1. Everything aloe veraaidart/Shutterstock
Many of us are quick to turn to aloe vera as the ultimate sunburn solution after a long day at the beach—but it’s those same soothing and healing benefits that can make the prickly plant ideal for all sorts of bodily uses. According to Britt Brandon, AKA the Ultimate Fit Mom and author of The Everything Guide to Aloe Vera for Health, you can incorporate aloe vera into your daily routine in simple ways. “Implement aloe into the diet by adding to smoothies, salads, etc.,” she says, “or utilize aloe vera for topical applications by combining it with other products.” And with aloe available in a variety of forms (powder, liquid, and gel), high-quality store-bought selections can reap the same benefits as those straight from the plant. Just make sure the product has been approved by the “International Aloe Science Council (IASC), which monitors the production and manufacturing of quality aloe products,” she advises.
2. Aloe vera speeds the healing of sores, burns, and woundsAfrica Studio/Shutterstock
The plant contains anti-inflammatory compounds to help heal agitated skin, plus it’s also an antibacterial substance that fights off potential infections to get wounds on the way to recovery sooner. In fact, this review of four studies out of Asia, concluded that aloe vera can accelerate the healing process for minor burn wounds approximately nine days faster than conventional medication.
3. Aloe vera soothes irritated skinNattanan Boontub/Shutterstock
If you live with a common skin condition like eczema, psoriasis, or rosacea, you’ve probably tried every treatment in the book—but there’s a reason why many sufferers swear by aloe vera. “With powerful phytochemicals that help reduce inflammation, aloe vera has been found to be an effective anti-inflammatory agent,” says Brandon.
4. Aloe vera moisturizes skinSmit/Shutterstock
Ditch the scented lotions and lather up with something natural. According to a review by the Indian Journal of Dermatology, not only is aloe vera rich in vitamins A, C, and E, but it also contains minerals and antioxidants that bind skin cells to soften the outer layer and improve skin integrity.
5. Aloe vera may help treat wrinklesgoodluz/Shutterstock
No, really. By increasing collagen production, aloe vera was shown to have anti-aging effects in a study published in the Annals of Dermatology. It additionally contains zinc, which serves as an astringent to tighten pores, enhance skin elasticity, and smooth wrinkles.
6. Aloe vera may help clear acneDmytro Zinkevych/Shutterstock
If you’re prone to pimples, consider using aloe vera as a natural cleanser to clear your skin at the end of the day. Aloe vera naturally contains salicylic acid which kills off the bacteria that’s festering underneath your skin and contributing to your breakouts.
7. Aloe vera can help treat cold soresLStockStudio/Shutterstock
Aloe vera contains antiviral properties that can help fight off a herpes flare-up. It also serves as an anti-inflammatory, working to soothe and heal irritation.
8. Aloe vera may increase the effectiveness of topical creams and medicationsAlim Yakubov/Shutterstock
Before you toss out that expensive moisturizer you swore did nothing for your skin, Brandon suggests adding aloe vera to the solution for better results. “Aloe vera’s phytochemicals allow for deeper penetration of the skin’s layers and may improve the effectiveness of topically applied creams, lotions, and medications,” she says.
9. Aloe vera may boost immunitySUFRI SARUDIN/Shutterstock
Aloe vera’s anti-bacterial properties will help keep the doctor away. (So can getting your heart rate up. Check out how 20 minutes a day of moderate exercise can boost immunity). “Aiding in the body’s absorption of essential vitamins and minerals, aloe vera can help reduce the risk of developing serious degenerative illnesses and diseases that affect the eyes, bones, skin, and organs,” said Brandon.
10. Aloe vera may reduce dental plaque buildupshowcake/Shutterstock
If mouthwash is part of your daily hygiene routine, you may want to reconsider. Sure, it may get the job done, but many brands contain high levels of alcohol that can lead to dry mouth and sensitivity. As a natural alternative, try rinsing with aloe vera. This four-day study by the Ethiopian Journal of Health Science found that when used as a mouth rinse, 100 percent pure aloe vera juice was equally effective in reducing plaque as the generic mouthwash ingredient, chlorhexidine.