Many people swear by Aloe Vera for Acid Reflux, so should we be using it? We employed a research scientist to look into the data on Aloe Vera for a range of conditions, including this one, to see whether the science stacked up on the claims for our beloved ‘miracle plant’. Here’s what we have found out about using this plant for the discomfort of acid reflux.
Acid Reflux or GERD is a condition where the acid of the stomach is able to escape and come back up into the oesophagus (food pipe) or throat causing uncomfortable burning sensations. There are many causes of acid reflux, including rich diets, being overweight, hernia and pregnancy, as well as being a side effect of certain medications.
Sometimes there doesn't seem to be any discernible cause, or it may just be a temporary problem. If it becomes long term it is essential to consult a doctor to rule out any underlying causes such as stomach ulcers or damage to the oesophagus.
Normally the condition is treated using antacid medications or liquids, but these shouldn’t be used on a long term basis as they can cause other problems such as vitamin deficiencies and may interfere with the absorption or effectiveness of other medications. Also over-use of antacids can actually cause the stomach to produce more acid in a re-bound effect, which makes it more important to get a doctor to prescribe a more long-lasting drug.
As many of us have heard, Aloe Vera gel has soothing, cooling and anti-inflammatory properties, and is widely used for the skin. So it would stand to reason that it would work on internal body tissues too?
Well the problem with that is, that in order to do that, you have to take it internally, which has more risks than just putting it on your skin on the outside of your body and the results of long term use and safety are unknown. Read about the side effects of taking Aloe Vera here.
Having said that, there was a study undertaken by Dr Jeffrey Brand of the Linus Pauling Institute of Science & Medicine in 1985 which showed that Aloe Vera juice acts as an alkalizing substance and so could be good for acid reflux. This study reported that the juice was well tolerated and worked well.
There are some problems with this study though, in that there were only 10 participants, a very small number to obtain reliable results, and the study only lasted for 7 days.
If you have persistent acid reflux which is unrelieved by over the counter antacids you really need to see a doctor to find out the underlying cause and to prevent any long term damage by acid to your oesophagus.
For occasional or intermittent bouts of acid reflux, Aloe Vera juice may be effective, but do not use if you are pregnant, breast feeding or have diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease or other gastro-intestinal issues. Also beware of whole leaf Aloe Vera products as these have laxative effects.