There are many plants with medicinal properties. Of course, they do not replace conventional medical treatments, however, they can be useful as a complementary care in some cases – such as for the relief of pain, injuries etc.
In addition, many of these plants can also collaborate for aesthetic purposes. Which makes several people grow some of them at home.
One that is well known, and present in many homes, is aloe vera (or aloe vera ). Check out a little about its benefits, ways of use and if any caution is necessary:
What is Aloe Vera?
Aloe vera ( aloe vera ) is a plant of the Liliáceas family, of the Aloe genus, so, contrary to what many think, it is not a single species. In fact, there are hundreds of these plants around the world.
However, aloe vera is certainly one of the most popular in terms of popular use.
It is a succulent plant – it has thicker roots, stems or leaves to store water in larger quantities than other species.
It has anti-inflammatory, antipyretic and healing properties. For this reason, it is widely used to treat injuries or burns on the skin (it has high power for cell regeneration). In addition to its use to treat inflammatory processes – such as rheumatic diseases.
But it can also have aesthetic purposes, for those who want to take care of beauty. In this sense, the most common use is for hair care.
In general, there is no contraindication or risk of using aloe vera. However, it is necessary to be cautious and always remember to use only the gel of the leaves and not its external part, since this can be toxic to the organism, especially if ingested.
Pregnant women, children and people with certain conditions (such as dysentery) should not use it without professional guidance.
As mentioned, the term “aloe” is popularly used to characterize plants scientifically called “Aloe” – there are more than 300 species spread around the world.
Here in Brazil, 3 of them are commonly found: Aloe Vera (or Aloe barbadensis ), Aloe Maculata and Aloe Arborescens . The first being the most common.
What differentiates them, basically, is their type of leaf and the gel found inside them. But, in the sequence you can understand a little better about each one:
- Aloe Vera (aloe vera): it is a plant of tropical climate and that has thick and fleshy leaves, with a greenish gel inside them – which is especially used for aesthetic purposes or health care (such as burn relief);
- Aloe Maculata : although very similar to aloe vera, the main point to note is that this plant cannot have the gel of its leaves applied directly to the skin, as it causes irritation (sometimes prolonged). It is easy to differentiate the species, since it has slightly reddish leaves on the tips;
- Aloe Arborescens : among the aloe species, some experts indicate that this is the one that can provide greater purification and health-related benefits, due to its phytotherapeutic properties. However, considering that it can reach more than 1m in height and diameter, its cultivation is difficult, but it can be found in mountainous regions.
Thus, although all are beneficial and similar, the most common is that the use of aloe vera (aloe vera) is made. Then, in the sequence, check out more about its different purposes and uses:
What is aloe for?
Aloe vera is a plant that has soothing and healing properties, in addition to providing a small anesthetic action and having anti-inflammatory and antipyretic effects .
Because of this, the topical use (application in the affected area) of aloe vera can be beneficial in the treatment of the following conditions:
- Fever (can be compressed with the gel and placed on the forehead, neck and wrists);
- Muscle and bone pain;
- Rheumatic pains (arthritis, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, etc.);
- General inflammatory processes (such as inflammation in the throat);
- Burns and bruises (aids in healing).
In addition, some people also choose to make aloe juice , which can help in the recovery and / or control of problems such as:
- Colds and flu;
- Respiratory disorders (rhinitis, bronchitis, asthma);
- Poor digestion, heartburn and gas;
- Low libido.
It can also contribute to better blood circulation, due to the fact that it directly helps in the elimination of excess fat and toxins from the body. In addition, it regulates and activates the functions of the kidneys and liver.
However, apart from all these forms of use and benefits, aloe vera can also have aesthetic purposes. Check and understand:
It is not difficult to find homemade hair hydration recipes on the internet. And aloe vera is an ingredient used in many of them.
It is also very common to find it in the composition of various cosmetics .
Its use for hair is beneficial due to its lubricating action on the strands, in a way that recondition and remove the dry and brittle aspect. Therefore, it can be said that it works as a type of “natural conditioner”.
Consequently, after use, the effect is more hydrated, shiny and soft hair.
The way to use it is up to you, but there are two very common options – make a spray with the aloe gel or apply it as a conditioner at the time of washing. There is no secret in the preparation:
- Spray – just mix ½ cup of the aloe vera gel with ½ cup of water and place in a spray bottle. It can be applied to damp (as leave in ) or dry (as an anti-frizz and shine) hair ;
- Conditioner – the use of aloe vera as a conditioner can be made pure or mixed with some vegetable oil (such as coconut or grape seed), to make it more emollient. It can be used around 3 tablespoons of the gel and applied at the time of washing.
For face and body
The gel of the aloe vera leaf is composed of a tissue rich in polysaccharides, among which it is worth mentioning the acemannan – which has a regenerative action on the skin cells. So it is a common ingredient in moisturizing creams and after-sun lotions.
