Going green with 'miracle plant' Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera is having a bit of a moment right now. We take a look at its health-enhancing benefits and why it's known as the 'miracle plant'
REMEMBER when the only thing aloe vera was known for was that awful 'dad' joke, where any mention of the plant would quickly be echoed with a loud exclamation of "'Allo, Vera!" in a terrible cockney accent? (no, us neither).
Well, aloe vera has recently become a lot more mainstream, so mention the plant now and you're just as likely to hear the likes of, "Ooh it's so good for your skin", or, "So healthy!"
Not said 'allo to this super succulent yet? 'Aloe' us to introduce you.
Here are 7 reasons to add aloe vera to your wellness radar:
1. IT'S SUPER-SOOTHING
Ever been on holiday to the Caribbean and been offered aloe vera gel – squeezed straight out of the plant – to rub on sun-parched or sunburnt skin? Naturally cooling and soothing, it's often hailed for its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant qualities.
"It can help to speed up new cell growth and repair damaged tissues," says nutritionist Cassandra Barns. "That's why it's an excellent soother for irritated and burnt skin."
Can't get hold of the real thing? Cassandra suggests Skin Gel, £14.99, by What Skin Needs.
2. IT'S GREAT IN SUMMER DRINKS
Ultra-refreshing and naturally sweet, aloe vera is making its mark in the healthy drinks market. Whether you're glugging an aloe-based drink, or topping up homemade smoothies and juices with an aloe supplement, such as Simplee Aloe Health Supplement, £9.99, it's a nutrient-dense choice.
"Aloe vera is what we call a 'functional' food. In other words, it has health benefits that can enhance our wellbeing," says Simplee Aloe nutritionist Libby Limon, who lists helping to "balance energy levels" and supporting "our immune systems" among its properties.
3. THE EGYPTIANS LOVED IT
Thought superfoods were a new concept? Throughout history, people have turned to nature in a bid to bolster their health. The Ancient Egyptians dubbed aloe vera the 'plant of immortality'. In reality, it's probably not going to make you live forever, but it is packed with vitamins.
"Aloe Vera, often called a 'miracle plant', has been used in herbal medicine for over 2,000 years," adds Cassandra.
4. IT MIGHT HELP WITH BLOOD SUGAR BALANCE
Cravings, energy slumps, mood swings, tiredness... our body has lots of ways of letting us know when we're consuming too much sugar.
Sometimes, poor blood sugar balance can contribute to weight gain too, often due to a "diet high in carbohydrates with a lack of fibre, healthy fats and protein", notes Libby.
"Aloe vera has healthy polysaccharides, which have been shown to aid blood sugar balancing, and therefore can be a great tool to help weight management alongside reducing refined carbohydrates and sugars in the diet."
5. IT CAN HELP COMBAT BLOATING TOO
"Aloe Vera helps to improve the body's digestion, beating the all too common bloat which is linked to an imbalance in the digestive tract," says Libby.
Aloe Vera has been long known for its digestive benefits, which include anti-inflammatory properties and helping to support friendly bacteria."
6. IT WILL ALSO BOOST YOUR COMPLEXION FROM THE INSIDE-OUT
"Aloe vera has a special, hidden quality which allows the body to absorb vitamin C and E from other foods. The body uses vitamin C to make collagen which helps keep skin healthy and elastic," says Libby.
"And both vitamin C and E are antioxidants, which protect skin against damage and ageing. Beautiful glowing skin is also linked to your digestion, hormone balance and detoxification.
"The aloe vera inner gel also has components which help with all three of these."
7. IT ALSO MAKES A GREAT NATURAL HAIR AND FACE MASK
On the look-out for more natural beauty products? It doesn't get much more natural than this: scoop out the gooey insides of the plant, whizz through a blender and then apply to your hair for luscious, conditioned locks, or use as a soothing, replenishing face mask.