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Twelve Magnificent Uses for Aloe and Why it Works

Aloe is a must-have houseplant even if you’re not a houseplant kind of person and that’s because it is so dang useful!

The following twelve uses for aloe vera gel not only come from ancient folk wisdom across a huge range of cultures, but they also have a scientific leg to stand on in western medicine.

When ancient wisdom agrees with modern science, you’ve found gold!

And when I say ancient, I mean it. Aloe vera gel has been used for over 6,000 years! The oldest reports of aloe come from ancient Egypt where it was used to promote beauty, health and immortality. I don’t know how well that immortality part worked for them… but the iconic beauties of the time Cleopatra and Nefertiti actually used aloe gel as part of their daily beauty routines! How cool is that?

And for all of you who have a bad history with aloes or houseplants in general – you can absolutely succeed and here’s how: we’ve got you covered with our Aloe Killer’s Guide to Thriving Aloe Vera Plants. This simple guide will demystify all your aloe questions and you’ll have fresh aloe gel at your fingertips in no time!

Fresh is Best

Why grow aloe when you can buy aloe gel off the shelf? Well, as a rule of thumb I believe fresh is best (of course excluding all things fermented) – but, I have a couple more reasons for you:

  • 1. It provides you with 100% of the beneficial compounds that aloe has to offer. Allowing aloe to sit in a bottle on a shelf may diminish these active ingredients and, therefore, the efficacy of the gel.
  • 2. It’s 100% aloe. Bottled aloe may contain additional toxic ingredients. For example, the best-selling aloe-vera gel on amazon contains carcinogenic, allergenic and immunotoxin ingredients: imidazolidinyl urea (formaldehyde releaser), benzophenone and FD&C Yellow5 (CI 19140).
  • 3. Need another reason? Cleopatra wouldn’t have settled for anything other than fresh aloe! I rest my case.

And by the way, harvesting aloe is super quick and easy – just follow this tutorial and you’ll be harvesting aloe like a pro in no time!

A Dozen Reasons to Grow and Use Aloe Vera

Without further ado, let’s get down to business and discuss a dozen reasons to grow and use aloe vera.

*Please note that if you are allergic to onions or garlic you may be allergic to aloe too.

Glowing Skin & Hair

1. Acne Treatment.
Why it works: The antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of aloe help kill acne bacteria, reduce acne inflammation and repair skin damage.

How to apply it: after washing your face, spread aloe gel (fresh from the plant or blended) over acne. Allow the aloe to absorb for at least ten minutes. Rinse off any excess aloe with water and moisturize your face.

Blended aloe gel is as clear as water, but more viscous. It's a super versatile way to prepare aloe vera!

2. Restorative Eye Pads.
Why it works: Aloe is rich with antioxidants (such as vitamin E and C) and enzymes that benefit skin. Plus, the anti-inflammatory properties reduce inflammation around the eyes. This is particularly effective with chilled aloe gel.

How to apply it: Slice off thin pieces of chilled aloe gel and place one under each eye. Allow the eye pads to rest there for at least ten minutes. Rinse off any excess aloe with water and moisturize with a little eye cream, if desired.

3. Healing Face Mask.
Why it works: All the properties discussed above that are super beneficial for acne and under your eyes are also helpful for your entire face!

How to apply it: Liquify fresh aloe gel in a blender. You may wish to add other facial-friendly ingredients to the blender like honey, matcha, yogurt or clay to create a super-powered mask. Wash your face then apply a thin layer of blended aloe gel. Give your skin ten to thirty minutes to absorb all the goodness. Rinse your face with water and moisturize.

Blended aloe gel, matcha green tea and clay face mask

4. Hair Conditioner for Shiny, Soft Frizz-Free Locks
Why it works: Aloe vera is anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and has a similar, slightly acidic pH to your scalp and hair. Both properties help reduce dandruff and scalp irritation. The slightly acidic pH and enzymes also work to smoothen and shine rough, dry hair follicles. That’s right – aloe will make your hair frizz-free and silky smooth!

How to apply it: Liquify fresh aloe gel in a blender. You may wish to add other hair-friendly or yummy scented ingredients to the blender, like rose water. Wet or wash your hair, then work the blended aloe gel into your scalp and tresses. Give yourself a nice head massage while you’re at it! Wrap your hair into a bun or braid and allow the aloe to soak in for ten to thirty minutes. When you’re ready, hop back into the shower to rinse the hair mask away and condition your hair, if desired.

