Lesser known facts about aloe

Aloe vera
Hello again! I'm sure you've come across pop-science articles, websites and grandmother stories on the benefits of aloe, how safe and effective it is when taken internally and externally, how easy it is to grow aloe... and so on. Without repeating stuff that you can easily ask Google (or your grandmother), we've put together some of the lesser-known facts about this wonder plant for you...
We've left some of the popular "hearsay" stuff out, and focused on researched facts. If you are expecting a laundry-list of 25 sentences that start with "aloe is good for....", you will be disappointed. You're better off googling "aloe" and reading all you want. If you know that stuff already, stay with us - here's some more interesting stuff:

  1. Aloe gel is 98.5% water! But the remaining 1.5% contains enough goodies (more than 200, at last count) to make aloe gel great for moisturizing, healing and soothing the skin. Amazing, isn't it?
  2. Aloe gel and aloe juice are different things. The gel is what is readily obtained from the leaf. The juice is obtained from the remaining leaf surrounding the gel - that is, juiced from the leaf. In terms of effect on skin, the juice is as good as the gel and can be taken internally
  3. Fresh aloe gel actually smells quite strongly, not sure if many of you will like it. But then, which medicine tasted or smelled yum? Commercially available aloe creams/lotions have blended the gel/juice into a fragranced base that makes it easier and more fun to apply 
  4. In a controlled study [1] on treating burns on skin, wounds treated with aloe gel healed almost 40% faster than wounds treated with petroleum jelly
  5. Early research [2] has shown that one of the components in aloe can actuallydelay the progress of skin cancer. This is the most exciting news to date on the beneficial effects of aloe. Caveat: this is early research, and the authors are clear that more work is needed.
  6. While topical (= on skin) application of aloe has been documented to be beneficial in healing and soothing skin, benefits of its internal consumption has been a matter of some debate in the western world, with the US toxicology folks even calling it potentially carcinogenic if consumed internally [3]. This was however a lab-simulated study that didn't mirror how people actually consume aloe (internally). Moral of the story: too much of a good thing can indeed be bad, especially if not done right.
  7. Never apply raw aloe to open wounds - it aids healing, but is not a replacement for antibiotics and the like. But aloe is just great for minor irritations, lacerations and skin dryness
To summarizeeven the most skeptical of scientists believe that aloe does a world of good (both externally and internally). Evidence is building up on the use of aloe for more serious health issues, and thankfully, there aren't too many concerns on its safety if used within limits - like anything should be. Say hello to aloe, if you haven't, yet!



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