Is Aloe Good for Acid Reflux?
Yes, aloe vera can be used internally as a natural home remedy for acid reflux. Aloe vera is a succulent plant that’s been used for thousands of years as a remedy for healing skin irritation, burns, and minor cuts and scrapes. It is also used internally as a natural acid reflux remedy. Aloe vera not only provides relief from heartburn, it promotes healing of the digestive system as well.
A Brief Overview of Acid Reflux and Heartburn
Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus through a ring of muscles called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). When functioning properly, the LES will close tightly keeping stomach contents in their proper place.
Heartburn is one of the symptoms of acid reflux. It is the painful, burning sensation caused by acid irritation of the esophagus. Refluxed acid irritates the esophagus because it lacks the special lining like the stomach has for protection against stomach acid.
Acid reflux can be caused by:
- Heartburn trigger foods
- Being overweight
- Pressure on the abdomen (e.g. tight clothing or bending over)
- Eating large meals
- Low fiber diet
- Smoke from cigarettes (active or passive)
- Posture and position
- Hiatal hernia
- Hypochlorhydria (low stomach acid)
- Eating before bedtime
- Certain medications that relax the LES or irritate the esophagus
Benefits Of Using Aloe Vera For Acid Reflux Symptoms
What are the benefits of using aloe vera as a remedy for acid reflux?
- Aloe vera is a proven, natural acid reflux remedy that is effective in reducing GERD symptoms with no adverse events requiring withdrawal.1 This may be a better alternative for people than proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) in certain situations. This is of great benefit with the growing list of negative side effects associated with long-term PPI use.
- Aloe vera’s antibacterial compounds fight bad bacteria in the digestive system to lower the instance of SIBO, H. pylori, and candida. Gas produced by bad bacteria can cause bloating of the abdomen and belching. Both weaken the LES closure to allow acid into the esophagus causing heartburn. Bad bacteria also reduces the digestive system’s ability to synthesize certain digestive enzymes, reduces the small intestine’s ability to break down proteins into amino acids, and prevents nutrient absorption. Reductions in digestive function slow the digestive process causing constipation. Constipation causes abdominal pressure which in turn compromises the LES closure allowing stomach acid to leak through, reflux, into the esophagus.
- It improves blood circulation which helps improve the digestive process.
- It provides essential vitamins and amino acids that help improve digestive functions.
- Its anti-inflammatory properties reduce pain and soothe the irritated lining of the esophagus to relieve heartburn.
- Its antibacterial compounds promote the healing of damaged or inflamed tissue.
- It also promotes healing by boosting the immune system, reducing inflammation, improving circulation, and providing nutrients.
- It can be used as a laxative. Depending on your digestive needs this may help relieve constipation and abdominal pressure that lead to acid reflux. If you are not constipated, it’s best to buy a form that has the laxative component of the aloe plant removed.
Best Aloe Vera Forms For Acid Reflux
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- Aloe vera gel and juice are best for heartburn treatment, though powder form may be mixed with water as well. These three forms come in direct contact with the esophagus helping to reduce the irritation of heartburn and promote healing of the esophageal lining.
- Aloe vera in softgel and capsule form will not treat the esophagus directly.
- As mentioned in the above section, all these aloe vera forms promote healing of the digestive tract.
- Aloe vera can be bought with the laxative properties removed. This is best for most cases as there are fewer side effects.
How To Use Aloe Vera For Acid Reflux
- Aloe vera dosage will vary depending on product manufacturer, the potency of the product, and whether the laxative properties have been removed. Consult your doctor, pharmacist, and product label for instructions on how to take your particular aloe vera supplement.
- Aloe can be taken prior to meals for prevention or for treatment after heartburn has begun.
- Softgels are likely to be taken multiple times a day with water. Many times they are taken prior to meals to help with digestion and heartburn prevention.
- Aloe vera juice, gel, and powder mixed with water may be taken prior to meals to help with digestion and heartburn prevention or after heartburn occurs as a remedy.
- Refreshing aloe vera drinks can also be made from aloe vera gel, juice, and powder. These three aloe vera forms can be mixed with other natural heartburn remedies like apple cider vinegar or with juices that won’t promote acid reflux.
- If you experience any side effects or discomfort of any kind, discontinue use and consult your doctor. Your doctor may decide to change your treatment regimen. Be aware of the risks and warnings of taking aloe vera internally.
Risks And Warnings When Using Aloe Vera For Acid Reflux
Talk to your doctor before using aloe vera as a remedy for acid reflux. It is generally considered safe but pay close attention to the risks and warnings especially when taking aloe with latex (the part containing laxative properties).2
- Aloe is not considered to be a safe long-term treatment for acid reflux or other internal ailments.
- Aloe should not be taken in large dosages. Dosages of aloe with latex at 1 gram daily can be fatal. Large dosages can cause kidney failure, heart issues, blood in the urine, diarrhea, low potassium, muscle weakness, and weight loss.
- Mothers who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not take aloe vera. Aloe can stimulate uterine contractions to cause miscarriage. It may also increase the risk of embryonic death and skeletal abnormalities.3
- Infants and children should not be fed aloe products without doctor supervision.
- Aloe vera can interfere with medications, do not take without consulting with your doctor and pharmacist.
- Do not take aloe if you are planning to have surgery. It has been known to reduce blood clotting.
- Aloe should not be taken by diabetics. It may lower blood sugar and can affect diabetic medication.
- Certain forms of aloe vera can cause diarrhea. Avoid all aloe vera forms with the latex component still intact if you are taking other diuretics or laxatives.
- Aloe can worsen conditions such as hemorrhoids, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, or bowel obstruction.
- Do not take aloe if you are allergic to lily family plant group. It is part of the lily family.
How To Make Aloe Vera Juice For Hearburn Relief
- When making your own Aloe vera juice be strongly aware of the Risks and Warnings listed in the section above.
- Make sure you’re growing the right aloe plant. You want to be using the Aloe vera species. There are other aloe plants that look similar to Aloe vera but they do not provide the same medicinal properties.
- You’ll need to harvest a large, healthy leaf. With a sharp knife, cut the leaf from the plant at its base.
- Wash the leaf and place it flat side up on a cutting board.
- With a sharp knife, slice off the outer thorny layer with rind to expose the clear inner gel. You do not want the yellowish rind. This layer has the latex which is a strong laxative.
- Scoop out the clear gel into a bowl with a spoon and look to make sure you have not scooped out any of the yellowish rinds.
- To make aloe juice, combine 1 – 2 tablespoons of the aloe gel with 4 – 8 oz of water or coconut water. The amount of water will depend on you. I prefer to have a higher level of Aloe vera when using the juice as a heartburn remedy and choose 4 ounces.
- If you want to make larger quantities, it can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.
- Be aware of its potential laxative effect. If you have problems due to the latex, you should consider buying Aloe vera with the latex removed.
- If you have side effects, discontinue use immediately and speak to your doctor.
1) Yunes Panahi, Hossein Khedmat, Ghasem Valizadegan, Reza Mohtashami, & Amirhossein Sahebkar. “Efficacy and safety of Aloe vera syrup for the treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease: a pilot randomized positive-controlled trial.” Science Direct, Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine, December 2015, Volume 35, Issue 6, Pages 632-636.
3) Kathi J. Kemper, MD, MPH, & Victoria Chiou, BA. “Aloe vera (Aloe vera).” The Longwood Herbal Task Force, & The Center for Holistic Pediatric Education and Research, July 29, 1999.