Actress Shay Mitchell might play the part of a “Pretty Little Liar,” but she’s all truth when it comes to health advice, particularly when it comes to her fondness for aloe vera juice.
“Aloe vera has so many great benefits, but for digestion, it’s really great,” Mitchell raved to Coveteur.com, adding that she drinks it every night before hitting the sack.
Aloe vera, which contains an abundance of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, saccharides, amino acids, and enzymes, isn’t only effective for soothing sunburns and relieving itchiness. (Fun fact: Did you know that its calming and healing properties are so incredible that hospitals use it to treat wounds?) The perennial succulent has been used in traditional Indian and Chinese medicine to treat a host of ailments, particularly constipation.
The fact that modern science supports this isn’t all too surprising (after all, it’s pretty easy to tell if a constipation remedy is working or not, so the ancients were probably quite certain about this one). These days, aloe vera—specifically, the liquid and pulp portion of the gel-like meat inside the stalky plant—is known to help balance the body’s pH levels, stimulate healthy gut bacteria, and normalize the bowels. In their book “Textbook of Natural Medicine,” naturopathic physicians Joseph Pizzorno and Michael Murray wrote that aloe vera juice operates as an effective laxative by going into the waste and softening it, while reinforcing the intestinal walls and helping to break down protein.
And while most scientists agree we need more evidence to confirm this, many credit aloe vera with improving symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). One study gave IBS sufferers 30 milliliters of aloe vera juice twice daily and found that the participants experienced noticeable improvements in their gut-related discomforts.
There’s also evidence that aloe vera is anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and an antioxidant (specifically thanks to its content of polyphenols). Many people believe aloe vera can help boost the immune system as well.
It’s important to note one caveat when it comes to aloe vera — at least one part of it. In one 2008 study, aloe vera latex, the yellow portion under the skin, was shown to have a laxative effect to relieve constipation. For this reason aloe vera latex is offered in supplements that promote bowel movements. However, many experts warn against taking them in high doses, as safety is not quite definitive.
If you’re ready to try some aloe for yourself, the best option is to go to your local health-food store or farmers market and get yourself a plant! That way you can slice it open any time to alleviate your sunburns and nurture your wounds, and you can ensure your juices are pure.
To make the juice, cut open a leaf lengthwise to reveal the jelly inside. Scoop it out with a spoon, add it to water or fresh juice (like coconut), and blend. If you prefer to get a bottle, ALO Drink has been popping up on shelves everywhere—the organic, non-GMO aloe vera juice is harvested and shipped by farmers and bottled within a day to maintain freshness.
Tummy troubles are the worst — and sometimes you need more than your daily dose of probiotics and sauerkraut to keep your bowels moving along. If healthy pooing is an issue for you, perhaps Shay Mitchell has finally found your solution. Here’s to feeling “unstuck”!