If you grow and harvest aloe vera, you will find that the plant is easy for beginning gardeners to grow and also allows you to enjoy certain health benefits. However, if you have not ever ingested the plant or have concerns along these lines, you can find out what you need to know by reading the following questions and answers below.
To better understand the answers, you need to learn the anatomy of the aloe vera leaf. This leaf is used to for extracting certain healthful ingredients. You can consume the skin and gel of the leaf. However, stay away from ingesting the yellow sap, also known as the latex. This part of the leaf has laxative qualities, but can be hazardous to ingest.
If anyone tells you not to consume the gel, it is because the latex or this yellow liquid has not been strained from the leaf. Once you remove the latex and thoroughly clean the gel and skin of latex residue, you can consume these other two parts of the aloe vera plant.
12 Questions You Can Use as a Guide for Consumption
Use the following questions as your guide to learning more about aloe vera gel consumption.
1. Are there any side effects to drinking and eating the gel or liquid of the aloe vera leaf?
If you do experience side effects, such as nausea, muscle weakness, kidney problems, diarrhea, stomach pain, or blood in the urine, it is because the latex has not been removed. Usually, the gel is safe to consume once the yellow sap is totally cleaned from the gel. Stop eating the gel or liquid immediately if you start getting sick to your stomach or experience any of the above symptoms.
2. How much aloe vera gel is too much?
Dosing of the gel in capsule form has been studied by researchers. For example, specific doses are recommended when applied as follows:
Take 147 mg. of aloe vera gel twice daily for losing weight. This can be taken for a period of 8 weeks.
Add two tablespoons of aloe gel for a mouthwash to reduce plaque or gum lesions each day over 3 months. You should also drink 30 mL of pure aloe vera juice twice each day.
Apply aloe with an olive cream, twice daily for six weeks for burns. Apply aloe cream every three days until a minor burn heals.
Apply aloe gel two to three times daily for eight weeks for itching or a rash.
Aloe vera lengthens the lives of adults by as much as 15 years when it is consumed as a drink each day. The gel supports better immune system functioning and absorbs nutrients that provide better skin health and better digestion. The daily dose of a juice concentrate is equal to 2 tablespoons, and should be taken before a meal for optimum absorption.
When given to children or seniors, the recommended dose for children one to five years old is 1 to 3 teaspoons. Daily doses for seniors are one to 3 ounces per day. The gel or juice, when taken by seniors, relieves aching joints and adds the suppleness of the skin.
3. Will Aloe Vera Cause Diarrhea?
You don’t have to worry about getting diarrhea if you limit your consumption to eating the gel or placing it in a blender and liquifying it. Diarrhea results when you consume the yellow sap, or latex as well.
4. Can I Ingest Any Kind of Aloe Vera?
No. You can only ingest the aloe gel, not the latex that is in the leaf. Doing so can prove to be toxic. However, if you clean away the residue of the latex from the gel and the leaf’s skin, you can eat either one of these parts of the aloe vera’s leaf. Never consume other skins of aloe plants that are not the aloe vera plant, as they may be toxic.
5. How is the aloe leaf I buy in the store different than the one I grow at home?
Both leaves are the same. However, if you want to use the gel, fresh from the leaf, it is better to grow the leaves and harvest them at home.
6. Can I ingest aloe vera gel grown indoors?
Yes, you can ingest the gel, as long as your remove the yellow sap or latex.
7. Is it safe the eat aloe that has grown around pesticides?
No, if you plant aloe, you should practice organic gardening. It is not safe to use pesticides when growing the plant and using it for consumption. Better to grow the plant organically, and avoid problems with toxicity.
8. Should I eat aloe that has grown in organic soil?
Yes, you can eat aloe vera gel that is extracted from an organically grown plants. It will contain more healthful nutrients and be free of dangerous chemicals, such as pesticides.
9. Can I eat aloe that has turned brown or reddish brown?
Only extract the gel or the skin of an aloe vera plant that features plump and green healthy leaves. Brown or reddish leaves indicate that the plant may have a fungal disease or has become sunburned. Never eat aloe unless the leaves are a vibrant green and look smooth and free of mold.
