With long, thick, plump and pointed deep green leaves, Aloe vera is one of the most well-recognized medicinal plants in the world and benefits the gut. It has a long history of use in pharmaceuticals, food and cosmetic products.
A great deal of research supports the use of topical Aloe gel, balms and creams for wound healing, burns, sunburn, frostbite and other inflammatory skin conditions. Aloe contains a c0x-2 inhibitor, not unlike nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents such as ibuprofen.
A recent meta-analysis showed that aloe vera effectively relieved symptoms more than placebo in patients with ulcertaive colitis. Aloe can increase the water inside the intestine, drawing it in, and creating a laxative effect. For patients with more constipation than diarrhea as a function of their IBS, aloe vera juice may be an option.
Aloe leaves consist of a fleshy tissue that stores water and contributes to the familiar pulp that oozes from the leaves when sliced open.
The Aloe plant contains more than 200 different biologically active substances, most of which are found in the pulp. This includes amino acids; antioxidants; vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, C, and E; and the minerals sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, chloride and zinc. Many of these compounds are natural relaxants, helping produce a laxative effective for stressed bowels.
Paradoxically, a 3 percent aloe ointment has been used successfully topically has been reported to improve diarrhea and rectal urgency, but not bleeding in radiation proctitis.
When selecting aloe juice as a remedy for IBS related symptoms, look for juice without Aloe latex. Aloe latex contains anthraquinone, which is a natural laxative. Too much aloe latex can worsen GI symptoms, so be sure to consult with your holistic health provider about which type of extract, supplement or juice is best for you, if any.
There are many warnings on the long term use of the laxatives from aloe vera. The aloe vera gel part can have small amounts of the laxative and most commercial aloe vera juice are filtered to remove the laxative and are probably safer to consume.
Remember that aloe’s flavor is similar to cucumber when blending into smoothies, using in cooking, or adding aloe to other beverages. It’s best to use aloe in recipes with flavors on the same spectrum such as watermelon, lemon, lime, or mint. A little known culinary medicine fact: foods of the same color often taste good together1