Applying aloe vera gel to a burn or sunburn can alleviate pain and help the skin heal more quickly. But many people also advocate drinking the aloe vera juice. What are the benefits and risks of drinking aloe juice?
Carrie asks: “Is it true that aloe vera juice helps with intestinal health? And if so, what should I look for in a quality juice?”
What Is Aloe Good For?
The juice of the aloe vera plant has been used throughout the ages, in particular as a skin soother. The viscous gel that oozes out of the leaves of this succulent plant can moisturize your skin and cool minor burns or irritation. And, by the way, natural aloe gel is colorless. Those bottles of bright green aloe vera gel you sometimes see owe their technicolor hue to artificial colorants!
Studies confirm that aloe vera juice has antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties when applied topically. Applying to a burn or sunburn can alleviate pain and help the skin heal more quickly. Some people keep an aloe plant handy in the kitchen, a sort of living first aid kit.
But many people also advocate drinking the juice of the aloe vera plant, saying that it can relieve heartburn, alleviate IBS, lower your blood sugar, and a broad range of other claims.
Benefits of Drinking Aloe Juice
Let’s get the silly stuff out of the way first. Drinking aloe vera juice will not alkalize your blood (good thing, too, because you wouldn't live long if it did!). It also won't clear up your acne, or aid in detoxification. In fact, there are concerns that long-term use of aloe vera could actually harm your liver, not support it.
Aloe vera juice will not hydrate you any faster than regular water. And although aloe vera contains a few vitamins and antioxidants, it’s not a nutritional powerhouse. You can get these nutrients in greater quantities from much better-tasting foods.
Can Aloe Help the Digestive Tract?
Now, some of the claims for aloe vera juice actually have some research behind them. One study did find aloe to be somewhat effective in reducing symptoms of reflux and another suggested that it could reduce symptoms in people with ulcerative colitis. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem to be as useful for people with IBS.
Some aloe juice products, especially whole leaf preparations, contain a substance called aloe latex, which is the juice that comes from just under the skin of the plant. Unlike the clear gel in the center of the leaves, aloe latex is yellow in color.
Aloe latex has a rather potent laxative effect. In fact, it used to be marketed as an over-the-counter laxative. But in 2002, the FDA ruled that aloe latex could no longer be sold as an OTC laxative because its long-term safety was not established. This did not prevent aloe vera juice from being sold as a food or nutritional supplement.