My hair was softer, shinier and more alive after an aloe treatment. My scalp felt great too!

5. Skin Exfoliant/Cracked Heel Treatment
Why it works: The enzymes in aloe act as exfoliants on dry, cracked skin while vitamins and minerals provide a restorative balm.

How to apply it: Spread aloe gel (fresh from the plant or blended) over the affected areas of skin. Allow the aloe to absorb into your skin. Rinse off any excess, then apply moisturizer.

Make Pain Go Away!

6. Heal Wounds
Why it works: Aloe vera helps wounds shrink faster and promotes collagen synthesis. These properties are attributed to the mannose-6-phosphate in aloe vera gel. The gel is also antibacterial, so it helps prevent wound infections. To top it all off, aloe gel has analgesic properties to reduce pain.

How to apply it: Spread aloe gel (fresh from the plant or blended) over your wound. Allow the aloe to absorb. Cover with a bandage if desired. Reapply as frequently as you like.

7. Treat Sun and Minor Heat Burns
Why it works: For starters, the cooling and analgesic effect of the aloe is so soothing on burns. Plus, the same wound healing properties mentioned above help burns heal faster.

How to apply it: After cooling your burn with running water, apply aloe gel (fresh from the plant or blended) on the burn. Allow the aloe to absorb into your skin. Reapply as frequently as you like.

8. Psoriasis, Dermatitis and Eczema Relief
Why it works: Aloe’s anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties help soothe skin irritated by psoriasis, dermatitis and eczema.

How to apply it: Spread aloe gel (fresh from the plant or blended) over the affected areas of skin. Allow the aloe to absorb into your skin. Reapply as frequently as you like.

9. Soothe Itchy Insect Bites and Rashes
Why it works: Aloe’s anti-inflammatory, analgesic and cooling properties help soothe skin itchy and irritated skin.

How to apply it: Spread aloe gel (fresh from the plant or blended) over the affected areas of skin. Allow the aloe to absorb into your skin. Reapply as frequently as you like.

10. Soothe IBS (Aloe vera/barbadensis specifically)
Why it works: Aloe fights inflammatory bowel syndrome with – you guessed it! – it’s anti-inflammatory properties!

How to consume it: Cut a half-inch cube of aloe gel into little pieces. Eat them plain, add them to food, or drink them down with some water or other liquid.

Health Boost

11. Vitamin and Mineral Supplement (Aloe vera/barbadensis specifically)
Why it works: Aloe is rich in vitamins and minerals, plus aloe may actually help you absorb vitamins you consume from other sources. One study found that consuming aloe along with vitamin E and C supplements improved absorption of the supplements.

How to consume it: Cut a half-inch cube of aloe gel into little pieces. Eat them plain, add them to food, or drink them down with some water or other liquid.

12. Air Purifier Oxygen Bomb
Why it works: Aloe plants are considered oxygen bombs! All houseplants provide oxygen, but did you know that most plants actually consume oxygen and produce carbon dioxide at night? It’s called respiration! The super cool thing about aloe is that it actually continues to consume CO2 and release oxygen at night. Aloes are able to continue producing oxygen at night because of a type of photosynthesis called Crassulacean Acid Metabolism (CAM).

In addition to an oxygen boost, aloe removes formaldehyde and benzene from your air. Both chemicals are harmful to human health and are regularly released by household items like foam mattresses, practical board, and wall paint.

How to use it: Put aloe plants in your bedroom for a better night’s sleep, and all around your house for cleaner, healthier air.

As you can see, aloe does not disappoint! With such versatile and beneficial uses you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain growing these babies at home.

I hope this inspires you to add aloe plants to your home or make more use of the aloe you already have.

If you have any aloe care questions make sure to consult our care guide and harvesting tutorial, join our succulents and houseplants Facebook groups for community support and advice, and always feel free to reach out to gardenstead’s knowledgeable team!

*a little note about eating aloe
Eating aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis) in excess may have side effects and some individuals may be allergic to it. It’s always a good idea to consult your doctor before consuming. In general, it’s best to eat aloe in small portions and over short periods of time. Be sure to remove all the aloe latex from the gel to prevent digestive upset!

References
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20. https://www.health.state.mn.us/communities/environment/air/toxins/formaldehyde.htm

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