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10 Benefits Of Aloe Vera You Didn’t Know

10 Benefits Of Aloe Vera You Didn’t Know

Did you know aloe vera can help clear up acne? Or that the oral administration (i.e. aloe juice) of aloe vera may be a useful adjunct for lowering blood sugar in diabetic patients? It may even help prevent certain illnesses due to its incredible antioxidant activity.

When we think of aloe vera, the first thing that usually comes to our minds is using it to sooth and heal sun burns. However, these juicy, nutrient-rich plants are used all across the world in a variety of applications that can do wonders for your health. This makes complete sense when you learn that the plant contains over 75 different nutrients, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, sugars, phenolic compounds, amino acids, and so much more goodness for our health.

Below is a list of the ten benefits of aloe vera that you probably did not know about:

1. Preventing Illness

Aloe Vera plants contain surprisingly high levels of antioxidants. Antioxidants fight free radicals (highly unstable, reactive molecules responsible for aging and cellular damage) in your body, neutralizing them and preventing those cells from exacerbating into diseases such as cancer.

Did you ever think that the age of your aloe vera plant would impact its effectiveness on your health? One very interesting study out of China found that the older the aloe vera plant (Aloe Barbadensis), the stronger the antioxidant/free radical scavenging activity! Specifically, the study found that three-year-old aloe vera extract exhibited the strongest radical scavenging activity of 72.19%, compared to two-year-old and four-year-old counterparts that were also tested (1). Basically, it suggests that Aloe Vera contains different active components and antioxidant active components to different degrees at various stages of development. So make sure to keep you aloe plant for a few years for optimal health benefits.

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2. Aids In Digestion

Aloe Vera contains eight specific enzymes that do miracles for digestion. Specifically, the enzymes contained in aloe vera help the breakdown of food sugars and fats, which ultimately aid digestion and enhance nutrient absorption. Some of these enzymes are called lipases and proteases, and their job is to break down foods and aid digestion.

3. Contains Essential Amino Acids

Did you know that aloe vera contains 19 of the 20 natural amino acids required by the human body? Naturally, our bodies only produce 12 of these essential amino acids. The remaining 8 amino acids (also known as “essential amino” acids) have to be consumed via food or drink. So next time you see an “aloe vera” drink in the store, it may not be a bad idea to have one now and again.

4. Aids In Glowing Skin

We have all heard of the miracles of “mineral makeup” by now, but you probably never would have thought that aloe contains 10 of the most important minerals for your skin {and it’s much cheaper than mineral makeup!}. The key minerals include calcium, chromium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, phosphorous, sodium and zinc. So it may not be a bad idea to put aloe vera gel/extract on your face before bed to get that fresh, lovely glow in the morning.

aloe juice2 - Copy

    5. Helps Cure Acne

    As previously mentioned, aloe contains an array of minerals, one of which is zinc. Zinc us often found in many natural vitamins and skin care products for improving blemishes. Applying aloe both topically and taking it orally can help with your acne. Zinc reduces the amount of natural oil, or sebum, produced in the skin. It may also help heal damaged skin around the acne that develops. Some research even suggests that acne formation is a result in part from lack of zinc in the diet.

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    aloe vera for skin

      6. Reduces Pain

      Aloe Vera contains many enzymes (proteins), but one in particular is responsible for helping reduce pain.  Its name is kinase, and it specifically helps reduce excessive inflammation when applied to the skin to reduce pain. There are other enzymes in aloe as well that digest all of the dead tissue in your wound, leaving more space for healing, but kinase is the most well known.

      7. Repairs Skin During Frostbite

      There’s nothing worse than having a direct or indirect injury from frostbite.  Overall, there are four stages of frost bite; (A) numbness and redness of the skin (B) swelling, ice formation, blisters, and release of a chemical called “thromboxsne” (pain releasing chemical and blood vessel constrictor) (C) damage extends to the subdermis (deepest layer of skin that attaches bone to skin, and supplies muscle tissue with blood vessels and nerves) (D) full tissue thickness resulting in blood loss and even gangrene. (2).Overall, aloe has been suggested to reduce the level of “thromboxane” (i.e. pain) and has been used clinically on this assumption to treat the more severe blisters where there is structural damage (3,4).

      One interesting clinical trial study found that topical application of aloe vera cream to humans resulted in a 68% full recovery for patients with tissue damage. Contrarily, only 33% of other patients fully healed that received other forms of treatments for tissue cellular damage from frostbite. Another shocking result from this study was that in the first group only 7% required an amputation, compared with the 33% in the second group (5).