10. Is it safe to use aloe vera gel on the skin?
As long as you remove the latex from the gel, you can use the gel on your skin without difficulty.
11. Can I eat the type of aloe that is used on the skin and sold in the store?
No. Don’t use an aloe vera gel that does not come directly from the plant. Doing so can make you sick. Aloe vera gel that is sold in the store may contain additives that are not ingestible.
12. Can I get parasites from eating aloe vera gel?
No. But you can get rid of intestinal parasites when you add the gel to a blender and turn it into a juice. You can also eat the gel or skin if you choose. Aloe is helpful for getting rid of candidiasis as well as intestinal parasites. The skin, when dry, maintains a stronger antiparasitic action.
Advantages and Risks of Using the Gel
The aloe vera plant’s medicinal qualities have led to its use in ointments and cosmetics. You can find the gel from the leaves in commercial creams as well. Use of the gel in these products are is dermatological. The following information elaborates on the use of the gel and the associated advantages and risks.
Extracting the Gel from the Plant
Harvesting the aloe vera plant for juice or gel is a relatively simple process. Always harvest the gel from the leaves of a plant that is several years old. Doing so will ensure that you receive a higher concentration. Wait a few weeks before harvesting the leaves from one plant. To obtain the best results, harvesting should be performed from more than one plant. Rotate the plants if you plan to harvest the leaves and gel frequently.
How to Harvest the Gel
Follow the steps below when harvesting:
1. Trim three to four leaves at one time. Select thick leaves from the plants outer section.
2. Check the leaves. They should be healthy and colorful – free of damage or mold.
3. Always cut the leaves next to the stem. The most beneficial nutrients are contained at the bases of leaves.
4. When trimming off leaves, avoid cutting the roots.
5. Wash the leaves, then allow them to dry.
6. Use a knife to trim the prickly border.
7. Separate the interior gel from the leaf, using your fingers or, preferably, a knife.
8. Permit the sap, which is yellow, to drain. The sap is aloe vera latex. This extract is used for health purposes as a laxative. If you want to use this part of the liquid, you will need to drain it into a separate container.
How the Latex May be Used
When used commercially or for medical purposes, the latex is taken orally. Besides treating constipation, the latex may be used commercially for the following:
- Asthma or respiratory tract infections, such as colds
- Amenorrhea (lack of a menstrual period)
- Colitis or swelling of the colon
- Problems with bleeding
- Vision problems that lead to blindness, such as glaucoma
- Multiple sclerosis
- Varicose veins
- Joint inflammation
Fresh aloe leaves sometimes are taken my mouth to treat cancer.
9. After you drain the yellow sap (latex), slice the aloe gel int cubes or slices. The gel is extracted from the outer part of the leaf. Place the cubes or slices into a blender to turn it into liquid. Use a strainer to remove the pulp.
Using the Gel for Eating and Drinking
You can apply fresh gel to the skin or add it to smoothies, drinks, and food. To make aloe juice, combine one cup liquid to every two teaspoons of gel, adding other ingredients, such as fruit, into a food processor or blender. If you want to consume the gel in slices, refrigerate for a few days. Most times, though, it is better to consume the gel right away. You can always store the gel in your freezer if you want to wait.
Is the Gel Truly Safe?
Aloe gel is typically safe for minor skin irritations. You should never use the liquid or gel on severe burns or cuts. The laxative effect of the latex can cause abdominal cramping and diarrhea. These side effects can interfere with the effectiveness and absorption of oral medications.
When Not to Ingest Aloe Vera
Do not consume the gel if you have any of the following conditions:
- Cardiac problems
- Kidney disease
- Renal disorder
- Ulcerative colitis
- An intestinal obstruction
- Crohn’s disease (people who are sensitive to gluten should refrain from consuming the gel)
What are Possible Side Effects?
