Aloe Vera Gel Side Effects You Need to Know About

It is VERY IMPORTANT to know about Aloe Vera Gel side effects especially before taking it internally.  We have investigated to keep you safe!

Aloe Vera Plant Close Up of Spiky Leaves

Using Aloe Vera on the Skin

So, as far as we have been able to find out from our research, our beloved Aloe Vera is very safe to use on the skin, but you should be aware that some unfortunate folk have had allergic reactions to it.  You should be careful if you have previously been allergic to plants such as garlic, onions or tulips, or any other succulents. Test on a very small patch of healthy skin first if you are in doubt. 

Of course, if you are using a manufactured lotion or potion and you have an allergic reaction, it is possible that you are reacting to some other ingredient in the cream, shampoo, deodorant etc.  The only way to tell if it's the Aloe Vera would be to get a plant and test the actual gel from the centre of the leaf.  

One trial showed that of 702 people no-one reacted to pure Aloe gel direct from the leaf. 

Risks of using Aloe Vera Internally

Using Aloe Vera internally is a different kettle of fish, and you need to be careful. 

First of all, let's explain that although Aloe Vera has been approved as a food flavouring by the Food and Drug Administration of the USA, it doesn't mean it is totally safe.  In food flavourings it is used in very small quantities and probably doesn't contain most of the pharmaceutical elements that make it a healing plant. 

The FDA used to approve Aloe Vera as an ingredient in over the counter laxatives, but has stopped as they felt there wasn't enough research to show that it was safe.  Nowadays, it is sold as a food or a supplement and the law says that supplement manufacturers are not allowed to make claims that it is good for any particular ailment. 

We know that scientific research has proved that it is good in certain diseases and conditions (ulcerative colitis is one) and history tells us that people have used it for thousands of years for all kinds of things, but the fact is, not enough studies have yet been done to show that it can be used as a medicine completely safely. For that reason, you most likely won't find your doctor prescribing it, as it isn't approved as a drug by the FDA. This is the case for most herbal remedies because there isn't likely to be enough profit in it for the big pharmaceutical companies to pour millions of dollars into research. 

In addition, there has been a two year trial of the toxicity of whole leaf Aloe Vera extract which showed that it was carcinogenic in rats.  Without thorough trials in humans, it is not known whether it has the same detrimental effect on humans. 

So if you decide you want to try it anyway, make sure you read the following first:

Most Important Precautions/Warnings/Contraindications When Taking Aloe Vera Internally

Be aware of possible Aloe Vera Gel side effects in the following situations:

Use as a laxative

The latex in the leaves of Aloe Vera has been traditionally used as a laxative. It is not safe to use for prolonged periods because of the risk of dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.  It can reduce the potassium levels in your body which can be very dangerous. 

Before and After Surgery

It is advised not to take Aloe Vera orally if you are having surgery as there was a case of one person who had extended bleeding when taking it with anaesthetics. 

It is also not advised for use after surgery as one trial found it delayed wound healing. 

Diabetes

Studies have shown that Aloe Vera taken orally can lower blood sugar, and so people with diabetes, hypoglycaemia or glucose intolerance should be very cautious when using Aloe supplements. Consult your doctor before using and make sure your blood sugar is monitored closely. 

Kidney Disease

Anyone with Kidney disease or renal insufficiency should avoid Aloe latex because it can cause dehydration and potassium deficiency. 

Cardiac Disease

The same applies here that Cardiac patients are particularly at risk if potassium depletion occurs. 

Gastric Problems

Oral aloe latex (this is the part with laxative effects) should be avoided in patients with any gastric conditions such as bowel obstruction, fecal impaction, or appendicitis.

Aloe Vera Injections

Four people have died after injecting Aloe Vera. Do not do it!

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

You're OK to use creams and things on the skin with Aloe if you are pregnant, and, after all, most baby wipes have it in so it's lovely and soft on baby. 

BUT

Don't take Aloe Vera gel internally because there is a possibility that the anthroquinones it contains might cause contractions. 

No-one knows whether any of the pharmaceutically active chemicals contained in this plant can cross into breast milk, so it's best not to risk it. 

Drug interactions

Just because it's natural doesn't mean it's safe!  Herbs and plants can contain very powerful ingredients and many can interact with other drugs. 

You may get adverse reactions if you take Aloe Vera internally with any medicines you have been prescribed by your doctor and even with over-the-counter medications. 

Be particularly aware that:

Aloe Vera may increase the effects of drugs taken for diabetes and lower blood sugar too much.

It can cause loss of potassium if taken with diuretics (water loss pills) which you may be taking for heart conditions or weight loss.  

Drug Absorption

Prolonged use of Aloe Vera Gel taken internally may also have the side effect of slowing down the absorption of food, other drugs and vitamins, especially Vitamins C and E. 

Aloe Vera Gel Side Effects in Children

Use on the skin in children is thought to be safe.  It's in a lot of baby products, wipes, shampoos and more. 

BUT DO NOT GIVE INTERNALLY TO CHILDREN DUE TO LACK OF SAFETY DATA.

A Few Other Warnings for Avoiding Aloe Vera Gel Side Effects! 

Different brands of supplements may have varying effects because they are not all standardised. It is hard to know what doses they contain of any active ingredient.  So do be careful. 

In the United States companies have been fined for making claims about products illegally. So make sure you buy from a reputable company with IASC Certification.  You can see what the seal looks like here. 

With any medical condition, please consult a licensed physician before taking treatments, and tell your doctor about all the prescription and over the counter drugs or herbal remedies you are taking.

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