During the summer months, it is more than likely you have spent a little too much time out in the yard, on the beach or enjoying an afternoon cocktail while soaking up the sun. If you did not use sunscreen, then your skin probably took on a rosy hue. If you have had a sunburn, then aloe vera has made its way into your bathroom cabinets. But what exactly is aloe vera? Does it actually help sunburns? And, what other uses does this magical plant have?
The University of Maryland states Aloe Vera has been utilized for its medicinal qualities for several thousand years, and while this plant has been used for quite a long time it’s popularity has only gained as civilization and modern medicine progress.
Aloe Vera is a perennial plant, which is classified by its spearlike leaves, which can grow to 36-inches in length. Located within the leaves is a water-like liquid; actually, aloe vera leaves are 99 percent water. Within the gel of the leaves are glycoproteins and polysaccharides. These two compounds have two specific uses when applied topically to the skin.
Glycoproteins help support the natural healing process of the body, and they also are able to reduce inflammation and reduce pain. Polysaccharides are unique compounds as they directly affect cells to promote cellular repair and growth. When these compounds are introduced on the body, they also enhance the immune systems response to infection.
The University of Maryland states aloe vera is most commonly used for skin burns. The gel of the aloe vera leaves can be rubbed topically on skins with burns and minor abrasions to help relieve pain and reduce skin inflammation. According to a study cited by the University of Maryland Medical Center, topical application of aloe vera caused skin burns and abrasions to heal 9 days faster than those who did not use aloe vera.
Other uses for aloe vera include topical application to relieve psoriasis as well as genital herpes. In the case of herpes, the application of aloe helped reduce inflammation within sores better than hydrocortisone cream. Take note, that while websites and herbal remedy aficionados state consuming aloe juice, also known as aloe latex, can help relieve constipation it is not recommended to consume aloe as it can be toxic if taken consumed orally.
The University of Maryland Medical Center – Aloe Vera