The Benefits of Aloe Vera Gel

When talking about the health effects of the aloe vera plant we immediately have to separate the plant into two categories. The first is the outer green skin of the leaf called the aloe latex and the second part is the fleshy gel that is encapsulated inside the leaf.

Aloe Part 1

Let’s talk about the latex. The latex or outer leaf pulp contains anthraquinone glycoside which can irritate the gastrointestinal tract. It is also a cathartic laxative and shouldn’t be consumed on a regular basis. Laxatives can inhibit the absorption of nutrients from the foods we eat and can also inhibit the efficiency of some drugs. When purchasing aloe juice avoid buying products that contain aloin (aloe latex). However, most aloe vera juice is made from the latex of the aloe plant. Avoid drinking this long term because it can throw off your electrolyte balance.


Aloe Part 2

The gel of the aloe vera plant has a completely different make up of constituents. Aloe vera gel is a mucilage that can soothe and repair the gastrointestinal tract and works as an anti-inflammatory agent. Aloe vera gel has also shown to enhance the bioavailability of vitamin E and C and the polysaccharides found in the gel help protect against the degradation of vitamins in the intestinal tract.

The aloe plant as a whole it is multi-faceted. There are not enough studies on the potentially harmful effects of ingesting the aloe latex long term, but there are enough to make me cautious of regular doses for prolonged periods of time. Aloe vera gel however seems to be safe for regular consumption, although you should always ask your doctor before taking new supplements. When purchasing encapsulated aloe vera gel look for dark glass bottles that will help to inhibit oxidation. Want to know how to pick out a good aloe plant and fillet that leaf like a vegetable butcher?

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Collage: Alexandra Thomas

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