I love turning to Mama Earth and the incredible array of plants she provides to support natural health and beauty. One of my favourite house plants is aloe vera! I keep one in our kitchen so I can break off a piece to pop in a smoothie (minus the outer leaf) or use the gel to soothe the skin. But did you know that this plant can do so much more? Today I want to share with you the amazing internal and external benefits of aloe so you can add another great plant to your natural medicine cabinet.
This post covers everything you need to know about aloe vera including what it is, 10 amazing internal and external health benefits, and simple recipes to support your health, naturally.
What Is Aloe?
While you may think of succulents as those cute little plants that are nearly impossible to kill, aloe vera, also called aloe barbadensis, is a member of this plant family, specifically the genus Aloe! It is native plant of Africa, Madagascar, and the Arabian Peninsula but now grows abundantly in tropical locations. It has been used for centuries as a medicinal plant, which can be used directly by squeezing the juice from the leaf or purchasing it as a gel, ointment, or other formulation.
If you want to have your own aloe vera plant on hand to harvest, it’s best not to cut into it until it is a few years old, as older plants have a higher concentration of antioxidants and other beneficial compounds. You may also want to have a couple of different plants on hand if you plan on harvesting your aloe regularly. That’s because you’ll want to wait for several weeks between harvests on one plant so that it stays as healthy as possible.
Aloe is safe for all skin types–oily, dry, or combination!
One of the great things about aloe as an ingredient in beauty and skincare products is that it’s safe for all skin types–oily, dry, or combination! That makes it a wonderful addition to any beauty regimen. And as you'll see below, it’s also incredibly hydrating for hair, which is why it’s the primary ingredient in our All Natural Lavender Shampoo and Conditioner.
What Part Should You Use?
The part of the aloe plant that is most beneficial is the inner filet or gel. If you’re harvesting your own aloe, you’ll want to remove the outer skin and the aloe vera latex, which is also known as aloin. This compound is a yellowish sap-like liquid that can be harmful if ingested in large concentrations. If you’re harvesting your own aloe to take internally, it’s best to let it drain out of the leaf and dispose of it before consuming the beneficial gel.
10 Amazing Internal & External Health Benefits of Aloe
I love when mother nature designs a plant that is so beneficial for us both inside and out. Let’s take a closer look at some of the amazing health benefits of the aloe plant.
1. Potent Anti-Inflammatory
As I mentioned above, the aloe plant is full of powerful phytochemicals, vitamins, and antioxidants that have powerful anti-inflammatory effects both internally and externally. One of these chemicals, anthraquinones, helps reduce swelling, pain, and promote healing when applied to the skin (remember that the gut is made up of the same epithelial tissues as the skin!).
These anti-inflammatory benefits make aloe an incredible addition to your natural medicine cabinet. It’s great for soothing inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema , psoriasis, acne , and sunburns. As we’ll see below, these anti-inflammatory benefits work internally as well!
2. Prevents Premature Aging of the Skin
Thanks to skin-lovin’ antioxidants like vitamins C and E and beta-carotene that help prevent premature aging of the skin, aloe is a wonderful addition to your skincare routine. Specifically, these nutrients help to protect the skin from the damaging effects of free radicals.
Free radicals damage the DNA of skin cells making them die off sooner which can result in wrinkling skin.
If you’re looking for an easy at-home mask, try my DIY Hydrating Face Mask made with aloe vera, organic yogurt, and honey. The hydration packed in this mask will help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. If you don’t have the fermented aloe from New Chapter, just swap in aloe gel.
3. Promotes Skin Regeneration
You know all of those amazing anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits of aloe? Well it turns out that they also help with skin cell regeneration. Specifically, vitamins A and E plus beta-carotene all promote cell turnover and can help with skin regeneration. That’s why aloe has traditionally been used as a topical application for minor cuts, scrapes, and burns. Applying aloe to cold sores can also help reduce pain and promote faster healing, so if you’re prone to them it’s a great idea to keep an aloe plant on hand!
I’m all about natural hair care, and one of the benefits of aloe vera gel in natural shampoos and conditioners is that it can deeply clean the hair shaft without stripping or damaging it. It’s great at removing product residue and excess oil so that your hair looks smoother and shinier and feels softer. It should come as no surprise that aloe is one of the main ingredients in both our Natural Lavender Shampoo and Conditioner. It’s the only thing I’ve used for years and my hair has never looked as shiny and strong!
