One of the coolest things about reading research on juicing is ‘re-discovering’ ancient remedies like aloe vera juice. The aloe plant has a rich history as a remedy used for thousands of years in traditional cultures. More recently, many moms (including my own) have grown aloe plants because aloe sooths burns including sunburns. But, what most moms don’t know is that aloe has other medicinal benefits which were commonly known to the the Southwest United States’s native populations. These cultures used (and still use) aloe vera juice as a digestive remedy.
Today, the internet is peppered with articles about ‘leaky gut’ (yes, it’s a real thing), Inflamitory Bowel Syndrom/Diesease (IBS / Disease), and auto-immune-related digestive sensitivities (because I have Chrons Disease, I run across these articles constantly). These digestive issues have a number of symptoms in common: a damaged gut lining, inflammation and, interestingly, lymph toxicity. Sometimes, aloe vera juice is advocated as a treatment of these and other digestive problems.
However, as aloe vera juice becomes a somewhat trendy home-remedy, cheap knock-offs and misleading marketing are also making there way onto the internet. Let’s separate fact from wishful thinking by looking at what aloe vera can and can’t do, and explore the best ways to use it (and which forms of aloe are parading as snake-oil remedies) ….
Aloe and Sun Burns: Mom Was Right!
Yes, aloe juice and the plant’s pulp help sooth a sunburn, but aloe vera juice can do SO much more! Like so many things, we often think of a ‘remedy’ only in hindsight, and miss out on the preventative benefits. That’s the case with aloe!
Sunburns are exacerbated by dehydration. But, did you know that skin hydration is enhanced with phytonutrients? They play a huge role in our skin health! When your skin is hydrated you can stay out in the sun longer without getting a sunburn.
And, drinking aloe vera juice naturally hydrates the skin! So, it can help you tolerate more sun (whether you’re looking for a deeper tan and more vitamin D, or whether you want to insure that your skin avoids damage during the time you’re already in the sun).
Interestingly, research indicates that sunscreen prevents your body from producing optimal level of Vitamin D when you’re in the sun. However, aloe vera gel has been reported to have a protective effect against radiation damage to the skin, while allowing your body to produce Vitamin D!
So, how does aloe do this? For those of us who are into the science, aloe vera contains someting called glucomannan, a mannose-rich polysaccharide. It also has gibberellin, which is a growth hormone. These two substances interact with growth factor receptors on the skin (specifically the skin’s fibroblast), which significantly increases collagen production when you put it on AND after you drink it!
. . . and wound recovery
These same substances in aloe accelerate wound contraction and increase “breaking strength” in the resulting scar tissue. This causes your wound to heal faster and for your scars to be less visable.
. . . and, yes, digestion!
After reading the literature, even though I can’t pronounce them — I’m now a fan of glucomannan and gibbrellin! These substances calms the digestive tract and heal the gut-lining. So, if you’re suffering from a chronic digestive issue, consider adding aloe vera juice to your daily diet.
So, let’s review and find some more aloe vera juice topics you may want to explore:
Top 5 Ways Drinking Aloe Will Love You Back
- It’s anti-inflammatory
- It boosts the immune system (the research deals specifically with cancer-related immune issues)
- It’s a natural antiseptic
- It supports the colon, in either case of constipation or diarrhea.
- It’s good for your entire gut-tract: – A 2004 study found oral aloe to have a protective effect on the stomach lining
BUT Watch Out for False Claims: Cutting Through the Bitter Truth
A few years ago Aloe vera was touted as a plant sources of vitamin B-12, but this is in fact false. However, sources of B-12 are dependent on animals – typically from plants grown in microorganism-rich healthy soil (‘derived’ from the animals who graze there). However, Aloe Vera intake does enhance B-12 absorption, as well as the bioavailability of Vitamin C.
Contraindications: not for pregnant or nursing mamas.
One article I read indicates that Aloe should not be consumed by soon-to-be or breast-feeding mothers. However, WHY this is the case is not clear to me. Maybe you can help explain why in the comments below?
Look out for Additives
Many aloe vera juice products contain added ingredients — including harsh fiber material — which can irritate the digestive lining of persons who are sensative (ask me how I know). If you have a sensative digestive tract, make sure that your source of aloe vera juice contains only pure aloe vera jucice.
How to Prepare Aloe
While you can purchase pre-processed whole leaf gel and juice already in most health food stores, there is a recent trend of combining it with coconut water. However, I want to encourage you to get aloe vera juice fresh. Here’s why: The National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine warned how it is not juice but the aloe latex which is most often the primary ingredient used to make conventional aloe juice, and “long-term consumption of aloe latex is associated with altered electrolyte levels, impaired kidney functioning and weakening of the muscles.”
To get it fresh, get a paring knife to slice off the peel, leaving behind the near-translucent inner part, which will have a thin yellow film, which you simply can wash off, if you wish. Then use a cold-press juicer (such as a masticating juicer) to extract the juice.(Triva: aloe vera in Latin means: truly bitter, and that yellow is the bitter)