Aloe vera plants are easy to grow and maintain, but the leaves of an aloe vera plant are also packed with a soft clear gel that is praised for its hydrating effect and other medicinal benefits.

Research notes that aloe vera has been used for centuries by people in Greece, Egypt, India, Mexico, Japan, and China for its purported wellness perks. But what about today?

Here’s a look at some of the scientific research on aloe vera about eight of its potential health benefits.

1. Aloe Vera Gel Powder May Help Lower Blood Pressure

In one study, 90 people with diabetes who were not dependent on insulin received either 100 milligrams (mg) of aloe vera gel powder in capsules daily, 200 mg of aloe vera gel powder in capsules daily, or no treatment for three months. The aloe vera groups also received counselling on nutrition.

When researchers evaluated the subjects after three and six months, they found that aloe vera powder helped reduce the systolic and diastolic blood pressures of both groups, which was not seen in the no-treatment group. Researchers said that this may be the result of two anti-inflammatory components in aloe vera — aloe-emodin and aloin; and other research, in both rat and in vitro models, has shown these two components have anti-inflammatory properties.

2. Aloe Vera May Help Stabilise Blood Sugar

Weight loss, a healthy diet, and physical activity help to lower the risk of diabetes and improve blood sugar. But there’s also evidence suggesting the potential benefit of aloe vera on blood sugar control.

In one systematic review, an aloe vera supplement improved blood sugar control in people with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. It lowered fasting plasma glucose in people with prediabetes, and it significantly improved A1C in individuals managing type 2 diabetes.

The researchers said the association was due to aloe vera’s ability to reduce glucose absorption in the digestive tract and lower glucose production. They encourage additional high-quality studies to quantify the effects of aloe vera on blood sugar control.

3. Aloe Vera in Mouthwash Can Improve Dental Health

Aloe vera could be an unexpectedly useful addition to your oral health regime, thanks to its possible anti-plaque and anti-gingivitis properties.

One triple-blind randomised trial divided 345 subjects into three groups of 115 and asked them to rinse their mouth twice daily with a specified mouthwash for 30 days: One group received an aloe-based mouthwash, one received a mouthwash containing popular germicide chlorhexidine gluconate, and one received a placebo mouthwash of distilled water.

After 30 days, the aloe vera–based mouthwash was as effective in reducing gum bleeding and plaque as the chlorhexidine mouthwash when compared with the placebo group.

Another study found similar results when comparing an aloe vera–based mouthwash with a chlorhexidine mouthwash and a saline-water placebo, though this study took place over a shorter period of time (just four days).

These results suggest that an aloe vera–based mouthwash could be a suitable alternative to traditional mouthwashes in those with dental plaque and gingivitis.

4. Aloe Vera May Stimulate Collagen Production and Fight Skin Aging

Aloe vera has been used as an ingredient in skin-care products from moisturisers to face masks – and for good reason. This can be credited to the gel’s moisturising, anti-ageing properties.

Applying a moisturiser is an important step in your beauty regime because it traps water in the skin, helping it to appear more youthful, per the Mayo Clinic. Dry skin, on the other hand, causes plump skin cells to shrivel, leading to premature wrinkles.

Aloe vera has a high number of mucopolysaccharides, a hydrating molecule that keeps moisture in the skin. (Hyaluronic acid, a popular skin-care ingredient noted for its hydrating and anti-ageing properties, is another mucopolysaccharide, according to research.)

In one review, aloe also activated fibroblasts (a type of cell found in connective tissue), which ramp up the production of collagen and elastin fibres. The result may be tighter-looking skin and fewer wrinkles.

5. Aloe Vera Gel Is Popular for Soothing Sunburn Inflammation

This is by far one of the most well-known benefits of aloe vera: After a nasty sunburn, you’ve probably lathered the plant’s gel over your skin for relief.

One study found that aloe vera greatly reduced the redness of skin exposed to ultraviolet rays compared to a placebo.

“Aloe is my favourite natural choice for treating sunburns,” says Adrienne Haughton, MD, a dermatologist with Stony Brook Medicine based in Commack, New York. “Aloe gel is cooling and has anti-inflammatory properties, so it’ll immediately provide some relief from discomfort associated with a sunburn.”

A systematic review of 23 studies found a link between aloe vera and the healing of various forms of burns (not including sunburn). Researchers said this was due to the plant’s ability to fight inflammation and the fact that aloe vera contains glucomannan, a compound with regenerative properties.

These researchers concluded that the plant could potentially reduce wound recovery times, infections, and skin redness. They also noted that aloe vera gel appeared to be most effective on first and second-degree burns. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, first-degree burns affect only the outermost layer of the skin and second-degree burns penetrate into deeper layers of skin, causing swelling and blistering.

6. Aloe Vera May Help Get Rid of Acne Naturally

“Thanks to its natural anti-inflammatory properties, aloe vera also serves as an excellent acne treatment,” explains Jamie Bacharach, a licensed naturopath and the head of practice at Acupuncture Jerusalem in Jerusalem, Israel. “Whether it’s applied to pimples or to general areas of redness and irritation, aloe vera has been found to soothe and diminish the appearance and prominence of acne and even acne scars.”

However, she does caution that aloe vera shouldn’t be applied directly to open acne blemishes.

According to research, aloe vera has the ability to reduce prostaglandin E2 production, thus decreasing redness and swelling. Per another article, these are lipids that trigger an inflammatory response in the sebaceous glands, which are attached to hair follicles and produce oil. The less inflammation in the sebaceous glands, the less inflammatory acne.

7. Aloe Vera Gel Is a Natural Antidote for Skin Irritation

Aloe vera can potentially improve other skin conditions too. “Aloe vera gel’s anti-inflammatory effects have also been shown to be beneficial in the treatment of psoriasis and eczema,” says Dr. Haughton.

According to the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF), applying creams that contain 0.5 percent of aloe vera up to three times a day may reduce redness and scaling. Yet the NPF notes that this is a complementary and integrative treatment, and is most effective when used in conjunction with more traditional psoriasis treatment options.

As for eczema, there is limited, controlled research on humans about the use of aloe vera for this condition. However, one study found that Olivederma (an aloe vera and olive oil topical cream) showed comparable, if not superior, benefits compared to topical steroids in patients with eczema when used for six weeks. The authors of another study pointed out that the plant’s antibacterial, antifungal, and moisturising properties may help prevent flare-ups in people managing atopic dermatitis, which according to the American Academy of Dermatology, is the most common form of eczema.

Similarly, an article from the National Eczema Association suggests that, anecdotally, aloe vera gel may help to ease eczema flare-ups, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties and limited risk.

8. Aloe Latex May Ease Constipation but Could Cause Side Effects

Constipation is defined as fewer than three bowel movements a week, per the Mayo Clinic. But while laxatives, a fibre-rich diet, and increased water intake can help improve bowel irregularity, “some evidence also suggests using aloe vera orally [could] improve symptoms in patients with IBS and constipation,” says Jesse P. Houghton, MD, senior medical director of gastroenterology at SOMC Gastroenterology Associates in Portsmouth, Ohio.

“This is one of the most well-studied benefits of the aloe plant,” he continues. “It acts as a natural laxative via two mechanisms – it provides hydration with its high water content, and it contains anthraquinones, which act as a stimulant laxative.”

One analysis of three studies suggested the potential therapeutic benefits of aloe vera for constipation-predominant IBS or functional constipation. Among the 151 participants analysed, those who received oral aloe vera extract for irritable bowel syndrome had a significant improvement in their symptoms compared with the placebo.

SOURCE: Everyday Health