One of the most commonly occurring infection is UTI, or urinary tract infection.
There are over 8.1 million cases of UTI each year around the world. The infection is caused by microbes and usually affects the lower urinary tract.
It is through the urinary tract that the body removes the waste as well as excess water in the form of urine.
The infection occurs when the causative organisms (usually bacteria) get into the urinary tract and proliferate.
Though the passage of urine usually eliminates the bacteria, however, if they are too many in number, they ultimately spread and infect the body.
The infection can occur anywhere in the urinary tract. If it affects the urethra, it is called urethritis.
If the bladder gets involved, it is called cystitis and if the infection travels to the kidneys, where the blood is filtered, and the surplus water is removed, it is called pyelonephritis.
It has been observed that women are at a greater risk of contracting the infection than men. This happens due to the anatomical differences.
The other factors that can lead to an infection include sexual activity, improper hygiene, and usage of spermicidal contraceptives.
The risk factors include the obstruction of the urinary tract (for example, kidney stones), postmenopausal women who have low circulating estrogen, people with a suppressed immune system, such as those suffering from diabetes or HIV/AIDS, or those under immunosuppressant medication like chemotherapy.
In such conditions, Aloe vera can be used to help with the infection as well as the symptoms.
What is Aloe Vera?
The evergreen plant is native to Cthe aribbean, South America as well as Latin America.
Due to it’s therapeutic characteristics, it is now being used in some products such as creams and the gel is also sold for consumption.
Aloe vera contains, in the center of the leaf, gel and latex, which have a number of beneficial components such as enzymes, amino acids, lipids, polysaccharides, glycoproteins, tannins, vitamins A, B12, C and E, proteins, essential fatty acids, calcium, zinc and magnesium.
There are a number of benefits associated with Aloe vera. It has helped in the healing of burn wounds, enhanced intestinal absorption, for type 2 diabetes, it has acted as an antihyperglycemic and antihypercholesterolemic agent. It also has antioxidant and hepatoprotective effects.
Benefits of Aloe Vera Juice for UTI
Aloe vera helps in the elimination of the causes as well as effects of urinary tract infection. It fights the bacteria responsible for it, eases the symptoms associated with it such as inflammation and pain and also activates the immune system to prevent any possible relapse.
1. Aloe vera protects kidney health
Aloe vera can help tackle UTI in a number of ways. According to a study, Aloe vera consists of mucopolysaccharides which can help in the treatment of cystitis.
Mucopolysaccharides, such as glycosaminoglycans combine with water to form a mucilaginous substance.
They can be found in the lining of the bladder.
This layer protects the bladder as it prevents the entry of foreign substances as well as pathogens into the bladder.
It also protects the bladder against the harmful substances present in the urine.
The mucopolysaccharides present in Aloe vera replenish this layer of glycosaminoglycans that may be damaged in patients suffering from interstitial cystitis.
What does this mean? Aloe vera contains glycosaminoglycans that protect the bladder against pathogens that may cause interstitial cystitis.
2. Aloe vera protects against urinary pathogens
UTI is caused by bacteria such as Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella species(such as Klebsiella pneumonia) and Enterococcus species.
The body has a number of mechanisms to fight against the bacteria. These include bladder mucopolysaccharides (glycosaminoglycans), urea concentration, the pH, salt content of the urine and secretory IgA.
Despite these, the uropathogenic bacteria get resistant to the defence mechanisms present in the body of the host, adhere to the surface, grow and colonize, thereby causing the infection.
These bacteria can also cause the infection through a food.
A study published in the journal “Emerging Infectious Diseases” in the year 2010 suggests that E. coli can also be transmitted through food and cause urinary tract infections.
However, Aloe vera has antimicrobial properties. The peel extract of the leaf was found to be active against bacteria such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella typhimurium, the strongest activity being against E. coli , which is the most common bacterium that causes UTI.
The application of the peel extracts significantly reduced the number of bacterial colonies.
It was also found to be effective against Klebsiella pneumonia, which causes UTI. The methanol and petroleum ether extract showed maximum activity against E. coli and Klebsiella pneumonia.
What does this mean? Aloe vera was found to be effective against causative organisms of UTI, such as Klebsiella pneumonia and E. coli.
