Aloe Vera: How to Use, Benefits & Side Effects

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Aloe Vera Gel in a bottle

We have all heard and seen aloe vera being marketed in skin products as a natural gel that is good for your skin. In this concise article, we will summarize the benefits and side effects of aloe vera, that will give you the right expectations in terms of the benefits of aloe vera on your skin.

Aloe Vera is mainly used topically for skin conditions. Aloe Vera does not reverse the damage on the skin. It only relieves the redness, irritation and soothes the burning skin and its effects are temporary. Some people might be allergic to Aloe Vera. The Aloe Latex is used orally to relieve constipation but may cause diarrhea. Never take Aloe Gel or Aloe Latex orally as it can be harmful and fatal in some cases.

What is Aloe Vera good for

Here we will discuss the different uses of Aloe Vera plant, how to use aloe vera gel for relieving skin irritation, all the science behind the effectiveness of aloe vera and possible risks and side-effects)

  • There are two parts of the aloe vera plant that are usable: the aloe gel and the yellow latex
  • Aloe gel is used topically (applied directly to skin) in cosmetics, skin products and topical skin medications. 
  • It is also applied topically for skin conditions such as acne, frostbites, burns, psoriasis and cold sores.
  • Burns: Whether sunburn or chemical burns, aloe gel is used to relieve itchiness, redness and irritation. It only relieves; it does not reverse the damage on the skin. [Source: Healthline]
  • Aloe gel contains anti-inflammatory enzymes: glycoproteins and amino acids that help regenerate the skin. For this it is used for the healing of damaged skin by calming inflammation and irritation. It is therefore applied in case of minor injuries, sunburn, rashes and itching due to dermatitis.
  • Moisturizer: Aloe vera gel creates a protective barrier against the wind, sun, and airborne particles on the surface of the skin, and helps the skin defend itself from dehydration due to too much wind or exposure. In the sun, it prevents the skin from drying out and flaking. So the Aloe Gel is used for Dry Skin and Eczema.
  • Psoriasis: The soothing effects of aloe vera may help the irritation and inflammation caused by Psoriasis.
  • Anti-dandruff: It is used to purify the skin and promote the healing of pimples and dermatitis and massaged on the scalp helps to get rid of dandruff.
  • Cold Sores: May help in treating cold sores (herpes virus). Apply the gel twice a day.
  • Acne: Its Anti-inflammatory properties help in treating inflammatory types of acne (pustules and nodules). Apply the gel 3 times a day using a cotton swab.

Side Effects of Aloe Vera

  • Aloe Latex is used in medication and taken orally (by mouth) to relieve constipation. Oral use of 1g of Aloe Latex per day for a few days can cause kidney damage and can be fatal. Avoid using Aloe Latex orally as unprocessed aloe latex can have dangerous cancer-causing compounds. [Source: Mayoclinic]
  • There is no high-quality scientific evidence that proves the above mentioned benefits of the use of aloe gel and aloe latex. [Source: NCCIH]
  • The general rule of thumb is - don’t take aloe gel and aloe latex orally without consulting a doctor. It can be harmful and can be fatal. Use of aloe gel topically is likely to be safe. Although some people might be allergic to aloe vera
  • Non-decolorized whole-leaf extract was listed as a chemical that causes cancer by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment on Dec 4, 2015. [Source: OEHHA]
  • Ingested Aloe Vera products may have side effects with prescription drugs for diabetes, heart diseases, blood clots and diuretics, among others. [Source: Mayoclinic]
  • In the case of Deep surgical wounds, Aloe Gel might actually slow down the healing process of the skin[NCCIH]
  • Itching/burning as the gel absorbs in the skin.
  • Sensitive to rashes and hives.
  • Not to be used on Infected skin can affect the natural healing process and make the infection even worse.

How much aloe vera juice to drink daily

Aloe vera juice is an excellent drink that someone will find a little bitter, perhaps a slightly tropical aftertaste not far from being a little bitter. Sometimes it is found on the market with the combination of other fruit flavors such as blueberry to make its flavor a little more pleasant and suitable for all palates.As with everything, we must not abuse the consumption of Aloe vera drink. 

The intake of the recommended type is on an empty stomach, generally in the morning, and 30 minutes before meals with daily doses ranging from 20 ml to a maximum of 60 ml per day. It can be deduced that with 40 ml per day it is the ideal average.

It should be consumed fresh as the contact with the air causes its oxidation and the consequent loss of the beneficial properties, this when it is made at home. If the juice is bought from a store, it will presumably have a long shelf life.

Scientific Reality: Aloe vera juice is marketed as a drink to improve the digestive system, however, there is neither any scientific evidence nor any regulatory approval that approves this claim.

Which aloe vera can you eat

Aloe Barbadensis is considered to be the edible variety of aloe vera while Aloe Chinensis is one of the many non-edible varieties of Aloe Vera.

  • It is not recommended to eat aloe vera gel or latex orally.
  • Aloe Latex is taken orally (by mouth) to relieve constipation. Regular intake of Aloe Latex can cause kidney damage and can be fatal. Avoid using Aloe Latex orally as unprocessed aloe latex can have dangerous cancer-causing compounds. [Source: Mayoclinic]

Benefits of aloe vera juice

  • Aloe vera juice is marketed as a drink to improve the digestive system, however, there is neither any scientific evidence nor any regulatory approval that approves this claim.

Why Aloe Vera is Good for Skin

Pieces of Tranparent Aloe Vera Gel image along with it leaves

So this is how aloe vera gel works on skin. It has several properties that are beneficial for the skin are those properties are as follows:

  1. Soothes the skin (Burns, Sunburns, minor abrasions) because of  echinacea and calendula. Apply 3 times per day.
  2. Prevents Dandruff on head because of Antifungal and Antibacterial properties. [Hindawi]
  3. Heals the cuts and wounds because of its Polysaccharides (glucomannan) which stimulate skin growth and healing[Hindawi].
  4. Ideal replacement of your moisturizer is Aloe Gel. It helps seal moisture into your skin. It's also good for Oily skin since it absorbs very quickly.

Why Aloe Vera for sunburn

Aloe vera soothes the skin because of echinacea and calendula. It helps in soothing, however not effective in prevention of sunburn. [NCBI] So use sun protection to prevent sunburn and use aloe vera gel if you need to relieve the sunburn.


Grow your own Aloe Vera

What's better than an unlimited natural supply of Aloe Vera for your first aid and dry skin needs? Aloe Vera is a great Houseplant which does not need much care and attention and keeps growing when given appropriate indirect bright sunlight. Check out this article on Aloe Vera Plant Care to learn how you can grow your own aloe vera at home.

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