“Can you eat Aloe vera or is it for topical use only?”
It’s an important question for many. Aloe vera has been widely used as a medicinal plant for thousands of years. Originally found on the Arabian Peninsula and Eastern Mediterranean region, it was depicted on stone sculptures and written on papyrus in ancient Egypt dating from the 16th century BCE. The plant is now cultivated worldwide for its many medicinal applications.
For the most part, when people think of Aloe, they are familiar with the plant for its topical application in treating skin injuries, particularly cuts and burns. But can it be consumed? Does it provide internal health benefits? Are there risks? Let’s find out.
What is Aloe Vera?
Aloe Vera is a member of the succulent plant family. It is a stemless plant with fleshy serrated leaves and, when in bloom, produces yellow flowers. However, it’s the substance within the leaves of the plant that make Aloe Vera valuable. The gel found in each leaf of the plant, its clear meaty center, contains many vitamins and minerals, and antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties with a wide range of therapeutic applications.
Can You Eat Aloe Vera?
Aloe Vera gel is totally safe to eat so long as it is prepared properly to remove any aloin. In fact, it is a nutrient-dense plant many refer to as a superfood. The inner gel of the Aloe Vera leaf contains many important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to support overall health:
- 20 amino acids that aid in building muscle tissue
- 7 key enzymes that assist in breaking down food and boost nutrient absorption
- Minerals such as calcium, chromium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, sodium and zinc
- Vitamins A, C, D, E, B, B-1, B-2, B12, and folic acid
There are a number of Aloe Vera health benefits, however you’ll want to avoid eating raw whole aloe leaf. The inner skin or rind has a latex coating containing aloin which acts as a natural laxative. For obvious reasons, you’ll want to be sure the Aloe you’re consuming is properly processed and free of aloin; ingesting too much of this compound, even if used for the desired effect of relieving constipation, can result in cramping, diarrhea, low potassium, and muscle weakness.
What is Aloin?
Aloin is a type of anthraquinone glycoside, a natural chemical, which has powerful laxative properties. In Aloe Vera it is found in the yellowish latex sap or juice in the layer below the outer skin, i.e., the inner rind, of the plant’s leaves. Though some people have ingested the juice to relieve constipation, health professionals do not consider it safe as an effective laxative. Concentrations of aloin vary throughout the plant and results may be unpredictable when using it in this manner. The gel found in the center of Aloe leaves contains little or no aloin. Like many fruits and vegetables, the protective cover must be peeled before accessing the nutritional substance found on the inside.
How Do You Prepare Raw Aloe Vera To Be Eaten?
Preparing Aloe vera to eat takes only a few minutes, and once prepared can be stored in your refrigerator up to a week.
- Cut a leaf from the plant at the stem with scissors or kitchen knife and rinse under cold, running water
- Trim the ends of the leaf by cutting off its base and tip by approximately an inch (how much to trim will be determined by the size and length of the leaf)
- Slice the serrated edges off along the entire spine of the leaf.
- Cut the leaf into halves or thirds, again depending on its length
- Soak in a bowl of water for ten minutes and thoroughly rinse
- Filet the sections length-wise and scrape or scoop out only the clear gel with a butter knife or spoon. Do not squeeze out the gel as it can release the aloin latex with it
- This resulting gel can be consumed raw, juiced, or used in any number of creative ways (check out our Aloe Vera smoothie recipe)
What Does Aloe Vera Taste Like?
A tablespoon of raw Aloe Vera will leave a bitter, earthy, and slightly acidic taste in your mouth. The texture of the gel is soft and gooey. However, it’s also watery, easily swallowed, and the aftertaste really doesn’t linger. The best way to consume raw Aloe vera is to mix it with other fruits in a drink or a smoothie. Experiment until you find the taste just right for you. Many recipes are available on the web.
Where Can I Get Edible Aloe Vera?
AloeCure Aloe Vera products are all specially processed to remove any aloin and optimized for the maximum amount of the beneficial active ingredient acemannan. By using only high quality organically grown Aloe Vera leaves, AloeCure products are a great choice for those looking to reap the benefits of all natural Aloe Vera.