Is Aloe Vera Juice Really Good for You?
From the skin- and hair-care aisles to the dietary supplement ones, retail stores are loaded with products containing aloe vera. Aloe vera, sometimes called a miracle plant, has been used for centuries due to its health properties. Ancient civilizations like the Egyptians and Greeks used topical aloe to treat wounds, hemorrhoids and hair loss. Over the past few years, aloe fans have said that taking it orally can aid your digestion, reduce inflammation and stabilize your blood sugar.
Let's take a closer look at what aloe vera juice is, whether or not it's good for you, and any possible side effects you should keep in mind.
What Is Aloe Vera Juice?
Aloe vera is a succulent plant that grows in hot, dry climates like deserts. There are more than 420 species of the genus Aloe. Places like Texas, Florida, Mexico, Central and South America, India, Africa and Iran, among others, have perfect conditions to grow this plant.
Aloe vera leaves have three layers—the outer layer, known as the skin or rind; the middle layer, which contains the latex; and the inner layer, where the gel is stored. As you might imagine, aloe vera gel is extracted from the inner layer, whereas the juice is mainly made from the skin of the leaf.
The nutrition of aloe vera juice could vary depending on whether you make your own aloe juice or the brand you buy. Many store-bought options contain added sugars and other additives.
But generally, a 3.5-ounce serving of aloe vera juice contains:
- Calories: 15
- Protein: 0 g
- Fat: 0 g
- Total Carbohydrates: 3.75 g
- Total Sugars: 3.75 g
- Fiber: 0 g
- Calcium: 8 mg
- Sodium: 8 mg
- Vitamin C: 3.8 mg
Health Benefits of Aloe Vera Juice
Historically, aloe gel has often been used topically for hair care and to treat skin conditions such as burns, wounds, acne, insect bites and psoriasis. Recently, aloe vera juice has gained popularity in the wellness world, with claims that it's an elixir for many health ailments. Here are some of the health benefits attributed to this cactus-like plant.
May Reduce Inflammation
Have you heard of free radicals? Free radicals are harmful and unstable molecules we're constantly exposed to. Some sources of free radicals include tobacco smoke and air pollution. High exposure to these molecules can cause oxidation, damaging your cells and increasing the risk of health conditions. Antioxidants are compounds that fight free radicals and protect you from oxidative stress. Aloe vera may help reduce inflammation, thanks to its antioxidant properties. The skin of aloe vera contains polyphenols, a type of antioxidant found in plants. Other foods that are rich in antioxidants include berries, kale, coffee and nuts.
Related: Best Antioxidant-Rich Foods
May Relieve GERD Symptoms
Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a common condition that affects around 20% of the U.S. population. GERD causes your stomach's content to rise back up into your esophagus. As a result, you can experience heartburn and regurgitation. Other common symptoms of GERD include bad breath and a dry cough. Taking aloe juice is thought to help relieve some of these symptoms. A randomized controlled trial published in December 2015 in the Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine showed that aloe vera might be a safe and effective remedy for GERD symptoms. However, more research is needed to confirm its effectiveness and safety.
Could Soothe Constipation
Many factors, including your diet, stress levels and how much water your drink, can modify your poop's consistency. Drinking aloe vera juice may help when you're feeling backed up. Research shows that aloe vera contains anthraquinones, compounds that have laxative effects and can relieve constipation. Additionally, a 2018 meta-analysis published in the Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility found that aloe vera can soothe the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Yet, in 2002, the Food and Drug Administration instructed all manufacturers to remove aloe vera from over-the-counter laxatives because of safety concerns. Frequent use of laxatives can cause diarrhea, leading to severe dehydration and other health concerns. That's why asking your doctor if aloe vera is the right option to improve your digestion is important.
Recipe to Try: Aloe Smoothie
Could Help Treat Diabetes
According to the American Diabetes Association, around 1.4 million people in the United States are diagnosed with diabetes mellitus yearly. As of 2019, 11.3% of the American population lives with this condition. Lifestyle habits, weight and family history can influence your risk for type 2 diabetes. Diet plays a major role when it comes to preventing and managing diabetes. The foods you eat affect your blood sugar levels.
Traditionally, aloe vera has been used to ease the symptoms of diabetes like high blood sugar. Research suggests that consuming aloe vera can help reduce fasting blood glucose levels and A1C levels in people with type 2 diabetes. Both FBG and A1C are key indicators used when managing diabetes. Diabetic foot ulcers are a common complication in people with diabetes. A 2021 study published in the Journal of Wound Care found that the topical use of aloe vera could speed up the healing process of these wounds. Although these studies are pretty promising, more research is needed to conclude the benefit of aloe vera for diabetes.
The Bottom Line
These days you probably don't just choose foods because they give you energy. You look for food options with additional nutrients and health benefits. There's promising research that aloe vera can provide health benefits, although more studies are needed. Remember that the world of supplements is unregulated. It's always a good idea to ask your healthcare provider before taking any supplements such as aloe vera juice. If you are pregnant, breastfeeding or have a latex allergy, you should be extra careful. To be completely safe, you can stick to the topical benefits of aloe vera or use it as a decorative plant to purify your air.