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Aloe Vera Explored: From Nutrient Powerhouse to Health Elixir

Aloe Vera Explored: From Nutrient Powerhouse to Health Elixir

Understanding Aloe Vera’s History and Background

Aloe vera is a commonly recognized plant as far as home remedies go. I fondly remember my own mother cutting leaves off the plant to use topically after my siblings and I would get a decent sunburn - cooling, sticky, fresh off the plant!

Aloe vera is a perennial plant that is native to the Arabian peninsula, but it has been cultivated and revered worldwide in many capacities. It’s well-known for its thick, spiky leaves that hold within it a treasure trove of nutrients and natural compounds that offer many benefits for our overall well-being.

The therapeutic uses for aloe vera have stood the test of time and can be found referenced inside ancient Egyptian and Greek history in addition to the traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic systems. From Cleopatra’s skincare regimen to Alexander the Great treating battlefield wounds, aloe vera has found a way into widespread, time-tested practical use.

It’s also used as an internal supplement, and contemporary research shows promising potential benefits in digestive and metabolic health. In this spotlight, we’ll explore the natural, active ingredients within aloe, their potential use, side effects, and tips to navigate aloe vera supplementation!

Key Nutrients and Active Compounds in Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera contains a number of important bioactive compounds that contribute to its health-promoting properties. Let’s explore some of the main categories of key nutrients that impart their many benefits that we’ll mention in a later section.

  • Anthraquinones - These are natural compounds that act as natural laxatives, painkillers, and they have antibiotic and antiviral properties.
  • Hormones - Aloe vera contains certain hormones that promote healing and decrease inflammation.
  • Enzymes - Naturally contain enzymes that have anti-inflammatory properties and also help with digesting fats and sugars.
  • Lignans and Saponins - Lignans help to make the other healing ingredients more easily absorbable, and saponins have cleansing properties.
  • Polyphenols - These are plant-based nutrients that are potent antioxidants.
  • Vitamins & Minerals - Contains 15 vitamins and minerals that are important for the chemical functions of the body, including antioxidants, vitamin B12, choline, and magnesium.
  • Macronutrients (carbohydrates, fatty acids, and amino acids) - Some of the unique, complex carbohydrates give aloe its sticky, anti-inflammatory properties. It also contains anti-inflammatory fatty acids and 20 of the 22 amino acids that we need to make proteins!

As you can see, there are many incredible ingredients that are contained in aloe vera! This list scratches the surface but speaks to its many potential benefits that we’ll talk about next.

Health Benefits of Aloe Vera

Here, I will list some of the top health benefits that aloe vera has demonstrated in contemporary research. Feel free to check out the linked research if any of these symptoms or conditions intrigued you!

Aloe vera has been studied for its positive influence in managing the following conditions:

In addition to the above research uses aloe vera has been traditionally used to soothe digestive tract issues. Aloe’s anti-inflammatory properties help reduce inflammation in the gut, promote healing with its nourishing ingredients, and may help to relieve discomfort in functional gastrointestinal issues including those mentioned above.

Possible Side Effects of Aloe Vera Supplementation

Though aloe vera is generally well-tolerated and has many anti-inflammatory and soothing properties, some people may still experience typically mild side effects. Of course, if you are sensitive or allergic to any of the active compounds of aloe, you have a higher chance of reacting.

The most common side effects of aloe vera are based on the digestive functions of this herbal product. Since it may act as a laxative, some may experience digestive side effects with normal doses such as diarrhea, stomach discomfort and pain, and skin reactions.

It’s important to note that diarrhea can become dangerous as you could lose hydration status and important electrolytes such as potassium. It is best to consult a medical professional if you experience severe or longer term diarrhea to avoid dehydration and other complications.

Tips for Choosing Quality Aloe Vera Supplements

As always, we’re here to help you sort through the noise that is out there in the supplement and wellness world. When it comes to choosing a quality aloe vera supplements, here are a few things to consider:

  • Choose a supplement from a company with quality control standards, such as certified Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).
  • “Start low and go slow” - If you’re not sure how well you might tolerate a supplement, it’s generally a good idea to start with a low dose and work your way up to a suggested dose slowly.
  • Consult a wellness practitioner who is knowledgeable about natural supplements for more tailored advice specific to your actual wellness goals and health concerns.
  • Just because you see an ingredient on a label, doesn’t mean it’s enough to cause a benefit or side effect seen in research trials. It’s important to note that dosing is very important, and you often see aloe vera in combination with products that are designed for more widespread use than targeted clinical outcomes.
  • A specific extract form of unprocessed aloe vera, non-decolorized aloe vera, has been shown to demonstrate carcinogenic (cancer-forming) effects in a study on rats. This has led to confusing dialogue around the overall use of aloe vera. This form is not commonly found in supplements, but it’s good to understand and spread awareness.

Conclusion

As you can see, aloe vera emerges as a versatile and promising supplement in the realm of wellness, boasting benefits from metabolic to digestive health. Its rich history and extensive scientific backing underscore its efficacy and safety.

As with any supplement, it's ideal to consult with healthcare professionals before incorporating it into your routine if you have any questions!

We're eager to hear your thoughts and experiences with Aloe vera supplementation, as well as any other wellness topics you're passionate about. Reach out to us and share your insights!

Follow Cielo on Instagram, explore our blog, or connect with Dr. Kenny! We hope this information allows you to more confidently explore the vast landscape of wellness.

About the Author

Dr. Kenny Mittelstadt, DACM, DC, L.Ac., Dipl.OM.

Kenny Mittelstadt is a functional health practitioner and acupuncturist based in San Antonio, Texas. He is trained through the Institute for Functional Medicine and received both of his doctorate degrees with highest honors from Southern California University of Health Sciences. He focuses on empowering patients through wellness education and root-cause healing – transforming health through personalized, lab-based functional medicine programs!

Website: DrKennyMittelstadt.com

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