The Health Benefits of Aloe Vera plus How to Extract and Use it

Aloe vera is an incredible plant full of medicinal benefits. I love to extract the gel from inside of the leaves and use it on my skin, or store it as ice to add to a smoothie or juice. Although, I must admit, I don't consume it everyday.  It is a fantastic health busting superfood, but consuming a small quantity each week is enough, so you don't have to overdo it.  

It is succulent and is bursting with minerals including iron, manganese, potassium, copper, magnesium, zinc, calcium, chromium, selenium and sodium. It also contains plenty of vitamins, including A, C, E, choline, folic acid, vitamins B1, B2, B6, niacin and vitamin B12.  
I live in Portugal, and as it is a wild cactus plant, it just grows everywhere here.  On the roadsides you always see it, especially where people have cut its branches to gain its benefits, mainly for treating sunburn. In fact, it is so commonplace that they barely even sell it at garden centres and in plant shops.  You just help yourself!

Wild Aloe Growing in Portugal
I had a little personalised adventure just recently with the aloe vera plant - my husband burnt himself on the barbecue and I had to spring into action and apply its inner gel to his burn.  But guess what? In true vlogger style, I whipped out my phone so I could share with you guys how to apply it.  See...I always think of my readers ;)

Health Benefits of Aloe Vera

1. Aloe is a fabulous all-round skin cleanser
This is where my own personal experience comes into it; aloe has fantastic healing properties, meaning it is a top notch remedy to lay onto the skin topically.  It can be used for burns, wounds, bites and cuts.  It's an analgesic too, meaning it relieves pain from skin burns and wounds.

Take a look at my video here which demonstrates how to apply aloe vera to a first degree skin burn:-

I basically just slice the aloe vera leaf into two with a sharp knife.  With a spoon, I extract the gel inside and collect it into a small bowl.  It then apply it to the burn and wrap a bandage around to keep it in place.  The excess aloe I freeze into an ice cube mould and either add it to a juice or smoothie, or I just use it for the wound or burn again if needed.  
The gel has such a soothing effect because it really moisturises, hydrates and refreshes the skin.  It is also anti-putritic; meaning that it relieves itching, as well as it giving a light, natural collagen injection into the skin, improving the skin's elasticity and rejuvenating the skin.  It increases the oxygen supply to the skin cells, vastly improving blood flow.

2. Aloe disinfects, killing germs, bacteria, viruses and fungi
Aloe vera's active ingredients include salicylic acid, sulphur, phenol and urea nitrogen which all prevent the cultivation of bad microorganisms in our body which encourage diseases. These agents work to eliminate infections and harmful bacteria in the body.  They also treat fungal and viral infections.
Aloe Vera in Ice Cube Format
3. Aloe vera is an anti-inflammatory
Aloe vera contains an element called B-sisterole, which can slow down and inhibit inflammation.  This means where I have premature osteoarthritis in my hips, I can use just a small weekly dosage to ease my painful hip joints, improving flexibility and stiffness.

4. Aloe Vera aids digestion
Aloe vera is basically an internal cleanser which cleans and soothes our digestive tract, improving the flow of digestion.  It can also relieve constipation (although be careful not to have too much as it could have a mild laxative effect). It is also a natural remedy of treating irritable bowel syndrome.
This is me extracting the aloe gel
5. Aloe is a detoxifier
Following on from the last point made, when aloe vera enters our digestive system, it cleanses and detoxifies waste and harmful bacteria, eliminating toxins.  Great for a detox then, using aloe Vera juice or smoothie along with a fast!

6. Aloe vera boosts the immune system.
The polysaccharides in the aloe vera gel stimulate our macrophages, (they are the white blood cells of our immune system that fight infections). Aloe is also full of anti-oxidants, which fight against free-radicals, which contribute to the ageing process.

So, as you can see, there are some really fantastic health benefits to aloe vera; using it topically, and also in your diet.  However, it can have a strong bitter taste, which is why I only add a small ice cube sized portion into my smoothies, with a strong flavoured fruit to hide its taste.  Also, do not overdo the aloe vera usage; it can have a laxative effect!! 

But one great aspect of the aloe vera plant is the fact that it is just so flexible; it can grow anywhere in the world indoors, but of course only outdoors in hot climates.  So go on!  Give it a try!  If you regularly use aloe vera in your skin regime, your diet or as a healer to treat burns and wounds, let me know about your experience.  
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