If you have an aloe vera plant sitting on your windowsill, stop just looking at it and start using it – the health and beauty benefits of the tropical plant might suprise you.
According to nutritional therapist Alice Mackintosh, the succulent can be beneficial for your skin, digestion and overall health when ingested or applied to the skin.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Suffering from sunburn? Snap off an aloe vera stalk and use the green sap inside as a soothing, cooling balm on sore skin.
2. Mackintosh says the inner leaf has also been shown to “support the skin from the inside” when ingested – you can turn the green gel from the plant into a juice by mixing it with water.
3. The green aloe gel can also “slow signs of ageing and reduce inflammation and redness”, says Mackintosh.
4. Carbohydrates called polysaccharides, which are found in aloe vera, “especially acemannan, are also known to support the immune system”, notes Mackintosh. These are thought to help improve skin conditions, including dry skin, eczema and rosacea.
5. Aloe vera is particularly useful when it comes to hydrating your skin, which can help “bring about a radiant glow”, says Mackintosh.
6. It’s even thought that aloe vera can improve the plumpness and brightness of your skin, as some scientists believe it helps promote collagen production in the body.
7. Aloe vera is packed with vitamins, nutrients, fatty acids, enzymes and antioxidants – all of which can support the body’s own healing processes. “Aloe vera compounds seem to activate part of the immune system responsible for fighting viruses (known as macrophages), as well as improving levels of T-cells, the antibodies that help fight infection,” explains Mackintosh.
8. Aloe vera is a source of vitamins A, C and E, which “help support immune function, skin health, energy and detoxification”.
9. The succulent can also help improve digestion. Mackintosh says: “Its polysaccharide compounds help to support healthy bacterial balance, prevent infections, heartburn, indigestion and also keep the bowel moving properly.”