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Aloe vera is one of those products that people claim can heal anything from indigestion to detoxing to skin problems. Some of these claims have a bit of science behind them but many do not. I remember being in India and seeing the plant growing to huge sizes by the roadsides and seeing people use them for a variety of ailments, so I thought I'd give it a go one day and see whether it made any difference to me.
I suffer from eczema and have been told by various people that this is related to stomach problems, so I saw no harm in giving it a go when I saw Holland and Barrett brand Maximum Strength Aloe Vera Juice Drink on sale in my local store. It cost me about a fiver and I thought this was a good offer. The bottle is huge, holds 946 mls, and the same brand juice is also available in a smaller size bottle. The bottle is white in colour and not transparent so you don't get to see what the juice looks like until you've taken it home and there's no taking it back. The label has a small picture of a aloe plant on it, claims to 'Support Healthy Digestion', and states that it is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
The instructions say to take one tablespoon of the mixture daily and keep it in the fridge when not in use. I made the mistake of doing as I was told and sipping one spoonful in one go, which I immediately regretted and never did again. This stuff tastes horrible. The fact that it is a pale greenish colour doesn't help either. It has a strong bitter acidic taste and I strongly dislike it. So, after the first time, I learned from mistake and tried taking it mixed into a glass of apple juice. It made the juice taste funny of course but it was much more bearable as I wasn't quite as overcome with the sharp flavour. After a while I experimented with smoothies too but it seemed to tinge everything with it's strange bitter flavour so I went back to juice and stayed with it.
I tried taking the Maximum Strength Aloe Vera Juice Drink until the bottle almost ran out, but I didn't quite make it to the end. I was sick of the taste after a few months and had not noticed any positive effects with my skin or otherwise. I am dubious about whether it works in that regard, though of course it might aid people with stomach problems and I can't test this since I don't have any in the first place.
This large bottle of Maximum Strength Aloe Vera Juice Drink costs £11.55, but I recommend buying it when it's on offer, which it is from time to time. The smaller bottle costs £6.69 but if you want to test the effectiveness of it for a particular ailment then you should probably try a fairly long dose with the large bottle. Personally I think they charge far too much for a product that costs next to nothing to grow and can actually be grown easily at home and eaten raw, which many people do in India. Over there people claim that aloe vera is cleansing for the body, not unlike the raw food movement here in the UK, but in that case why not just eat raw vegetables that are local to us? It makes no sense to me.
It's worth noting here that before taking aloe vera you MUST check with your doctor if you are taking prescribed medications, or even some over-the-counter medications. This is because contrary to what people assume about 'natural/healthfoods' aloe vera can contraindicate some medicines, or else interact with them with poor results. This goes for ANY healthfood, EVEN if it comes from a plant- in fact this is a common misconception, as most of the drugs we take come from plants or did originally, before being produced synthetically. Hence 'natural' remedies like St John's Wort stops the pill from working if you take it, and so on. Don't just assume that because people eat it raw, you'll be fine. This is highly concentrated stuff remember, not a little aloe gel here and there. You have been warned.
After swallowing this bitter 'juice' for months and finding no positive effects from doing so, I won't try this product again or anything like it. I will say, beware of hype before you fall for oft-quoted but little-proved claims that aloe can heal your body of every ailment, because it probably won't.
Save your money and eat some fresh vegetables instead.
- Why I Bought -
Over the past two years I have become interested in supplementing my diet with various vitamins and supplements. My interest was sparked during my pregnancy when I started taking a pregnancy multi vitamin and then took raspberry leaf to prepare me for labour. I eat a fairly balanced diet and don't have any real health concerns but I came to realise there were many products out there that could make me a little bit healthier.
I purchased this Maximum Strength Aloe Vera from Holland and Barratt on a bit of a whim. I think it is really aimed at people who have digestive health issues, not something I really suffer with. However, sometimes after not eating as healthy as I should it can make me feel a little 'yucky' on the inside. I thought this would be a good product to take to help my digestive system feel nice and clean and also prevent any unwanted issues.
- The packaging -
The Aloe Vera juice comes in a chunky white plastic bottle with a green label. Two sizes are available, 946mls and 473mls. Mine is the larger size and it is really quite heavy so perhaps this is one to order online or buy when you don't have much other shopping to do. The lid is nicely secured so I don't think this bottle would leak easily but it does twist of with reasonable ease. As the bottle is white you can't see how much is left but it is reasonably easy to see this by peering in through the wide neck of the bottle.
The labels shows a picture of the Aloe Vera plant, provides directions for use, and a list of ingredients. There is a warning about contacting a doctor if you have any reaction or you are on any medication and also that it is not suitable for those under 18. Obviously this advice is about being sensible, I'm sure it is fine to take along side many medications but if you are unsure then it is always advisable to consult your doctor. As with many health supplements, the label doesn't say much about what this juice actually does. That is because it isn't a licensed product as there is no scientific evidence to support its use as a digestive aid. This shouldn't alarm though as it is perfectly safe to take and it can help many people with their digestive complaints.
