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Aloe Vera for Acid Reflux (and an awesome aloe cocktail!)

by Lisa on April 22, 2012

aloe cooler

A few years ago, when I moved to Pittsford, I was enthralled with the Pittsford Wegmans—it was a bit overwhelming at first, but I got into a groove there quickly, and made almost daily trips (after all, I lived 0.24 miles away!). Shortly after I began shopping there, I noticed the produce department had all kinds of exotic items to try—and boy, did I try them! Some were disgusting (or I didn’t actually know what to do with them), and some things I just looked at repeatedly for years and never gave them a shot. Aloe leaves were one of my most consistent purchases from the less mainstream produce corner. I was pretty excited to buy my first aloe leaf (which may look like a cactus family member, but it’s really related to the lily), since I had heard all kinds of great things about it—of course, it soothes the skin, but it also soothes and heals the digestive tract. And it has wonderful properties that combat symptoms of acid reflux, and simultaneously heals the problem—-it’s not a bandaid approach, and it has no side effects unless you consume too much at once (we call that the Draino Effect, and it’s not serious, just unpleasant).

The Gooey Gel—You’ll filet this by trimming the edges and slicing off the green sides.

The aloe gel is a super healer and toner in the digestive tract—all the way through from the esophagus to the large intestine. It also contains a special polysaccharide that makes nutrients more bioavailable in the stomach (it coats the lining). It slows gastric emptying and also reduces hydrochloric acid production. For a person with digestive issues and/or nutrient absorption impairment, this is great news! It helps the body digest foods more effectively without producing excess acid.

In the past six months alone, I have had six people begin drinking aloe vera juice to reduce acid reflux symptoms (ranging in severity from a person having been on acid-blockers for 15 years to someone who had been prescribed Prilosec for a chronic cough). All six people eliminated their issues 100%.

Bonus: I had one client experiment on herself by adding a drop or two of lemon essential oil to her aloe juice—she swears by it! After that happened, I told a couple more clients about that method, and they tried it too. All three people say the lemon oil in water worked wonders as well! One other client, who is very into essential oils, used an oil called Di-Gize—she tried rubbing it on her torso at night and also drank a drop or two with water. She said both worked amazingly well. But please note, you should only ingest super high quality oils (cheaper oils can have impurities or be adulterated). If you want to know more, or if you just like essential oils, please join my essential oils facebook group. There are no rules—just be nice and don’t solicit people! I use Young Living Oils, and I’m happy to share what I have learned with you.

My favorite brand of aloe to recommend (because not everyone can find whole aloe leaves) is Lily of the Desert. They have the least processed product I can find, and they don’t have a lot of junk added to the juice! Look for Lily of the Desert Aloe Juice, Whole Leaf. I think the Inner Filet version will work too, but I know for sure the Whole Leaf works.

Note: I had one person tell me they tried a cheap brand they found in Wal-Mart, and it did not work. I’m guessing it was more processed and had more fillers.

The amount a person needs is dependent on the severity and details of the issue they have. For acid reflux, starting with 1-4 ounces in the morning (before eating) generally does the trick, and for people with more severe problems, they may need to drink another ounce (or more) later in the day (or before each meal). There’s no magic formula because everyone is different! I recommend starting with 1 ounce, before breakfast and increasing it in quantity and frequency as needed. You probably won’t need more than 4 ounces per day (at least I haven’t experienced this with any of my clients).

My favorite way to consume aloe is in a drink I make in the blender (Because, really, it’s good for everyone…not just people with acid reflux! It will heal most digestive issues, like colitis, and other irritations and damage, as well as treat constipation and some IBS symptoms…but it’s good for you even if you are perfectly healthy!). If you have acid reflux, you may just want to keep it simple and take shots of the Aloe Juice (the blender drink calls for Aloe Gel).

(I like to serve this as one of my samples at Smoothie Workshops—people are always pleasantly surprised!). I posted about aloe in 2010, so you can read that post too if you like—it’s geared more toward the nutrient benefits of aloe, not specifically toward acid reflux.

