A doctor weighs in on Aloe Juice: should you drink or not?
Social media is buzzing about aloe juice, like many other health fads that have come before it and will no doubt come after it.
Aloe vera is well-known for its ability to soothe the skin when applied topically, but we wanted to see if there was any scientific evidence to support these claims.
After all, it’s not prudent to believe everything you read online, especially when it involves ingesting something.
Although there are many claims regarding the health advantages of aloe juice, there is scant evidence to back these claims in either animals or people, according to Dr. Deborah Lee of Dr Fox Online Pharmacy.
So, straight away, we know there’s simply anecdotal proof on social media to back the juice’s use – which isn’t a guarantee of clear skin or improved gut health.
“In general,” the doctor adds, “these comments are overstated and don’t bear scrutiny.”
So here’s everything we know about aloe juice so far.
The specialist says: “Aloe juice is a rich source of vitamins – especially vitamins A, C and E, along with folic acid, calcium, and magnesium.”
She also claims that it has a lot of antioxidants, which always sounds healthy, right?
“These are substances found in plants that are thought to have biological properties in humans,” she says.
“Antioxidants are vital for human health as they counteract oxidative stress. Every day, as your tissues require oxygen for their daily processes, oxidation is taking place.
“The by-products of oxidation are called reactive oxygen species (ROS). These are electrically charged particles which can damage DNA. They are thought to underpin the development of many of the chronic diseases we see today. Antioxidants are vital as they counteract these ROS and neutralise them.”
That appears to be encouraging! But just because something contains some healthy ingredients doesn’t imply it’s safe to drink, much less eat long-term or in place of sufficient nutrition.
“One small 2015 study,” highlights the doctor, “found that aloe vera syrup at night has a similar effect to improve symptoms of gastro-oesophageal reflux as omeprazole and ranitidine, with no adverse effects.”
She also claims that the juice can aid with blood glucose regulation, allowing you to feel fuller for longer.
Dr. Deborah, on the other hand, notes that trials on the use of aloe juice for IBS sufferers have revealed nothing ‘statistically significant,’ and that the juice has a considerable laxative impact on humans thanks to a group of plant components known as anthraquinone glycoside.
“They prevent sodium absorption in the gut and stimulate more water to pass into the intestines to produce softer stools,” she adds. “This has been demonstrated in a few, short term research studies in humans.”
This could explain why people on social media claim to feel ‘less bloated’ and even to have lost weight quickly – but using laxatives when you don’t need them is bad for your health in the long run.
“Studies in mice have not shown that the addition of aloe vera gel powder improved weight loss,” she continues.
“However, in one small, randomised, 2013 study of 136 patients with prediabetes or a new diagnosis of type -2 diabetes, the use of aloe vera gel was shown to be associated with a significantly better reduction in body weight and body fat mass, than the control group, after eight weeks.
“But, before you draw any conclusions, the study was small, only short term, and not double-blinded. So much more research needs to be undertaken before any claims about the use of aloe vera for weight loss can be substantiated.”
“There is nothing I am aware of to support the notion it helps your hair to grow or become curly,’ she says, adding that while topical use is useful, ‘no research exists on the use of aloe juice and the skin when it’s ingested.’
It also doesn’t prevent dehydration (in fact, its laxative properties have the opposite effect), and it doesn’t remove toxins, according to Dr. Deborah: “The liver’s job is to cleanse toxins from the body, so it does that without the help of aloe vera juice.
Hepatitis has been linked to aloe vera juice in some cases. Hepatotoxic is a term used to describe aloe vera juice. Also known as something that can harm your liver.
She couldn’t uncover any studies to back up any claims of ‘antiviral effects.’
The expert notes: “It’s only confirmed safe use for up to two months, and the safety of longer-term use, as it could cause an electrolyte imbalance, is not known.”
With all of this in mind, we think it’s best to avoid the online fad this time and stick to topical use.
Image Credit: Getty
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