Many people are familiar with the drought-loving, virtually indestructible aloe vera plant. It’s distinctive fleshy leaves, guarded by sharp barbs that run along the two edges, is easily recognizable.
Although it looks like a cactus, aloe vera (“true aloe”) is one of over 500 species of the flowering succulent plant. Succulent plants store water in their stems, roots, and leaves. A member of the lily family, aloe is a close relative of tulips and asparagus. Aloe plants flourish in hot, tropical or desert environments and are common potted houseplants.
Aloe vera is cultivated for its pharmaceutical antiviral and antibacterial properties. It has a long history of medicinal use but it is also quite pretty as an ornamental plant, especially when its red flowers bloom.
Both the Ancient Greeks and Romans treat wounds with the gooey pulp found inside the leaves of Aloe vera. Splitting a single leaf apart and spreading it out makes a great poultice to soothe stinging burns and insect bites.
During the Middle Ages in Europe, the yellow-tinted liquid contained with the leaves was a popular purgative to ease constipation. Note that only pure, unprocessed aloe contains significant amounts of the laxative aloin.
Aloe vera can be applied directly to the skin or the whole leaves can be crushed, ground, purified, filtered, and juiced to create a healing potion. Although aloe juice has a mild taste, many people like to mix it into a smoothie or health shake to enhance its flavor.
Why drink aloe vera juice? So glad you asked!
In chemical terms, aloe vera juice is alkaline (a base or basic). All chemical alkalines neutralize acids. In the human body, having an acidic pH fosters the growth of disease-causing microbes.
Juicy aloe plants are water-dense. When taken internally, aloe juice counteracts dehydration. Staying hydrated ensures that every cell, tissue, and organ within your body will work properly. Water is vital for good health. A newborn baby’s body is composed of as much as 93 percent water! In adult bodies, that amount is reduced to about 60 percent – but that is still over half of our cellular make-up.
Drinking aloe vera juice naturally detoxifies the kidneys and liver which both serve to eliminate body wastes and impurities. The phytonutrients in aloe also help organ secretion. (Phytonutrients are natural, beneficial, nutritious plant compounds that keep us healthy.)
Inside the digestive tract, water-rich aloe acts much as dietary fiber. It triggers peristalsis, the “involuntary movements of the longitudinal and circular muscles…that occur in progressive wavelike contractions.” In plain English, drinking aloe juice is an excellent digestive aid that promotes regular stool (bowel) movements.
Ingesting aloe vera also helps maintain healthy levels of gut-friendly bacteria, keeping the intestinal flora well-balanced. Several enzymes provided by aloe help break down sugars and fats to keep the digestive process at optimum efficiency. This is important for absorbing all the nutrients from foods you eat.
Drinking anti-inflammatory liquid aloe has helped patients find relief from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a medical condition of the large intestine that causes ” abdominal cramping, bloating, and a change in bowel habits.” It has also been shown to be effective in treating ulcerative colitis, a chronic disease of the large intestine (colon).
Certain compounds found in aloe vera have been linked to neutralizing the damaging effects caused by ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight. Drinking aloe juice can smoothe out fine lines and wrinkles.
Aloe juice is quite a powerful elixir thanks to its nutritional content. Along with vitamins B, C, E, and folic acid, aloe delivers modest amounts of calcium, copper, chromium, sodium (salt), selenium, magnesium, potassium, manganese, and zinc.
Vegetarians and vegans will be happy to know that aloe vera is of the few plants that contains the essential vitamin B-12.
The alkaline effects of aloe juice can ease heartburn pain caused by stomach acids. The succulent’s fluids fight gastric ulcers and discourage them from growing larger.
Ditch your chemical-based mouthwash for aloe vera extract. The vitamin C content actually prevents the development of oral cavity-causing plaque.
Best of all, drinking natural, decolorized, purified, low anthraquinone (laxative) is completely safe. It is important to steer clear of non-decolorized and unpurified aloe products because they can lead to diarrhea, painful abdominal cramps, colon adenomas (non-malignant tumors), and colon cancer.
For those on a weight-loss or diabetic regime, there is more good news: aloe vera juice has no sugar whatsoever and almost no calories.
You can buy aloe vera juice online or at health food groceries. Go for high-quality, organic, pure, 100 percent aloe juice. Avoid blends with fillers.
Up to a full cup – 8 ounces – of aloe juice daily is a natural tonic and builds up the immune system and keeps you fit as a fiddle.