To the uninformed, it would be easy to dismiss the idea of aloe vera having any effect on joints; the most common location for discomfort. Yet, as more research and studies have indicated, aloe vera has the potential to provide joint support by helping with inflammation and swelling because it helps modulate the body’s immune system (your body’s natural way to fight inflammation).
The History of Aloe Vera
Aloe vera’s many benefits 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 support healthy joints that could be prone to bouts of pain.
The Science Behind Aloe Vera’s Relationship with Inflammation
It’s long been known that when aloe is applied to a burn or rash it provides a healing and cooling effect. Similarly, aloe acts the same way internally when ingested. The science behind this phenomenon is linked to the plants healing property that makes it famous, Acemannan. What makes Acemannan so special has led to labs and research centers around the world to study it and it has been proven to support health functions needed for optimal health.
Anti-Microbial and Immune Boosting Properties
A major part of aloe’s ability to calm and heal is because it can help regulate the immune system, something designed to protect you against disease and foreign invaders like bacteria. However, when your immune system is not optimal the system meant to protect you can also do harm. When you have an optimal immune system your body can better fight infection and manage inflammation.
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 for helping with inflammation, and the other as a prophylactic against the gastrointestinal irritant effects of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). The additional benefit of protection against gastrointestinal damage through the balancing of stomach acid 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 actions that help inflammation, and lupeol also possesses antiseptic and analgesic properties.
Aloe Vera Dosages
Aloe vera can be effective 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 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)
Aloe can also be taken orally to take advantage of its benefits. 300mg daily in the form of an aloe vera capsule is advisable or about 2 fl oz twice daily of a pure aloe extract that is made from the inner gel of the aloe leaf.