Aloe vera juice is no modern fad; it has a long history of being used as a health tonic and digestive aid in many indigenous cultures. Although of African origin, this plant enjoys a worldwide distribution in the tropical and subtropical parts of the world, earning a place in various preparations of traditional Chinese, Indian, and Middle Eastern herbal medicine streams.
Aloe vera juice can be used regularly as a general health enhancer or occasionally as a safe herbal remedy for specific problems. Here are some very good reasons for you to include Aloe vera juice in your diet.
Aloe vera juice is alkalizing
Our blood has to be slightly on the alkaline side to maintain good health. The body tries to maintain the blood pH between 7.35 and 7.45. However, pH may occasionally decrease due to many reasons. When it goes below 7.35, we become prone to many diseases. This condition is referred to as acidosis.
All foods of animal origin have an acidifying effect. Alcohol and carbohydrates also work the same way. When our diet has high amounts of acidifying foods and not enough of vegetables and fruits that have the opposite effect, it alters the blood pH. Another common reason for lowering of blood alkalinity is high levels of CO2 in the blood due to some respiratory problem. Certain disease conditions like diabetes can also cause acidosis.
Aloe vera juice has an alkalizing effect on the body. Faster elimination of acidifying foods from the body is one of the ways in which it raises alkalinity. Increasing the oxygenation of blood may be another supporting mechanism. When you feel under the weather, it could be just that you have developed mild acidosis. Drink Aloe vera juice to restore balance; you will immediately feel the difference.
Aloe vera has an anti-inflammatory effect
Many chronic diseases, including Type II diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and arthritis, are caused by inflammation. Although it is part of body’s mechanism to repair damage to tissues and organs, inflammation itself can become a problem. Aloe vera juice can take the place many drugs prescribed to bring down pain and swelling in injured areas.
The demonstrable anti-inflammatory effect of Aloe vera is partially attributed to the presence of plant steroids such as Campesterol, Lupeol and ß-Sitosterol. They inhibit the inflammatory process initiated by the damaged tissues. Another way Aloe vera juice combats inflammation is by blocking the production of prostaglandins and histamines.
Localized anti-inflammatory effect is what makes Aloe vera great for burns and wound healing. But the more general anti-inflammatory effect is a boon to people with arthritis, IBS, heart disease, and Crohn’s disease.
Aloe vera juice is a digestive aid
This is one of the oldest uses of Aloe vera, apart from the external uses of the gel. Digestive problems usually result from gas, excess acidity, and inflammation of the stomach and intestinal lining.
Mild gastrointestinal infections, food toxins and allergies can also manifest as indigestion. Food waste remaining in the digestive tract for longer period results in the accumulation of toxic substances and their re-absorption through the lining of the stomach.
Aloe vera juice can relieve stomach upsets and restore normal digestion irrespective of the underlying cause since it has a wide range of beneficial actions. It is antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory.
It prevents the microbes from latching on to the lining of the stomach and intestines and protects them from the action of toxins and allergens. It facilitates the easy movement of food particles through the digestive tract and promotes their faster elimination.
Drinking 2 oz. of Aloe vera juice 2-3 times a day for a week is one of the most effective and safest ways to get rid of all your digestive problems. It is a time-tested practice as is evident by its documented use by the Greek physician Dioscorides in first century A.D. People with peptic ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome are particularly benefitted from a course of this treatment.
Aloe vera habit promotes regularity
Irregularity of bowel movements is said to be the underlying cause of many diseases, including cancer. It makes sense because we know that digestion of food produces a number of toxic byproducts that can damage the lining of the colon and rectum.
Taking Aloe vera juice everyday will ensure regular bowel movements. This natural beverage is a great alternative to other laxatives which are harsh on the digestive system. While the aloe latex obtained from Aloe ferox was earlier used as a laxative to purge the body of toxins, it is no longer popular. The juice and gel of Aloe vera, on the other hand, has a milder action, mainly from the soluble fiber and the mucilage in the meaty portion of the leaf. It just sets things in motion by providing sufficient lubrication.
Aloe vera detoxifies the body
Aloe vera juice gets rid of toxic substances in the contents of the stomach and the intestines by quickly moving them down the tract and out of the body. Not only that, the gelatinous juice absorbs toxins and renders them inactive by binding with them.
The detoxifying action of Aloe vera juice is not limited to the digestive tract. Regular use ensures generalized elimination of circulating toxins in the body. Drastic detoxification measures such as colon cleanse and salt water cleanse may not be necessary if you drink a small cup of Aloe vera juice every morning and night.
Aloe vera juice aids weight loss
Aloe vera may not have a direct weight loss effect like that of Garcinia, but it can aid weight loss in many different ways. Detoxification is one of them. Many weight loss diets insist on an initial detox phase for good reason. Accumulation of fat is the body’s mechanism to lock away harmful substances. If they are regularly eliminated, it is one less reason for body to store fat.
Chronic inflammation is another reason for the body to hold on to water and fat. Being anti-inflammatory, Aloe vera juice helps reduce water retention and fat accumulation.
Aloe vera juice contains plenty of soluble fiber. When the fatty food we consume is broken down by the bile, the soluble fiber binds with some of these lipid molecules and carries them away. This prevents the absorption too much dietary fat into the body.