5. Calms An Itchy Scalp
Not only is aloe amazing at cleansing your hair while leaving it soft and shiny, it’s also been shown to help resolve itchy scalp and dandruff thanks to its amazing anti-inflammatory properties.
If you struggle with a dry scalp or dandruff, try switching over to an all-natural shampoo and conditioner that contain soothing ingredients like aloe, plus rosemary and lavender extracts for even more scalp protection!
6. May Prevent Hair Loss
While there are no clinical trials supporting this claim as of yet, those same nutrients mentioned above that help with cell growth and turnover can also encourage healthy hair growth. In addition vitamins C and E and beta-carotene, aloe contains folate and B12, both of which may help prevent hair loss.
For the best in natural hair care, we combined the incredible benefits of aloe with organic lavender oil, which helps to promote hair growth, prevents dry itchy scalp, and manages hair conditions such as dandruff and hair loss. But we didn’t stop there, we also added organic rosemary oil to encourage hair growth, soothe itchy scalps, help stimulate circulation to nourish hair follicles, and to manage dandruff. Shop our best-selling hair care pair here!
7. Softens And Conditions Hair
The incredible moisturizing properties of aloe vera juice combined with the phytonutrients and vitamins softens and conditions hair without any silicones. The natural conditioning properties of aloe leave your hair feeling silky smooth after each use and doesn’t leave behind any residues or films. Double up the moisturizing benefits by using a shampoo and conditioner whose main ingredient is aloe vera juice!
8. Soothes & Supports the Digestive Tract
Digestive health is the foundation upon which joyous health is built and that’s another reason I love aloe so much! This review found that taking aloe vera internally showed significant improvement in IBS symptoms when compared with a placebo, with no side effects. And since the digestive tract isn’t just the gut, but also includes the esophagus and stomach, it’s important to note that aloe shows preliminary results as a promising treatment to help reduce the symptoms of GERD.
Preliminary in vitro studies also demonstrate a powerful antibacterial effect against H. pylori, a strain of bacteria often associated with gastric ulcers. While more research is needed, the lack of side effects make it a helpful addition to your digestive-soothing medicine cabinet.
The benefit of healing the gut using aloe also shows up externally in a healthy, glowing complexion since your skin is a reflection of what’s happening inside your body. You can learn more about soothing the skin from the inside out with these 5 simple healthy skin hacks.
9. Supports Oral Health
Oral health can be a predictor of chronic disease, likely due to the association between inflammation and overall health. There are many inflammatory conditions that can impact the gums and mucosa of the mouth and promising research found that using products that contain aloe vera can lower inflammation, thus reducing pain and improving oral health.
While this study is relatively small, comprising 74 people, the results are promising. It found that taking one ounce of aloe vera juice twice a day for three months was just as effective as hydrocortisone shots at reducing inflammation and pain in the chronic condition of oral submucous fibrosis.
Aloe vera-based mouth washes help to lower oral inflammation.
This study found that using an aloe vera-based mouthwash reduced the severity and pain associated with oral mucositis in cancer patients. To further strengthen the support for the anti-inflammatory oral benefits of aloe, this research found that using an aloe mouthwash for 14 days reduced the pain and recurrence of chemotherapy-induced stomatitis.
Finally, a study comparing a toothpaste made with aloe versus one made with triclosan found that the aloe-based toothpaste was more effective at lowering levels of plaque, candida, and gingivitis in adolescents.
If you struggle with inflammation of the mouth and/or gums, adding an aloe vera-based mouthwash or toothpaste and consuming aloe regularly could help improve your oral health and reduce the pain associated with inflammatory conditions.
10. Helps Balance Blood Sugar
There are many factors that can contribute to stable blood sugar including genetics, activity levels, food order and macronutrient makeup, and others. I always suggest following a diet rich in anti-inflammatory whole foods as a foundation for stable blood sugar, but if you’re looking for more health hacks, check out this great podcast episode with the Glucose Goddess.
With all the different contributing factors at play when it comes to keeping blood sugar stable, sometimes adding certain foods to the diet can make a difference. That’s where aloe comes in! Research has demonstrated that aloe can help lower fasting glucose levels. Some studies have also shown that it can lower HbA1C, which is the measure of your average blood sugar levels over a three month period though further research is needed to confirm these results.
With all the other incredible health benefits of aloe vera juice, adding it to your favourite smoothie will not only support gut health, but may also help you keep your blood sugars stable.
Aloe vera makes an affordable and powerful addition to your natural medicine cabinet since it can be used both internally and externally to reduce inflammation and support healing from head to toe. I hope this article inspires you to explore the benefits of this amazing plant!