Aloe

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Uses

What is aloe used for?

Aloe is a cactus-like plant that grows in hot, dry climates.

The useful parts of aloe are the gel and latex. The gel is obtained from the cells in the center of the leaf; and the latex is obtained from the cells just beneath the leaf skin.

Aloe medications can be taken by mouth or applied to the skin. People take aloe gel by mouth for weight loss, diabetes, hepatitis, inflammatory bowel diseases, osteoarthritis, stomach ulcers, asthma, radiation-related skin sores, fever, itching and inflammation, and as a general tonic. A chemical in aloe called acemannan is taken by mouth for HIV/AIDS. Aloe extract is used for high cholesterol.

Aloe latex is taken by mouth mainly as a laxative for constipation. It is also used for seizures, asthma, colds, bleeding, lack of a menstrual period, swelling of the colon (colitis), depression, diabetes, eye conditions that cause blindness (glaucoma), multiple sclerosis, hemorrhoids, varicose veins, joint inflammation, osteoarthritis, and vision problems. Fresh aloe leaves are taken by mouth for cancer.

People apply aloe gel to the skin for acne, an inflammatory skin condition called lichen planus, inflammation in the mouth, burning mouth, radiation-induced skin damage, dental plaque, diaper rash, frostbite, gum disease, bedsores, scabies, dandruff, wound healing, hemorrhoids and pain after surgery to remove internal hemorrhoids, osteoarthritis, inflammation, and as an antiseptic. Aloe extract and aloe gel are also applied to the skin for genital herpes, scaly and itchy skin, burns, sunburns, and dry skin. Aloe extract is applied to the skin as an insect repellant. Aloe leaf juice is applied to the skin for anal fissures. A chemical in aloe called acemannan is applied to the skin for dry sockets in the mouth and canker sores.

How does it work?

There are not enough studies about how this herbal supplement works. Please discuss with your herbalist or doctor for more information. However, it is known that:

  • Aloe gel might cause changes in the skin that might help diseases like psoriasis.
  • Aloe seems to be able to speed wound healing by improving blood circulation through the area and preventing cell death around a wound.
  • It also appears that aloe gel has properties that are harmful to certain types of bacteria and fungi.
  • Aloe latex contains chemicals that work as a laxative.

Precautions & warnings

What should I know before using aloe?

Consult with your doctor or pharmacist or herbalist, if:

  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding. This is because, while you are expecting or feeding a baby, you should only take medicines on the recommendation of a doctor.
  • You are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription.
  • You have allergy with any substances of aloe or other medications or other herbals.
  • You have any other illnesses, disorders, or medical conditions.
  • You have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals.

The regulations for an herbal supplement are less strict than the regulations for a drug. More studies are needed to determine its safety. The benefits of taking this herbal supplement must outweigh the risks before use. Consult with your herbalist or doctor for more information.

How safe is aloe?

Aloe gel is likely safe when applied to the skin appropriately as a medicine or as a cosmetic.

Aloe is possibly safe when taken by mouth appropriately, short-term. Aloe gel has been used safely in a dose of 15 mL daily for up to 42 days. Also, a solution containing 50% aloe gel has been safely used twice daily for 4 weeks. A specific gel complex (Aloe QDM complex Univera Inc., Seoul, South Korea) has been used safely at a dose of about 600 mg daily for up to 8 weeks.

Taking aloe latex by mouth is possibly unsafe at any dose, but likely unsafe when taken in high doses.

Special precautions & warnings

Pregnancy or breast-feeding: Aloe, either gel or latex, is possibly unsafe when taken by mouth. There is a report that aloe was associated with miscarriage. It could also be a risk for birth defects. Do not take aloe by mouth if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.

Children: Aloe gel is possibly safe when applied to the skin appropriately. Aloe latex and aloe whole leaf extracts are possibly unsafe when taken by mouth in children. Children younger than 12 years-old might have stomach pain, cramps, and diarrhea.

Diabetes: Some research suggests that aloe might lower blood sugar. If you take aloe by mouth and you have diabetes, monitor your blood sugar levels closely.

Intestinal conditions such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or obstruction: Do not take aloe latex if you have any of these conditions. Aloe latex is a bowel irritant. Remember, products made from whole aloe leaves will contain some aloe latex.

Hemorrhoids: Do not take aloe latex if you have hemorrhoids. It could make the condition worse. Remember, products made from whole aloe leaves will contain some aloe latex.

Kidney problems: High doses of aloe latex have been linked to kidney failure and other serious conditions.

Surgery: Aloe might affect blood sugar levels and could interfere with blood sugar control during and after surgery. Stop taking aloe at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Side effects

What kind of side effects may I have from aloe?

Aloe latex can cause some side effects such as stomach pain and cramps. Long-term use of large amounts of aloe latex might cause diarrhea, kidney problems, blood in the urine, low potassium, muscle weakness, weight loss, and heart disturbances. Taking aloe latex 1 gram daily for several days can be fatal.

