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Wednesday, July 5, 2023

10 Surprising Health Benefits of Aloe Vera

 



There are several ways to harness the benefits of aloe vera – eating it, drinking it, or smearing it on your skin – so if you only ever use this spiky succulent to fend off first degree burns, you’re missing a trick (and clearly need sun protection...). From shrinking wrinkles to fighting plaque, here’s 10 benefits of aloe vera that don’t depend on the mercury rising.


1) It’s Anti-Ageing:


The sterols in aloe vera stimulate the production of face-plumping collagen and hyaluronic acid – binding moisture into the skin and ironing out fine lines and wrinkles. In a small Korean study, women who took a low dose of aloe vera gel for 56 days saw a ‘significant’ improvement in facial wrinkles and elasticity. Plus, the plant repairs damage from ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which is responsible for up to 80 per cent of the visible signs of ageing. Take that, Father Time.


2) It fights Acne


To beat breakouts, the one-two punch of topical retinoids and aloe vera gel has ‘superior efficacy’ to either treatment used alone, a study published in the Journal of Dermatological Treatment found. Aloe vera contains salicylic acid, which has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects: eliminating acne-causing bacteria and calming stressed-out skin to reduce redness and irritation.


3) It Reduces Plaque


Swilling aloe vera mouthwash won’t just freshen your breath – it reduces plaque as effectively as chlorhexidine, a prescription mouthwash for gum disease, researchers from India found. Alternatively, try an aloe vera gel-based toothpaste. When the Academy of General Dentistry pitted the tooth gel’s germ-fighting ability against two commercial toothpastes, the former was as effective – sometimes more so – at controlling cavity-causing organisms.


4) It’s Hydrating


Not only is around 95 per cent of the plant made up of water, but aloe vera contains electrolytes such as magnesium and potassium, “which contribute to hydration, especially after exercise,” says registered nutritionist Clarissa Lenherr. 

“However, many of the benefits of aloe vera are found in the pulp, so the amounts found in the juice are quite minimal.”

 

To reap maximum benefits, stick to skincare – slick the gel over your skin after your shower to seal moisture in.


5) It’s Moisturising


Work aloe vera into your daily skincare regimen and you’ll be rewarded with a fresher face. The nutrient-rich gel sticks epidermal cells together, which softens skin, researchers wrote in the Indian Journal of Dermatology. “The amino acids also soften hardened skin cells and zinc acts as a astringent to tighten pores,” they added. It’ll also boost the efficacy of your pricier skincare products: aloe vera contains lignin, which helps your skin soak up other ingredients.


6) It Boosts Digestion


Shackled to the porcelain throne and can’t get things moving? Aloe vera is a confirmed constipation-reliever. “The outer portion of the plant contains compounds called anthraquinones, which are responsible for the plant’s laxative effect,” says Lenherr. Be warned: a little goes a long way. “Over-consumption of aloe vera juice can lead to diarrhoea and stomach cramping,” she adds.



7) It Soothes Razor Burn


Aloe vera is known for soothing and healing burns, and that includes razor burn. A near-inevitable side effect of de-fluffing your face, it occurs when the blade damages your skin and hair follicles, causing them to become inflamed. Banish the rash and restore skin equilibrium by applying a thin layer of the gel post-shave – it’ll reduce redness, relieve pain, and help to heal razor bumps.


8) It Lowers Blood Sugar


Taking two tablespoons of aloe vera juice has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. Compounds in the plant increase insulin sensitivity, which allows the cells of the body to use blood sugar more effectively. The result? Fewer cravings, reduced hunger, and easier fat loss. In a study from Seoul National University Hospital, pre-diabetic patients lost almost a kilo of fat and gained half a kilo of lean body mass in eight weeks after popping an aloe vera gel supp.


9) It May Boost Your Metabolism


Aloe vera activates an enzyme called AMP-activated muscle protein kinase (AMPK), which regulates your metabolism, animal research has shown. In one study, porky rats fed dried aloe vera gel saw a reduction in body fat because the supplement increased the number of calories they burned. As for whether humans could reap the same benefits? More research is needed.


10) It Treats Mouth Sores


Next time you feel a cold sore brewing, know that aloe vera is a bona-fide remedy. Research has shown that the gel wages war on viruses, including herpes simplex – the most common cause of cold sores. Plagued by a mouth ulcer? You can slather it over that, too. In one study, aloe vera gel not only super-charged the healing process, but also reduced the pain associated with it.



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