Most people associate aloe vera with treating the pain of sunburn. However, there are also many aloe vera weight loss testimonials from people who have used aloe vera juice to speed up their metabolism, promote their digestion and help them burn extra fat.
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While it might be tempting to think of aloe vera juice as a quick way to get a flatter stomach, there are aloe vera weight loss side effects you should be aware of before embarking on this particular weight loss plan.
Benefits of Aloe Vera Juice for Weight Loss
A May 2014 study in the Journal of Plant Sciences touts the benefits of aloe vera, including wound healing (such as relief from painful sunburn). Such healing properties are what most people think of when they consider using aloe vera on their body. However, in recent years aloe vera juice — or aloe water — has been used more frequently as a quick weight loss tool.
A small, preliminary study published in September 2013 in Nutrition found that people with overweight and diabetes or pre-diabetes who took an aloe vera gel supplement for eight weeks lost more weight and body fat than those not given the supplement.
Read more: How to Build a 7-Day Healthy Meal Plan on a Budget
Drinking Aloe Vera Juice
Aloe vera comes in two different varieties: an aloe vera gel that is derived from inside the aloe vera leaves, and a juice that is derived from whole aloe vera plant leaves. The aloe vera gel is usually mixed with sugar and water, and it often contains more sugar than aloe vera. Increased sugar intake is linked to obesity (and a whole host of other side effects, including body tingling), so you should avoid the aloe vera gel if you're trying to lose weight.
The second kind of aloe vera is a juice derived from the whole aloe vera plant. This type can help you lose weight — primarily because it has a laxative effect. However, taking laxatives as a way to lose weight is not recommended. The Center for Clinical Interventions states taking laxatives can result in electrolyte imbalances, causing numbness, weak muscles, seizures, irregular heartbeats, heart attacks and paralysis. Long-term laxative use can also interfere with your normal bowel function, cause incontinence, or create dependence on laxatives to have bowel movements.
Read more: 5 Exercises to Stimulate Healthy Bowel Movement
Aloe Vera Weight Loss Side Effects
Polyphenols, a type of antioxidant found in the aloe vera plant, are often used in supplements to improve digestion and aid weight management. However, it is important to understand exactly what you are drinking and what the possible side effects are. In 2002, the Food and Drug Administration banned aloe vera from over-the-counter laxatives, but manufacturers are still able to use it in juice drinks.
Since then, an August 2013 article from The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has warned consumers to avoid drinking aloe vera juice, as U.S. Government studies found aloe vera extracts caused cancer in both male and female laboratory rats. CSPI also reported that taking aloe vera orally can cause diarrhea, abdominal cramps, low potassium levels, nausea and vomiting.
As with any diet, you should check with your doctor before using aloe vera for weight loss — and, in all likelihood, they will tell you to save it for treating sunburn. If you are truly looking to lose weight, you will be better off using exercise to do so.
- Center for Clinical Interventions: "Laxative Misuse"
- Nutrition: "Metabolic Effects of Aloe Vera Gel Complex in Obese Prediabetes and Early Non-Treated Diabetic Patients: Randomized Controlled Trial"
- Center for Science in the Public Interest: "CSPI Says Consumers Should Avoid Aloe Vera Taken Orally"
- Journal of Plant Sciences: "Bioactive Compounds and Medicinal Properties of Aloe Vera: An Update"
- National Center for Complementary and Integrated Health: "Aloe Vera"