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Aloe Vera is an evergreen succulent plant that thrives in tropical and semi-tropical climates. Short and stocky, its leaves resemble that of cacti: pointy, thick, and fleshy. While it may just seem like any other plant, aloe vera’s health benefits actually make it an incredibly sought after succulent. In many skincare and cosmetic products, an aloe vera variant is almost always present. This is because of the plant’s immensely valuable health properties, that you can get simply by extracting its juices. People have been using the plant’s gel for years, in order to reap aloe vera benefits.
Aloe vera is “the plant of immortality.” It blooms through adversity and harsh climates, providing a gel that is soothing and cooling in a myriad of ways. With more than 75 active compounds of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, it is definitely one of the most helpful plants and plant extracts out there.
Small but powerful, aloe vera benefits are truly unmatched! Read on to find out what it is about this plant that makes it so incredibly special.
Where is aloe vera from?: Origins and history
Aloe vera has origins in the southeast parts of the Arabian Peninsula. More specifically, this plant was native to the Al-Hajar mountains in Oman. For the most part, aloe vera was grown and raised as an ornamental plant. It’s popular for being very low maintenance and easy to raise, even from the comforts of your own home. Modern gardeners love aloe vera not only for its ease in maintenance, but also its interesting and distinct appearance.
Since its beginnings in Oman, many have taken to growing aloe vera around the world. To China and other parts of Europe, aloe vera made its first appearance some time in the 17th century. In these parts of the world, the plant was greatly celebrated for its medicinal properties –– of which there are plenty!
What are the health benefits of aloe vera?
The list of aloe vera benefits is plentiful –– near endless. As easy as it is to grow, it’s also incredibly helpful towards keeping your body happy and healthy.
Let’s take a look at some of the many aloe vera benefits this plant has to offer.
Drop that skincare routine!
Unsurprisingly, aloe vera is a popular component of several skincare and cosmetic products across the globe. Lotion, hand creams, and even body washes and soaps make use of the gel this plant extracts. Studies show that aloe vera actually has the potential to prevent signs of aging from showing. Its gel helps retain moisture in the skin, which is perfect for those who have issues like eczema and other dry skin conditions. This is probably due to the fact that the plant is familiar with such harsh and dry conditions already, and has since had to adapt.
If you suffer from acne, many over the counter anti-pimple creams are laced with this plant’s gel as well! Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, aloe vera benefits include healing and soothing rashes and other wounds. It may tingle a little at first, but for the most part applying these to infections are painless, and in no time you’ll have healed.
Keep your mouth clean!
Some regard aloe vera as an all natural and organic substitute to many name brand mouthwashes. In a 2014 study done in Ethiopia, researchers found that against chemical-based mouthwashes, aloe vera was a much safer and just as, if not more effective substitute. This is, again, due to its anti-inflammatory properties! Healing and soothing in nature, aloe vera is great fighting against swollen gums, mouth wounds and sores, and dental plaque.
Lower your blood sugar!
For diabetics or those who struggle to keep their blood sugar levels intact, aloe vera is for you. Some say that taking two spoonfuls of this plant’s extract per day is enough to lower your glucose count to a healthy, more appropriate amount. While further studies have yet to be done, I have no doubt that in the future, diabetes care can definitely be added to the long list of aloe vera benefits.
Eat right and eat well!
Another part of aloe vera benefits is its ability to assist your digestive system. Aloe vera can help you enjoy all the food you love while lessening the risk of heartburn. By consuming enough aloe gel during meals, you are also preventing the risk of GERD, which is an acid reflux disease that could prove fatal. Some even say that the plant’s gels act as a natural laxative, for those who need help aiding their own metabolism!
… and it’s great for your food, too!
Aloe vera doesn’t just do great things for your body; it helps your food, too! Cambridge University’s study on aloe vera years ago yielded some surprising results. They found that when you coat tomato plants with aloe gel, it helps block many harmful bacteria and infections from attacking this plant and its fruit! When others conducted a study with apples, they got the same results! Fascinatingly enough, aloe vera is able to keep several bacteria and potential food ruiners at bay. Just as it’s a substitute for mouthwash, it’s also a good alternative to harmful chemicals we’d otherwise need to expose to our produce in order to keep it fresh.
Is it easy to grow aloe vera?
As we mentioned prior, aloe vera is beloved for how low maintenance and easy it can be to look after! This makes it the perfect plant for those who are just starting out on their plantita or plantito journey. Even beginners get to reap the aloe vera benefits this plant sows. Furthermore, growing these plants outside leads to the most beautiful flowers when in bloom.
Here are some tips for those looking to grow their own aloe vera plants:
Keep it sunny
Like we said, aloe vera thrives in warm climates, with the warm sun beating down on them. Putting them in view of windows, especially those facing the south or west, allows it to get the bright light they need. However, while it is important for them to have ample exposure to sunlight, make sure that you aren’t putting them directly beside extremely hot windows. That is not good for them either.
Water with care
The danger of overwatering is a common issue among many houseplant owners. The slightest bit of dryness they sense is enough to make them paranoid or panicked. However, another of aloe vera’s benefits is the fact that you don’t need to water it too much or too often. It is a succulent, after all! Let your aloe vera plant dry out completely before watering once again.
It’s also important that you place your aloe vera in a pot that can drain well. Aloe does best in terracotta pots that have one or multiple drain holes.
Aloe vera is a simple and wonderful addition to your houseplant collection. You also get to personally reap the benefits of having this plant in your home by harvesting!
How do I harvest my aloe vera?
In order to take all the aloe vera benefits this plant provides, a few precautions must first be made. You have to ensure that by the time of harvesting your aloe vera plant is already about a year old. This is so you’re truly able to extract a gel that’s chock full of nutrients! If you plan to harvest your aloe vera often, you have to take a few weeks’ interval before taking some of their leaves again. You don’t want to overexert your plant to the point of stress! Another option you have is to buy more aloe vera plants so you have more gel to extract at a time.
You can find out steps to properly harvesting aloe vera here.
How can I eat or drink aloe vera gel?
Once you’ve finished harvesting your aloe vera gel, finding ways to use it comes so much easier.
For one, you can toss it in a blender to make some delicious aloe vera juice! This is a popular bottled beverage in Korea, known for its sugary sweetness. Combining it with another liquid of your choice (a popular one is lemonade or any vegan smoothie) makes a drink that’s both refreshing and nutritious. The typical ratio of aloe juice is 1 cup of liquid for every 2 tablespoons of aloe gel. You have to make sure that you are only using the clear, white gel, however. Any trace of liquid with the yellow or greenish rind may be potentially harmful.
You can also enjoy the fresh aloe vera gel on its own! Keeping it in the fridge works, but this gel is best to be consumed right away. This is so you’re able to optimally take in all its wonderful health benefits.
Please also ensure that you are not consuming the aloe vera gel directly from any manufactured skincare or cosmetic product.
Aloe vera benefits are bountiful and incredibly generous. People have been using this plant for thousands of years now –– and for good reason, too! From heartburn to skincare to simply being a refreshing treat, aloe vera truly has it all. It won’t hurt to add it to your diet, or to try it today!