Pop quiz: Which of the following common health problems can be treated with aloe?
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- High cholesterol
- All of the above
Answer: E, all of the above!
Best known as a topical sunburn ointment, aloe is finally coming into its own as a natural health remedy and superfood. Nutritionists have long known of the ancient plant’s healing properties, and now you can get the inside scoop in this one-stop aloe vera infographic.
- Looking for a list of additives to avoid when shopping for aloe products? It’s in there.
- Want to see how to fillet a fresh aloe leaf for your superfood smoothie? Check.
- Seeking a map of the places where the plant grows? Check.
- Curious about the history of aloe vera, and what it meant to Cleopatra? Check, check and check.
From hair conditioner to skin cream to digestive aid, aloe is often just what the (naturopathic) doctor ordered.
Some of the plant’s more surprising health benefits include:
- Antioxidant powerhouse: Packed with vitamins, including the antioxidants A, C and E, a dose of aloe in your diet just might help defeat free radicals—the villains that contribute to cancer, heart disease and other killers.
- Pain reliever: Fresh aloe leaves contain 12 organic compounds called anthraquinones. Don’t bother trying to pronounce it—just know that these superfriends help with pain relief and do double duty as antiviral agents.
- Digestive aid: Aloe isn’t just soothing on a sunburn. Taken orally, the plant’s anti-inflammatory properties work to calm the gut, easing irritation caused by everything from chemotherapy to Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).
- Immune system booster: The primary compounds in fresh aloe vera gel, called polysaccharides, create its thick, sticky quality. These aloe ingredients are also a boon to the immune system, which automatically ramps up whenever it encounters them.
- Cholesterol crasher: Studies have shown that daily doses of aloe reduce LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) by 18 percent. Skeptical? The studies were conducted by none other than the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Not bad for a humble succulent!
- Diabetes derailer: Guess what else aloe vera can do? It’s been shown to lower blood glucose levels, which can be a huge help to people suffering from diabetes.
- Arthritis antagonist: With its array of anti-inflammatory enzymes and amino acids, aloe is part of the arsenal that arthritis sufferers use to sooth stiff, inflamed joints. A-plus for aloe!
Next time you’re in the market for a natural remedy, venture beyond the sunburn soothers and take another look at aloe. There’s a lot more to this sturdy succulent than meets the eye.