As we enter the last few months of the year and the first few of the next, several things come to mind: holidays, parties, cold weather, and cold/flu season. A little aloe vera can go a long way to help ensure you enjoy the best of the season and sail through the rest.
Why aloe vera
This hardy, versatile succulent is perhaps best known as a natural remedy for sunburn, minor cuts and scrapes, and insect bites, but it’s much more. In fact, its medicinal uses go back millennia and have survived the test of time.
Aloe vera is available as a gel, liquid, and powder and as an ingredient in various cosmetics and personal care products, such as lotions, creams, mouthwash, and shampoos. The plant is easy to grow on your windowsill or patio, so you can virtually have aloe vera at your fingertips for topical use. However, when consuming aloe vera, it is recommended to choose commercial brands that have removed the aloin, a bitter and toxic compound found between the outer leaf and inner gel.
Aloe vera and immune function
As colder weather moves in, kids go back to school, and people tend to stay indoors more than at other times of the year, we are all exposed to an increased risk of cold, flu, and other infectious possibilities. One way to ward off these risks is with aloe vera.
The results of a randomized control trial published in 2021 evaluated the impact of an aloe vera gel on 100 healthy individuals who received an influenza vaccine and their risk of developing an upper respiratory tract infection. Half of the participants also received aloe vera gel. Four weeks after receiving the vaccine, the authors noted a reduced number of upper respiratory tract infections among those who received aloe vera compared to the control group.
Several other studies have shown the potential healing power of aloe vera. These studies have been conducted primarily in laboratories and in animals and demonstrated this plant's antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal abilities, which is a good source of antioxidants.
Aloe vera and stomach issues
It can be challenging to resist a second piece of your favorite aunt’s cherry pie during the holidays or to walk past the cookie trays, assorted nuts, egg nog, and festive punch bowl. So you may tend to overindulge a bit—or a lot—and regret it within hours or the next morning.
Aloe vera gel or juice can ease the discomfort and pain of overindulgence. The many anti-inflammatory factors in aloe vera and vitamin C may all combine to ease digestive issues. Research has shown that drinking aloe vera juice can “facilitate digestion and intestinal transit” and prevent stomach ulcers. Its many compounds, including anti-inflammatory and antioxidant factors, may contribute to the digestive benefits.
For example, aloe vera contains amylase and lipase enzymes: the former metabolizes sugars, starches, and fats. Aloe vera also has acemannan, a polysaccharide found in the plant's inner leaf that helps with digestion. Be sure to buy products containing aloe vera's inner leaf to reap the digestive benefit. Also, look for aloe vera products that contain herbal digestive aids, such as peppermint, ginger, slippery elm, fennel, and chamomile.
Aloe vera festive drinks
These aloe vera festive drinks do it all: they taste great, won’t cause a hangover, provide immune system support, are easy to make, and could possibly make you the best hostess or host of the season.
Citrus and Herb Immunity Mocktail
Every ingredient in this holiday beverage packs immune support, plus you have the addition of digestion help from aloe vera. Thanks Lily of the Desert for the recipe.
- 8 oz lemonade (unsweetened)
- 8 oz blood orange juice
- 1 Tbs honey
- 4 Tbs aloe vera juice
- Sprig of rosemary
- Lemon or orange slices for garnish
Place all ingredients except garnish into a jar or shaker with a tight lid and shake until well blended. Pour into frosted glasses and serve with garnish.
A delicious blend of sweet, sour, and tart will be good for digestion and immune function.
- 4 oz pineapple juice
- 2 to 4 oz aloe vera juice
- 2 Tbs unsweetened cranberry juice
- 1 Tbs honey or agave nectar, optional
Combine all ingredients in a jar or shaker with a tight lid and shake until well blended.
Aloe vera can be a part of your cold weather and holiday season plans. Use aloe vera to brace yourself against immune system assaults and those from overindulgence. Also, enjoy aloe vera in your festive beverages for a healthier indulgence.
[Editor's Note: We've been big fans of aloe for many years and our favorite brand has a new website where you can buy online. Check it out and stock up on aloe for your holiday season.]