Aloe vera has been used for medical purposes for 6000 years, beginning in early Egypt. It has been touted to help a huge number of conditions, from constipation to hair loss to cancer. It is used both as a gel for the skin and taken internally.
The serious research on aloe vera has produced conflicting results. Unfortunately there is little proof that using this product will be produce the results promised. For example, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (USA) states “There’s not enough evidence to show whether aloe vera is helpful for most of the purposes for which people use it.”
So while there is no proof, there are a number of good research studies showing that aloe vera might be beneficial for various problems. Here is a list of the conditions where there is good evidence that aloe vera might help.
Aloe vera for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Taking 1 to 3 ounces of aloe vera at mealtime may help relieve the severity of GERD and the symptoms of acid reflux.
Use as toothpaste or mouthwash
Research has shown that aloe vera toothpaste, which contains Vitamin C and anti-inflammatory substances, may block the production of plaque and fight cavities, even better than standard toothpaste. It can be a healthier and safer alternative to chemical mouthwashes, particularly those that contain alcohol.
Lower blood sugar
Taking a couple tablespoons of aloe vera juice daily may decrease blood sugar levels. This may be good thing, but for diabetics who already take medication, aloe vera mixed with diabetic medications might produce dangerous drops in blood sugar.
Multiple studies have shown it to be a natural laxative. Only a small amount taken orally may be effective. Some people may have the side effect of cramps or diarrhea, so aloe vera shouldn’t be used by people with serious intestinal issues such as Crohn’s disease or colitis.
This is where aloe vera has had the widest use, and has been shown to accelerate healing in burns and skin abrasions, help protect skin from the effects of UV radiation (and slow skin aging), improve the healing of foot ulcers in diabetics, and as a wonderful skin moisturizer. It also seems to help in many people with psoriasis, seborrhea, and dandruff.
Is it safe?
For use on the skin, there seems to be no side effects, but use internally is slightly controversial if it is totally safe. However, the reports of serious side effects have been rare. If you take aloe for a medical condition—and particularly if you are taking medications—check with your doctor to see if aloe is ok for you. Pregnant women should avoid it internally as it could cause uterine contractions.
But for most people, particularly for use on the skin, aloe vera may give wonderful results and is worth a try, particularly if you are trying to avoid chemicals and live a more natural life.
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