It helps maintain hydration
Aloe vera gel is widely used in skin care products as a moisturizer. The gelatinous nature of the leaf pulp helps it to hold on to water and prevent the skin from drying up. The hydrating effect of gel works from the inside too. When taken regularly, it helps maintain soft and supple skin free of wrinkles and blemishes.
Aloe vera juice helps control blood glucose levels in diabetics
Lowering of blood sugar is a well known effect of Aloe vera juice therapy. Even when conventional medicine tries to discredit the health benefits of this 100% natural beverage, its hypoglycemic effect is often pointed out as a drawback. Drinking Aloe vera juice helps control sudden spikes in blood glucose. Many diabetics have reduced their medication when Aloe vera juice is consumed regularly. This effect is attributed to the glucomannans in the juice.
If you are diabetic, frequent monitoring of blood sugar levels is essential when you start on Aloe vera juice. Diabetic medication should be adjusted accordingly under guidance from a qualified health practitioner.
Aloe vera helps lower blood cholesterol
Aloe vera juice therapy can be successfully employed to reduce blood cholesterol. This in turn will have a positive effect on your cardiovascular health. The soluble fiber B-sitosterol in the juice is credited with binding to cholesterol molecules and carrying them out of the body.
A Korean study on animals has seen as much as 30% reduction in cholesterol in subjects given Aloe vera juice. Longtime use has been shown to reduce not only in blood cholesterol and triglycerides but also hepatic cholesterol.
Aloe vera improves oral health
Sodas and fruit juices may be detrimental to tooth enamel, but Aloe vera juice promotes dental health since it is neither acidic nor sugary. Gum disease, characterized by inflammation and bleeding of the gum, is a common sign of deteriorating oral health.
The anti-inflammatory action of Aloe vera juice can help overcome gum disease, while its antimicrobial action can keep bacteria populations in check. It is known to reduce mouth ulcers too. All you have to do is swish the juice around in the mouth for a minute or two.
Aloe vera juice can give a vitamin and mineral boost
Surprisingly, the colorless, watery, Aloe vera gel is a storehouse of vitamins and minerals. It contains B complex vitamins B1, B2, B6 and B12 as well as vitamins A, C and E. It is a good plant source of folic acids too.
As for minerals, iron, copper, zinc, calcium, sodium, potassium, magnesium, manganese and chromium are present in varying quantities. The amount of vitamins and minerals in the limited quantity of Aloe vera juice you consume may not meet the daily recommended dosage, but regular supply is the key here.
Aloe vera provides essential amino acids
Aloe vera pulp is not a protein-rich food, but it contains all the essential amino acids and most of the others. Some amino acids are labeled as essential because our body cannot synthesize them. They should come from our food. Very few plant sources have the complete set of essential amino acids; aloe vera is one of them.
Although it is not essential to derive all the 8 essential amino acids from the same food item, consuming foods that have the complete set ensures that you suffer no deficiency.
How to make your own Aloe vera juice
Freshly made aloe gel and juice are the best because many phytochemicals lose their potency as the juice gets processed. If you grow a few plants, you can make your own juice as and when you require it. Aloe vera is one of the easiest plants to grow. So you really have no excuse for not having freshly made aloe vera juice.
Aloe vera is a heat and drought tolerant succulent. It’s called the Lily of the Desert for that reason, but it can pretty much grow anywhere irrespective of your gardening zone. If your area has freezing winters, grow the aloe plants in pots. When it gets too cold, just bring the pots indoors and keep them near a window or under a grow lamp. For a regular supply of thick, succulent, leaves for juicing, you should have several plants.
One issue in growing Aloe vera on your own is the difficulty of getting the right plant. There are several aloes that look very similar, but you need to have nothing but the Aloe vera species to enjoy all the health benefits it offers.
Another species called Aloe arborescens also has medicinal properties, while the purgative ‘bitter aloes’ is obtained from the sap of Aloe ferox. Aloe vera usually has yellow flowers, but flower color cannot be the basis for determining the right aloe since there are many natural and man-made hybrid varieties around. So, get your plants from a reliable source.
Grow your aloe plants in all purpose potting soil with some extra sand or perlite added to ensure good drainage. Aloes can take quite a lot of neglect, but not water logging. The juvenile plants have white spots on the leaves, but mature plants have solid dull green color.
You can start harvesting the lower leaves for juicing once the plants have 8-10 thick, fleshy, mature leaves. Make the cuts close to the base with a sharp knife and allow the sap to ooze out. We are going to use the fleshy meat of the leaves, not the sap.
Wash the leaf and place it on a plate the flat side up. Using a sharp knife, slice off the top rind to expose the clear meat underneath. Scrape it out with a spoon, and you have the clear pulp of Aloe vera. It is colorless unless you have scraped off a bit of the rind too.
Fresh Aloe vera gel has a mild, watery taste with the slightest hint of sharpness, neither overly bitter nor sour. You can have around one to two tablespoons at a time, plain or mixed with water, lemonade, coconut water or fruit/vegetable juices.
If you want to make larger quantities and refrigerate, cut the leaves into 3” sections and remove the edges. Remove the rind from both sides to get the transparent ‘filets’. Liquidize them and store in glass jars for up to a week.