without any side effects. The theory is that aloe limits acid production and acts as an anti-inflammatory agent to ease acid reflux symptoms. It's worth noting that aloe can cause diarrhea and isn't safe for pregnant women.

woman with heartburn Peter Dazeley / Getty Images
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Breast Cancer

Some studies show aloe vera gel may help with skin irritation caused by radiation therapy. Though studies conflict, some women with breast cancer find aloe soothes radiation-induced dermatitis. Some, but not all, studies show it is effective for constipation, a common side effect of certain cancer treatments and medications.

breast cancer ribbon Igor Alecsander / Getty Images
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Canker Sores

Applying aloe vera gel directly to a canker sore may help soothe irritation and relieve pain. While there are limited scientific studies on the benefits of aloe for canker sores, it's safe to use it, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. The best method is to apply the gel once or twice daily.

canker sores itakayuki / Getty Images
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Freshen Produce

Several studies show aloe vera may keep produce fresh and prevent the growth of harmful bacteria on veggies. The best way to use aloe for produce is with a light coating on the outer skin of the fruit or vegetable. This method may eliminate the need to use products containing chemicals to extend shelf life.

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Still Some Potential Risks

Always talk to your doctor before using aloe vera extensively, as researchers warn against long term use. Some people notice skin irritation after applying it to the skin, and taking oral aloe vera could cause diarrhea and cramping. Doctors warn against using the gel for deep cuts or severe burns, and suggest people allergic to onions or tulips avoid it. High doses may be dangerous or for people taking certain supplements. The recommended dose varies, with creams for minor burns containing 0.5%, up to 70% for more severe skin conditions like psoriasis. There is no set dose for oral supplements, but it's a good idea to take the least amount possible to avoid complications.

woman speaking to her pharmacist SDI Productions / Getty Images

Disclaimer

This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.