There are more than 500 species of Aloe but the one most commonly known to us is the Aloe Vera (“true aloe”). Dating back to ancient times, the Aloe Vera has had many uses including curative powers. Today it is primarily cultivated for an array of pharmaceutical purposes. Although it is most commonly found as an ingredient in skin products for relief of sun burn, minor burns, and skin irritation, it can also be ingested – but with some precautions you should be aware of!
The Aloe is loaded with enzymes and phytonutrients and is the only known plant source of vitamin B12 (also in spirulina but this is not technically a plant). However, our FDA’s toxicology center found that a compound known as ‘aloin’ found in fresh aloe is a carcinogen in rats. The reason that the FDA studied it in the first place is because the idea of drinking aloe is not some rare new age thing! It’s used in many beverages and laxatives. There is a way to safely add aloe to your juices by using the edible liquid extract available at your local coop or health food store – manufacturers remove aloin in these products (processing isn’t all bad!). If the label says “purified” or “decolorized” aloin has been removed. And I think it’s worth going to this trouble because of the incredible benefits of aloe. By the way, no danger has been found in its topical use. Perhaps I’m over stating the concern. Sometimes I think that raising such concerns may discourage someone from juicing altogether! I mean, why should I even mention the poison in apple seeds if it is so minute as to be of no real concern? But I also feel that the truth is important so tell it and be as balanced as possible (u need to eat a handful of CRUSHED apple seeds to even begin to feel a stomach ache) and let people make their own choices. Truth is I know that the toxins in apple seeds are minute, but I do not put apple cores in my juice or smoothie machines (your stomach won’t get thru the tough seed covering but some juice machines and high speed smoothie blenders will). What do u think about this issue – does the truth really make us free?
In the past I have encouraged growing aloe in your own home to use in a juicer the same way you would use fresh ginger but considering this research I now only recommend store-bought juice or gel with pure aloe and no additional ingredients. I still have aloe plants in my home for beauty and to use topically for burns and itches. Here’s more about the research so you can make up your own mind whether to add aloe in small quantities to your juice.
Here’s why I add aloe to all my juice recipes. According to recent nutritional research the aloe has a multitude of health benefits. It is a rich source of most of the ‘building blocks’ needed for physical health including essential vitamins, minerals, enzymes, amino acids, phytonutrients, simple and complex sugars and fatty acids. These nutrients play an important role in enhancing our body’s well-being and fighting off a large number of diseases. Few foods have such an all-encompassing nutritional content.
Presently aloe is the only known plant resource of B-12. It is also rich in vitamins A, C, E, and B (1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 9, and 12). The body needs Vitamin A for healthy vision and bones, and like vitamin E, and C it acts as a powerful antioxidant. Vitamins B1, B2, and B6 help assist the body’s nervous system and B12 aids in cell production.
Aloe includes minerals which are rarely found together in one substance. Potassium, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, chromium, magnesium, selenium, sodium, and manganese are among the minerals found in aloe. They are important in strengthening our bones and teeth, carrying oxygen throughout our blood stream, keeping our skin and brain and reproductive system healthy, and inhibiting osteoporosis.
Choline, also found in aloe, is not technically a vitamin or a mineral but is essential for the health of our brain.
There are twenty-two amino acids that our bodies require as building blocks of protein. Amazingly, the aloe vera contains twenty of these. Eight of the amino acids are “essential amino acids” which cannot be synthesized by our bodies. These eight must be obtained from the food we eat. The aloe vera contains 7 of the 8 essential amino acids.
The aloe vera contains a long and impressive list of enzymes. The myriad of health benefits these enzymes offer is remarkable.
Enzymes, considered antibacterial, help to strengthen the immune system and inhibit the buildup of excess water. They are necessary for protein development, assist the digestive system to break down fats, help to carry energy to our cells, and increase the body’s absorption of oxygen. Enzymes also help to maintain healthy tissue throughout the body, especially in bones, intestines, liver, kidneys and placenta. They promote the digestion of foods, pain relief, wound healing, and reducing inflammation.
Natural sugars, including mono- and polysaccharides are found in aloe vera. Monosaccharides aid in delivering energy. Polysaccharides provide bone strength, assist digestion, and support healthy levels of cholesterol. Polysaccharides also boost liver function, help support the immune system, and avert some diseases in the intestinal system.
Cholesterol, Cancer, Pain & Stress
Sterols found in aloe vera are important in several areas. They reduce cholesterol and lower the risk of heart disease. New research shows the ability of phyto-sterols to reduce the risk of breast, lung, ovarian and stomach cancers. Another therapeutic property recently discovered is the ability of phyto-sterols to lower oxidative stress which is found in many diseases such as Alzheimer’s, bipolar disorder, chronic fatigue, heart problems, Parkinson’s and schizophrenia. Phyto-sterols may also significantly reduce the effects of aging.
Finally, aloe vera contains salicylic acid which is the main component found in aspirin. Salicylic acid helps the body to fight bacteria and combat inflammation.
Important Note: Aloe vera should be ingested in very small amounts, and not habitually, as the side effect of diarrhea might occur.
Aloe Pineapple Coconut
- ½ Coconut – without skin
- 3 cups Pineapple – without skin
- 1 tsp Aloe juice or gel
Aloe Mango Orange
- 2 Mangoes – with skin, no seed
- ½ Orange – without rind
- 1 tsp Aloe juice or gel
Aloe Celery Beet
- 3 stalks Celery
- 2 Beets – skin and all
- ½ Lemon – without rind
- 1 tsp Aloe juice or gel
About the Author
Bob is the author of Ultimate Juicing Recipes & Tips 5th Edition with over 275 recipes that fight illnesses based on the latest nutritional discoveries, and How to Make the Best Juice and Smoothies – 23 Essential Tips. He just published ‘Juice Away Illness,’ a new series of booklets about the healing power of fresh juice to fight depression, insomnia, inflammation, diabetes, prostate problems, thyroid issues, fatigue and many more. For daily juicing tips and news go to his Facebook page. He and his wife live in Northeast Harbor, ME, and they juice every day to help keep her breast cancer in remission.