Aloe: A Vera Great Way to Heal Our Gut
A Bite-Size Read for Your Health and Your Waistline
When we think about aloe, it’s typically in relation to the skin. Makes sense: it’s perfect for soothing sunburns. Around this time of year, we might be using it for burns we get from the stove and oven while doing our holiday cooking and baking. But have you ever thought of drinking aloe? It can heal your insides like your sunburns! If your digestive system is out of balance, you can have a hard time absorbing nutrients. Aloe can be the perfect way to help soothe, heal and protect the GI tract. But how much aloe should we drink? Are there any side effects? What should we pay attention to when shopping for it?
Aloe vera water, or aloe juice, is the clear liquid extracted from the plant. Aloe contains more than 200 bioactive chemicals, including: vitamins, carbohydrates, minerals, amino acids, and enzymes. The nutrients found in aloe include B1, B2, B3, B12, choline, folic acid, vitamin C, beta-carotene (which is a precursor to vitamin A), and vitamin E. Those are all essential for optimal immune health and the formation of certain key enzymes in the body. It also contains small amounts of minerals in which many of us are deficient, like calcium, copper, chromium, sodium, selenium, magnesium, potassium, manganese, and zinc.
Aloe is antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral. So when we’re not feeling well, it can address all the potential sources of our unease. Aloe has a huge impact on the GI tract. It can actually heal the mucosal barrier of the gut, which is an issue for many who suffer from autoimmune conditions and leaky gut. Besides healing our GI tract, there are other benefits of aloe such as liver function support, healthy bowel function, and helping with skin conditions like psoriasis and acne. Specifically, the most active part of the aloe plant is the beta-glucan which locks hydration in and prevents moisture loss from the skin. According to the NIH, there is also approved clinical evidence or studies available for showing that it lowers LDL, increases HDL, decreases blood glucose level, and can help in supporting the treatment of genital herpes and psoriasis. There’s a reason aloe’s called the wonder plant!
So how do we find high-quality 100% aloe juice? It’s actually more difficult than you may think. Aloe has a slightly bitter citrusy flavor. The taste of it can actually vary based on when it was harvested. This means the aloe content can actually vary dramatically every time you buy a drink. That makes it tricky to find actual 100% aloe juice. False marketing doesn’t help: manufacturers can actually put a bottle of water with one drop of 100% aloe juice in it and then sell it labeled as 100% aloe juice. To find actual aloe juice, try to find one that’s certified by the International Aloe Science Council, which is an organization that helps verify the aloe content and the purity. There’s one more thing to look for: below the surface of the thick, fleshy part of the aloe leaf is a component called aloin. This has strong laxative properties and can cause cramping or diarrhea, so I would recommend you choose a drink that has the aloin removed.
Now that we know how to find good quality aloe, how much should we drink? If you’re trying to treat something at the beginning of the gastrointestinal system such as your throat, you might want to drink one or two ounces. If you’re looking at something more in the stomach, you might need four to six ounces. If you’re going even lower in the GI tract, it could take six to eight ounces so that it can get there. When drinking aloe juice, you can drink it straight or add it to a glass of water and sip on it. As a reminder, make sure to check your medications for any contraindication. Aloe can increase the side effects of some meds, specifically ones that are considered substrates of cytochrome. If you take any medications, speak to your pharmacist about contraindications.
All in all, aloe can be incredibly powerful to heal and protect the GI tract’s digestion and immune functions. Before purchasing aloe juice, be sure to read the labels for the International Aloe Science Council seal, added ingredients and quantity of aloe, hopefully with the aloin removed. Now you can tell your friends that aloe can heal way more than just your sunburn!