      8. Anti-Cancer Activity

      We all know aloe’s incredible ability to heal wounds, reduce pain and help clear skin, but did you know some researchers have found it to be an incredible active agent for tumor prevention? Although the research is still not complete as to whether or not aloe actually suppresses cancer, one study and set of results from Japan really stood out (6). The study surveyed a large group of lung cancer and smoking patients in Japan and found that the ingestion of aloe ‘juice’, presumably the gel, prevented pulmonary carcinogenesis (cancer in respiratory area) and was said to also prevent stomach and colon cancer (6).

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      9. Hair Growth

      Aloe Vera activates new hair growth along with the growth of already existing hair follicles by increasing the blood circulation to the scalp. Aloe Vera contains a kind of enzyme that helps in new hair growth for some people. It also cleanses the scalp by balancing the pH level of the scalp. When the scalp is clean and blood circulation to the scalp is good, nothing can stop the proper and faster hair growth.

      10. Reduces Blood Sugar

      Diabetes is a disorder of carbohydrate metabolism characterized by a lowered insulin secretion (i.e. your body’s pancreas has a hard time converting sugar into energy). However, the causes, symptoms and treatments are varied and need to be carefully distinguished. However, one interesting study really stood out and deemed aloe useful for diabetes sufferers, or those who have trouble controlling sugar cravings/blood sugar. The study involved over 3000 “mildly” diabetic Indian patients and found a reduction in blood sugar levels in 90% of the cases after the patients were fed with bread that had incorporated aloe gel (7).

      Decreased wound healing is also a common symptom associated with diabetes. Aloe vera gel has even been found to have great inflammation-reducing properties in chemically induced diabetic mice {pretty cool!}. In a later trial, both excision and incision wounds in chemically induced diabetic rats healed more rapidly after both oral or topical applications of aloe gel when compared to another traditional chemical used for wound reduction in diabetics. (8)

      As you can now see, aloe vera plants pack a lot of benefits in their skinny little leafs. Refreshing, cleansing, healing, invigorating and detoxifying, aloe vera can make a great addition to your home life and improve your health.

      References

      (1) Yun, H., Juan, X., and Qiuhui, H., 2003. Evaluation of Antioxidant Potential of Aloe Vera (Aloe barbadensis Miller) Extract. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 51 (26), 7788-7791.

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      (2) McCauley, R.L., Heggers, J.P., Robson, M.C., 1990. Frostbite. Methods to minimize tissue loss. Postgraduate Medicine 88, 73-77.

      (3) Raine, T.J., London, M.D., Goluch, L., Heggers, J.P., Robson, M.C., 1980. Antiprostaglandins and antithromboxanes for treatment of frostbite. American College of Surgeons 1980 Surgical Forum 31, 557-559.

      (4) McCauley, R.L., Hing, D.N., Robson, M.C., Heggers, J.P, 1983. Frostbite injuries: a rational approach based on the pathophysiology. Journal of Tramua 23, 143-147.

      (5) Heggers, J.O., Pilllips, L.G., McCauley, R.L., Robson, M.C., 1990. Frostbite: experimental and clinical evaluations of treatment. Journal of Wilderness Medicine 1, 27-32.

      (6) Sakai, R., 1989. Epidemiologic survey on lunch cancer with respect to cigarette smoking and plant diet. Japanese Journal of Cancer Research 80, 513-520.

      (7) Agarwal, O.P., 1985. Prevention of atheromatous heart disease. Angiology 36, 485-492.

      (8) Davis, R.H., Maro, N.P., 1989. Aloe vera and gibberllin. Anti inflammatory activity in diabetes. Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association 79, 24-26.

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      Last Updated on March 13, 2019

      How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

      How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

      Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

      You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

      Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

      1. Work on the small tasks.

      When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

      Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

      2. Take a break from your work desk.

      Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

      Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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      3. Upgrade yourself

      Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

      The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

      4. Talk to a friend.

      Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

      Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

      5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

      If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

      Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

      Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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      6. Paint a vision to work towards.

      If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

      Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

      Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

      7. Read a book (or blog).

      The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

      Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

      Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

      8. Have a quick nap.

      If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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      9. Remember why you are doing this.

      Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

      What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

      10. Find some competition.

      Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

      Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

      11. Go exercise.

      Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

      Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

      As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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      Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

      12. Take a good break.

      Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

      Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

      Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

      Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

      More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

      Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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