Aloe gel has been a popular topical remedy for thousands of years, and today aloe juice is gaining popularity around the world. Some claim that it makes skin glow and look younger, perhaps because it’s hydrating and contains a variety of vitamins and minerals. And studies show a number of other important benefits.
“I use it for ulcerative colitis, for stomach ulcers, and it’s good for blood sugar and for high cholesterol,” says Matthew Strickland, ND, founder of Southeastern Integrative Health and Wellness in Durham, N.C. (southeasternwellness.com). “It’s well studied for type 2 diabetes and has been shown to reduce blood sugar 30 to 40 percent—very significantly,” he adds.
Lowering blood sugar can also be beneficial for those without type 2 diabetes. Government surveys show that 86 million Americans have prediabetes, meaning blood sugar that’s elevated enough to multiply risk for diabetes and heart disease, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. Even blood sugar in the upper range of “normal” increases health risks. In fact, high blood sugar speeds up the aging process, so the benefits of aloe juice can have far-reaching consequences.
Two Types of Aloe Vera Juice
Aloe leaves have a tough outer coating that protects the gel. Juice can be made from the whole leaf or only from the inner gel, also called the “inner fillet”or “inner leaf.” Strickland always recommends the inner-leaf variety, which is the type tested in studies.
Cut open an aloe leaf and in the tough, outer part, you’ll see little white beads. Made of latex, they contain toxic chemicals (anthraquinone glycosides) designed to discourage predators from eating the plant. With a strong bitter taste, these chemicals stimulate diarrhea.
Whole-leaf aloe juice is filtered to remove the offending chemicals, but some trace amounts remain and may cause diarrhea, especially with higher doses of juice. In case you’re wondering, the whole-leaf juice is not recommended for constipation, because anthraquinone glycosides may have other, toxic effects.
Grow Your Own Aloe Vera
Aloe can grow in a pot in your kitchen, in indirect sunlight, or under artificial light. The Old Farmer’s Almanac recommends deep watering when the top 1–2 inches of soil is dry, making sure water drains well, to avoid rot. When needed, just cut off a leaf and use the gel inside to heal minor burns and skin irritation. Mix it with water or other liquid to make a juice. Keep gel or juice refrigerated. For more tips on growing aloe, visit almanac.com/plant/aloe-vera.
Aloe Vera Juice Research
- Blood sugar and cholesterol: More than 10 studies found that aloe juice reduced levels of blood sugar and cholesterol in people with type 2 diabetes. In some, aloe juice was added to diabetes medication, which improved results.
- Ulcerative colitis: This disease is debilitating. “For ulcerative colitis, one in three people who took aloe juice for four weeks went into remission,” says Strickland. “For those who respond, it’s life-changing.”
- Stomach ulcers: A study that treated stomach ulcers with aloe juice found that most patients went into remission. Researchers noted: “The gratitude expressed by the patients was in each instance so sincere as to leave little doubt about the reorientation of their previously dismal outlook on life.”
How Much Aloe Juice Should I Drink?
Choose a juice designed to be taken internally; never ingest topical aloe gel. You can drink aloe juice at any time of day, with or without food, says Strickland. But take it at least an hour apart from medication or other supplements. Aloe juice may bind with drugs or supplements and reduce their absorption.
For type 2 diabetics taking medication, Strickland emphasizes the need to work with a knowledgeable health care provider, as medication dosages will need to be adjusted to avoid dangerously low levels of blood sugar. Studies of diabetics have used 15 ml of aloe juice per day.
For other uses, Strickland recommends:
- To prevent high blood sugar: 5–10 ml daily
- For ulcerative colitis: 50 ml twice a day for two days, and then 100 ml twice daily
- To lower cholesterol: 10–20 ml daily
- For stomach ulcers: individual needs vary