Excerpts By Lawrence Plaskett, B.A., Ph.D., C.Chem., F.R.I.C.  

 

Trials indicate that Aloe Vera heals peptic ulcers, controls intestinal secretions to  normal levels, influences the bowel flora, controls gastric and intestinal pH, improves  the functioning of the pancreas and limits adverse bacteria in the colon, reducing  purification.  

 

The Normal Digestive System  

In looking closely at the functions of the Digestive System, it is much the usual thing to  examine minutely the functions of its individual parts. Whilst it may well be necessary to do  some analysis of that kind, it is usually far more instructive to consider the digestive system  as a whole. The reason why this is so important is that the functions of each part of this  system interact with those of every other part. Hence, if the digestive system is in  difficulties, the job of restoring it to normal should not be tackled piecemeal, but rather in a  completely holistic manner. Before we can consider exactly what Aloe Vera does within  the Digestive System it is necessary to understand the normal functions of digestion and the  more common forms of malfunction which may be encountered in practice. Whilst the first  part may be accomplished by reading the appropriate chapter of any textbook of anatomy  and physiology, a simple overall explanation is provided here by reference to the diagram  below.

The food, upon entering through the mouth and undergoing mastication, becomes mixed  with the saliva. As saliva contains a starch digesting enzyme, salivary amylase, the digestion  of starch begins almost at once. On passing down into the stomach, the food meets the  gastric juice which contains the protein-digesting enzyme pepsin and hydrochloric acid,  HCI, which is there to provide the very low (i.e. acidic) pH at which the pepsin works best.  Under good conditions, therefore, protein digestion proceeds apace in the stomach phase of  digestion. The highly acid conditions in the stomach are also of importance in destroying  bacteria which enter with the food. Most of the potentially harmful bacteria are killed by a  sufficiently strong acid environment, while the more beneficial, acid producing bacteria, like Lactobacillus acidophilus are more likely to survive and to subsequently implant themselves  to grow and reproduce in the intestines. A relative lack of stomach acid can therefore be  harmful both because it impedes digestion of proteins by pepsin and allows some of the  undesirable bacteria to pass through.

 

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However, too much acid can be a serious disadvantage also, as we shall see below. This phase may characteristically last for about 2 hours before the stomach starts to empty, but is very variable. In particular the time of residence in the stomach is lengthened by a high fat content in the meal, which may delay emptying for quite a long time. When the stomach empties, its contents are passed on into the duodenum, which is the first part of the small intestine. Here the very acid, partly digested, fluid material, now  called “chyle,” meets the  pancreatic juice and the bile,  which are both secreted into  the duodenum, respectively  from the exocrine pancreas  and from the liver and gall  bladder, (digest fats), trypsin,  chymotrypsin and carboxypeptidase (to continue the digestion of proteins) and pancreatic amylase (to continue the digestion of starch). The  pancreatic juice therefore amounts to a quite formidable battery of enzymes able to break  down all the main bulk nutrients. The bile contains many wastes and toxins, for it is one of  the functions of the liver to clear the blood of toxins and excrete them into the bile for  passing out of the body. However, it also contains the bile salts, taurocholic and glycocholic  acids, which are potent fat emulsifiers. These play an important part in fat digestion by  breaking down the larger fat droplets into smaller ones.

Figure 1 

Most of the human digestive system is tubular in nature. The  digestive tube is separated from the body wall by a coelomic cavity.  A membrane of connective tissue and epithelium, the peritoneum,  covers the inner body wall (parietal peritoneum) and extends as  mesentery to cover the outer gut tube (visceral peritoneum). The  digestive tube shows a number of specialised regions which  participate in the digestive process.

 

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The duodenum is in many ways the hub of the digestive process, where numerous key steps are concentrated. It is extremely important that the control of pH within the duodenum  should be correct. The pancreatic enzymes have their working optimum on the alkaline side  of neutrality, so they cannot work properly if the combined effect of the slightly alkaline  bile and the pancreatic juice should fail to neutralize the strong acid of the chyle. Under  these conditions, the chyle will remain acid and the intestinal phase of digestion cannot get  properly underway. The situation will also expose the relatively delicate tissues of the  duodenum to un-neutralized acid from the stomach and may encourage ulceration of the  duodenum.

