Aloe vera is a plant species with several medicinal and nutritional uses. The plant has green, gel-filled leaves. Many people use the gel to treat burns and wounds, and it is also available as juice.
Benefits of aloe vera juice: Aloe vera juice has traditionally been a part of many Ayurvedic preparations, medicines and tonics.
Aloe vera is a succulent plant that has been used for medicine since as far back as ancient Egypt. Both the juice (the odorless, clear liquid from the innermost part of the leaf) and gel (which is yellowish in color and bitter in taste) are believed to have medicinal properties.
Aloe vera juice is typically taken by mouth, while aloe vera gel is usually applied to the skin. The gel, also known as latex, contains a compound called aloin which has strong laxative effects. In fact, up until 2002, aloe latex was used in over-the-counter laxatives until the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) discontinued its use due to concerns that it may cause cancer.
Some of the most prized ingredients in the world of Ayurveda are commonly available around us. They can be lurking somewhere in the kitchen or quietly growing in a neighbour’s herb garden. One such example is aloe vera. Ghritkumari, as known in Hindi, it is capable of curing a range of ailments with its numerous health benefiting properties.
Aloe vera juice has traditionally been a part of many Ayurvedic preparations, medicines and tonics. “It provides complete nourishment to the body,” shares Dr. Ashutosh Gautam, Clinical Operations and Coordination Manager, Baidyanath. We tell you benefits of aloe vera juice.According to Dr. Rupali Datta, “Aloe vera is an important ingredient for food, pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry. Recent studies published in various scientific journals have shown that oral consumption of aloe vera juice can facilitate controlling blood sugar and lowering lipids in diabetics and hyperlipidemia patients.”
Acne, digestive woes, and heartburn may be common problems, but they’re not ones that are easy to solve. They can have a tremendous impact on quality of life, so we can’t be blamed for hoping that a quick fix like celery juice, lemon water, or the latest craze, aloe vera juice, might offer up a solution. The claimed health benefits of aloe vera juice range from clear skin and silky soft hair to constipation and heartburn relief. Unfortunately, the data is all anecdotal—but there’s a heck of a lot of it! A quick Instagram search pulled up nearly 30,000 posts about aloe vera juice.
What Is Aloe Vera?
Aloe vera, most commonly known as Aloe barbadensis is a succulent native to tropical regions, and has been used as a medicinal plant for centuries. It thrives in a dry climate and has become a popular household plant because of its low maintenance and care.
Aloe vera gel is the clear, thick, gooey substance that can be harvested from the aloe plant when the leaves are cut. The gel can then be used topically over burns or as a moisturizer. It can also be blended into smoothies or mixed into juices or elixirs for digestion and other internal health benefits.
What Is Aloe Vera Juice?
The aloe vera plant is a succulent plant species from the genus Aloe. It grows abundantly in tropical climates and has been used for centuries as a medicinal plant.
Aloe vera juice is a gooey, thick liquid made from the flesh of the aloe vera plant leaf. It’s commonly known to treat sunburns. But drinking this healthy elixir in juice form provides you with a number of other health benefits.
Aloe vera juice is made by crushing or grinding the entire leaf of the aloe vera plant, followed by various steps to purify and filter the liquid. With a mild, tolerable flavor, the juice mixes easily into smoothies and shakes. This makes aloe vera juice a practical whole food supplement.
Vitamins, Minerals and More
loe vera is full of good stuff—75 active components to be exact. The naturally-occurring vitamins, minerals and amino acids in the plant are necessary for good health. To understand how aloe vera can be a disease-fighter, it’s best to understand what’s exactly inside the clear gel.
Aloe vera includes several necessary vitamins: A, C, E, B1, B2, B3, B6, and B12.
Vitamins A, C, and E are antioxidants and help fend off free radicals which can contribute to cancer, heart disease and other illnesses.
Aloe contains 12 organic compounds called anthraquinones. Aloin, which causes a laxative effect, and emodin help with pain relief and work as antibacterial and antiviral agents. Anthraquinones are often removed from commercial aloe products.
Aloe vera contains a unique type of sugar called Acemannan. The polysaccharide is believed to have antiviral properties, ease gastrointestinal problems and stimulate the immune system.
Aloe vera consists of four plant-based fatty acids which are shown to have anti-inflammatory and antiseptic qualities. The acids also contain pain-relieving components.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), aloe vera contains 20 amino acids, seven of which are essential.
The plant also has hormones that aid in wound healing and eight enzymes.
Health Benefits of Aloe Vera Juice
Aloe vera gel is often applied to the skin to treat sunburn, burns, and eczema. It has a soothing effect that may aid in the treatment of genital herpes, poison oak, poison ivy, and radiation-induced skin reactions. Proponents claim that aloe vera can even speed the healing of wounds and reduce the severity of psoriasis.