3. Aloe vera reduces inflammation
When the bacteria invade the urinary tract, it results in the inflammation of the bladder. Interstitial cystitis often leads to chronic inflammation that must be taken care of at every step, as it gets very painful.
Inflammation can cause the ulceration of the bladder due to which bleeding becomes a very common phenomenon.
The immune system of our body produces a number of proteins such as IL-1 beta and TNF-alpha that lead to inflammation in order to protect the body against the attack by the pathogens.
It was observed that the inner gel component of Aloe vera suppresses the cytokines whether it is taken in the form of a commercial drink or a freeze-dried powder.
Even the topical administration of Aloe vera inhibits inflammation.
The anti-inflammatory effects can be attributed to a compound known as C-glycosyl chromone.(derivatives of benzopyran found in plants), which is responsible for the inhibition of a pathway which leads to inflammation, known as the cyclooxygenase pathway.
It ultimately reduces the amount of prostaglandin E2 in the body, which is a lipid that induces inflammation as well as fever.
An inflammatory substance, known as bradykinin is responsible for the induction of pain. However, an enzyme was found in Aloe vera, known as peptidase bradykinase, which breaks down bradykinin, thus alleviating pain and inflammation.
What does this mean? Aloe vera helps in the treatment of inflammation as well as pain in UTI patients.
4. Aloe vera boosts immune responses
When pathogens invade the body of the hosts, the immune system takes charge and works towards eliminating them. Aloe vera assists such activities and also strengthens the immune system.
There are a number of polysaccharides isolated from Aloe vera out of which some possess antitumor as well as immunomodulatory activities. This carbohydrate is known as acemannan. It plays a very important role in the activation of immune responses.
In an animal study, such activity of acemannan was examined.
The dendritic cells play the primary role in the activation of many immune responses. It was observed that acemannan could help the dendritic cells mature.
This maturation was linked to an increase in the production of Interleukin 12, a protein that enhances the cytotoxic activities of the cells of the immune system.
It also enhanced the allogeneic mixed lymphocyte (a type of immune cells) reaction which confirmed that the action of the immune system cells against the stimuli was enhanced.
Aloe vera also contains a number of antiseptic agents including salicylic acid, lupeol, phenols, cinnamonic acid and urea nitrogen which inhibit the growth of microbes.
What does this mean? Aloe vera helps in the strengthening and activation of the immune system so that the bacteria can be eliminated to avoid the worsening of UTI as well the symptoms which accompany it.
5. Aloe vera is a natural antioxidant
Due to inflammation, a number of free radicals, or reactive oxygen species are released. These entities erode the membrane around which they are present. To balance them out, antioxidants are required.
Aloe vera gel was found to have low molecular constituents that are responsible for the inhibition of the release of such reactive oxygen species. It contains vitamin C and E which have the strong antioxidant capacity.
It has also been noted in an animal study that Aloe vera was capable of reducing blood glucose levels and increase haemoglobin, thereby helping diabetes.
It also increases the number of antioxidant enzymes such as superoxide dismutase, reduced glutathione, glutathione peroxidase and catalase.
What does this mean? The antioxidants present in Aloe vera prevent the damage caused to the urinary tract due to free radicals and also helps in the management of diabetes which is a risk factor for the contraction UTI.
There is no specific dosage of Aloe vera recommended for the treatment of UTI.
A dose of 15-30 ml of aloe vera juice daily is recommended for adults mixed with other juices. Studies have found doses as high as 100ml to be safe.
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.
One allergic to the plants from the Liliaceae family must refrain from Aloe vera consumption.
It can also lead to nausea, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, worsening of constipation as well as electrolyte imbalance.
Aloe vera overdose can cause colorectal cancer as well.
It should also be avoided by pregnant women, and nursing mothers as it can be harmful to the nursing infant due to the gastrointestinal distress that it causes.
Aloe vera helps in the elimination of the causes as well as effects of urinary tract infection.
It fights the bacteria responsible for it, eases the symptoms associated with it such as inflammation and pain and also activates the immune system to prevent any possible relapse.
However, to avoid complications, one must consult their physician before incorporating it into their routine and also check for any side effects or allergies.
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