Aloe Cooler

In the blender:

3-inch chunk of aloe gel (either buy Lily of the Desert Aloe Gel and add about 3 Tbsp, or filet an aloe leaf and cut a 3-inch chunk)
Juice from 1 lemon and 2 limes (if citrus is irritating to your reflux issues, use a different type of juice!)
8 ounces coconut water (fermented or plain)
stevia to taste
ice

Blend until smooth—it’s fizzy! Feel free to add a little Grey Goose if you’re into that kind of thing :-)

Mom and I drank this one day after a really sweaty walk, and we couldn’t get over how refreshing and awesome it was.

Aloe Cooler — 3 inch chunk of aloe gel, juice from 1 lemon and 2 limes, coconut water (fermented or plain), stevia to taste, ice!

Aloe is one of my very favorite examples of Food as Medicine, and I’m probably way more excited about it than I should be—but I’m past worrying about being too enthusiastic. It works—and I hope that people will start to see that acid-blockers are a crappy bandaid solution to an issue that your body can heal if it is just given the right tools and assistance!

I’ve also made this with cherry juice, and it’s amazing! I know the picture of the cherry version looks like mostly foam, and it is foamy at first, but let it settle if you don’t want to drink that part (I like it) and it’s a smooth cherry aloe cocktail!

DSC_0025

News/Notes: Today was mostly a work day, but I did have coffee with my mom and make time to go in the sauna (it’s so rainy, damp, and cold here!). I’m so excited for this week—I have so much going on, and it’s all good…and one of my client/friends made a connection for me with a trainer she’s working with for her fitness competitions–he’s going to give me a free session with him on Tuesday morning. I can’t wait—I wanna get my ass kicked! Ha. Let’s see how I feel afterward.

aloe cooler 1

 

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  • http://chenaraw.wordpress.com/ ChenaRaw

    I’ve also heard that ingesting aloe vera is good for diabetics. Do you know anything about that? We decided that we’re going to get an aloe vera plant this summer and I’m really excited to put it in smoothies as some of the coconut water I buy contains aloe and I love it! When you say to filet the leaf, what do you mean?

  • Lisa_healthy_diaries

    I’ve never tried the aloe plant before, but we do sell it at my family’s grocery store so I’ve seen it before. It’s good to know that benefits of what it can do. I know Acid Reflux is a common symptom towards the end of pregnancy so I’ll definitely keep this in mind! I’m sure it’s safe, right?

    I go to one gym, but I’ve actually been working out at home a lot more. I’ve only been getting to the gym about 2 days and week. I have a treadmill, free weights, and some other things at home so I can always get a good workout without leaving the house. I’m debating if I should cancel my membership once the baby comes. I do like escaping and getting to the gym, so I probably won’t!

  • http://thehealthybeehive.com/ Jane

    This is very interesting — quite honestly the thought of drinking aloe juice grosses me out!  But I may try your coconut drink …  

  • http://www.thrive-style.com/ Lisakthrives

    Yes! It helps to increase insulin sensitivity, so in diabetics (who have an issue of decreased insulin sensitivity), it helps them regulate blood sugar levels better.
    To filet the leaf, you slice the sides off so only the top and
    bottom are left, and then slice those off too—that way you keep as much of the gel as possible (less waste), and it comes out in big pieces/chunks. Then you can rub the green pieces on your skin for a nice cooling facial :-)
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  • http://www.thrive-style.com/ Lisakthrives

    Yes, aloe is safe for preggos! :-)
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    Lisa_healthy_diaries

  • http://www.thrive-style.com/ Lisakthrives

    It definitely has a flavor….but with the citrus and sweetness, it just adds a little tang :-)
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  • http://merigoesround.com/ meri

    I bought aloe gel once in a bottle from the coop, and tried it a few times but I had this whole procedure with chasers of other things waiting because I was paranoid I would be allergic or something, I really need to try it again though, as I have some definite digestive concerns and I’ve heard it is very effective.