There have been a few reports of liver problems in some people who have taken an aloe leaf extract; however, this is uncommon. It is thought to only occur in people who are extra sensitive (hypersensitive) to aloe.

Not everyone experiences these side effects. There may be some side effects not listed above. If you have any concerns about side effects, please consult your herbalist or doctor.

Interactions

What interactions may I have with aloe?

Aloe may interact with your current medications or medical conditions. Consult with your herbalist or doctor before using.

Products that may interact with this herbal include:

  • Digoxin (Lanoxin)

When taken by mouth aloe latex is a type of laxative called a stimulant laxative. Stimulant laxatives can decrease potassium levels in the body. Low potassium levels can increase the risk of side effects of digoxin (Lanoxin).

  • Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs)

Aloe gel might decrease blood sugar. Diabetes medications are also used to lower blood sugar. Taking aloe gel along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to go too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.

Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), chlorpropamide (Diabinese), glipizide (Glucotrol), tolbutamide (Orinase), and others.

  • Medications taken by mouth (Oral drugs)

When taken by mouth aloe latex is a laxative. Laxatives can decrease how much medicine your body absorbs. Taking aloe latex along with medications you take by mouth might decrease the effectiveness of your medication.

  • Sevoflurane (Ultane)

Aloe might decrease clotting of the blood. Sevoflurane is used as anesthesia during surgery. Sevoflurane also decreases clotting of the blood. Taking aloe before surgery might cause increased bleeding during the surgical procedure. Do not take aloe by mouth if you are having surgery within 2 weeks.

  • Stimulant laxatives

When taken orally aloe latex is a type of laxative called a stimulant laxative. Stimulant laxatives speed up the bowels. Taking aloe latex along with other stimulant laxatives could speed up the bowels too much and cause dehydration and low minerals in the body.

Some stimulant laxatives include bisacodyl (Correctol, Dulcolax), cascara, castor oil (Purge), senna (Senokot), and others.

  • Warfarin (Coumadin)

When taken orally, aloe latex is a type of laxative called a stimulant laxative. Stimulant laxatives speed up the bowels and can cause diarrhea in some people. Diarrhea can increase the effects of warfarin and increase the risk of bleeding. If you take warfarin, do not to take excessive amounts of aloe latex.

  • Water pills (Diuretic drugs)

When taken by mouth aloe latex is a laxative. Some laxatives can decrease potassium in the body. “Water pills” can also decrease potassium in the body. Taking aloe latex along with “water pills” might decrease potassium in the body too much.

Some “water pills” that can decrease potassium include chlorothiazide (Diuril), chlorthalidone (Thalitone), furosemide (Lasix), hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ, HydroDIURIL, Microzide), and others.

Dosage

The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. ALWAYS consult your herbalist or doctor before using this medication.

What is the usual dose for aloe?

ADULTS

BY MOUTH:

  • For constipation: 100-200 mg of aloe or 50 mg of aloe extract taken in the evening has been used. Also, a 500 mg capsule containing aloe, starting at a dose of one capsule daily and increasing to three capsules daily as required, has been used.
  • For weight loss: A specific aloe gel product (Aloe QDM complex, Univera Inc., Seoul, South Korea) containing 147 mg of aloe twice daily for 8 weeks has been used.

APPLIED TO THE SKIN:

  • For acne: A 50% aloe gel has been applied in the morning and evening after washing the face, along with a prescription called tretinoin gel in the evening.
  • For burns: Aloe and olive oil cream, applied twice daily for 6 weeks, has been used. Also, aloe cream, applied twice daily after changing a wound dressing, or every three days until the burn heals, has been used.
  • For herpes: A cream containing 0.5% aloe extract, applied three times daily for 5 consecutive days once or twice over a 2-week period, has been used.
  • For itchy rash on the skin or mouth (Lichen planus): Aloe gel, applied two to three times daily for 8 weeks has been used. Two tablespoons of aloe mouthwash, swished for 2 minutes and then spit, four times daily for one month has been used.
  • For a mouth condition called oral submucous fibrosis: 5 mg of an aloe gel (Sheetal lab Surat) applied on each side of the cheeks three times daily for 3 months has been used.
  • For psoriasis: Aloe extract 0.5% cream applied three times daily for 4 weeks has been used. A cream containing aloe, applied twice daily for 8 weeks, has been used.

CHILDREN

APPLIED TO THE SKIN:

  • For acne: A 50% aloe gel has been applied in the morning and evening after washing the face, along with a prescription called tretinoin gel in the evening.
  • For a precancerous mouth condition called oral submucous fibrosis: 5 mg of an aloe gel (Sheetal lab Surat), applied on each side of the cheeks three times daily for 3 months, has been used.

The dose for this herbal supplement may be different for every patient. The dose that you take depends on your age, health, and several other conditions. Herbal supplements are not always safe. Please discuss with your herbalist or doctor for your appropriate dosage.

What form does aloe come in?

Aloe may be available in the following dosage forms:

  • Leaf juice
  • Capsule/softgel
  • Gel (for topical use)

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: July 3, 2017 | Last Modified: July 3, 2017

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