If you do suffer any side effects, it is usually because you have not cleaned away the latex. As long as you consume the pure gel, it should be okay. Side effects from consuming the latex and gel may include the following:
- Kidney problems
- Blood in the urine
- Stomach pain or nausea
- Electrolyte imbalances
- Muscle weakness
- Low potassium
Consult with Your Physician
If you are taking certain medications, you need to consult with your doctor before consuming aloe vera. Come of the medication may interact with the gel:
- Sevoflurane (Ultane)
- Nutritional supplements or herbs
- Digoxin (Lanoxin)
- Warfarin (Coumadin)
- Diabetes medicines
- Stimulant laxatives
Applying Aloe to the Skin
People apply the gel to the skin or gum tissues for the following reasons:
- To heal lichen planus (an inflammatory condition of the skin)
- To get rid of acne
- To cure frostbite
- To treat diaper rash
- To heal gum disease
- To treat bedsores
- To eliminate scabies
- To remove dandruff
- To heal wounds
- To minimize hemorrhoids and reduce the pain after hemorrhoid surgery
- To reduce joint pain
Aloe gel and extract are topically applied for the following purposes:
- To repel insects
- The treat genital herpes
- The relieve scaly or itchy skin
- To treat burns and sunburns
- To relieve dryness
Where the Gel and Latex Are Extracted
Because the gel and latex are obtained from different locations and look different, you can easily extract them. For example, the gel is extracted from the plant’s cells in the center of the leaf while latex, or the yellow sap, is obtained from the cells located under the leaf’s skin.
How Aloe Speeds Healing
Aloe seems to speed up wound healing by enhancing blood circulation and preventing the death of cells around an injury. The gel may cause dermatological changes that assist in the healing of skin diseases, such as psoriasis. Also, the gel seems to have properties that cause harm to certain fungi or bacteria. The latex in the leaf contains chemicals that have a laxative effect.
The Parts of the Leaf that Are Used
To understand the safety of the plant for consumption, you need to study the aloe leaf’s anatomy. The leaf is made of three parts, or the gel, the skin, and latex. Of these three parts, the gel is the best known for its healing properties.
Separate the Sap or Latex
You need to separate the latex from the gel to keep gel consumption safe. The latex, or the thin yellow liquid, between the gel and skin holds powerful laxative properties. Eating too much of this extract can have potentially fatal outcomes.
Savoring the Leaf’s Skin
That is why you need to discuss consumption or use with your doctor first. The leaf’s skin, is usually safe to eat. In fact, it is sometimes sold in the grocery store, especially in the desert Southwest US. The skin features a crunchy texture and mild flavor, and is ideal for adding to salads. You can also savor the skin by dipping it in hummus or salsa.
Preparing the Leaf’s Skin for Consumption
To eat the skin, trim away the spikes on the leaf and slice the skin on the leaf’s flat side. Wash the skin thoroughly to get rid of the debris, latex, and residue. Soak the skin about 20 minutes to make it easier to chew. Only trim skin from the aloe vera plant and not from other kinds of aloes. Eating the skin of other aloes may be poisonous.
Basically, you can eat the gel inside the aloe leaf, including the skin. Just make sure both are cleaned thoroughly to remove the toxic or potentially harmful latex.
Don’t Eat Commercial Aloe Vera Skin Gels
When aloe vera gel is added to creams or is sold commercially as a gel, it is meant to be applied topically – not to be eaten. The consumer products are meant to soothe sunburn pain, lower inflammation, moisturize the skin, and relieve dryness and itchiness.
Manufacturers of aloe gels add preservatives to extend the shelf life of the gel and improve it color, texture, and smell. The ingredients are not meant to be eaten. Also, certain processing techniques can strip the gel’s active components – components that otherwise provide health benefits if the natural gel is consumed.
The Benefits Associated with Ingesting Aloe Vera Gel
Consuming aloe vera gel directly form the leaf can trigger a number of health benefits. These potential benefits may include the following:
- Consumption of the fresh gel can reduce blood sugar levels by increasing the sensitivity to insulin. Therefore, eating the gel can be beneficial for diabetics.
