Aloe vera is a popular plant known for its healing properties. The gel inside the leaves is often used topically to treat minor burns, skin irritations, and dry skin. Some people also drink aloe vera juice, citing health benefits like improved digestion. But can you juice the entire aloe vera plant, including the rind and leaves? Let’s take a closer look.
Benefits of Aloe Vera Juice
The most nutrient-dense part of the aloe vera plant is the gel inside the leaves. This clear gel contains over 75 active compounds, including vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, and antioxidants. Drinking aloe vera juice made from the inner gel has been associated with the following benefits:
- Aids digestion and promotes regularity
- Supports immune function
- Provides antioxidants
- Hydrates the body and skin
- Soothes occasional heartburn or acid reflux
Due to its digestive and hydrating properties, aloe vera juice is a popular remedy for constipation, as well as general digestive discomfort. It may also help reduce inflammation throughout the body.
Parts of the Aloe Vera Plant
There are four main parts of the aloe vera plant:
- Rind – The thick green outer skin of the leaf.
- Sap – A sticky, bitter liquid found just under the plant’s skin.
- Inner leaf gel – The clear gel in the center of the leaf.
- Roots – The root system that absorbs water and nutrients.
When making aloe vera juice, the rind and sap contain components that may be toxic or irritating, so using only the inner leaf gel is recommended. The roots also contain high levels of aloin, which gives aloe its characteristic bitter taste, but too much aloin can cause adverse effects.
Is it Safe to Juice the Whole Leaf?
Juicing and consuming the entire aloe vera leaf, including the green skin and sap, is not recommended.
Here are some key reasons why it’s best to only use the inner gel:
- The leaf skin and sap contain aloin, a compound that may cause gastrointestinal side effects when consumed in high amounts.
- Juicing and ingesting the skin could result in diarrhea, cramping, and irritation due to its laxative properties.
- The aloe latex (sap) contains anthraquinone glycosides, which are compounds that have strong laxative effects.
- Ingesting large amounts of aloin may be unsafe during pregnancy due to its purgative and irritant qualities.
- The aloe leaf and sap also contain phenolic compounds that can irritate the skin and digestive tract.
Research suggests that intake of aloin above 10 parts per million could have detrimental health effects when consumed regularly. While aloin content is reduced during processing, it’s still recommended to only juice and consume the inner leaf gel, not the whole leaf.
How to Properly Prepare Aloe Vera Juice
When making aloe vera juice at home, it’s important to separate the gel properly from the leaf skin and sap. Here are some tips for safe preparation:
- Select mature, thick aloe leaves from the base of the plant. Older leaves near the bottom contain more gel.
- Using a sharp knife, slice off the base of the leaf. Place cut-side down in a bowl to drain any sap.
- Trim the green skin from around the edges until you see the clear gel.
- Wash the gel thoroughly to remove any remaining sap or residue.
- Scoop out the gel, being careful not to include the green rind.
- Blend the gel chunks alone or with other fruit juices in a high-speed blender until smooth.
This separation process reduces the amount of aloin and other compounds from the rind that could cause undesirable effects when ingested. Make sure to compost the leaf skin and any drained sap rather than consuming them.
Possible Side Effects of Ingesting the Whole Leaf
Consuming the juice from an entire aloe vera leaf, rind and all, may lead to the following adverse side effects:
|Diarrhea||The latex sap acts as a laxative, stimulating bowel movements.|
|Cramping||Excessive diarrhea from the sap’s laxative effects may cause painful cramping.|
|Nausea||Irritation from plant compounds can prompt nausea.|
|Electrolyte imbalance||Diarrhea results in the loss of fluids and minerals like potassium and sodium.|
|Kidney problems||The high water content and potassium levels in aloe juice could exacerbate kidney dysfunction.|
Pregnant women may also want to avoid consuming the latex sap, as it may stimulate uterine contractions. If you experience any persistent or concerning side effects after drinking aloe vera juice, stop consuming it and see a doctor.
How Much Aloe Vera Juice Should You Drink?
When using just the inner leaf gel to make juice, pure aloe vera juice is safe for most people to consume in moderation. The recommended dosage is:
- 2–4 oz per day for general wellness
- Up to 8 oz per day for constipation or digestive issues
It’s best to start with a small amount like 1–2 oz per day to assess your tolerance. Take note of any effects. Most people can easily tolerate up to 4 oz per day with no problems.
Aloe vera juice made from only the inner gel tends to taste bitter, so it’s often combined with sweeter fruit juices. Mango, pineapple, grape, and cherry mix well with aloe.
Drink aloe vera juice on an empty stomach, ideally 20–30 minutes before meals. This timing allows the nutrients to absorb properly. Waiting allows the food to move from your stomach into intestines before taking more aloe vera juice.
The Bottom Line
Juicing and ingesting the entire aloe vera leaf with the rind can cause side effects like diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and irritation due to its laxative effects. For these reasons, it’s recommended to only use the clear inner gel near the center of the leaf when making aloe vera juice.
With proper preparation to remove leaf skin, sap, and roots, aloe vera juice from the gel is considered safe. Most healthy adults can safely drink up to 4 oz daily. But be cautious of excessive consumption and monitor for side effects.
Overall, pure aloe vera inner leaf gel juice offers a variety of health benefits when consumed in moderate amounts. Just be sure to avoid using the leaf skin and sap when making fresh aloe juice at home or when buying pre-made juices.