The aloe vera plant is a member of the succulent family. It originates from North Africa but has been naturalized in North America and Europe. For hundreds of years it has been used to treat many ailments, including burns, minor cuts and abrasions, and digestive disorders such as heartburn, acid reflux, indigestion and irritable bowel syndrome.
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The history of the medicinal use of aloe vera goes back centuries. According to All For Natural Health, the ancient Egyptians were among the first to recognize its value. Gradually the health benefits of the plant for treating many disorders from burns to indigestion were recognized worldwide. Today, there are more than 150 known varieties of aloe vera.
According to Aloesatjen, aloe can help to cleanse the digestive tract and is beneficial for irritable bowel syndrome. Irritable bowel syndrome is a chronic disorder that causes constipation, indigestion, abdominal pain and diarrhea. It occurs when toxins build up in the gastrointestinal tract, preventing the proper absorption of nutrients and causing a build-up of intestinal pathogens.
Aloe vera can help digestive complaints such as indigestion, acid reflux, stomach bloating, flatulence and irritable bowel syndrome by cleansing the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, reducing colonic build-up and promoting normal transit of waste matter through the bowel. It does so, according to NCCAM, because it contains the laxative compounds barbaloin, aloin and aloe-emodin. It also has anti-inflammatory effects on the lining of the GI tract. Aloe vera also contains vitamins A, E and B-12, zinc, magnesium, calcium and essential fatty acids.
Forms of Aloe Vera
For the stomach, aloe vera is most commonly used in the form of juice. This makes it easy on the stomach and it is quickly absorbed. According to the Vitamins and Supplements Organization, aloe is also available in the powdered form in capsules. The suggested dose is 2 tablespoons of aloe juice per day or 40 to 70mg of aloe powder.
NCCAM advises that when ingested, aloe vera supplements may cause side effects, including diarrhea, stomach cramps and lowered blood sugar levels. Because aloe vera may in some cases cause diarrhea, this may lead to decreased absorption of other medications. People with diabetes should not take aloe vera because of its glucose-lowering effects. You should always talk to your health care provider before taking an aloe vera supplement.