Aloe Vera: Make a Toast to Healthy Stomachs

It always amazes me how tiny fragments of traditional knowledge get passed down over generations and linger, often hidden away, in modern daily life. An old friend of mine has a mother who leads an unhealthy lifestyle by all normal standards. She smokes heavily, eats fast food , and doesn’t even own a cooking pan. So it would always catch me off guard to open the refrigerator in her house and find a bottle of aloe vera juice sitting inside, amidst the soda cans and takeout leftovers. Somehow, in her collected wisdom, this woman knew that aloe vera had a strong affinity for healing stomach disorders, and she regularly drank a few capfuls to keep herself in check. Definitely one of the instances where I am amazed how traditional knowledge can pop up in our cluttered, modern lives.

The aloe vera plant contains over 200 species and has been growing around the world for thousands of years. It has been grown strictly for medicinal purposes for over 2,000 years now, dating back to Alexander the Great, when he began cultivating the plant prolifically after conquering Persia in 333 B.C.!

Aloe vera is truly a magnificent plant — it has been well-documented to promote stomach and intestinal relief for all types of ailments, including  heartburn, diarrhea, constipation, and menstrual disorders. While the thick, viscous juices of the plant are commonly used in topical health and beauty applications for their moisturizing properties, the same juices can be taken internally for even longer-lasting effects on the body. Soothing, lubricating, and toning, aloe vera has the ability to work magic on our stomachs.

Aloe vera neutralizes acidity of the stomach, helping to relieve heartburn and acid reflux. It increases the flow of things going through our system, helping to keep us regular. It also helps to repair and rebuild the lining of the intestinal wall, which is especially important for those with stomach disorders and gastrointestinal symptoms. Have stomach issues? If you are living in the modern world with the rest of us, chances are that you experience some type of stomach malaise from time to time. And if so, chances are that a little aloe vera in your life can make you feel better.

So how to take the aloe vera? It can be found in most supermarkets and drug stores, usually found in the supplement or vitamin aisles. It’s available as either juice or gel — the former a thinner consistency, and the latter a thicker, gooier consistency. Choose whichever appeals to you more (I usually go for the gel). Just a capful or two added to fruit juices, smoothies, or simple water can be enough to soothe an upset stomach and promote long-term regularity. Be warned, however, that drinking aloe in large amounts can set your stomach in overdrive and bring on bouts of nausea or diarrhea — so start small!

I like to keep a bottle of aloe vera in my refrigerator now. While I don’t take it daily, sometimes my stomach acts up, or I am hit with monthly cramps, or I wake up uneasy from one too many mojitos. And there is trusty aloe vera, ready to soothe and nourish with just one capful. I can understand why my friend’s mother always had some on hand.

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