The beneficial properties of this medicinal plant go more than skin deep

Photo: Mike Lorrig

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If you’ve ever squeezed the gel from an aloe vera leaf onto a burn, you’ve experienced the topical benefits of this common plant. Aloe’s healing properties extend to internal ailments as well. Aloe juice, derived from the fleshy pulp inside aloe vera leaves, may aid people with digestive disorders and type 2 diabetes, and may help boost the immune system. Aloe contains small amounts of digestive enzymes, such as amylase and lipase; antioxidants, including vitamins C and E, catalase, and superoxide dismutase; B vitamins; chromium; magnesium; and all eight essential amino acids. One other thing to know: aloe seems to increase the absorption of what you consume with it, whether nutrients or medications. Choose It & Use It If you are put off by the sour, slightly unripe flavor of aloe juice, add a splash of fruit juice, and stir in a squeeze of lemon and a spoonful of honey the way they do in China. Or try the pineapple-spiked cocktail recipe below.