You’ve likely used aloe vera to soothe a sunburn. You might even have one growing in your home. Now buzz is growing around the humble houseplant for a whole new reason: More and more people are using aloe vera juice to speed weight loss. And top docs are impressed too, noting it’s particularly helpful for those who want to get leaner and healthier but feel too tired for big changes. The powerful little trick to try: “Take a daily shot of aloe vera juice,” suggests integrative medicine specialist Vincent Pedre, MD. Intrigued? Read on to learn how you can use aloe vera juice to help heal GI issues that secretly drive both fatigue and stubborn weight gain.
Why aloe vera juice is good for weight loss
Studies on aloe show it may help people double or even triple their weight loss. There are a couple reasons for this, but here’s an important one: Aloe vera is really good at improving blood sugar control. One analysis found that a daily dose of aloe can help lower fasting blood sugar by 46.6 mg/dL and A1c by 1.05% in 14 weeks or less — which is on par with prescription blood sugar medications like metformin.
Aloe works this anti-diabetes magic by helping prevent some of the carbs we eat from becoming blood sugar and reducing the sugar our gut absorbs, according to lead researcher Sachin A. Shah, PharmD. And as blood sugar comes down, so do levels of the hormone insulin. That’s important because excess insulin can block stored fat from being burned. Experts say lowering blood sugar also helps kill hunger, lower cravings and more. (Click through for more on the blood sugar benefits of aloe.)
How aloe heals your gut to shrink your waist
The main focus for Dr. Pedre, author of Happy Gut: The Cleansing Program to Help You Lose Weight, Gain Energy and Eliminate Pain, is on gastrointestinal health, and that’s why aloe got his attention. But let’s back up a bit first. Turns out, about 80% of us have gut problems that make us prone to getting sick and gaining weight — even though most of us don’t realize. Why are so many impacted? Look to all the processed food we eat these days. Dr. Pedre says it’s full of cheap oils and other irritating ingredients that gradually damage and cause microscopic tears in our delicate gut lining. “Pesticide residue, antibiotics, stress and hormonal fluctuations are also factors,” notes Dr. Pedre.
Once your gut becomes “leaky,” food particles, bacteria and toxins can escape into the bloodstream, and that may lead to widespread inflammation and sometimes triggers the body to attack its own healthy tissue. “Leaky gut causes or worsens many issues we don’t associate with the gut: fatigue, rashes, headaches, joint aches, mental fog, anxiety, even diabetes and cancer,” Dr. Pedre says. “And it’s probably the biggest reason for weight gain that people don’t know about.” (Click through for more about leaky gut and swaps that can help heal.)
Luckily, aloe — which has been used as a remedy for thousands of years — is an easy way to begin reversing the problem. “Aloe helps soothe and repair the gut lining,” says the doc. Credit goes to the plant’s 75 active compounds, shown to do things like help reduce swelling, repair injured tissue, fight infection and numb pain. It’s a barrage of benefits so powerful, tests reveals aloe can cut heartburn by 71% in four weeks. And preliminary evidence suggests it may quickly reduce gut ‘leaks’ by 52%. The result: Aloe helps boost energy as it primes the body to burn fat with ease.
How much aloe vera juice to drink daily
Dr. Pedre’s advice on how much aloe vera juice to drink: “I suggest starting with 1 tablespoon a day and working up to 2, which is a full shot glass.” He adds that you should increase your intake slowly to be sure aloe won’t overstimulate the gut and cause a laxative effect. Larger aloe leaves sold at grocery stores are easier to prepare, but experts say the gel from most aloe plants is generally safe to consume in moderation. Prefer a no-fuss option? Superstores sell ready-to-drink aloe juice and supplements for just pennies a dose. (Click through to see how aloe vera juice tames heartburn and alleviates dry mouth, too.)
What does aloe vera juice taste like?
Aloe vera juice has bright, citrusy notes. However, devotees warn it can be a bit bitter. Pairing it with bold tropical fruits like pineapple in a drink or vinegar in dressing and savory dishes helps balance the bitterness. You can also combine it with ingredients rich in good fats like coconut milk or olive oil to help mellow the taste. And if that doesn’t sound good to you, you can always opt for a supplement from a reputable manufacturer like Now or Nature’s Bounty brands. Check labels for suggested dosages.
