When I was little, I was obsessed with the slimy, antibacterial succulent. Any time I got any little scratch or cut, I would beg my mom to slice open a leaf of aloe vera so I could slather it all over the aforementioned injury.
I didn’t know much about aloe, or any of it’s magical healing properties, I just knew it was slimy, looked cool and left a cold, tingly feeling on my skin.
As I learned more about this amazing plant, my aloe admiration began to grow.
While I don’t particularly enjoy consuming aloe (it’s a textural thing, mostly) I absolutely love using it topically.
Back when I had a ton of Candida Albicans yeast overgrowth in my body, my face would frequently break out in horrible red rashes. Aloe vera helped to soothe and calm these breakouts, so I used it often.
Aloe vera has been used for centuries by ancient Chinese, Native American, Mexican, Japanese, Indian, and Egyptian civilizations. According to Lily of the Desert‘s website, Cleopatra used aloe vera on her skin regularly. I don’t know how to fact check this, but she’s said to have had glowing skin, so I completely believe it.
Aloe vera contains antibacterial, anti-fungal and antiviral properties, as well as antioxidant vitamins A and E.
A wonderful addition to any vegan or vegetarian diet, aloe contains amino acids, vitamin B-12 and even choline! Choline, which plays an important role in the metabolic process, as well as maintaining cell structure, is one of the more difficult nutrients to find on a vegan diet, and is usually ingested in things like eggs, meat and fish.
When it comes to healing properties, aloe is beneficial when taken internally as well as when used externally.
Aloe is a commonly used tool in the world of gut health, due to its gentle laxative effects and anti-inflammatory properties. It helps to increase peristaltic activity in the intestines, resulting in improved bowel function. It’s also very lubricating, which soothes the gut and helps to maintain proper digestion. According to this study, aloe vera may also help to increase the good bacteria living in your gut.
Now onto the main reason I use aloe vera – its powerful skin healing properties!
When applied topically, aloe vera deeply moisturizes the skin, promotes collagen production, soothes inflammation, kills acne-causing bacteria and protects the skin from free radical damage; helping to slow down signs of aging.
Every time I apply aloe vera gel, I notice a difference in my skins overall appearance overnight.
It softens, plumps and moisturizes my skin while seriously diminishing redness. If I have any blemishes, they noticeably reduce in size as well.
I only use two types of aloe.
Bottled organic 100% aloe vera juice, and fresh, whole aloe vera leaves.
When it’s available at the health food store, I will usually opt for the fresh leaf because it has all it’s raw enzymes and nutrients intact. However, I still notice incredible benefits from using the juice as well.
If you’re using aloe juice, simply moisten a cotton pad with the juice and wipe it over your (freshly cleansed) face and neck. You can also pop a couple of aloe juice soaked cotton pads in the fridge and use them as soothing under-eye pads.
If you’re using the whole leaf, filet the leaf by slicing the green outer skin to reveal the magical goopy inner gel. I will usually just rub this into my skin, but you can also blend it to make a hydrating gel and use it that way.
It will form a protective, hydrating film over your skin. For this reason, I recommend using it in the evening before bed, so you can rinse off any remaining aloe when you wake up.
You can use the same aloe filet for another day or two – just scratch off the protective film it will form overnight. (Put any sliced pieces of aloe on a paper towel on a plate, as it can stain surfaces over time. I learned this the hard way!)
As far as consuming aloe vera, there are only two ways I’ve been able to get it down.
Method number one is to blend it into something. Overall, it has a very mild flavor, so it goes relatively unnoticed in smoothies and juices.
Method number two is chopping it up into teeny tiny pieces and dumping it into fresh coconut water. The aloe actually pairs nicely with the coconut water and makes for a refreshing beverage. I also kind of enjoy the little surprise bites of aloe with each sip.
While it’s definitely a little weird to eat, the benefits make it well worth the strange eating experience!
Overall, aloe vera is definitely on my list of the most magical plants of all time. It’s one of those things that I believe was gifted to us by nature, free to use, asking nothing in return but for us to show appreciation and love to ourselves.
If you want to read more about this fascinating plant on your own, I’ll link the source I used to write the science-y aspects of this blog post here.
If you are already a fan of aloe, let’s obsess over it together!
If you’re convinced and want to try it out, let me know if you have any questions or comments… I want to know what you think!
Peace & Healing,
xoxo – Mackenna