Aloe Vera: Healing the Body Inside & Out!

June 1, 2013

By Anna Varriano

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The aloe vera plant is often referred to as the ‘First Aid Plant’, the  ‘Magical Medicinal Plant’, or a ‘superfood’, due to its numerous healing and health-boosting properties.

Most people associate aloe vera with skin creams and lotions, especially those that are used as ‘after sun’ products, since aloe vera gel is wonderfully hydrating, nourishing and soothing for the skin. It has also been shown to promote the growth of new skin cells.

While it is commonly known that aloe vera offers numerous benefits for the outside of the body, fewer people know that it also offers benefits for the inside of the body. These include balancing blood cholesterol and triglycerides, soothing pain associated with inflammation, soothing and healing the digestive system, helping to balance blood sugar, boosting the immune system, increasing energy and stamina, and promoting regular bowel movements. Sounds too good to be true…but it is

Aloe vera is classified as a ‘succulent’ plant. These plants are desert plants, and they have an amazing ability to capture and store water inside a gel-like substance that is found in their leaves, or blades. This gel-like substance offers self-repairing abilities to the body, and is loaded with vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and phytochemicals that offer powerful health benefits to those who consume them.

So how does one go about consuming aloe vera gel? You can buy aloe vera juice at just about any health food store. It is commonly recommended for digestive issues such asheartburn/reflux, ulcers, IBS, colitis, Crohn’s and Celiac disease. One of my favourite ways to get aloe vera gel into my body is simply to eat it raw and fresh…right out of the leaf! Here’s a video I made to show you how to ‘fillet’ an aloe vera leaf.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91a_C5SbfQM

To get the health benefits of aloe vera, you need to consume it regularly. You can do this by drinking aloe vera juice, putting an aloe ‘fillet’ into a smoothie or your favourite juicing recipe, or by chopping it up and adding it to a fruit salad or yogurt…use your imagination! On its own, fresh aloe doesn’t have much of a taste, so when you add it to another food, it takes on the flavour of whatever you add it to. If you’re going to add it to a smoothie, I’ve read it’s best to add it towards the end so as not to completely break down the structure of the gel.

You can find aloe leaves at most good produce stores and they are relatively inexpensive. If you’ve never had fresh aloe vera or aloe vera juice before, it’s a good idea to start with a small amount and increase it over time. A safe, commonly recommended daily dose is 4 to 6 ounces. It’s a good idea to start slowly whenever you add something new to your diet in order to see how your body responds to it…especially when it is something like aloe vera that will ‘get things moving’…if you know what I mean. Aloe is great for cleansing and detoxing the body – as are most things with a mucilaginous (sticky, gooey) texture, including chia seeds, flax seeds, and okra.

Some sources state that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should consult their healthcare practitioner before consuming aloe vera, as is sometimes the case with certain herbs; however, according to the recently released “Botanical Safety Handbook, 2nd Edition”, no information on the safety of consuming aloe vera inner leaf during pregnancy or lactation is identified. The substance that is of concern is called ‘aloin’. It is in the aloe latex (the yellow sap) of the leaf, which is primarily found between the rind and the inner gel, so if you are filleting fresh aloe vera, make sure you get all the rind off (and cut a bit below it when you are removing it). Rinsing the gel fillet with water will also help to wash away the aloin. As for commercially prepared products, most are tested to ensure that they are safe, as described in this video from the International Aloe Science Council: http://www.iasc.org/index.html

Enjoy!

Anna

Resources:

  1. The International Aloe Science Council http://www.iasc.org/articles.html
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