Digestion and absorption normally proceed, with fats being emulsified and partly broken  down by pancreatic lipase, to be absorbed further down the small intestine, partly as fatty  acids and glycerol and partly as tiny fat droplets which go into the blood as “chylomicrons.”  Proteins are attacked extensively by the pancreatic proteases as intestinal digestion  proceeds, and are joined by other enzymes which break down smaller peptides, some of  these enzymes being produced in the intestinal juice itself otherwise known as the “succus  entericus.” Eventually, proteins are reduced to free amino acids and absorbed. Starches are  reduced mainly to maltose, a disaccharide which has then to be broken down to glucose by  the action of the maltase enzyme in the succus entericus. Common sugar or sucrose, is split  by sucrase from the succus entericus. As the food passes to the jejunum, (the mid part of the  small intestine) and the ileum (the final part of the small intestine), these various digestive  and absorptive processes begin to approach completion.

In the large intestine, or colon, much water is reabsorbed, which is a very important function. With this, the colon also reabsorbs many important mineral salts is significant because, although much absorption of minerals also occurs in the small intestine, this is never complete. This is more than just the absorption of dietary minerals. The digestive juices are mineral rich. If any significant proportion of the mineral reserves that are “invested” in the digestive process failed to be reabsorbed, that would represent a serious loss to the  body. This is prevented by having a colon which is competent at mineral absorption. Under the best conditions, some small proportion of the total starch intake will  remain by the time the food residues reach the colon. This will then provide an energy  source for the Lactobacillus acidophilus and other desirable acid-forming bacteria. These, if  they are well established there, will inhibit the growth of undesirable putrefactive bacteria  and even pathogens, and are known to have some anti-tumour properties. They will also  manufacture significant amounts of vitamins which supplement dietary sources of vitamins.  High protein content should never be allowed to reach the colon, since it will lead to the  production of alkali rather than mild acid. This will favour the undesirable putrefactive  bacteria, pathogens and Candida albicans, and, through the decarboxylation of amino acids,  will produce quantities of toxic amines which become absorbed and intoxicate the body and  all the organs within it.

Figure 2 

Illustration to show the positional relationship of the  Duodenum to the Gall Bladder, Bile Duct and Pancreas.

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Disturbances of Digestion  

So, digestive disturbance may begin from either too much acid or too little acid and pepsin  in the stomach. If the stomach phase of digestion is less effective than it should be, then  protein may well pass down into the lower bowel to undergo putrefaction and an  overwhelming production of toxins. That is doubly likely if the pancreas is also sluggish or  incompetent in the production of an enzymatically active pancreatic juice. The condition of  both stomach and pancreas can be read diagnostically in the iris of the eye.

When putrefaction sets in, the intestines themselves become compromised and are often  ineffective in their normal functions. They are liable to become pocketed, bulged, and  affected by diverticuli. Their ability to carry out peristalsis (the muscular movements which  advance the food residues along the intestine), becomes sluggish, the tissues of the intestinal  wall become toxic, weakened and vulnerable to infection and ulceration. These effects are  obviously going to be noticed eventually in terms of bowel diseases of one kind or another.  High up in the intestine there is danger of ulceration wherever a substantial excess of un neutralized acid prevails, over and above that which is required in any part of the  gastrointestinal system. There is obviously a strong correlation between over-acidity and the  occurrence of either gastric or duodenal ulcers – even though some other factors may have to  be present also to cause breakdown of the normal protection of the stomach or duodenal  wall. In the small intestine, conditions of inflammation and/or abnormal levels of secretion  may well occur if the pH of the contents are wrong or if the small intestinal tissues are not  being properly nourished through errors of the digestive process higher up in the tract,  especially errors of function in the stomach, liver or pancreas.

What has been described above is a maze of possible symptoms that may be cross connected in diverse ways. Whilst some improvements may sometimes be gained by a piecemeal and symptomatic approach, a wholistic approach to the overall working of the  digestive system, as has already been stated, is far more likely to provide a truly effective  and lasting solution. To gain insight into how Aloe affects the working of the digestive  system as a whole, it is necessary to consider at some length the work of Dr. Jeffrey Bland  as reported in his paper “Effect of Orally Consumed Aloe vera juice on Gastrointestinal  Function in Normal Humans.” Dr Bland wrote this paper from the Linus Pauling Institute of  Science & Medicine at Palo Alto, California. It was published in Preventive Medicine in the  Issue of March / April 1985.