- How to Take -
The directions state: 'Take one tablespoon (15ml) one to three times daily. Aloe Vera Juice can be taken directly or mixed with water or your favourite juice. Do not exceed stated dose'. When I took this for the first time I took it straight, on its own in a glass. It wasn't horrible to taste but it isn't a particularly enjoyable drink either. However, mixed with orange juice I can't taste it at all so this is how I choose to take it. I tend to take it once per day as I don't particularly suffer with digestive problems but I feel it helps keep my digestive system healthy and running as it should.
- Why Aloe Vera? -
So why is Aloe Vera used as a digestive aid? Well Aloe Vera is known for its cleansing and soothing properties and is used in many skin care products because of this. These qualities can also be beneficial to the stomach, intestines, bowel and colon. It is thought to have laxative, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and detoxifying properties which can help the digestive system to run smoothly and may also help to relieve common digestive complaints such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, constipation, bloating, Candida and other fungal infections, Colitis, Diverticulitis and Crohn's Disease. I think that Aloe Vera juice is often included in weight loss/detox diets.
- The Results -
As I have already stated I don't have any of these conditions so I can't comment on how much the Aloe Vera juice might help sufferers of these. For me the results were subtle but it did make me feel cleaner on the inside if that makes sense. I didn't find it to have much of a laxative effect (phew!) but I did find I went to the toilet a 'nice' regular frequency so perhaps the laxative effect is quite gentle. Overall I think my digestive system did benefit from drinking this juice daily over a three month period. I feel it is worth taking but if I didn't take it I don't think there would suddenly be negative effects, so it wouldn't be essential for me.
- Price and Availability -
This particular Aloe Vera juice is from Holland and Barrett's own brand so it is available in most of their shops and also on their website. The usual price to pay is £11.55 for the larger size or £6.69 for the smaller size. I think these prices are reasonable in the world of vitamins and supplements. There is also a cranberry flavour available in each size, but you pay an additional £2 for these. I have to say I haven't been into a Holland and Barrett store without spotting these on some kind of offer. If you aren't too fussy about what size or flavour you get you will usually be able to get them at half price, 1/3 off, buy one get one half price or buy one get one for a penny.
- Would I Recommend? -
I would and I have. I have a few friends with IBS, Crohn's Disease or constipation and have mentioned this juice to all of them. I think it is easy to take and has had a positive yet subtle effect for me. As the price is quite reasonable it is definitely one to recommend.
I have a personal history of bowel problems. My poor tummy suffers terribly at the slightest change in diet, plus I have a family history of diverticulitis, so anything that is supposed to be good for soothing your tummy is of interest to me. One day I was reading a review, and I saw someone writing about the properties of Aloe vera juice, how it worked to cleanse the colon, and I decided that I would like to try it for myself and see what effect it had.
I had upset my digestive system tremendously by using slimming milkshakes and getting really constipated, so I decided to get back to eating more normally and use this as a food supplement. The first thing I have to say about it was it was not cheap. It is £9.99 for a 946ml bottle of the juice, and £5.99 for a 473ml bottle. I decided to bite the bullet and buy the bigger bottle and give it a fair try.
The juice is pure aloe vera juice with minimal processing. It is free from pesticides and is not pasteurised to remove any bacteria. It is advised because this product is a natural one that there may be some variation in the final product in different bottles of it.
The aloe vera juice can be taken either on a spoon, or you can dilute it by putting it in a squash or fruit juice. The aloe vera juice is pretty clear in colour, though as I worked down the bottle, there was a slight cloudiness towards the bottom of the bottle. The dosage of this is 5 ml one to three times a day. I thought I would be gentle at first and try just one in case it had an unexpected laxative effect.
I tried at first to try and take it on a spoon, but I really could not get myself to put it in my mouth as I found it had a citrus taste that was a bit too much for me. I started adding it to juice. I found that in fruit juice I could not taste it at all, and if I added it to my squash I couldn't either. I have also tried it in water, where you do get a bit of a citrus taste and aftertaste as if you have drank water that has a slice of lemon in it.
I find that when I have taken some of the juice, my digestive system is certainly less sluggish. Any laxative effect is only mild for me even if I have 3 spoons of it in a day. I do feel a lot less bloated and gassy with it, and it does feel very soothing to have the symptoms alleviated a bit.
The taste is bearable, but I don't always fancy having it. I noticed that Holland and Barrett also sell a cranberry flavoured version of this juice so I got that one to try next to see if it is more palatable. It is slightly more expensive at £10.99 for the large bottle. I bought mine on offer though, at buy one item and get a second item half price.
I am certainly glad that I tried this as I do feel it helps a little, but for the price I feel the effect is not really as strong as I would like. Saying that, taking the maximum dose of 15ml per day, the larger bottle is actually 63 days worth of digestive support, so it is only 16p per day to feel a bit more comfortable.
I think for most people who have regular digestive systems that work in a consistent way, you would probably not miss much by not having this treatment, but I am going to continue with it for the time being as I feel it is helping me.