Some months ago I went to a local natural foods store to pick up some organic produce. On my way into the store I noticed a display of herbs and plants – 3 for $10. I quickly grabbed basil, thyme and one of the last small Aloe Vera plants on the shelf. Now that some time has passed, the plant has grown enough that I felt okay about breaking off one of the leaves and using the gelatinous pulp inside on my hair. Last night I saturated my scalp and new growth with the aloe, and topped it with some Simply Organics brand castor oil. I then covered my head with my satin cap and went to sleep.
This morning I woke up to find my hair softer than ever and my scalp feeling moisturized and healthy. I’ve used Aloe Vera juice in my spritz regularly for years because of the high concentration of antioxidants and vitamins such as vitamins A (beta-carotene), C and E, which are antioxidants. Aloe Vera also contains vitamin B12, folic acid, and choline. Antioxidant neutralizes cell damaging free radicals. However, I’d never used the gel fresh from the plant until yesterday.
Aloe Vera has also been used for medicinal and beauty purposes in several cultures for millennia: Greece, Egypt, India, Mexico, Japan and China. Liquified Aloe Vera (whole leaf) is ingested by many people as a health beverage to reduce inflammation in joints and tissues, and to relieve pain.
Though basic knowledge of Aloe for moisture and growth is common in the natural hair community, I wanted to share with you some of the more specific benefits of using Aloe Vera on your hair and scalp.
1) Aloe Vera Promotes Hair Growth
According to University of Hawaii researchers, we can trace the use of Aloe Vera for hair loss back to the ancient Egyptians. In fact, Aloe Vera contains enzymes that directly promote healthy hair growth. These proteolitic enzymes are able to to eradicate dead skin cells on the scalp that could be clogging the the hair follicle, not allowing for the proper penetration of nutrients in the hair. Conditions like seborrhea, which occurs from an accumulation of sebum on the scalp, can contribute to partial baldness. Aloe Vera’s keratolic action, breaks down the sebum and dead scalp cells, allowing for further hair growth. Also, Aloe Vera’s alkalizing properties can help bring the scalp and hair’s pH to a more desirable level, resulting in further hair growth promotion, while helping the hair retain water and moisture.
2) Aloe Vera Has Anti-Pruritic Properties
Anti-pruritic properties are those that can alleviate itching and dryness. Pruritus ailments include vexing skin and scalp issues, like psoriasis and Eczema. Psoriasis is an auto-immune disease characterized by the excessive production of skin cells. Aloe Vera’s enzymatic properties enable Aloe to destroy excessive dead skin cells, while conditioning the skin and scalp. Since excess skin cell production is at the heart of Psoriasis’ existence, you could see why Aloe is able help eliminate this issue. Aloe can also reduce the redness, scaling, itching and inflammation of scalp psoriasis, which directly benefits the hair as well. In a study reported in Indian Journal of Dermatology, more than 80 percent of the psoriasis patients treated with Aloe Vera showed improvement.
3) Aloe Vera is an Anti-inflammatory
Historically, one of the primary uses of Aloe Vera has been to reduce redness and inflammation both internally and externally. In fact, Aloe Vera has long been used on burns and external wounds as an antiseptic to reduce swelling, and eliminate bacteria. This is a great attribute to have in our ammonia-free hair color and care products because it helps soothe those that have a sensitive scalp and are prone to irritation. The ingredients responsible for this calming property is Bradykinase, and analesgic anti-inflammatic enzyme, as well as salicylic acid, which is an aspirin-like compound with anti -inflammatory, analgesic, and anti-bacterial properties.
4) Aloe Vera Reduces Dandruff
Because of the aforementioned enzymatic breakdown of dead skin cells from Aloe Vera, this awesome plant has also been used for the treatment of dandruff. There could be many underlying causes of dandruff (like the previously mentioned conditions), but some doctors attribute its existence to malassezia, a fat-eating fungus that can live on the scalp. Luckily, in addition to breaking down the dead skin cells, Aloe Vera also has anti-fungal properties, as well. This is because the fungus thrives in an acidic environment, and the alkalizing attributes of Aloe Vera counters this lucrative fungal environment, disallowing further growth and buildup.
5) Aloe Vera is Being Used to Treat a Wide Variety of Diseases
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine states that aloe vera is being used to treat diabetes, arthritis, epilepsy, and asthma. It is often used topically on burns and sunburns, but is also used to help treat psoriasis. The gel inside the aloe vera plant can be spread directly on the skin, and the leaves can be juiced. There is scientific documentation that aloe vera is useful for the following health issues: dermatitis, psoriasis, herpes simplex virus-2, burns, type 2 diabetes, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and preventing cancer. There is also clinical proof that aloe vera works for ulcerative colitis, some cases of wound healing, radiation burns, acne, frostbite, and constipation. Traditional literature suggests empirical evidence that aloe vera can also be used in the treatment of alopecia (hair loss and baldness), parasite infections, lupus, and arthritis.
6) Aloe Vera is a Wonderful Hair Conditioning Treatment
In addition to soothing and eradicating any skin and scalp problems, the benefits of Aloe Vera for Hair as a a great conditioning agent is excitingly overwhelming. The gel-like substance of the aloe barbadensis leaf gives it a similar chemical composition of keratin, the naturally occurring protein in hair cells. This structural similarity allows for easier penetration along the entire length of the hair shaft. It has been proven that the skin can absorb the benefits of Aloe Vera up to 7 layers deep; as our scalps are more absorbent than our skin, can you imagine the conditioning benefits available to the scalp! The combination of Aloe Vera’s 20 amino acids (which are the building blocks of hair and scalp) also adds both strength and a healthy shine to the hair.
Benefits of Aloe Vera for Hair Summarized:
- Relieves itchy scalp
- Reduces scalp redness and inflammation
- Adds strength and lustre to hair
- pH balancing
- Promotes hair growth
- Heals scalps affected by psoriasis and seborrhea
- Easily penetrates hair and scalp
- Anti- fungal properties alleviates flaking and dandruff
- Helps dry hair retain moisture and pliability
Use Aloe Vera gel to treat the areas of your scalp where hair is falling out or breaking off badly. Aloe Vera contains enzymes that are reported to help promote new hair growth for some people. The gel can be applied directly to the scalp, as aloe vera typically has no side effects. Can leave it on for 30-60 minutes, then wash hair, or leave it on your scalp to absorb into the skin. Either way you can enjoy the moisturizing and medicinal benefits of a scalp made healthy with the use of Aloe Vera.
About the Author (Author Profile)Blogger, writer, relationships/dating expert, fitness trainer and natural hair enthusiast since 1997. Sharing information from grandmomma, books and scientific journals, as well as my personal discoveries and experiences with natural hair as we journey from relaxers, flat irons and weaves together.
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