There are more than 300 species of the aloe plant, but Aloe barbadensis (aka aloe vera) is the best known and is prized in the health and beauty worlds for its healing properties.
What Are the Potential Health Benefits of Aloe Vera?
There’s not enough evidence to prove that aloe vera can treat all the health issues it’s said to help with. (2) But the plant has been linked to many potential benefits, including:
Digestive help Aloe latex contains aloin, which is an anthraquinone that gives aloe vera its laxative properties and may help treat constipation. (5)
Treating skin conditions, such as psoriasis and acne Aloe creams have a calming effect on the skin and have been shown to help reduce itchiness and inflammation. (4)
Sunburn relief Some people swear by aloe to calm a sunburn. You might have experienced the gel’s cooling effect yourself, but the research backing up the claim that it can speed skin recovery is lacking. One small study, for instance, found aloe vera didn’t have any effect on treating a sunburn when compared with a placebo. (6)
Wound healing Aloe gel may help expedite the healing process of burns or cuts on the skin. (4)
Heartburn relief Researchers found aloe vera helped lessen several symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), including heartburn, belching, and vomiting. (7)
Lower blood sugar A study found drinking two tablespoons of aloe vera juice every day for two weeks helped lower the blood sugar levels among people with type 2 diabetes. Triglyceride levels of the study participants also improved — a big deal for those with diabetes, because they're at an increased risk of developing heart disease. (8)
What Are the Various Types of Aloe Vera That People Use?
There are two medicinally useful parts of the aloe vera plant. First, the leaves are filled with a clear gel. This gel is extracted from the plant and usually used on the skin to treat burns and various skin conditions. The gel can also be found in liquid or capsule form and taken orally. (2)
The second substance the plant produces is called aloe latex. This is the yellow pulp that’s found just under the outer part of the plant leaf. Aloe latex has been shown to have laxative properties, and it’s usually taken orally to treat constipation. (4) The latest in aloe vera trends is the introduction of aloe-based drinks, such as aloe vera juice and aloe vera water. The plant juices are usually mixed with citrusy juice to make aloe vera juice or water to make aloe vera water.
Aloe vera on its own can taste a little bitter, so many brands will add flavor or sweeteners to the bottle. Take a look at the bottle’s ingredients list to make sure it’s not packed with loads of added sugars.
By Moira Lawler
Medically Reviewed by Kelly Kennedy, RD