In the tests reported by Bland, the dose of unconcentrated Aloe vera juice was 6 ounces per  day (i.e. about 170ml), divided into 3 aliquots of 2 ounces (59ml). The duration of the test  was only 7 days and no special measures were taken with regard to diet during the test  period. Several parameters were measured which, taken together, were regarded as  providing as a good and reliable index of the functioning of the gastrointestinal system.  These were (1) a stool culture to indicate the distribution of bacterial types (2) levels of  indican in the urine as an indication of the putrefactive capability of the intestinal flora and  hence of the flora’s capacity to manufacture toxic amines from intestinal amino acids (3)  stool density (4) bowel transit time and (5) gastric pH.

The results indicated about a 40% reduction in the indican levels. This was taken to  indicate that either bowel putrefactive activity was reduced, or else the digestion and  assimilation of dietary protein higher up the tract was improved, or possibly both. Indican is  derived from the amino acid tryptophane, but it was being used is a likely indicator of  overall amino acid decarboxylating activity, and therefore of toxic amine production  generally. The markedly diminished indican levels in the urine were taken, quite correctly, I  think, to represent a considerable improvement in overall gastrointestinal function. It is a  finding which carries with it implications for gastric function, pancreatic function, better  bowel flora composition and, correlated to that, bowel contents pH and lower putrefective  activity.

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The stool cultures indicated an improved composition of the bacterial flora of the gut  following the Aloe vera test. It is interesting that this improvement was attained without  the use of bowel flora products containing supplements of live bacteria. Clearly, the Aloe  vera itself was creating conditions within which a better spectrum of bacteria could survive  and grow. The advantages of this are well known to nutritionists, and are clearly linked to  lower putrefactive activity as outlined above. One especially interesting finding was that the  yeast count in the stool cultures diminished markedly.

The specific gravity of the stools was reduced on average by 0.37 units. This was interpreted as an important shift towards a more ideal value. It was taken to indicate a better  water-holding capacity of the stools and a faster transit time through the gastrointestinal  system. It was reported that no-one suffered from diarrhea or loose stools during the test.  Clearly, the Aloe vera was not acting as a laxative at all. The better bowel transit time was  interpreted as an improvement of muscular tone throughout the gastrointestinal system.

The study clearly established that Aloe vera exerted a marked effect upon gastrointestinal  pH. Whilst this was profoundly interesting, it was the least satisfactory part of the study  because the pH changes in different sections of the gastrointestinal tract were not separately  reported and differentiated. However, Bland’s tabulated results suggest that a reduction in  average gastric acidity was the most pronounced finding, being a reduction by 1.88 pH  units. In accord with explanations I have given above, a reduction in stomach acidity will  only be of benefit to people who originally had hyperacidity. It is noticeable in Bland’s  results that two individuals with a starting gastric acidity of less than pH 2 (i.e., very acid),  showed a pH change of 2.55 units whilst those with a relatively non-acid pH of above 4 only  showed an average change of 0.45 units. It appears, therefore, that people who experienced  major change of gastric pH were the people who really needed on account of previous  hyperacidity. Although the subjects for this study were “normal humans,” the explanations  given earlier in this fact sheet make it clear just why these people would have been closer to  possible gastrointestinal upset than the others and also make it clear that the observed  reduction in gastric pH would have been beneficial. It also becomes clear that here also is  one reason why, in abnormal human subjects, conditions of gastric and duodenal ulceration  would be much relieved by Aloe vera juice.

It now seems clear that the combined effect of all these various parameters of function  should be taken into account when assessing the effect of Aloe upon gastrointestinal  function. Thinking piecemeal, symptomatically and non- wholistically is just not good  enough to generate the level of understanding required.

No other studies appear to vie with the Bland study for detailed monitoring and whole system investigation. More such studies are obviously needed in which Aloe vera is used for  rather longer and in which people with named digestive abnormalities are included in the  study. Conditions such as colitis, diverticulitis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and  irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) specifically need to be investigated. From what is known of  the nature of these complaints and what is known of the actions of Aloe vera, there is every  reason to expect such trials to be positive. A great many Alternative Practitioners, working  with their individual patients, are already informally reporting success with these named  complaints.

