Joints are connections between bones that provide support and help in movement. A functional joint is a combination of bones, muscles, cartilages, tendons and ligaments.
Anthralgia (pain in joints) or Arthritis ( pain in joints with inflammation) is caused when the joint gets damaged resulting in an injury, illness or infection.
It can affect one or more joints at the same time.
It results in pain, stiffness, tenderness, and inflammation in the area along with the loss of movement or functionality. It can remain for shorter (acute) or longer (chronic) durations.
Joint pain can be caused by a variety of conditions -
- Arthritis, Bursitis, Gout, osteoarthritis, knee pain
- Autoimmune diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, scleroderma
- Injury, such as a fracture or torn ligaments, joint dislocation
- Infection caused by a virus
- Exertion or overuse of muscles like strains and sprains
Age, family history, sex, weight, and previous joint injury are risk factors and determine the type of joint pain one may have.
Whatever be the cause of joint pain, it is accompanied by inflammation, swelling, and pain.
It is treated with medications like Non-steroidal Anti-Inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s), analgesics (pain killers), physiotherapy and alternative medicine.
The NSAID’s and other painkillers may provide quick relief but its effects are detrimental to liver and muscles.
Aloe vera is a potential alternative medicine for the treatment of joint pains. Its anti-inflammatory nature helps relieve the body of inflammation and pain.
In addition to relieving the symptoms of joint pain, it also helps in treating the damaged or injured joints and prevent it.
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About Aloe vera
Aloe vera is a herbal plant used since ages for its medicinal value. Known as the healing herb, the gel obtained from its green and fleshy leaves is used for treating several ailments.
A plant of the Lilacae family, it grows best in tropical and subtropical areas. It is scientifically known as Aloe barbadensis miller. It has been used for ages but its role and health benefits have been scientifically proven only recently.
It contains several nutritional ingredients like amino acids, phenols (anthraquinones—aloin and emodin), enzymes, minerals, vitamins, lignins, sterols, saponins, salicylic acid, polysacchaarides, and monosaccharides.
It contains all of the eight amino acids that the body requires from our diet.
It also contains several minerals like calcium, chromium, copper, manganese, magnesium, potassium, sodium, selenium and zinc. Some of these act as antioxidants and others help in metabolic pathways.
4 Proven Benefits of Aloe Vera Juice in Joint Pains
The following are the benefits of Aloe vera in relieving joint pain:
1. It is anti-inflammatory and pain relieving
Inflammation is the most common symptom of any type of joint pain. It can be identified as swelling and redness in the affected area, along with the sensation of pain.
During fracture, dislocation or injury in joints, ligaments may get torn, muscle fibres may break or any other part like tendons or cartilages may be damaged.
The body has a self-recovery mechanism, which then sends immune cells towards the joints for damage repair.
These cells accumulate at the joint area and start working towards tissue recovery. This accumulation of cells in the joins leads to swelling and inflammation.
The nerve endings in the joint get stimulated and cause pain.
This process of inflammation is implicated by several chemicals and cells like prostaglandins, histamines, bradykinin, phospholipids, leukotrienes, and interleukin.
Aloe vera is known to inhibit cyclooxygenase pathway which produces prostaglandins.
It consists of enzyme peptide bradykinase that breaks down bradykinin, a pro-inflammatory enzyme.
It also contains numerous other compounds which are anti-inflammatory in nature, such as polysaccharides (mannose-6-phosphate), hormones (auxins and gibberellins, C-glucosyl chromone, sterols (lupeol, cholesterol, β-sitosterol, campesterol).
These compounds also help in relieving pain.
A study conducted to test Aloe vera’s effectiveness in pain relief caused by osteoarthritis, it was found that it can be used both, as an inflammatory agent, and to reduce the side effects caused by NSAID’s.
In another study, anthraquinone derivatives from aloe vera were shown to have both anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic activity in rodents.
What does this mean? Aloe vera is an excellent alternative for treating inflammation and swelling in joint pains due to presence of several anti- inflammatory agents. It reduces inflammation and provides pain relief.
2. It is anti-microbial
Certain types of joint pains are caused by microbes.
Septic arthritis caused by bacteria or fungus causes inflammation and pain in the joints.
Also, reactive arthritis occurs in reaction to infection by bacteria. Viral infection also leads to joint pain.
Aloe vera is an efficient antiseptic having an inhibitory effect on bacteria, virus, and fungi. The saponins in Aloe vera include antiseptic agents like phenols, sulphur, lupeol, salicylic acid, cinnamonic acid, and urea nitrogen.
Several studies show the antimicrobial nature of Aloe vera against several strains of bacteria like e.coli, salmonella, enterococcus, staphylococcii, pseudomonas, lactobacilli, and other drug-resistant species, all of which cause infections.