How to make aloe vera juice
To use fresh aloe, either pick up large leaves from a supermarket, which are easier to work with, or get several leaves from a houseplant. You want to slice the edges off each leaf and pull the halves apart. Carefully remove any yellow residue — it’s called “latex” and can cause diarrhea and allergic reactions. Use a spoon to scrape off the clear aloe gel. Rinse the gel to remove bitterness. You can simply use the gel or, alternately, blend it with just enough water to make a liquid. (Click through for a step-by-step aloe vera juice how-to with pictures.)
Boost aloe’s benefits with these foods
Once aloe has you feeling great, try a few more gut-soothing tweaks. Dr. Pedre says you’ll see and feel the biggest difference when you begin to replace gut-harming foods like wheat, dairy and processed junk with foods that help soothe and repair. “That means veggies, low-sugar fruit, organic protein and good fats, especially omega-3s,” he says. “Stick to three meals, but eat as much as you need to feel full. Most people say it doesn’t feel like a diet at all.”
As inflammation disappears, retained fluid is released. This can happen rapidly for some. “For others, it doesn’t happen until all internal inflammation is fully resolved, which can take eight weeks or so,” says Dr. Pedre. But after that, “losing suddenly becomes easy.”
“I used the aloe in my yard to lose 84 lbs at age 65!”
“After I retired, the weight just crept up on me,” recalls Florida great-grandma Marcia Jones. When a diet clinic proved too strict, she tried her local TOPS weight-loss group. “With the group’s help, I made my own plan — something I could do forever.” That meant avoiding gut-inflaming sugary drinks, processed carbs, fried foods and processed meat in favor of smoothies, veggies, nuts, chicken and fish.
Marcia also used a trick her mom, Lola, taught her: “I peel fresh aloe from my yard and blend it with water, apple cider vinegar, fruit, maybe some turmeric or stevia to give it a nice twist,” she says. “It helps with digestion and inflammation. It’s my special potion!” As her energy and well-being soared, she started volunteering more and exercising at the local YMCA. And her waist steadily got smaller. All told, Marcia dropped 84 pounds, got rid of plantar fasciitis and no longer needs cholesterol or blood-pressure pills. “I feel younger than ever. I’m so thankful for the body God has given me!”
And Lee used aloe vera juice to lose 42 lbs at age 56
Not long ago, Lee Murphy Wolf had a life-changing hot flash. “I was in a room full of men, and I had to rush out. I burst into tears,” she recalls. “My doctors had dismissed me, telling me I’d be fine. I wasn’t fine. That day, I decided to find new doctors.”
Dr. Pedre’s office was nearby, so Lee pulled up his website. “As I read, something clicked.” She realized she had many symptoms related to poor gut health: intense menopause, digestive issues, brain fog, headaches, congestion, joint stiffness and swelling. She made an appointment and was soon sampling strategies like cutting dairy and sipping aloe. “Aloe made my stomach calmer,” Lee recalls.
Continuing to focus on her gut, all Lee’s symptoms vanished. So did 42 pounds. “I’d tried 30 different diets without real success. This time, I barely tried and pounds just came off,” shares the Florida life coach, 56. “Dr. Pedre makes it so easy. My husband lost 15 pounds just eating the meals I made. Even if you only do a little, you can end up much healthier and happier.”
2 aloe vera recipes to try
For even more benefits, incorporate aloe vera juice into treats — they make it easy and delicious to slim. We’ve got ideas for you below:
1. Aloe Watermelon Slushie
This quick-fix drink is delicious, refreshing and good for you.
- 2 Tbs. aloe vera juice
- ½ cups cubed watermelon
- 2 cups coconut water
- Blitz aloe juice and remaining ingredients in a blender with ice to taste
2. Aloe-Kissed Chia Cups
Kiwi adds the just-right amount of sweetness — experiment swapping in your favorite fruits.
- 3 Tbs. chia
- 1 cup nut milk
- ¾ cup kiwi
- 1 Tbs. aloe juice or gel
- optional allulose or stevia to taste
- Blitz all ingredients in a blender and divide between two ramekins. Cover and chill. Garnish with more fruit, if you like.
For more on what aloe can do for you, check out these articles:
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.
This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.