Aloe Barbadensis: Not Just for Your Skin!

If you have heartburn and digestive upset, try using aloe as a supplement. Ttraditionally, aloe is used to relieve pain from burns and sunburns; however, aloe’s usefulness doesn’t end there. Some studies have shown that its anti-inflammatory properties may extend to uses within the body as well.

A succulent preferring arid climates, aloe has been used in various cultures for centuries as a digestive aid as well as for its skin-soothing properties. There are many species of aloe, but the one most commonly used is aloe barbadensis. If you open up an aloe leaf, you’ll see yellowish gelatinous sap. This sap is filled with polysaccharides, enzymes, electrolytes, amino acids, and a number of vitamins that are responsible for its healing properties. It also contains the active constituent aloin, which has a strong laxative effect. Most commercial aloe juices and concentrates on the market only contain a very tiny amount of aloin, to aid the digestive tract in working smoothly and to promote regularity.

Currently, people take aloe internally to deal with a number of digestive issues such as ulcers, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), colitis and diverticulitis. It can stimulate hydrochloric acid production in the stomach and balance a body’s pH, which may assist in the control of heartburn and acid reflux.

Aloe is also used as a means of coping with asthma and allergy symptoms. Recent studies suggest it may aid in white blood cell production, an important factor in combating diseases/disorders that suppress the immune system. Another possible benefit of drinking aloe, even if you don’t suffer from any of the conditions mentioned above, is that it works by coating the digestive tract. This coating may help to increase the bioavailability of any other supplements you take. Look for liquid aloe supplements in our Wellness Department.

There needs to be more research before the many possible benefits of aloe can be definitively proven or disproven, but don't rule it out the next time you have a bout of digestive upset.