As uncomfortable as it is to discuss, human anatomy requires us to excrete waste to eliminate the indigestible components of our meals. While it is not considered dinner conversation, it is an important bodily function that warrants special attention. When we lose the ability to excrete properly, several adverse effects make us uncomfortable or induce pain. When we cannot expel waste from our bodies, it builds up and causes gastrointestinal distress and physical pain.
Fortunately, this condition is well-known and has received significant attention from the medical and scientific communities. The problem is that some of the main changes needed to avoid the problem are cost prohibitive. As a result, conditions like constipation are on the rise in countries like America, where fast food and processed snacks are commonly consumed by a population with a high obesity rate.
While making a radical change to your lifestyle might not be cost-effective in your battle against constipation, there are alternatives. Certain products exist that can mitigate constipation symptoms and reduce the odds of going through constipation. There are dozens of anti-constipation medications on the market that are easily found in your local pharmacy. Unfortunately, these options are not ideal for people who prefer to use natural products to alleviate constipation or want to avoid using suppositories.
Fortunately, some products meet the standards of people who prefer natural alternatives. One of the most popular options is Aloe vera, which might surprise anyone who has used it for sunburns, but it might be the tool you need.
What is Constipation?
The number of people who have never endured constipation is dropping rapidly, but there are still those who have yet to experience the condition. Fewer still do not know what constipation is or how it affects their body, though most readers will have an intimate understanding of constipation. Nevertheless, the first step should always be learning what the condition is and what symptoms it generates. Mayo Clinic defines constipation as having less than 3 bowel movements per week.
Occasional constipation is extremely common, with many people enduring reduced bowel movements but facing none of the harsher symptoms. Things get more complicated for patients dealing with chronic constipation since it impacts their ability to have a bowel movement for several weeks. Some people get so desperate to alleviate the pressure that they try to force a bowel movement and strain their bodies.
Typically, constipation is treated based on what caused it, but some cases have no observable cause and require generic treatments to resolve. The most common cause of constipation is that the waste moves too slowly through the digestive tract and hardens, making it more difficult to expel and blocking future waste from being expelled. However, other causes that are more serious, albeit less common, can prevent our bodies from expelling waste properly. These include:
- Anal Fissures (A condition involving tiny tears in the skin surrounding the anus.)
- Bowel Obstruction (Any condition that causes a blockage within the intestines.)
- Colon Cancer
- Bowel Stricture (A condition that makes the colon narrower.)
- Rectal Cancer
- Rectocele (A condition exclusive to biological women that causes the rectum to bulge through the back wall of the vaginal cavity.)
It is also possible for nerve issues, muscle complications, and hormone fluctuations to interfere with our body's natural waste excretion. Depending on how severe the constipation is, you could experience additional symptoms such as pain and the sensation of being blocked up. These symptoms, combined with the potential causes, make constipation an extremely common issue in its mildest form and a relatively common one in its more severe form. Furthermore, constipation can lead to serious complications if not treated properly.
Untreated constipation has been tied to hemorrhoids, fecal impaction, rectal prolapse, and anal fissures. The good news is that these complications are generally exclusive to chronic constipation and should not affect individuals with occasional constipation. Unfortunately, some demographics have a higher risk of experiencing constipation. You might be at risk if you fall under any of the following demographics:
- You are an adult of advanced age (50 or above).
- You are a biological woman.
- You are frequently dehydrated.
- You regularly consume foods that are low in fiber.
- You have a sedentary lifestyle and do not engage in physical activity.
- You regularly take certain medications (i.e., sedatives, opioids, anti-depressants, or blood pressure pills).
- You have a mental health condition (i.e., depression or eating disorders).
These individuals have the highest chance of experiencing constipation due to the strain on their bodies. It makes it more difficult for waste to travel along the intestines or causes it to harden sooner due to the lack of essential nutrients. Biological women and the elderly face this risk due to hormonal fluctuations and general wear to the body, respectively. Typically, major lifestyle changes are needed to reduce the risk for these groups, but certain products can reduce the condition's hold on you. The question is: how does Aloe vera fit that role?
What is Aloe vera?
You might know what Aloe vera is, but understanding its full nature is not a goal many people achieve since it has become a renowned sunburn tool. While Aloe vera's use for treating sunburns is impressive, there is much more to this substance than meets the eye.
The first thing you should know is that Aloe vera is derived from a species of succulents and is one of the few invasive species that is considered beneficial. The term "Aloe" is derived from the ancient Hebrew word "ahalim" or the Arabic word "alloeh," whereas "vera" comes from the Latin word "verus." As fascinating as the naming convention might be, the first cultivators of Aloe vera on the Arabian Peninsula (where it originates) discovered that the plant has healing capabilities.
Furthermore, its origins in the deserts of the Arabian Peninsula have not limited its spread since it can thrive in tropical, semi-tropical, or arid environments. As a result, Aloe vera plants have become a common growth worldwide and have become a popular topical skin treatment.
