Aloe Vera is a well-known plant with healing powers. It has succulent or fleshy leaves filled with a gel-like substance. The fleshy leaves are composed of three layers, the inner clear gel that contains 99% water, and rest is made of glucomannans, amino acids, lipids, sterols, and vitamins, the middle layer of latex contains anthraquinones, and glycosides, and the outer thick layer called as rind has a protective function, and synthesizes carbohydrates, and proteins.
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The dry matter of aloe gel consists of polysaccharides (55%), sugars (17%), minerals (16%), proteins (7%), lipids (4%), and phenolic compounds (1%). The aloe vera gel contains many vitamins including the important antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E. Vitamin B1 (thiamine), niacin, Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), choline, and folic acid.
Certain enzymes are also present in the gel-like alkaline phosphatase, amylase, carboxypeptidase, catalase, cyclooxidase, lipase, cyclooxygenase, oxidase, phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase, superoxide dismutase, Bradykinase which give aloe gel anti-inflammatory, and wound healing properties on topical application while others help in the breakdown of sugars, and fats, and helps in constipation, and weight loss.
People take aloe vera juice for improving digestion, increasing energy level, to build immunity, detoxify, and reduce inflammation. Aloe Vera juice is also taken in weight loss diet as it stimulates the metabolism, and helps the body to burn calories more quickly, and reduce the weight of the body. Aloe vera has an antioxidantaction which helps in destroying free radicals in the body that can lead to abnormal growth of cells or tumors in the body.
You may have heard or read innumerable health benefits of Aloe Vera. But as with any herbal product, it is also not essentially safe.
Aloe produces two substances, gel, and latex. The gel is the clear, jelly-like substance, and the latex comes from just under the plant’s skin, and is yellow in color. This latex is unsafe for internal use. It may cause gastrointestinal problems, stomach pain, ulcers, intestinal obstruction, and appendicitis. The latex can damage healthy kidneys if high dosages of aloe latex are consumed, especially over a short period of time. If consumed in large quantity it can be fatal.
Also, the introduction of aloe vera in juice form is comparatively newer in the market, and not many studies are available. There can be many side effects of Aloe vera juice especially when taken for the long term. You should know these, and make your own decision.
Side Effects of Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera can have many side effects. The juice contains anthraquinones, such as aloin, and barbaloin which may cause allergic reactions. It has substances which are laxative, and can cause diarrhea if taken in large amounts resulting in diarrhea with pain, cramps, and dehydration. Prolonged usage can increase the risk of constipation.
You should not eat the gel directly from the leaf as there is a risk of its latex consumption. The latex is yellow in color, and difficult to separate from the gel. This latex is unfit for internal use, and can cause gastrointestinal problems.
Risk of tumors
A 2-year National Toxicology Program (NTP is a federal, interagency program run at the NIEHS, whose aim is to study environmental substances that might be cause for concern to humans) study on oral consumption of nondecolorized whole leaf extract of aloe vera found clear evidence of carcinogenic activity in male, and female rats, based on tumors of the large intestine. Another study in rats showed that decolorized whole leaf aloe vera did not cause harmful effects.
This suggests that a component called aloin, most of which is removed by the decolorization process may be responsible for the tumors seen in rats fed nondecolorized whole leaf aloe vera.
More information, including what products are actually in the marketplace, and how individuals use different types of aloe vera products, is needed to determine the potential risks to humans.
Risk of colorectal cancer
Aloe vera is a Laxative. When used for the long term it may lead to low potassium levels, and it has been reported to increase the risk of colorectal cancer.
Abdominal cramps, and diarrhea have been reported with oral use of aloe latex.
Also, because aloe latex is a laxative, it may reduce the absorption, and therefore the effectiveness of some drugs that are taken orally.
Low Blood sugar
People with diabetes who use glucose-lowering medication should be cautious if also taking aloe orally because aloe may lower blood glucose levels.
Aloe vera juice contains a certain amount of aloe latex which is hard on the kidneys, and could lead to serious kidney disease.
High doses of aloe latex have been linked to kidney failure, and other serious conditions.
There have been a few reported cases of acute hepatitis in people who took aloe vera orally. Red urine, abdominal cramps, hepatitis, dependency or worsening of constipation are some other side effects associated with the aloe vera. However, the evidence is not definitive.
Possible Drug Interactions
Aloe vera juice may cause adverse reactions when consumed along with few medicines. Aloe vera juice also reacts to herbs like jalap roots, castor oil, rhubarb root, and bark root, causing dehydration, and diarrhea.
When used topically, the aloe vera gel can cause redness, burning, stinging sensation, and rarely generalized dermatitis in sensitive individuals.
Aggravate other diseases
Aloe vera juice can aggravate health problems like colitis, Crohn’s disease, appendicitis, diverticulosis, intestinal obstruction, hemorrhoid, stomach pains, and ulcers.
Complicates heart diseases
Aloe vera juice consumption can lead the body to produce excessive amounts of adrenaline, and can cause irregular heartbeats.
You should know aloe vera juice is UNSAFE for pregnant women as it has purgative, and irritant qualities, and can lead to uterine contractions, miscarriage, and birth defects. Lactating women may lead to diarrhea. It is also considered unsafe for children below 12 years of age.
Aloe vera has many health benefits but as it has some side effects, so it should not be used in excess, and that too for a long time.