Aloe Vera Juice: Are there Benefits to Taking It?

Aloe vera is a succulent (water preserving) plant of the genus Aloe, native to northeast Africa, that has long been popular as an ointment for wounds, sores, blisters, and the like. Aloe vera juice has been touted as having benefits for the digestive system, although the picture is not completely clear, and in fact some studies suggest that it may not even work well for healing wounds either.

Healing of Wounds

Very popular as an ointment for application to wounds, studies on aloe vera’s healing capability are conflicting. There have actually been some studies that have suggested that it may actually slow down wound healing, and of course other studies have shown the opposite. So despite popular opinion as a good burn ointment, scientific research is not as compelling. It is however fairly well established as an anti-bacterial and anti-fungal ointment, so it seems that it should help promote the healing of wounds at least somewhat.

Digestive Aid

There is also popular anecdotal opinion that one of aloe vera juice benefits is as a digestive aid. This might be useful for people with irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, and heartburn. Although keep in mind that like with the above, the evidence for aloe vera juice’s effectiveness in this benefit is not completely established, although its laxative effect is pretty well established.

Diabetic Metabolism

Another potential benefit of aloe vera juice is as an aid to diabetics. It may help improve glucose metabolism, thus leading to a reduction in the need for insulin. However, long term use might not be safe.

Safety

There have been some cases of hepatitis caused by aloe very juice intake, although this seems to be rare and no specific causal mechanism has been identified. Other studies have suggested a possible link between colorectal cancer and aloe vera juice. And long term use can result in dependency, and so it is recommended to not use it for more than 7 days in a row.

Conclusion

As you can guess, the benefits of aloe vera juice are not well established, and the safety of taking it orally has not been studied enough to establish completely recommend it a a safe supplement. Laxative effects are well known, but long term side effects are not. And the promotion of burn and wound healing is not well established either.


Resources

http://nccam.nih.gov/health/aloevera/