This property of Aloe vera helps in eradicating microbes that cause joint pain in the body as a result of infection.
What does this mean? Due to its anti-microbial nature, Aloe vera has the potential to relieve joint pain and infection caused by microbes.
3. It is an antioxidant in nature
When the components of a joint including bones, muscles and connective tissues get torn, broken or damaged, the immune system sends neutrophils and other required nutrients and proteins to the joint for repair and redevelopment.
There may also be the presence of bacteria.
In the process of repair and fighting off the bacteria, free radicals are generated which are harmful to the joint as they can cause further cell degeneration and even cell death.
The joint needs to be protected against these radicals by antioxidants, which detoxify the body by providing free electrons that absorb and neutralize them.
The body produces antioxidants, but sometimes the free radicals are generated in large numbers. In this scenario, antioxidants have to be obtained from outside.
Aloe vera juice provides a substantial quantity of antioxidants.
It shows antioxidant activity due to the presence of polysaccharides and flavonoids.
It is shown to reduce oxidative stress which occurs as a result of an imbalance between the free radicals and antioxidants in the body.
It also contains several other antioxidants like polyphenols, vitamin A (β-carotene), vitamin C, vitamin E, indoles, alkaloids and tannins.
What does this mean? Consumption of Aloe vera juice loads body with various antioxidants that prevent the joints from cell injury, damage and death caused by release of free radicals.
4. It is immuno-modulatory and helps in tissue repair
Joint pain is caused by the triggered immune response to injured bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments or cartilages in the joint.
An urgent repair is required to regain body movement and functionality as soon as possible and prevent more damage. For this, immune cells need to be stimulated and function with full efficiency.
Cytokines help in proper signalling and coordination of immune cells and other proteins.
Surface molecules on the cells help in binding the cells with each other.
Aloe vera increases the production of Cytokines which include interleukins, interferons and growth factors. In this way, it contributes to a quick repair.
It also helps in the proper functioning of surface molecules.
In case of joint pains, which are caused by infection with microbes, macrophages that have phagocytic ability(killing of bacteria by ingestion) to digest the microbes, are activated by crude and modified polysaccharide from Aloe vera.
They also help in the release of nitric oxide from immune cells that fights against microbes.
What does this mean? Aloe vera has immunomodulatory properties and also helps in healing joint tissues and relieve pain quicker.
5. It has anti-arthritic property
Several studies for treating arthritis have shown positive outcomes by Aloe vera treatment. The main aim of arthritis is to reduce pain and inflammation and undo the tissue damage.
Aloe vera juice has been helpful in treating the pain arising from arthritis.
Aloe emodin, a type of anthraquinone in aloe vera is shown to inhibit arthritis by inhibiting inducible nitric oxide and prostaglandins, both of which are causal factors of inflammation.
Topical application of Aloe vera along with therapeutic ultrasound (a process known as phonophoresis), has known to decrease inflammatory cells and helping in tissue repair. The ultrasound activates the gel applied.
What does this mean? Aloe vera has a specific action against arthritis by decreasing inflammation in joints and healing the damaged tissues.
Aloe vera juice is used as alternative medicine and has no standard dose. But one can consult with an ayurvedic physician to determine what dose will suit his/her body.
Initially, one or two teaspoons can be taken daily and later one can increase the dose if it suits the body.
It can be consumed raw or mixed with honey if you want to improve the taste.
Aloe vera juice can also be combined with juices of other fruits and vegetables for consumption.
It is also beneficial to apply Aloe vera gel topically, on the affected joint to cool and relieve pain.
Precautions to be taken
As Aloe vera belongs to the Lily family, it can have allergic interactions with certain people who are allergic to plants belonging to this family.
Oral consumption or topical application, both can cause allergies and people should be careful of any such reactions.
The anthraquinone in Aloe vera latex (found below the skin of the leaf) is known to have laxative effects.
It can cause diarrhoea, dehydration, imbalance of body electrolytes and pain and cramp in the abdomen. If the juice contains extract of the entire leaf, it may contain latex.
In diabetic patients, Aloe vera juice can interfere with the action of drugs that are taken for diabetes.
Aloe vera is not advisable for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Joint pain in different parts of the body is quite common for people of all ages around the world. Aloe vera can be used by everyone as a natural alternative or supplement to relieve joint pain and inflammation.
It also helps in fighting microbes that cause infection along with aiding in repair and development of damaged joints. Some precautions need to be taken in people with other health conditions.
Overall, it has multiple benefits and lesser side effects. It should be taken in addition to the ongoing drugs for early recovery.