  • http://www.thefitnessdish.com/ Laury

    I’m a big fan of aloe and a bog fan of that refreshing looking aloe drink you have there!!! I really want an aloe plant. When I was a kid my mom always had one. She would use it for cuts, sunburn, etc. I have used it in the past for digestive stuff and really think I need to get more!! Thanks for the reminder! And thanks for the note in our doc…haven’t had a chance to reply but I now know even more why y you’re an amazing professor…so helpful!

  • http://www.1970kikiproject.wordpress.com/ cathy@1970kikiproject

    i am glad you are feeling great, lisa!! so much exciting stuff going on! i’m excited to hear how the session with the trainer goes tomorrow, and that is FUN that you will get to gym-hop! i do not have a gym membership right now, just use my condo gym, but i LOVE trying new gyms!
    thanks for the aloe info and recipe. that is wonderful news about your clients’ improvement with the addition of aloe to their daily regimen.
    glad you had sauna time yesterday – it’s cold and windy here today, a sauna sounds wonderful!
    oh – happy you have some projects coming together, too!!

  • Gina (Candid RD)

    This is incredibly interesting!  I always thought aloe was sort of a joke, but I never got around to looking into it a whole lot (and never really recommended it other than for burns). Thanks for the wonderful information!  I mean…so many people have acid reflux these days!

  • Alison Spath

    I was going to ask about pregnancy!  Just yesterday I started getting heart burn so this post has perfect timing for me.  I’ve seen those giant aloe leaves at the Pittsford Wegmans too… I’ll admit I’m a little scared  (hahaha!) but I just might check it out!

  • http://www.the-new-healthy.com/ Stefanie @TheNewHealthy

    I actually have an aloe plant, but I never thought of eating/drinking it. How interesting! I’m looking forward to hearing about your and Laury’s project! And I’m very similar to you in that I’m very driven, yet I don’t always surround myself with the same type of people. I’m very excited to be surrounded by (hopefully) like-minded people in grad school. We’ll see. :)

  • http://www.thrive-style.com/ Lisakthrives

    I know I already replied to this, but I feel compelled to add something! Some websites say not to take aloe while pregnant, but I can’t find any credible supported reasons to back that up (except some theoretical speculation that it could possibly cause uterine contractions—but there are no documented cases of that)—my recommendation would be to use it only with doctor approval when pregnant. Unfortunately, many doctors will just say not to use it because they don’t know about it. Any negative side effects (like diarrhea) would occur when taking too much—a 1oz shot of aloe juice in the morning (and/or before eating) is a very small amount. That being said, I’m sure any pregnant person would want to err on the side of caution and only use it with doctor approval and guidance!

    The brand I like, Lily of the Desert, apparently agrees—the only “danger” would be potential for diarrhea, but it’s highly unlikely. They recommend consulting your doctor before taking while pregnant…

  • Lisa_healthy_diaries

    Thanks for researching it more for me! I’ll definitely run it by my doctor if I plan on giving it a shot! So far no acid reflux! :-)

  • Anne

    Hi,

    Just started taking lily of the valley aloe gel, it’s helping but I think I need to drink more,  I take 2 tbsp when i frist wake up but I will start taking 2 more before dinner to speed things up ……

    My question is can you take it long term like every morning when you first wake up after your acid reflux heals …….  like 1-2 tbsp daily.

    Thanks.

  • http://www.thrive-style.com/ Lisakthrives

    Hi Anne,
    Many people do take a maintenance dose of aloe vera. I can’t really make a specific recommendation for you, but I do know that some people find they don’t need it at all after complete healing takes place, and other people continue to take a maintenance dose because they want to keep the issue at bay (and probably because they believe in the healthy properties of aloe vera in general).

