Amazing Reasons To Drink Aloe Vera Juice
One of the coolest things about reading research on juicing is re-discovering ancient remedies like aloe vera juice. Lean in and I’ll tell you what I’ve learned…
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 soothes burns, including sunburns. But what most moms don’t know is that aloe has other medicinal benefits which were commonly known to the Southwest United States’ 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), inflammatory bowel syndrome/disease (IBS / IBD), and autoimmune-related digestive sensitivities (I have Crohn’s disease so 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 their way onto the Internet. Let’s separate fact from wishful thinking here by looking at what aloe vera can and can’t do and explore the best ways to use it. While we’re at it, we’ll expose 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. Makes sense, right? Well, drinking aloe vera juice naturally hydrates the skin!
That means aloe vera can help you tolerate more sun and avoid that sunburn altogether. Let’s face it, whether you’re looking for a deeper tan and more vitamin D, or whether you want to ensure that your skin avoids damage during the time you’re already in the sun, prevention is better than having to reach for a cure.
Let’s Talk Sunscreen
Interestingly, research indicates that traditional, store-bought 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. Ain’t nature grand!?!
So, how does aloe do this? For those of us who are into the science (bear with me here), aloe vera contains something 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.
Alright now. 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 cited below 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.
Separating Truth from Fiction: Cutting Through the Bitter Truth
A few years ago, aloe vera was touted as a plant source of vitamin B-12, but this is, in fact, false. However, sources of B-12 are dependent on animals because they are typically derived from plants grown in microorganism-rich healthy soil (microorganisms are the animals that graze there). While it may not be a direct source of vitamin B-12, aloe vera does enhance B-12 absorption and improves the bioavailability of vitamin C.
Aloe vera has “contraindications”, which are warnings, that it is not to be used by 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 sensitive (don’t ask me how I know). If you have a sensitive digestive tract, make sure that your source of aloe vera juice contains only pure aloe vera juice and you can avoid this gastrointestinal fate.
How to Prepare Aloe
While you can purchase pre-processed whole leaf aloe vera gel and juice in most health food stores, there is a recent trend of combining it with coconut water. However, I want to encourage you to get pure, fresh aloe vera juice (and use a COLD PRESS – centrifugal processing produced very little juice). Here’s why: The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine warned that it is not juice but the aloe latex which is most often the primary ingredient used to make conventional (not fresh!) 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, use a paring knife to slice off the peel, leaving behind the near-translucent inner part which has a thin yellow film that you simply can wash off, if you wish. Then use a cold-press juicer (such as a masticating juicer) to extract the juice.
And here’s a bit of trivia that includes a warning: aloe vera in Latin means “truly bitter” and that yellow film is the bitter part. Forewarned is fore-armed!
How You Can Help…
For two years, I’ve scoured the internet seeking sources that can back up the health and benefit claims of fruits, vegetables, and supplements (sometimes called “boost”).
In the chart below are the health claims I and others have discovered about aloe vera. Where you see a footnote, you’ll find a link to the source.
If there is not a footnote, then that means that the specific health claim is made, but neither I nor anyone I know has been able to locate sources of research or credible anecdotes to back up the claim.
So, if you are aware of a direct source of research or anecdotes to back up the claims, please post them in the comments. I’ll check them out and if they meet our standards, I’ll make sure that they’re included in the next edition of the blog and give you a shout-out!
Reported Health Benefit Claims of Aloe Vera: