The aloe vera plant (Aloeaceae Family) grows mostly in tropical and subtropical countries like the Caribbean, Latin America, and South Africa.
It is related to the cactus. This is a perennial plant that has juicy leaves which hold plenty of water. The plant usually grows to about 4 feet in height.
The leaves are about 36” long and are spear-like, tough and fleshy.
This plant has been used for centuries to heal skin conditions like simple irritations, wounds or burns, and constipation.
This herb has been the most commonly prescribed for medicinal purposes in the United States since the 18th century.
There is always some confusion regarding what is aloe vera gel, aloe vera drink, aloe vera juice, aloe vera jelly and so on.
To help you with that I will be providing details on each and every one of them on the portal. in this article, I will be discussing what is aloe vera gel and its benefits.
Table of Contents
What is Aloe Vera Gel and its Properties?
Each leaf contains the thick, clear gel in its inner part which has medicinal properties. The succulent leaves also contain latex. Both the clear jelly-like gel and latex are used for medicinal purposes.
Unlike the gel found in the inner part of the leaf, the latex is found under the skin of the plant and is yellow colored.
Aloe vera gel contains 99% water and the rest is made up of polysaccharides and glycoproteins. Polysaccharides can help repair skin and stimulate its growth.
Glycoproteins can reduce pain and inflammation thereby contributing to quicker healing. Both components also benefit the immune system.
Aloe vera gel also contains other chemical constituents like amino acids, sterols, lipids, enzymes, and tannins. A major sugar component is mannose 6-phosphate.
Method of Extracting Aloe Vera Gel
Aloe vera plants can be grown at home and the gel easily extracted from the leaf. Select the largest and juiciest leaves – usually found at the base of the plant. Cleanly cut the leaf.
Rinse it thoroughly in warm water to remove insects, dirt, and debris and then blot out excess water using a dry, clean paper towel.
Place the leaf on a flat cutting board and then make a fillet cut along the length of the leaf from tip to base.
Each layer of the leaf will contain a clear gel which can be scooped out carefully and placed in a clean jar with a tight lid or a sealed plastic bag.
You can also squeeze out the gel from the open end of the leaf without cutting it. The gel can then be used for topical applications.
Commercially, aloe vera gel is available as creams, lotions, and ointments. It is used in many skin care and cosmetic products. Capsules, juice, gel and tablet forms of aloe vera are also available.
Benefits and Uses of Aloe Vera Gel
Aloe vera gel has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. While there have been tests on animals or humans, the effectiveness and safety have not been always proven.
The following are some of the medical conditions for which aloe vera may be used.
I will be discussing most of them in more detail on this portal to help you out, this is just sort of a summary:
- Water-soluble creams made from aloe vera could treat male genital herpes
- A hydrophilic cream made using aloe extract could be used to treat psoriasis
- Applying aloe vera lotion to the scalp can treat seborrheic dermatitis (dandruff)
- Early studies find that the risk of getting lung cancer could be reduced by using oral aloe vera
- Some evidence suggests that using aloe vera gel in the mouth could reduce the occurrences of canker sores and associated pain.
- Gingivitis and plaque formation could be controlled by using aloe vera dentifrice.
- Some studies find that aloe vera gel could benefit patients with type-2 diabetes and could be used to supplement insulin treatment for children with type-1 diabetes.
- Aloe vera gel makes an excellent moisturizer that can treat dry skin.
- Aloe may be a safe treatment for lichen planus around the vulva or mouth that causes itchy rashes and small raised bumps.
- Skin conditions like ulcers, burns, wounds, and irritation caused by long term exposure to radiation may all be treated with topical applications of aloe vera gel.
- Other skin conditions which can benefit from using aloe gel are frostbite, cold sores, bedsores, and surgical wounds. The chemicals in aloe vera gel are said to improve blood circulation and kill bacteria in the skin. This is said to improve quicker wound healing.
- Limited evidence suggests that aloe vera shows promise in treating ulcerative colitis
- Aloe juice or latex got from the aloe leaves acts as a powerful laxative and can help relieve constipation. However, it should be used with care since it can also cause severe cramps.
Possible Side Effects and Precautions
Aloe vera gel cannot be used by those with an allergy to the Liliaceae plant family. Topical applications of aloe vera gel can cause skin irritations and burning skin in rare cases.
Oral aloe vera could cause diarrhea and cramping since it has a laxative effect.
Make sure the aloe vera gel used for topical or oral use is free of athroquinones that can cause irritation of the gastrointestinal tract.
High doses and long term use of aloe vera could increase the risk of colorectal cancer. Anyone allergic to onions, tulips, and garlic should avoid it.
Aloe vera must not be applied topically to severe burns or deep cuts. If you have an existing medical condition, pregnant, lactating mother it is best to visit a doctor before taking aloe vera supplements.
It is also good to check with your doctor before using aloe vera to know of any interaction with drugs.