  • Anne

    Thank you for replying.  I will continue taking it also in a maintenance dose after my body is healed,  as it’s really helped me in many different ways.  I will do a maintenance dose by cutting back gradually and do probably 1-2 tbsp daily, see how my body reacts to less or more.   I have incrased my dos to 4 tbsp a day right now as mentionned in previous post and it’s perfect for me right now.  Take 2 tbsp upon waking  and 1 tbsp before dinner or after depending and 1 tbsp during midday.

    Have a great Sunday and thank you for your blog.

  • Sage

    I’m in my 40′s and am about 40 pounds overweight. My symptoms started 2 weeks ago with a feeling like something was in my throat, then a few days later I got the burning sensation in my chest for 5 days straight that didn’t let up until I found this link. Got the Lily of the Valley Whole Leaf and take 4 TBSP first thing before breakfast, then 1 TBSP before lunch and dinner. That was working great for over a week with clean eating and exercising. Then 2 nights ago I had a spicy rice noodle shrimp meal and had two sized portions and had the slight burning sensation again.

    Just went to see my doctor and he said if I want to clear it up in 2 weeks I should take Zantac and then if that didn’t work he would test me for H. pylori. I’ve looked up the symptoms and don’t want to go on it. I’m on no medication and prefer the natural route.

    How long does it take to heal this with Aloe? I also have the Organic Braggs Vinegar and have tried that a few times but find the aloe is working better.

  • http://www.thrive-style.com/ Lisakthrives

    Hi Sage, I’m glad you found the aloe to be helpful! It’s really hard to predict how long it would take to heal for you because everyone is so different, and it depends on many factors (most importantly, how much damage has been done). It is a good sign that you haven’t been experiencing symptoms for a long time, and you haven’t been on acid-blockers (which messes up the body’s ability to block the acid on its own. So, I’m really not sure how long it will take, but I think it’s a good sign that you experienced relief from it. The Zantac would allow you to eat more stuff now, but it’s a bandaid fix, so the long-term effects are not good! Good luck with it!
    Lisa

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  • Subiehunee

    I have read that citrus is bad for acid reflux sufferers, so why is it ok to mix into an aloe drink? Just wondering…

  • http://www.thrive-style.com/ Lisakthrives

    I don’t drink this for acid reasons, so the citrus works fine for me. For anyone who is drinking the aloe for acid reflux, they’d have to experiment with the citrus (and maybe add some other juice instead if it bothered them). I’ve had clients drink it with no problems though.
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  • Cat

    I have a husband with bad belly issues. I want to try this with both of us, but he hates coconut anything. He can’t stand the taste of it and I honestly don’t like coconut either. Is there something else that would be just as beneficial?

  • http://www.thrive-style.com/ Lisakthrives

    Hi Cat, Yes, you could sub in something else. I’d try for something that’s low-ish in sugar. You could even use water. If the citrus irritates his or your belly, you can also change that around—really, just blending the aloe in any lower sugar liquid is where the main benefit comes in (it’s just that aloe tastes pretty yucky by itself). Side note: gelatin is also known to be calming on the digestive system (especially to help repair the lining). I posted more info about it here: http://www.thrive-style.com/2013/03/gelatins-superpowers-and-how-to-make- gummies/
    Or google gelatin and digestive health for more info!

  • Eric Harris

    I found this article because I had heard Aloe vera juice is great for acid reflux. I’ve always had it but symptoms get worse and better over time. A year ago I had it real bad and I got a scope that showed Hiatal hernia and esophagitis. I had been diagnosed with gastritis years ago but was in what seemed like a “remmision” for awhile. Anyway I have been on 40mg nexium for about a year and recently it started flaring up worse. And even double dosing wasn’t working (nexium, zantac, each 12 hours. 3-4 carafate a day, I was swigging several capfuls of Mylanta and nothing was working. I was losing my mind. My last hope was to try natural alternatives. I started taking a pro-biotic and 4oz of Aloe Vera Juice mixed with cold water just yesterday. And I have noticed a decent improvement just after one day. I didn’t even have to take a nexium til 8 p.m. My intention is to completely get off nexium. But I’m curious, do you think it will take a long time for my body to readjust, in other words, how long might it be til I can survive with only Aloe Vera (and other natural remedies). Having read what I have recently, I will always chose things like Aloe Vera, Spirilina, Black Licorace Root, Probiotics, manuka honey (as needed) over acid blockers. Do you know of any other natural remedies I can add to what I’m already taking?

