If you think aloe vera is just for bug bites and sunburns, think again.

1. Everything aloe vera

Everything aloe vera aidart/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 wounds

Aloe vera speeds the healing of sores, burns, and wounds Africa 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 skin

Aloe vera soothes irritated skin Nattanan 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 skin

Aloe vera moisturizes skin Smit/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 wrinkles

Aloe vera may help treat wrinkles goodluz/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 acne

Aloe vera may help clear acne Dmytro 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 sores

Aloe vera can help treat cold sores LStockStudio/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 medications

Aloe vera may increase the effectiveness of topical creams and medications Alim 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 immunity

Aloe vera may boost immunity SUFRI 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 buildup

Aloe vera may reduce dental plaque buildup showcake/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.

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