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There is a scientific study from the Ukraine which concluded very positively that “In cases  of functional disorders of the small intestine the process of juice secretion and enzymatic  activity, Aloe extract may be recommended for stimulating the secretory function of the  small intestine.” This suggests that a small intestinal condition such as Crohn’s disease is  likely to be helped. The fact that in this case the Aloe was injected may not, of course, be  essential to its efficacy.

 

Peptic Ulcer  

Some Japanese work concerns peptic ulcer, as does the work of Blitz and colleagues in  Florida (1963). In the latter study 12 patients with peptic ulcer were selected and Aloe vera  gel was the sole source of treatment. It is notable that the gel was used by Blitz because in  the Japanese work some components of the exudate fraction of the leaf (which is absent  from gel) were recognised as being important. The twelve patients were “diagnosed  clinically as having peptic ulcer, and having unmistakable roentgenographic evidence of  duodenal cap lesions.” The results of the Blitz work are summarized as “All of these  patients had recovered completely by the end of 1961, so that at this writing at least 1 year  has elapsed since the last treatment.” Also “Clinically, Aloe vera gel has dissipated all  symptoms”; and “Aloe vera gel provided complete recovery.” It is, indeed, tantalizing  when one has only a small quantity of good information on such an important subject. The  chances are that the misery of thousands of peptic ulcer sufferers could be removed through  Aloe vera, but no one has proved it on a large enough scale, or to the satisfaction of the  medical profession. The lucky members of the public are the ones who know about it.

Another study in 1978 is significant insofar as it identifies in several papers that two factors  in Aloe which diminish stomach secretion are, aloenin and Aloe-ulcin. They obtained these  from Aloe Arborescens. Aloenin is one of the individual components of the exudate fraction

of the leaf. It is a phenolic compound of the type called a “quinonoid phenylpyrone.” The  fact that aloenin has this property means that it would have an action not unlike that of a  drug such as cimetedine, marketed as Tagamet, which has a huge usage as a chemical drug  for the treatment of peptic ulcer by suppression of stomach secretion. It is to be hoped that  the action of substances from the gel or whole leaf extract upon peptic ulcer will be found to  be by a less crude and less suppressive mechanism, which, hopefully might have something  to do with correcting the underlying causes of peptic ulcer. Nonetheless, the Japanese  findings show that, a named component of the exudate fraction (aloenin) seems to have a  synergistic effect (i.e. a mutually enhancing effect) with the action of the other leaf  components. As for Aloe-ulcin, the Japanese identified it with magnesium lactate. It is,  frankly, hard to become convinced by that part of the evidence, because there is so little  magnesium in Aloe: it takes much more to have known physiological effects. Therefore, this author does not draw any firm conclusions about Aloe-ulcin, but this need not affect, in any  way, the overall conclusions in relation to peptic ulcer.

The clinical evidence, both from the work of Blitz and from the Japanese work, is clear, in  spite of their small numbers of patients. The effectiveness of Aloe Vera for peptic ulcer  seems established, even if some component of the exudate, such as aloenin, might ideally  be added for maximum effect. There is, in my view, quite enough evidence to support the  use of Aloe vera Whole Leaf Extract as a component of treatment for every peptic  ulcer case encountered.  

 

This completes the case in favor of using Aloe vera Juice Whole Leaf Extract for maintaining,  improving and healing the digestive tract.

Aloe vera contains several enzymes known to help in the breakdown of sugars and fats and to keep your digestion running smoothly. If your digestive system isn’t operating optimally, you won’t absorb all of the nutrients from the food you’re eating. You have to keep your internal engine healthy in order to reap the benefits from your diet. Aloe vera may help decrease irritation in the stomach and intestines. The juice may also help people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other inflammatory disorders of the intestines. One 2013 study of 33 IBS patients found that aloe vera juice helped reduce the pain and discomfort of IBS. The studyTrusted Source was not placebo-controlled, so more research is needed. Aloe vera was also beneficial to people suffering from ulcerative colitis in an earlier double-blind, placebo-controlled study. (1)

References

  1. https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/aloe-vera-juice-benefits#benefits-of-aloe-vera-juice