  • http://www.thrive-style.com/ Lisakthrives

    Hi Eric, Your experience is really similar to that of many of my clients trying to get off acid blockers. The time period and the magnitude of improvement are really dependent on the specific person. But all I can say is that I have definitely seen several people be able to completely stop taking acid blockers by incorporating the shots of aloe. It depends on the person and how bad the reflux is (and how long they’ve been on acid blockers) how it all transpires though.
    Of course, I can only recommend that you work with your trusted healthcare provider to help you come up with the plan that’s right for you (and that you check in with them every time you are going to change your plan). People I know have experienced the most success from aloe, but some have added little spoonfuls of chia seeds to their drinks during the day (chia absorbs liquid as it travels through, and it also soaks up excess acid–that’s the theory anyway). But you’ll probably want to search more about that idea if you try it—I don’t have as much direct experience with that one. What you’re going for is a combo of healing and re-training your body to deal with the acid… on the healing side, theoretically, ingesting gelatin would help to heal your digestive tract and stomach lining too. If you search for gelatin and gut healing, you’ll find a lot of info about that. I have a post called the Superpowers of Gelatin that touches on it, but you’ll want more detail than that. (Bone broths would be the most natural way to get this effect, but you can buy good quality plain gelatin that doesn’t “gel” to add to your foods to give the same effect). Again, please don’t take this as medical advice…
    Good luck!

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  • Eric Harris

    Thank you, my GI doctor is a fine person, but he is not a “wholistic” doctor, and it’s hard to find one of those. I will share with him what I am doing. But I had called him recently and his only advice at that point was to refer me to specialists in Chicago. So he had felt he had done all he can for me. (put me on the max dose of every bandaid out there). I am glad there is information out there like your article to give me an other option. I will not take it as medical advice. But it’s too bad some of these natural alternatives aren’t FDA approved since they seem sometimes can help you much more than the prescription alternative. All I can do is thank you for your article and further advice. So thank you very much! I just want to let you know I have noticed an improvement even after only a couple days, so know that your article is helping people. Lily of the Desert that is exactly the one I got.

  • http://www.thrive-style.com/ Lisakthrives

    I agree completely—unfortunately, the studies and marketing won’t be done for natural products because you can’t patent them (so there’s no real money in it for pharmaceutical companies, big business, or the government!)… I’m glad to be able to spread around some good info though :-)
    Thanks so much for letting me know that you’re getting some relief from the aloe. I’ll add you to my list of success stories!
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  • Christy

    I had to go off of my Nexium because it began depleting my magnesium. I suffered with muscle cramps all over my body. I thought it would be awful going off the Nexium, but I started drinking the Lily of the Desert Aloe Juice and it went so much better than I thought! I used it for about 2 weeks and my heartburn symptoms increasingly got better. I visited my local health food place and the owner said he drank another brand of aloe juice that tastes like water. I was very interested so I tried it. My symptoms began returning within a few days. I am anxiously awaiting my new shipment of Lily of the Desert aloe juice! It’s a shame no one carries it in my town. Thanks for the article! I have been pleasantly surprised at how well it works!

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  • Madeline

    Hi there. I love this article and recipe. I have two questions about the acid reflux. How long can it take before seeing results in reducing the reflux flare ups? & Is it safe for babies, children? I truly appreciate any info.
    I have a 6mth old who has reflux pretty bad. I haven’t started her on solids yet, and I’d like a more natural approach instead of giving a baby Zantac, which doesn’t work. I’ve heard aloe juice works, and I’d like to know your opinion on it. Thank you.

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