Most Aloe vera plants are refined into gels designed to be applied topically and reduce the symptoms of certain irritants. Aloe vera has also become popular for its cosmetic benefits that restore hydration and elasticity to the skin. While Aloe vera has become a very popular product, there is a lot of confusion concerning its other applications. While there was initially concern about ingesting Aloe vera due to potential toxicity, many safe Aloe vera beverages have been produced.
Aloe vera juice, in particular, has grown in many markets and is imbued with the same nutrients and compounds as the gel. Aloe vera's benefits extend beyond sunburns and can help treat certain health issues that might affect the average person. The question you are likely asking by now is: how does this apply to constipation?
Can Aloe vera Help Constipation?
Aloe vera is beloved for its ability to soothe the pain of sunburns, but it is capable of so much more when used properly. Insofar as constipation is concerned, whether Aloe vera can help is somewhat complicated. Aloe vera is a natural laxative due to the nutrients stored within its leaves and gel, allowing it to soften stool and make it easier to let it pass through your bowel.
That said, there is a significant caveat that must be considered before you use it for constipation. Several studies have investigated Aloe vera as a potential treatment for constipation, including a notable experiment conducted by a team of Nigerian scientists. This team conducted a study on rats that were afflicted with constipation. The rats in the control group were given gel cultivated from household Aloe vera plants, while the control group specimens were given a placebo. The results showed significant promise as the rats in the test group showed reduced symptoms and improved bowel movements compared to the control group. The Nigerian study was significant enough to warrant additional study, but an experiment conducted by the National Institutes of Health cast doubt on their findings.
The NIH study used whole-leave extract to perform a similar experiment to the one conducted by Nigerian researchers. Unlike the Nigerian study, the NIH researchers discovered that Aloe vera caused tumors to grow within the test group specimens. The tumors grew in the rats' large intestines, one of the main areas that constipation affects, and caused health issues while the control group remained healthy and constipated.
By the time the NIH finalized its research, Aloe vera constipation treatments were available in markets worldwide. In 2002, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) forced all over-the-counter Aloe vera laxatives to be pulled from the shelves or reformulated. This led to a slight downturn in Aloe vera-based products due to users worrying it might be harmful.
While the concern was understandable, additional research was conducted to determine if other factors contributed to the tumor development. Eventually, the Mayo Clinic's researchers identified a dosage of Aloe vera that is considered safe for ingestion. According to their research, a dose of 0.04 to 0.17 grams of dried Aloe vera juice is considered safe for consumption.
Therefore, any Aloe vera laxatives you consume should have that range in the ingredients (the value might change if it is a liquid laxative since 0.17 grams equals 1 fluid ounce). Fortunately, most Aloe vera products remain safe for use if you follow the instructions on the bottle. That said, there is another important reason Aloe vera can benefit people dealing with constipation.
We mentioned earlier that one of the big causes of constipation is the narrowing of the bowel, which can occur for multiple reasons. One of the leading causes of this is inflammation, which can arise from poor diet or strain on the bowel. Aloe vera is famous for its anti-inflammatory properties, so it effectively fights sunburns. These qualities extend beyond sunburns and can be used to reduce the effects of chronic inflammation along the intestines. As a result, your body will be able to expel waste without the bowels working against it.
That said, there are several other causes of bowel inflammation that should not include Aloe vera as a treatment. For example, you should avoid Aloe vera consumption entirely if you have Crohn's disease, colitis, or hemorrhoids. While it will not cause toxicity or fatalities, it can cause abdominal cramps or diarrhea since the conditions are more complex than constipation.
Ultimately, the answer to whether Aloe vera can treat constipation is a tentative "yes." You must exercise caution to avoid overusing it or using an oversaturated product. The best way to do that is to follow the instructions and purchase your Aloe vera products from a reliable source. Some companies might overuse Aloe vera as an ingredient to meet quotas or avoid letting excess stock expire. A reliable vendor will ensure their product has the correct dosage of Aloe vera to prevent the issues seen in the NIH study.
Keep it All Natural!
Aloe vera is an extremely popular product and survived a minor hurdle in its past that convinced some people that it is toxic. While you still must be careful when using it, the odds of getting sick from a modern Aloe vera product are slim.
This can be good news for people with occasional or chronic constipation (unless you have one of the above conditions). Aloe vera's natural laxative effects make it an excellent tool to restore your bowel health, and its anti-inflammatory effects will help keep swelling down. Unfortunately, you must be careful not to purchase your product from an unreliable source. Otherwise, the product might contain tainted Aloe vera or contain too much.
We at Bella All Natural have always maintained that the best products come from nature, whether you are dealing with health or beauty. That is why we have worked tirelessly to produce natural supplements and products designed to enhance both. One of our most effective products is our customizable Constipation Relief Kit, which can include 2 bottles of Aloe vera juice (which has the proper dose of Aloe vera to avoid toxicity). We encourage you to customize your kit today and eliminate your constipation. Regardless of your decision, remember always to keep it All Natural!