It is also rich in vitamins A , B , C and E , as well as other minerals (such as calcium).
To include aloe vera in your skincare routine without having to invest in products, you can apply the gel on your face at night as a mask , letting the skin absorb during sleep (which is when there is more cellular activity).
In the morning, just wash your face as normal and do your usual care.
If you want to use aloe vera on the body, the process is similar. Take an amount of gel proportional to the area you want to moisturize and apply until the skin absorbs.
It is worth mentioning that, both for the face and the body, it is necessary to pay attention to use only the gel and not the green region of the aloe vera (external part of the leaf), since it is toxic .
In addition, to facilitate the application, you can deposit the gel in a refractory and beat with the help of a spoon or mixer, so that it becomes more liquid and emollient.
Does aloe reduce inflammation?
-Yeah . In its constitution, aloe vera presents a secretion rich in polysaccharides (mucilage) that has anti-inflammatory properties. So that it can reduce the symptoms of inflammation and help to inhibit the process in the body.
Basically, aloe vera can act as a type of cortisone (or corticoid). That is, similar to the drugs that are produced in order to fight inflammatory processes and act as immunosuppressants.
The biggest benefit of using aloe vera in contrast to these remedies is that it does not cause the common side effects of corticosteroids – weight gain, fluid retention, increased blood pressure, high blood glucose (blood sugar), insomnia, etc. .
However, it must be borne in mind that the use of aloe vera is a natural treatment. So that it does not replace conventional therapies in severe cases or when symptoms persist.
In these circumstances, it is necessary to seek specialized medical care.
Can you take aloe?
-Yeah . Aloe vera can be used topically (directly on the skin), through cosmetics and homemade recipes, but it can also be ingested.
However, the consumption of the industrialized drink is more recommended, since it does not have aloin, a substance present in aloe vera and which can cause irritation of the intestinal mucous membranes.
Considering that it can be difficult to find this type of product, many people opt for homemade recipes. This is not necessarily contraindicated.
The main care is never to use the green part of the plant (that is, the outer part of the leaf), but only the gel that is inside it.
In addition, moderate consumption can also prevent complications from intolerances or irritations from substances present in the plant.
How to drink aloe vera tea?
As mentioned in the previous topic, aloe vera can be ingested. Thus, this consumption can be made through drinks that have the plant as a base, which comes down to aloe vera tea and the juices that can be prepared.
Basically, the necessary care is limited to a moderate consumption and always remove the outer layer of aloe vera completely, using only the gel present inside the leaf.
Therefore, you can prepare the tea according to the following recipe:
- Gel of 1 leaf of aloe vera;
- 250mL of water;
- Juice of ½ lemon.
Just put all the ingredients to a boil and then, if you wish, you can sweeten it with honey or a little sugar. Highlighting that the use of lemon in the recipe is only to provide a more pleasant flavor to the tea.
Also check out how you can prepare aloe juice:
Aloe juice: how to prepare?
Aloe juice is very healthy and can be a great ally against poor digestion, colds, rhinitis and other conditions.
As in the case of tea, it is also necessary to remove the outer part and consume in moderation. The preparation is equally simple, you can follow the following recipe:
- Gel of 1 leaf of aloe vera;
- 500mL of water;
- Juice of 1 orange or 1 lemon.
Just beat all these ingredients in a blender and you’re done. The use of orange or lemon is only to provide a better flavor, but it also contributes due to the high vitamin C content of these fruits. If desired, you can sweeten it with honey or a little sugar.
Is it poisonous?
The outside of aloe vera can be considered poisonous . That is, its green part, which is on the outside of the leaf. So it can cause irritation if used for skin application and intestinal complications if consumed.
In general, it is more common that adverse reactions are related to improper consumption of the plant and not from its topical use.
It should be noted, in this sense, that intestinal irritation occurs due to the presence of anthraquinones in aloe vera. These substances are toxic compounds with a laxative effect, which can cause many intestinal cramps, diarrhea and dehydration.
What are the necessary precautions when using or consuming aloe vera?
As mentioned in previous topics, the main care when using or consuming aloe is to discard the outside of the leaf and use only the gel present inside it. In addition to making moderate intake and not using it to replace conventional therapies.
However, it is also worth noting that people in certain conditions need professional guidance for use or consumption. This group includes:
- Pregnant and lactating women;
- Women with inflammation in the ovary or uterus;
- People who suffer from hemorrhoids and / or anal fissures;
- People with cystitis (urinary tract infection);
- People with dysentery (intestinal inflammation accompanied by bloody diarrhea).
Apart from these conditions, aloe vera tends not to cause any complications and to have a safe use.
Alternative care, such as the use of plants for medicinal care, is increasingly common. However, do not forget that this is not a substitute for medical follow-up, especially in the most severe cases or when symptoms persist.
And to learn more about subjects like this, keep following the Healthy Minute!