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What do sunburns, itchy insect bites, and heartburn all have in common?

Totally stumped? (Probably not, since the answer is in the title.) They can all be tackled and soothed by a small dose of aloe vera!

I can’t think of a better time than summer to stock aloe vera juice and aloe vera gel. Our skin, the largest organ we have, takes a constant toll being exposed to sun, insects, heat, and other factors. Summer travel, and even unfamiliar foods at social gatherings, can leave body’s systems screaming for a little help; and aloe vera helps with these and so much more.

Aloe vera is a super plant. It’s antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal; and these benefits are passed along to us when used.

Labeled the “plant of immortality” by ancient Egyptians, aloe vera provides healing benefits whether taken internally, or applied externally.

What to look for

When I refer to aloe vera gel, I’m talking about pure aloe gel – not the green, medicated, chemical-filled stuff. There’s a BIG difference.

Of course, skinning your own aloe plants is the best way to go. The gel collected from skinning leaves can be used right away, or skinned and preserved for a few months. Unfortunately, my aloe plants are tiny, and I use a TON of aloe vera gel, so I purchase mine. (where to buy pure aloe vera gel)

Purchasing a good bottle of aloe vera gel can be difficult. The brilliant marketing of many companies leads you to believe their product are pure, printing things like, “100% Gel.” Guess what? Sure, it’s a gel, all 100% of it, but it’s not 100% pure aloe vera gel. If you’re not careful you’ll pay for 100% chemicals, fillers, and preservatives (and a maybe a little bit of aloe vera).

Always read the ingredients and fine print; the information the company may be trying to distract you from reading (by using attractive fonts and pictures, etc.).

Let’s use an unnamed but popular brand of aloe vera gel (rhymes with Fruit of the Birth) as an example:

  • their Aloe Vera 100% gel contains: Aloe Vera Gel, Triethanolamine, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Carbomer 940, Tetrasodium EDTA, DMDM Hydantoin, Diazolidinyl Urea.

The label claims it’s “PURE.” Ummmm, fail.

They got the aloe vera part right, but Triethanolamine has been reported to have carcinogenic qualities and there’s strong evidence of it being a skin toxicant. DMDM Hydantoin and Diazolidinyl Urea are chemicals that release Formaldehyde into the product to kill microbes. I don’t want microbes swimming in my product, but I also don’t want Formaldehyde on my skin.

You will find that most natural brands include things like citric acid (as a pH balancer), potassium sorbate (mold inhibitor), or carrageenan or xanthan for thickening. (These aren’t all bad, and in small amounts may not be harmful, but I appreciate a company that looks for ways to put out a very pure product.) Carrageenan rates highest on comedogenic rating scales, meaning it is highly likely to clog pores and can cause acne. It has been suggested that potassium sorbate can be a skin irritant.

In terms of aloe vera juice, I have read that you will get the most benefits from juice made from the inner AND outer leaf of the plant. Look for aloe juice that’s labeled “whole leaf” in order to maximize health benefits when taking it internally.

The answer is to check the ingredients, educate yourself about individual ingredients, and look for the most natural aloe vera gel or juice you can find. Health food stores are your best bet for finding some good options.

Now that we know a little more let’s get on to the good stuff, shall we?

Uses For Aloe Vera

10 Uses for Aloe Vera Gel or Juice

1. Itch relief: Apply directly to the site of insect bites or stings for relief.

2. Burn relief: Slather pure aloe vera gel on a sunburn, or use to treat minor burns in the kitchen. It can also be effectively used as a gentle aftershave.

3. Leave in conditioner/scalp soother: I mix aloe vera gel with a little rosemary essential oil and a few drops of Vitamin E oil, squirt tiny bits on my scalp and ends of hair. I do not rinse, and this mixture soothes an itchy scalp and softens hair.

4. Hair styling: Aloe vera gel fights frizz in my hair and has been a great replacement for expensive styling products.

5. Mouthwash: If drinking aloe vera juice, you can simply swish it around in your mouth for a while to benefit gums. You can also make a homemade aloe mouthwash by mixing 1 cup aloe vera juice, ½ cup distilled water, 2 teaspoons baking soda, and 10-20 drops of peppermint essential oil.

6. Hand sanitizer: I make an aloe-based natural hand sanitizer  that travels with me almost everywhere. The aloe vera gel in it moisturizes my hands instead of drying like most commercial hand sanitizers.

7. Moisturizer: Skin absorbs it quickly and it’s non-greasy. I find it to be the perfect summer facial moisturizer when other moisturizers just seem too heavy and oily.

8. Drink for digestion: Aloe vera juice can be effective in aiding digestion, soothing an upset stomach, and providing relief for heartburn.

9. Vitamin absorption: A recent study from the University of California, Davis, showed that aloe vera may help your body absorb vitamins more effectively. Drinking 2 ounces of aloe vera juice along with your daily vitamins can increase absorption rates.