When taken orally as a juice or dietary supplement, aloe vera’s laxative effects can help ease constipation. It is also believed by some to aid in the treatment of peptic ulcers, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis. There have even been suggestions that aloe vera can help normalize blood sugar in people with diabetes.
The aloe plant is very water-dense, so it’s an ideal way to prevent or treat dehydration. Staying hydrated helps your body detox by providing a way for you to purge and flush out impurities. The juice also packs a hefty punch of nutrients that optimize your body’s organ output.
This is crucial, because your kidneys and liver are largely responsible for the task of detoxifying your blood and producing urine. For this reason, you need to keep them healthy.
Recovery from heavy exercise also requires rehydration through the intake of extra fluids. Your body requires more fluids in order to flush and rid itself of the lactic acid buildup from exercising. Try aloe vera juice instead of coconut water after your next hard workout.
People who experience periodic constipation may use aloe vera juice as a natural laxative.
The outer portion of the plant contains compounds called anthraquinones, and these have a laxative effect.
If a person is trying aloe vera juice for the first time, they may wish to start with a small serving. One serving is usually 1 cup or 8 ounces (oz) of juice.
While researchers are aware of aloe vera’s laxative effect, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have not established that the plant is safe to use for this purpose.
People who are frequently constipated should speak to a doctor about appropriate laxatives for long-term use.
Fights Digestive Disorders
Daily consumption of aloe vera juice is believed to fight and cure a range of digestive disorders including poor digestion, constipation, acidity and gas. It is also beneficial in boosting appetite and keeping a check on weight gain.
Burns and Wounds
One of the most popular uses of aloe vera gel is to aid in the healing of sunburns, burns, contact dermatitis, and minor cuts and abrasions. The freshly extracted gel has a cooling effect that may provide short-term relief of pain and itchiness. Whether it can actually speed healing is another issue.
The same results were seen in studies investigating the use of aloe vera in people with plaque psoriasis. A small study from Denmark involving 41 adults with stable plaque psoriasis concluded that aloe vera gel, applied twice daily for a month, was less effective than a placebo in relieving psoriasis symptoms.
Aids in Digestion
Aloe vera is popular in natural health as a digestion aid.
Aloe is chock full of antioxidants which promote a strong immune system and the polysaccharides also have anti-inflammatory qualities. Some people use aloe to help with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcers and to detoxify the intestinal track
Aloe vera is soothing to the mucosal tissues in the gut,” says Kelly Morrow, MS, RD, CD, a faculty member in the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Science at Bastyr University in Washington.
Morrow, who is also a clinical supervisor at Bastyr Center for Natural Health, has used aloe vera gel to ease irritation in the digestive track in patients going through chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
Those suffering from gastroesophageal reflux disease, commonly known as GERD may also be in luck. Some people use aloe vera to reduce the symptoms from damaged tissues caused by the disease.
“It’s soothing to any kind of irritation,” Morrow says.
Although aloe vera can be helpful, Morrow says it’s more common to recommend multiple supplements to her patients.
“For gastritis, aloe isn’t at the top of my list,” she asserts.
Instead, she recommends glutamine, which is an amino acid produced in the muscles and transported to organ via blood, with aloe as an additive.
Blood Sugar Regulation
Aloe vera has been proven to have “some” beneficial effects in improving conditions such as prediabetes and diabetes type 2. A study has shown that when subjects ingested aloe vera in liquid and powder form, it helped improve the regulation of blood sugar levels.
When it comes to detoxing, healthy liver function is key.
Aloe vera juice is an excellent way to keep your liver healthy. That’s because the liver functions best when the body is adequately nourished and hydrated. Aloe vera juice is ideal for the liver because it’s hydrating and rich in phytonutrients.
Reducing Gum Inflammation
A small study found that swishing with an aloe vera juice mouthwash helped reduce gingival inflammation in people who had recently undergone treatments to remove plaque.
In the study, 15 participants swished with an aloe vera juice mouthwash, and 15 used none.
At the study’s conclusion, those who had used the mouthwash reported less gum inflammation.
The researchers proposed that aloe vera’s antimicrobial and antibacterial properties helped to achieve the results.
Helps Treat Anemia
Ghritkumari Saar is actively used in an Ayurvedic preparation known as Kumari Asava, useful in correcting digestive and liver disorders, anemia, jaundice and ailments related to bile duct, gall bladder, among others.
Radiation Skin Reactions
Radiation-induced dermatitis (RID) is a common side effect of cancer radiation therapy, characterized by red, flaking skin as well as frequent blisters and dermal atrophy (thinning of the skin). Studies exploring the use of aloe vera in treating RID have been mixed.
A 2013 study from Iran evaluated the effects of aloe lotion in 60 people undergoing radiation therapy. Following radiation, a thin layer of lotion was applied to half of the irradiated area of skin. After four weeks of treatment, the authors found that the areas treated with aloe had a lower grade of dermatitis than areas left untreated. The conclusions were limited somewhat by the wide variety of cancers treated.
Other studies have not reached similar conclusions.
