I realize that herbs/plants/supplements don’t have what is considered strong evidence behind the benefits they boast. The truth though is that I do use them regularly.
Aloe vera is one of the things that I like to use for beauty purposes (hair and skin). I know that a lot of other people like using it too.
What I wanted to do was look up research on the plant to learn more about it and see what kind of evidence there is for its use in humans.
In this post I will discuss the plant, its alleged benefits, the research and my experiences with it.
The aloe vera plant and its usage
The aloe vera plant originates from Arabia. Its history of use dates 6,000 years back for various conditions.
It is typically grown inside these days and requires bright but indirect light. The plant can be brought outside during certain months of the year but can’t be out in the cold. It is usually put on windowsills.
The alleged benefits are as follows:
1. Helps skin conditions such as acne, burn wounds, cuts and psoriasis
2. Relieves constipation
3. Relieves GI issues
4. Helps the hair and scalp (growth, itch relief and moisture)
5. Reduces blood sugars
Aloe vera can be purchased in the form of capsules, gel, juice, powder and cream. It is also in a lot of shampoos, conditioners and soaps.
Research on aloe vera
There were many articles on the use of aloe vera. It was interesting reading about it in more depth and learning what the plant contains.
The laxative effects that aloe vera might have come from the latex portion of the plant. Latex is a fluid that is milky in appearance and found in many plants. There is also shown to be some toxic effects when using a certain amount of it.
The alleged GI discomfort easing benefits come from the anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial actions aloe vera shows as having. These actions were said to have positive effects on ulcers, e. Coli infections and irritable bowel syndrome. It is important to note that the evidence found for these effects are not yet very strong and that internal use can also cause more GI discomfort.
There were a few research articles showing there being some hypoglycemic/anti-diabetic activity with the ingestion of aloe vera. It was the gel in particular that had this effect on the participants in the studies. Although it shows some promise, the gel should not be relied on as a treatment for diabetes.
The anti-inflammatory actions have shown to relieve skin conditions too. The plant also contains vitamins and anti-bacterial effects which make the skin benefits even more powerful. The evidence for aloe vera’s topical use seems to be stronger than the other ones.
I didn’t find many articles about aloe vera’s effect on our hair. The plant does contain amino acids according to one of the things I read. These are said to help with hair growth. Also, aloe vera is shown to help our scalps just like it helps the skin on our bodies.
Some of the articles did mention that there may be teratogenic effects when it comes to the ingestion of aloe vera. This is a really important thing to know if you are pregnant and considering taking aloe vera for whatever reason (or you have been taking it and you never stopped after finding out you are pregnant).
My thoughts on aloe vera
I first learned about aloe vera many years back. A lady my mom was friends with would talk about having a plant on her windowsill and using it for a variety of things. From then on, I knew that it could be used for burns on the skin.
When I was really into learning about how to take care of my natural hair (2008), I heard gurus on YouTube talk about using aloe vera in their hair. I never actually started using it myself until I felt how soft my hair was after my loctician sprayed some on my hair one time. A couple of days after that appointment, I went out and bought my own bottle of aloe vera juice.
I have been using the juice ever since on my hair and I can’t live without it! I buy the Lily of The Desert brand’s whole filet juice. I have experimented with not spraying it on my hair after washing it and I can definitely tell a difference in how soft it is after drying.
In terms of hair growth, I haven’t noticed anything. It seems that my hair grows pretty slow. This is okay with me because I don’t think I will look any better with super long hair. Plus, it would just get in the way.
For the past two years I have also been using aloe vera in gel form on my face. My reason for buying it the first time was because it was said to help with anti-aging and hyperpigmentation. I have not seen any improvement in those areas (maybe it takes a really, really long time of consistent use) but it is great for using after chemical peels.
How I use aloe vera juice on my hair
I just wanted to share how I use the juice on my hair in case anyone reading this is interested.
What I do is pour some of the aloe vera juice (that is pictured) in a small spray bottle. I don’t have a specific amount that I pour in, but it is only enough for one use. I then put a small squirt of pumpkin oil in there and shake it up.
I spray it all over my hair and try to work it in as best I can after getting out of the shower. The next thing I do is apply almond oil on my hair. My hair is so moisturized after this!
I would recommend trying this if you are in the market for something to help with hair dryness. You could fill a spray bottle all the way up and keep it around for a while instead of making it every time you are going to wash your hair. It will need to be kept in the refrigerator (along with the container of the juice) if you do that though.
To sum it all up
Scientists/researchers will say that the evidence of the benefits of aloe vera is not strong enough. The anecdotal evidence states otherwise though. Many people (including me!) have found aloe vera to be very helpful in some way, shape or form.
If you are reading this and are interested in trying aloe vera as an internal supplement, proceed at your own risk. There are some uncomfortable side effects that you might experience. If you are thinking about using it externally, you will most likely be fine unless you are allergic to the plant.
Do you like to use aloe vera? If so, what do you use it for/on?
Thanks for reading!
Click to access aloe-vera–a-potential-herb-and-its-medicinal-importance.pdf