Studies Suggest Health Concerns Related to Aloe Vera
Many of us have come to know aloe vera as a remedy for skin burns. When I was a kid, my mom would rub a glop of this soothing green gel into my skin after a long day playing outside. It instantly cooled my sunburn and had a light, pleasant smell I loved to sniff.
Some time ago, my dad fell ill with a mysterious rash on his leg, and he went to a health food store for advice. The manager suggested he take aloe vera juice, which she described as a “remedy that promotes overall health.” So my dad purchased a bottle and proceeded to drink one capful each day.
The entire month he sipped this mysterious cocktail, I couldn’t help but wonder if it wasn’t a little like Mona Vie, the popular health drink that reportedly helps everything from fatigue and achy muscles to skin ailments and inflammation. I routinely asked him if he felt better while taking it, and he didn’t really answer. Even now, I can’t tell you if he received any benefit. He stopped drinking it after one month because the cost (about $50 for one bottle) seemed to outweigh how he felt (not very different).
In a similar turn of events, a friend of mine is now taking aloe vera after receiving a recommendation from another health food store proprietor. Eager to learn more about this drink, I decided to do some research and found these facts:
- Aloe vera juice and gel are both good laxatives and help in reducing the incidence of constipation. The juice also helps improve indigestion and detoxifies the body.
- Aloe vera is a cellular regenerator and has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal effects, making the juice one of nature’s healthiest products. As a strong antioxidant, it also protects the body from free radical damage.
- Aloe vera juice is traditionally used as a natural remedy for diabetes because it lowers blood sugar.
This drink can also help digestive system function normally. Drinking aloe vera juice before a meal can improve the flow of digestive enzymes and help the body break down hard-to-digest food. Moreover, the juice helps the digestive system absorb nutrients from food and protects against gastrointestinal problems like gas, bloating, and constipation.
Some studies suggest aloe vera can decrease blood pressure and reduce cholesterol. Reports also indicate it can heal stomach ulcers and regulate bowel movements. Acid reflux and GERD symptoms are reduced or eliminated altogether in many who drink this beverage. Additional health improvements associated with aloe vera juice include improved circulation, weight loss, and improved immune functions.
But what if all of these beneficial reports negated one crucial fact: aloe vera juice allegedly poses health concerns for people everywhere. This drink was used as a main component in many over-the-counter laxatives until 2002, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration pulled these products from drugstore shelves because of insufficient information concerning their safety.
Concerns about aloe vera juice have continued to grow after the release of a two-year study undertaken by the National Toxicology Program. In it, a clear link between aloe vera and cancer was found in rats - those given the plant grew large tumors in their intestines. However, as Mike Roussell, PhD pointed on shape.com, the main suspect here is a component called "anthraquinone" and that potentially carcinogenic chemical is removed in decolorized aloe vera (which has been treated with charcoal).
With this information in mind, it’s easy to see the aloe vera story isn’t as clear as you might wish to believe. Some experts suggest humans wait for more research that confirms the beverage’s health benefits before continuing to drink it. If you do choose to enjoy aloe vera juice, check with your doctor first to ensure the advantages offset any potential risks.