The succulent aloe vera plant has been known to have a lot of benefits and is, to this day, used widely. Be it in the beauty industry as well as when it comes to health issues. However, although we do know the benefits that this plant provides, there are also the side effects that should be kept in mind whenever you start using something.
Before we get to the side effects of the aloe vera plant, let’s first distinguish and learn the basics of the famous plant. Aloe vera is also known as the cactus plant, and it belongs in the Liliaceae family. The ancient Egyptians used to call it the ‘plant of immortality’. It’s various health benefits range from treating burns, acne, and helping with blemishes, to reducing dandruff, stimulating hair growth, as well as keeping the hair hydrated and restoring the pH balance of the hair.
It’s important to note that there are two parts of the aloe vera leaf. More specifically, the gel and the leaf juice. Leaf juice shouldn’t be confused with the aloe juice in stores. People usually use the aloe vera gel. This one is the clear liquid in the inner part of the leaf. Aloe latex, on the other hand, leaks when the leaf is cut. It’s yellow and has a bitter taste. The safest part of the plant is the gel. Meanwhile, aloe latex has laxative properties and when used too often, can cause serious health complications.
What are the side effects of aloe vera?
As research has suggested, aloe gel, meaning the part of the plant that’s usually found in creams and moisturizers, is known to be safe to use. When applied topically, it’s said to help in healing and treating sunburns, blemishes, and different skin issues.
However, aloe latex is reportedly dangerous. Meaning, if you take aloe latex orally it can cause cramps, diarrhea, and and it can lower the effectiveness of the other medications you might be taking.
It’s important to know that aloe latex can cause even more serious problems. More specifically, taking just 1 gram orally per day for several days could cause kidney problems and there may even be fatal results. According to Everyday Health, aloe latex can lower blood glucose levels, meaning people with type 2 diabetes must be careful and consult their doctor before taking anything aloe latex related.
According to research, although aloe latex is said to have healing benefits, these claims have not been strong enough to allow aloe latex to be sold as something more than a dietary supplement in the US. According to medical studies, aloe latex can cause quite a lot of damage to a person’s health. It was initially sold as a laxative due to the fact that it contains a cathartic laxative, anthraquinone. However, later it was banned by the FDA.
Some of the other side effects aloe vera gel you should know, according to research, are:
1. Since aloe vera leaves contain latex, that comes from underneath the plant’s skin, it may cause allergic reactions to people who are allergic to latex. More specifically, it can cause stomach irritation, cramps, and low potassium levels. If applied externally and appropriately, latex could be safe. However, more research is needed.
2. To people who might be allergic to the aloe vera gel, it might cause skin allergies, redness in the eyes, skin rashes, or a burning sensation.
3. The consumption of the aloe vera juice can make the blood sugar levels drop. As mentioned before, if you have diabetes, it’s better to consult your doctor before using aloe vera juice.
4. Pregnant and lactating mothers should avoid drinking aloe juice because of the irritant properties it has. It might stimulate uterine contractions in pregnant women and therefore might lead to birth complications.
5. Laxatives are used to relieve constipation. But, if taken in larger quantities than recommended, they may cause dehydration.
6. Aloe vera juice might lower the levels of potassium and cause irregular heartbeat or fatigue. It’s not advised for the elderly or people who are ill.
7. Due to the bio-active compounds contained in aloe vera, it may prevent the liver’s detoxification process and cause health problems. WebMD suggests that there have been reports of liver problems from people who have consumed aloe leaf extract. However, this is uncommon, and it is thought to occur in people who are hypersensitive to aloe.
8. If you have stomach problems, do not drink aloe vera juice, for as mentioned before, it can cause cramps and pain.
9. Aloe vera juice can, in some cases, cause serious kidney injury that might even lead to death. Therefore, research suggests that people who suffer from kidney problems should not consume aloe vera.
10. Keep in mind that taking aloe latex 1 gram daily for several days can be fatal.
11. Another negative effect of aloe latex might be the fact that it could have cancer-causing compounds. The National Toxicology Program has made a study with rats and has found that whole-leaf aloe vera extract created cancerous tumors within the large intestines of rats. However, you shouldn’t be alarmed since the study did not involve humans and according to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, there is nothing that says that researches would find the same results in humans. Research suggests that rats in the study drank water that contained 60 part per million (ppm) of aloin every day, which is higher than the limit set by the industry, more specifically 10 ppm.
WebMD suggests that aloe gel is likely safe when applied to the skin appropriately as cosmetic or medicine. And it’s possibly safe when taken by mouth appropriately and short-term.
So, although the aloe vera plant has plenty of benefits, you should be careful before starting to use it. You should consider the possible risk factors, be careful with the dosage, and remember to consult your doctor.
For more on the benefits of aloe vera, head over to our articles on: The Benefits Of Aloe Vera For Skin: Why Is Aloe Vera Good For Our Skin? and The Different Benefits Of Aloe Vera For Hair Health.
Disclaimer: The contents of this article: text, graphics, images, and other materials contained are strictly for informational purposes only. The Content is NOT intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical diagnosis, advice, or treatment. Please ALWAYS seek the advice of a qualified health provider with all the questions that you have related to, or about, a medical condition.
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