Aloe

Botanicals

18/Description

About

Aloe is a cactus-like plant that grows in hot, dry climates. In the United States, aloe is grown in Florida, Texas, and Arizona. Aloe produces two substances, gel and latex, which are used for medicines. Aloe gel is the clear, jelly-like substance found in the inner part of the aloe plant leaf. Aloe latex comes from just under the plant's skin and is yellow in color. Some aloe products are made from the whole crushed leaf, so they contain both gel and latex. The aloe that is mentioned in the Bible is an unrelated fragrant wood used as incense.

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 it works

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 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.

Effectiveness

Possibly Effective
Acne

Research suggests that applying an aloe gel in the morning and evening, in addition to a prescription anti-acne medicine, improves acne by about 35% in both children and adults.

Burns

Applying aloe gel to the skin seems to improve burn healing. Also applying cream that contains aloe to the skin twice daily appears to improve itching and reduce skin picking compared to applying corticosteroid medication in people with chemical burns. It is unclear if aloe reduces healing time compared to applying antibiotics. Some research shows that applying aloe cream reduces healing time and wound size compared to applying antibiotics in people with first or second degree burns. But other early research suggests that applying fresh aloe or aloe extract daily is not more effective than antibiotic treatments for reducing wounds or improving healing in people with first or second degree burns.

Constipation

Taking aloe latex by mouth can reduce constipation and also cause diarrhea.

Genital herpes

Evidence shows that applying an aloe extract 0.5% cream three times daily increases healing rates in men with genital herpes.

Itchy rash on the skin or mouth (Lichen planus)

Research shows that using a mouthwash containing aloe gel three times daily for 12 weeks or applying a gel containing aloe gel twice daily for 8 weeks can reduce pain associated with itchy rashes in the mouth. Other research shows that using a mouthwash containing aloe four times daily for one month or applying an aloe gel three times daily for 2 months reduces pain and increases healing similarly to the corticosteroid triamcinolone acetonide in people with itchy rashes in the mouth.

A mouth condition called oral submucous fibrosis

Early research suggests that applying aloe gel (Sheetal lab Surat) on each side of the inner lining of the cheeks three times daily for 3 months improves burning, the ability to open the mouth, and cheek flexibility in people with a mouth condition called oral submucous fibrosis. Other research suggests that applying aloe gel twice daily for up to 6 months along with other treatments can reduce burning and improve movement of the mouth.

Psoriasis

Applying a cream containing 0.5% aloe extract for 4 weeks seems to reduce the skin plaques. Also applying cream containing aloe gel seems to decrease the severity of psoriasis better than the corticosteroid triamcinolone. But using an aloe gel does not seem to improve other symptoms associated with psoriasis, including skin redness.

Weight loss

Research suggests that taking a specific aloe product (Aloe QDM complex, Univera Inc., Seoul, South Korea) containing 147 mg of aloe gel twice daily for 8 weeks reduces body weight and fat mass in overweight or obese people with diabetes or prediabetes.

Concerns

Likely safe

Aloe gel is LIKELY SAFE when applied to the skin appropriately as a medicine or as a cosmetic

Possibly safe

Aloe gel 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

Possibly unsafe

Taking aloe latex or aloe whole-leaf extract by mouth is POSSIBLY UNSAFE at any dose

Likely unsafe

Aloe latex is LIKELY UNSAFE when taken by mouth in high doses. 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. Also, there is concern that chemicals in aloe latex and/or aloe whole-leaf extract may promote the development of cancer.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.

18/Warnings

Warnings

Pregnancy or breast-feeding: Aloe -- either gel or latex -- isPOSSIBLY UNSAFEwhen taken by mouth. There is a report that aloe was associated withmiscarriage. It could also be a risk for birth defects. Do not take aloe by mouth if you arepregnantorbreast-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.

Interactions

Always consult with your doctor.
Major
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).

Moderate
Medications taken by mouth (Oral 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, metformin (Glucophage), pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), chlorpropamide (Diabinese), glipizide (Glucotrol), tolbutamide (Orinase), and others.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.

Warfarin (Coumadin)

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.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 take excessive amounts of aloe latex.

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