- Suppression of inflammatory signals that lead to disease has been found to happen when aloe vera gel is eaten.
- A reduction in dental plaque may occur when aloe vera juice is added to a mouthwash.
- A boost in memory and enhanced learning have been shown when the gel was consumed, including a reduction in depression.
- Antioxidant levels increase in the blood when aloe vera gel is consumed. Antioxidants combat the environment’s free radicals – compounds that trigger chronic conditions and disease.
The Potential Hazards of Eating Aloe Vera
Where you run into problems with consumption is with the leaf ingredient known as the latex. The yellow substance’s warning color gives you a clue about the aloe vera’s potential risks. While latex, in small amounts, can treat constipation, long term use can lead to stomach cramps, muscle weakness, arrhythmia, stomach cramping, or kidney concerns. If taken in high doses (over on gram per day), the use of the latex can prove to be fatal.
If you are pregnant, avoid eating latex at all costs, as doing so can promote uterine contractions, which may lead to miscarriage. Anyone with diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or Crohn’s disease can get sicker when eating the sap of the plant.
When You Should Not Eat the Gel
Aside from eating the latex, people should not ingest the gel if they are diabetic or are taking kidney or heart medicines. Doing so may worsen any side effects from the medications.
In summation, both the skin and gel can be eaten. Eating the gel can offer several health advantages. Just make sure you remove any latex residue. The latex tastes bitter – one more clue that eating this part of the plant can have sour consequences.
Reviewing Some of the Main Benefits
When you review the benefits of eating aloe and using it topically, you cannot overlook its health qualities. Not only does aloe vera enhance digestive health, it also eliminates intestinal worms. Therefore, aloe vera can be used as a vermifuge. The gel or leaf contains a strong worm-killing activity and assists in maintaining the natural flora balance in the stomach.
1. Detox Your body
Because it is gelatinous, aloe vera gel is an ideal way to detox the body. When eaten, the gel passes through the stomach, absorbing the toxins. All the toxins are removed, thereby getting rid of the toxic waste that adheres to the digestive tract, leading to disease.
2. Protect the Heart
You can also consume aloe vera gel to protect the heart. One study, featured in the British Medical Journal found that aloe contains beta sitosterol, which reduces cholesterol. The gel also contains fatty acids that break down body fats. All these activities enhance blood flow and regulate the blood pressure as well.
3. Boost Your Immune System Health
Because aloe vera gel is rich in monosaccharides and polysaccharides, it boosts immune system health. That is because these compounds, when combined, strengthen the while blood cells (macrophages), used to fight viruses and bacteria.
The gel contains adaptogens and antioxidants, both which fight oxidative stress. Therefore, the gel, when ingested, boosts immunity and repairs any damage resulting from oxidation and stress.
The active ingredients in aloe vera, salicylic acid, lupeol, sulphur, cinnamic acid, phenol, and urea nitrogen prevent infections from developing. These compounds also prevent the formation of fungi and viruses. Therefore, the plant proves to be an anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal agent.
4. Get Rid of Joint Stiffness and Pain
Joint health improves as well when aloe vera is consumed. Compounds in the leaf ease inflammation both externally and internally. Studies show that aloe vera lubricates joints, causing a patient to feel less stiffness and joints pain.
5. Improved Dermatological Health
Aloe vera gel improves the health of the skin, as it does not cause irritation. Its soothing properties are used to treat blemishes and related skin disorders. You can effectively treat a rash, minor burn, cut, or wound with aloe vera. Use the gel directly from the plant and apply it to the wound site or the affected part of the skin.
Ingest the Gel or Skin Safely
Once you harvest the aloe vera’s leaf for its skin and gel, you will find that you can use either of the plant parts for a number of beauty or health remedies. Just make sure you stay away from the latex, or keep it separate from the other two parts of the plant. Ensure your health by harvesting the most beneficial parts of the leaf and using them directly or as supplements to meals.