Aloe vera is a type of plant often used in creams and ointments to treat certain skin conditions. It’s a popular natural topical treatment--but when this powerful little plant is taken orally as a juice (similar to coconut water), aloe vera juice benefits may provide even more astounding health perks.
But before you run out to your local health food store to look for prepackaged aloe vera juice, it’s important to weigh its perks against some of the known drawbacks. Despite the health benefit claims natural remedy enthusiasts have been raving about, it’s always best to look for as much proof as possible first before diving into any natural remedy.
Health Benefits of Aloe Vera Juice
First, it's worth knowing that two different substances can be taken from the aloe vera plant: One is a gel-like substance found inside the leaves, while the other is yellowish substance found directly beneath the plant’s skin — called latex. Both are used for medicinal purposes, with the latex (the juice) typically used as the type for oral consumption. Many people claim that aloe vera juice can promote weight loss, improve digestion, boost immunity, reduce inflammation, and even provide a general soothing sensation overall. Unfortunately, there just isn’t enough scientific evidence out there to back all those claims.
1. Laxative: Despite the significant lack of evidence for some of the claims about its health benefits, aloe vera has long been used as a natural laxative throughout history for its ability to get the bowels moving and encourage elimination within several hours of consumption. According to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration, short-term use of aloe's latex substance is generally safe, but prolonged use may cause dehydration and an imbalance in electrolytes. There also may be a risk of diarrhea or vomiting, which is typically associated with anthraquinone contaminants of the aloe gel substance.
Preliminary evidence also suggests that people who suffer from mild to moderate ulcerative colitis can significantly reduce their symptoms by consuming aloe gel.
2. Lower cholesterol:Research has shown that consuming aloe vera orally may also reduce total cholesterol and triglycerides in people with hyperlipidemia.
3. Nutrient-dense: One thing that’s particularly clear about aloe vera is that it’s very rich in nutrients, containing a wide variety vitamins and minerals. Aloe vera contains vitamins A, C, E, folic acid, and many other B vitamins. In fact, it’s one of the only plants that actually contains B12. It also contains magnesium, zinc, calcium, selenium, sodium, chromium, iron and potassium.
4. Beauty benefits: People with irritated skin or other dermatological conditions may benefit from applying aloe vera directly to the affected areas. There’s reasonable evidence that the topical application of aloe vera can be an effective treatment of burn wounds, but there’s conflicting evidence in its use to treat psoriasis, dermatitis, and surgical wounds.
Why You Should Be Cautious About Consuming Aloe Vera Juice
In terms of consuming aloe vera juice for its suggested health benefits, the biggest risk associated with it is that the positive and negative effects on humans are still widely unknown. Some studies have been conducted on animals, but there simply hasn’t been enough experimentation yet with how it really impacts the long-term health of people.
Aloe latex used to be an ingredient used in certain types of over-the-counter laxatives several years ago, but some people who had been taking the laxatives ended up developing tolerances. The FDA made it a requirement for manufacturers to remove it due to a lack of safety data.
There have been some concerns about the consumption of aloe vera and its potential to cause cancer, but as of now, it's not certain whether that’s true or not. Depending on what part of the plant is used (gel or latex) including how it has been processed can alter its compounds and affect the body in different ways, which again only emphasizes how much research need done on the human use of aloe vera.
How to Incorporate Aloe Vera Juice into Your Diet
Talk to your doctor first before you start consuming aloe vera orally. This is especially important if you have any known allergies to plants, if you’re pregnant, if you have a history of renal or cardiac disorders, or if you’re currently taking any other medications.
You can find bottled aloe vera juice sold at some health food stores and drugstores. Aloe vera juice has a strong, pungent taste that might put some people off. For those who can’t stand drinking it straight, try mixing it into a fruit smoothie. Here's a quick recipe you can whip up that's great for fighting inflammation:
- Cook Time
- Prep Time
- 1 ripe banana
- 1 cup of fresh pineapple
- The juice from 1 freshly squeezed lime
- 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon of turmeric
- 1/2 cup of aloe vera juice or recommended serving size on bottle
- Ice cubes optional
- Water or coconut milk optional
- Put all ingredients in a blender. Add some (optional) ice, water, or coconut depending on the consistency you want and blend until smooth.