The first thing that pops into my head when I think of aloe vera is ouch! Sunburn! That green goopey stuff and I used to be best friends. Summertime meant sunburns all of the time, even with  the use of sunscreen! Well, aloe vera has many more properties than healing burns and it doesn’t even need to be that green mess!

Aloe vera, aloe, or Aloe barbadensis, is a natural antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal. One of the sugar components in the gel of the aloe plant, acemannan, has been used to treat feline leukemia, has been successfully used to help prevent infection in patients after oral surgery, and has even been approved as an oral ulcer remedy. Aloe has also been shown to inhibit the growth of many different kinds of bacteria including the pneumonia-causing bacteria Klebsiella pneumoniae and to inhibit the growth of the fungus that is responsible for most yeast infections, Candida albicans. Probably the most common property of aloe vera is its anti-inflammatory property. The gel found on the inside of the lead is very soothing and is commonly used for the healing of burns and blisters due to the gel’s anti-inflammatory fatty acid components of gamma-linolenic acid and eicosatetraenoic acid. This miracle herb also has antioxidant properties and contains superoxide dismutase enzymes and anthraquinones, both of which help prevent and protect cell membranes from free radical damage. Aloe vera can also be used as a digestive support. In the form of dried aloe gel powder or an aloe concentrate, this herb can be used as a natural laxative, and is very helpful in remedying or preventing constipation without the negative side-effects of cramping that many other herbal remedies can create. Because of all of these properties as an antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, aloe vera is a very god general immune system support. Approximately 80% of the immune system lives in the gut (which includes the stomach, and small and large intestines), and with a healthy gut, a strong and healthy immune system can thrive.

Sources for aloe: Aloe is a common product and can be found in topical skin care such as soaps, lotions, and creams, as well as juices for ingestion. When opting for ingestion, look for products that have been refined the least with as much of the inner gel as possible in the product. Aloe has very low toxicity and can be consumed regularly.

Resource: Haas, E., & B. Levin. (2006). Staying healthy with nutrition: The complete guide to diet and nutritional medicine. New York: Ten Speed Press.