9 Aloe Vera Benefits That Dermatologists and Researchers Want You to Know
Aloe vera is a champion multitasker, and it can do so much more than soothe a sunburn. Whether you pick up a bottle of 100% pure aloe vera, get it in a liquid or capsule form, or buy a potted plant and use the juice from cut leaves as needed, there are some serious benefits to using aloe vera. Topically, you can use it on everything from acne to minor wounds. But it’s not just surface level conditions that aloe vera can help with; depending on which form you take it in, you can also use aloe vera orally for some potential under-the-skin help. Here are nine benefits—other than helping you find relief from sunburn—that dermatologists and researchers say aloe vera can provide.
Aloe vera can help clear up breakouts
Aloe vera contains salicylic acid and other antiseptic compounds that kill off the bacteria that cause acne, Francesca Fusco, MD, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, tells Health. That makes it a great natural remedy for breakouts and an excellent cleanser for the skin. One caveat: Before you apply aloe vera to inflamed skin, do a patch test elsewhere on your body. In rare cases, it can cause a reaction in highly sensitive people, says Dr. Fusco.
Aloe vera moisturizes dry skin
Aloe vera is packed with minerals; enzymes; antioxidants; and vitamins A, C, and E, which all work together to reinforce the skin’s barrier. “It’s incredibly moisturizing,” Debra Jaliman, MD, a dermatologist in New York City, tells Health. Aloe also contains polyphenols, which appear to protect against skin cancer and free radicals that age the skin, says Dr. Jaliman.
Aloe vera can soothe irritated skin
Aloe vera can help with minor burns and wounds
In addition to antibacterial properties, aloe vera contains compounds that can reduce inflammation, says Dr. Fusco. The juice is also super hydrating, so it may help boost the skin’s elasticity as it heals. One older review of scientific research found that aloe vera sped up the rate of healing for minor burn wounds by almost nine days. But other studies have shown mixed results in terms of the plant’s healing powers—so it’s best to use it only on minor wounds and burns.
Aloe vera can treat a cold sore
The plant’s antiviral properties may help fight off the herpes virus. Aloe can also provide soothing relief and cover and protect the irritated skin. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health also points out that research has suggested that the topical use of aloe also may help people with herpes simplex, the virus most commonly behind a cold sore.
Aloe vera can be used as a shaving cream
Thanks to its gel texture, aloe vera makes a great hydrating shave cream. Its antibacterial properties mean it’s also beneficial for small razor nicks, according to Dr. Jaliman.
Aloe vera is a natural makeup remover
Since aloe vera is gentle on the skin and has a gel-like consistency, it works well as a natural makeup remover. Smooth it on and wipe off with a washcloth to cleanse and moisturize at the same time. “It’s anti-aging and moisturizing, making it a perfect beauty product,” says Dr. Jaliman. “And it’s a good alternative for people who have sensitive skin and can have reactions to ingredients in standard makeup removers.”
Aloe vera may aid in digestive disorders
Aloe vera has plenty of skin-related benefits when used topically, but research suggests it may also have a positive effect on irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms. In fact, a 2018 review showed that, compared to people with IBS who used placebo, people with IBS who used aloe vera in the short-term had significant improvement in IBS symptoms. Research has also shown that aloe vera may help in improving symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). One older study showed that, compared to placebo, short-term use of oral aloe vera can benefit those with ulcerative colitis, a form of IBD.
Aloe vera may help improve glucose levels
A systematic review from 2016 suggests that aloe vera can play a part in improving glycemic control among people with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. Aloe vera might not only be a way to treat diabetic complications, but it also might be a tool in preventing them. A 2020 study showed that aloe vera methanol extract has antidiabetic effects. However, researchers said that it’s a connection that needs to be further explored; the optimal dosage also needs to be better understood.
As the Mayo Clinic points out, “aloe gel is generally considered safe when appropriately applied to the skin. It might be safe when appropriate doses are taken orally for a short time.” However, “aloe latex or whole-leaf extract taken orally might be unsafe and is likely unsafe in high doses.” So before you start exploring the potential benefits of aloe vera, make sure to talk with your doctor about which form you should take it in and how much of it is right for you.
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