Strengthens the Immune System
Aloe’s ability to detoxify helps keep the immune system in check. The body has a much better chance at fighting off illness and infection if as many nutrients as possible can make their way into the bloodstream.
Polysaccharides are the primary component of aloe vera gel. These compounds, which are found in plants, create the thick quality of the gel.
“Some of these plant compounds feed the immune system,” Morrow says.
These same ingredients in aloe can also irritate the immune system, but not in a harmful way, Morrow notes. Instead, the immune system ramps up because it sees these compounds as a threat. However, polysaccharides are certainly not a toxin.
“It’s the common reason why people who eat plants have a good immune system,” says Morrow.
In addition to this, the antioxidants that are present in the gel ward off free radicals which negatively impact immunity.
Prevents Stomach Ulcers
One of the biggest therapeutic benefits of aloe vera is through the treatment of digestive ailments. Stomach ulcers are painful sores in the stomach lining. They are usually easily healed, but can become severe if left untreated. Aloe vera gel is an anti-inflammatory substance which means it’s especially beneficial in treating internal lesions such as ulcers. It has been proven that aloe vera gel, if consumed on a regular basis, helps to heal the lining of the stomach and to reduce stomach ulcers.
Excellent for Hair and Skin
Aloe vera juice helps maintain smooth, radiant skin and promotes hair growth. Its topical application can relieve from superficial burns and scars. It can be used as a moisturising agent for the skin as well as the scalp.
A few studies have indicated that aloe can play a role in lowering cholesterol. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), daily intake of 10 ml or 20 ml of aloe for 3 months was shown to reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol by 18 percent and total cholesterol by 15 percent.
Provides Pain Relief
Aloe vera’s anti-inflammatory and analgesic qualities may be helpful in relieving muscle and tendon pain. The gel is sometimes used topically in sports medicine to soothe achy muscles, but taken orally, the anti-inflammatory ingredients may also help with pain.
It’s important to note that if you’re using aloe vera to reduce inflammation, you should also rebalance your diet. By eliminating unhealthy foods, the aloe vera has a better chance of working.
Reduces Dental Plaque
Preventing plaque build up is key to preventing cavities and dental issues like gingivitis and abscessed teeth.Streptococcus mutans and Candidas albicans are the main cause of plaque in the mouth. The antibacterial compounds in aloe vera target these two strains of bacteria and yeast. In a study, Aloe vera juice was been compared to a standard ingredient in medical grade mouthwash, chlorhexidine. In fact, aloe juice was proven to be just as effective as mouthwash in reducing plaque.
Relieves Arthritis Pain
Arthritis is a chronic condition in which joints are inflamed causing pain and stiffness. Aloe vera contains several enzymes and amino acids that are known to have anti-inflammatory qualities. Evidence is limited, but some people take aloe vera gel orally to ease the pain of arthritis.
Relieves Acid Reflux
Acid reflux can arise when stomach acid flows back up the esophagus. Acid reflux symptoms include a burning sensation in the chest, bloating, nausea and cough. Aloe vera juice is known to have a soothing effect for those with acid reflux symptoms.
Moreover, the bad bacteria in the gut (H. pylori, candida and SIBO) can produce gas that can cause bloating and discomfort in the abdomen. This bad bacteria also can also cause the opening of the esophagus to weaken and acid to rise. The antibacterial properties of aloe vera kills the bacteria associated with acid reflux and improves digestion so the system can come back into balance.
Aloe Vera Side Effects, Drug Interactions and Contraindications
Caution should be taken when ingesting aloe vera as there can be potential side effects. The aloe latex—the yellow juice near the rind—is where most of the danger lies. However, ingredients in the more commonly used gel itself can also be harmful to some people. Always test a small amount to ensure you aren’t allergic to the plant.
Here is a list of potential side effects. When in doubt, always check with your doctor.
- Regular use of the entire leaf—which includes the latex—can deplete potassium in the body. Electrolyte imbalances can lead to muscle weakness and cardiac problems. According to the NIH, ingesting one gram of aloe latex for multiple days can be fatal.
- Products containing the latex will exacerbate intestinal illnesses such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
- People with diabetes should monitor their blood sugar levels when using aloe.
- Ingesting any form of aloe is not recommended during pregnancy as it may cause uterine contractions or miscarriage. Aloe should also be avoided during breastfeeding.
- Excessive use of aloe latex may cause kidney failure and shouldn’t be used by people with kidney problems.
As mentioned above, aloe vera can lower blood sugar levels which can be problematic for people taking insulin or hypoglycemic medication. Because there is the potential for low potassium counts from aloe, people who take medication (Digoxin) for heart rhythm problems may see adverse effects when using aloe.
It’s possible that aloe may decrease the body’s blood clotting abilities. Taking aloe orally before surgery is not recommended since certain anesthesia also decreases blood clotting.
If used topically, the NIH states that aloe may increase the absorption of steroid creams (hydrocortisone).