To the uninformed, it would be easy to dismiss the idea of aloe vera having any effect on arthritis pain. Yet, as more research and studies have indicated, aloe vera’s anti-inflammatory properties help to alleviate joint inflammation and swelling. Arthritis is associated with any disorder that affects the joints. The word, ‘Arthritis,’ in fact, literally means joint inflammation. It is an inflammation of one or more joints, and the tissues surrounding the joints, that result in pain, swelling, stiffness and limited range of motion for the afflicted.
The History of Aloe Vera as an Anti-Inflammatory
Aloe vera’s anti-inflammatory and other healing properties are no secret. From Alexander the Great to Cleopatra to Christopher Columbus, some of history’s most famous figures relied on the succulent perennial plant for its therapeutic attributes. Once found only on the Arabian Peninsula, the aloe vera plant spread westward across northern Africa, and is now cultivated in many regions of the world for medicinal and agricultural uses. Over the centuries, people have used the aloe gel, found within the inner parts of the leaves, for medicinal purposes. This includes for such things as the treatment of burns and minor wounds, inflammatory skin disorders, and to help with chronic joint pain that we now know and associate with arthritis.
The Science Behind Aloe Vera’s Effect on Arthritic Pain
There are more than a hundred types of arthritis, the most common being osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis develops with age and affects the fingers, knees, and hips; whereas rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that affects the hands and feet. Searches for a cure or ways to alleviate arthritic pain are ongoing. Studies published at the National Institute of Health have indicated aloe vera as an anti-inflammatory and prophylactic agent in the treatment of arthritis and for its pain relief.
Anti-Microbial and Immune Boosting Properties
One animal model study on mice showed a relationship between aloe and osteoarthritis. The study found that the oral administration of aloe vera gel as an anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory herbal remedy stimulated cell-mediated immunity and antibody production. The results indicated that aloe vera extracts contain certain anti-inflammatory compounds that can be used in anti-arthritic medication.
Another experimental study on the antibacterial and antioxidant properties of aloe vera indicated that aloe vera extracts have a significant effect on anti-oxidant and biochemical parameters. The study reported significant antibacterial/antioxidant properties from various aloe vera leaf extracts.
Digestion Regulating Properties
Furthermore, the perceived benefits of taking aloe vera may be twofold: one as an anti-inflammatory agent, and the other as a prophylactic against the gastrointestinal irritant effects of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Clearly, an agent that can provide additional analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects for people with osteoarthritis would constitute a major breakthrough in the treatment of this potentially debilitating disease. The additional benefit of protection against gastrointestinal damage is also of particular importance. NSAID-induced gastrointestinal toxicity has long been among the most common drug-related serious, adverse side-effects, including bleeding gastrointestinal ulcers and even deaths.
What Makes Aloe Vera Work?
The benefits of aloe vera can be found in the seventy-five potentially active constituents of vitamins, enzymes, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids, and more.
- Vitamins – Vitamins found in aloe vera are vitamins A (beta-carotene), C and E, which are antioxidants, and vitamin B12, folic acid, and choline.
- Enzymes – Aloe vera also contains the 8 enzymes including bradykinase which helps to reduce excessive inflammation when applied to the skin topically, while others help in the breakdown of sugars and fats.
- Minerals – Minerals it provides are calcium, chromium, copper, selenium, magnesium, manganese, potassium, sodium and zinc. They are essential for the proper functioning of various enzyme systems in different metabolic pathways and few are antioxidants.
- Fatty Acids – The fatty acids found in aloe vera – cholesterol, campesterol, beta-sisosterol and lupeol – all have anti-inflammatory action, and lupeol also possesses antiseptic and analgesic properties.
Aloe Vera Dosages
Aloe vera can be effective in aiding the symptoms of arthritis both when taken orally and topically. Thanks to being 100% natural and lacking any synthetic or psychoactive substances, regardless of how you take it aloe vera is generally safe!
Important note: Although raw aloe from a plant grown in your home can be used topically, it can be unsafe to eat raw aloe. In order to take aloe orally, it is highly recommended that you go with a product specially made for oral consumption. Always consult your doctor before beginning any supplement and be aware of any personal allergies.
Topical Aloe (Gel)
Aloe vera gel, so long as it is organic and free of additives, can be applied topically to joints as often as necessary. An added benefit to topical application is softened and conditioned skin!
Oral Aloe (Juice, Extract, or Capsules)
The Bottom Line: Aloe Efficacy in Treating Symptoms of Arthritis
Aloe vera is an excellent natural option in aiding with relief from the symptoms of arthritis. The therapeutic uses of aloe vera can be justified by its anti-inflammatory activities, and the digestive benefits of taking aloe along with the NSAIDs usually prescribed for arthritis.