10. Drink to lower cholesterol: I’m not suggesting anyone ignore the advice of their medical professional, or stop taking cholesterol-lowering drugs. However, this one is definitely worth a look. Studies have shown that drinking aloe vera juice can safely lower cholesterol over time.

Disclaimer: I am not a health professional. Keep in mind this information is based on my personal opinion and research. Use these recommendations at your own risk. I recommend consulting with your health practitioner prior to taking aloe vera internally.

Aloe Vera for so much more

This only scratches the surface for ways aloe can be used. Its smooth, cool texture, healing abilities, and uses for hair, skin, and body make it a staple in our household.

What are your favorite ways to use aloe vera?

Join in the discussion and share your experience below.


Resources and References

About Betsy Jabs

Betsy holds a bachelor's degree in Psychology and a Master's degree in Counseling, and for nearly a decade worked as an elementary counselor. In 2011 she left her counseling career to pursue healthy living. She loves using DIY Natural as a way to educate people to depend on themselves to nourish their bodies and live happier healthier lives. Connect with Betsy on Facebookand Twitter.

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  1. Charli Beyma says

    I put the gel in my blender and blend until it is frothy, the finer you blend it the more juice you’ll get. Then I pour it into a fine sieve set over a bowl. It will take a while but the juice will eventually drain out.

  2. Debbi says

    I have TONS of aloe vera all over my property. I know how to make the gel…but how can one juice their own aloe?

    • Betsy Jabs says

      I’m not sure Debbi, maybe someone else can help educate us on this??? Or you may be able to find instructions by doing a quick Google search.

  3. Kristan Delle says

    I was having issues with digestion for a while when a friend recommendAloe Vera. I harvested gel from the huge leaves found at the market, but the taste was too bitter for my liking. Now, I pop the washed leaf in the freezer for 10 minutes and after it’s firmed I cut it into “pills.” They are instantly refreshing and soothing!

    • Betsy Jabs says

      What a brilliant idea! I can see a little frozen aloe “pill” being useful for so many other things too…like cooking burns or sunburns! Thanks for sharing here!

  4. Christina @ Youthful Homemaker says

    How much Aloe Vera do you drink for digestion issues? My husband has HORRIBLE IBS and I would love to be able to try something that might help him.

    • Betsy Jabs says

      I can’t say for sure, as I have only taken it internally for heartburn. (I drank 1 oz. before each meal.) His best bet is to consult a trusted health care provider for this answer. 🙂

  5. zainab says

    I tried aloe twice, I peeledit off n rubbed d juice on my face, it irritates my skin,leaves it itchy n try. Any idea on how I can use it sccessfully?

    • Charli Beyma says

      Maybe you are having a reaction to the outer skin? My nephew does that with fresh mangos. He can eat the inside of the fruit, but contact with the skin or any part of the tree gives him a rash.

      • Sue says

        Between the outer skin of the plant and the inside gel, there is a white milky substance that can be very irritating to skin. When you remove the gel, do not go all the way to the skin and then you will avoid this irritant. Hope this helps.

  6. Carolina says

    I’ve seen aloe juice but have never bought it, so I’m going to try that. Also I do grow my own aloe vera and eat that and I use green tea as a natural sunscreen so I dont waste my tea if it has gone cold.

  7. Charli Beyma says

    I make my own gel as I have several plants. I add 1 TBS AC vinegar to 4 oz. gel and it seems to inhibit spoilage. I keep it in the bathroom and can usually use it up before it spoils. I use it as a face moisturizer and a leave in conditioner. I use 2 TBS in 8 oz. water in the shower, cuts down on the frizz some. Works great on acne and rashes too.

  8. Cammie says

    Thanks for the info – we are going on vacation in August, and I’ve been trying to decide what natural remedies, etc to bring along. I think Aloe will definitely be on the list because it is so versatile.

  9. julie says

    Ok I have to pipe in on this one
    NEVER use it on a burn who’s blister has poped it can cause a serious issue ALo is good ONLY for 1st degree burns. burns with no blisters.( not only am i a cancer survivor but a burn survivor also )
    but better then aloe for burns is milk.
    Aloe will unplug an elephant so drink with care….
    now some people may blush and go TMI but Aloe pure aloe is great as a natural lube for sex after cancer treatment for a hormonal cancer like some breast cancers vaginal dryness is a big issue and the lubs on the market are full of junk and things people are allergic to this is safe to use approved by many cancer dr.
    Aloe is also great for using under your eyes at night use lightly tho
    got a foot issue like bad dry feet smear it on and kick your feet up relax
    have a ring stuck works great

    • BlogZilla says

      In regards to unpluggin-. Pure Broccoli Juice will do the same thing, So watch out. I dare anyone to come to me with a constipation problem. I’ll have them cured in 24 hours and I don’t even have a PhD