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What Are the Side Effects of Aloe Vera?

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  • Written By: Britt Archer
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 13 November 2016
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The gel found in an aloe vera plant has many health benefits and is generally considered safe for topical use. Another product from aloe vera, latex that is taken orally, has also been used medicinally but may cause serious health problems. Side effects of aloe vera from the chemical found in the latex are believed to include cancer and kidney disease, and these side effects can cause death. The side effects of aloe vera increase with higher doses. Other side effects include diarrhea and cramps.

Health officials are concerned about the side effects of aloe vera in latex, a yellow substance found under its smooth outer skin, especially when it is used as an ingredient in laxatives. A person’s tolerance to the substance builds up over time, and eventually more is needed to achieve the same result. Increasing the amount of latex in a person’s system leads to a higher risk of experiencing the possibly dangerous side effects of aloe vera. Sometimes latex also is ingested to treat conditions besides constipation, including asthma, colitis, diabetes, bursitis, glaucoma, osteoarthritis, epilepsy, colds, depression, varicose veins, hemorrhoids and multiple sclerosis.

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The clear gel, which is not related to any of the dangerous side effects of aloe vera, can be obtained by cutting open an aloe vera leaf, and has many skin-soothing properties. The gel can be applied to the skin to soothe a burn, cold sores, frostbite, sunburn and psoriasis. The gel also is sometimes applied to bedsores and surgical sites to speed healing, although scientific evidence has not completely proven the gel works as believed to speed healing. The gel also is sometimes given orally in treatments for ulcerative colitis, itching, osteoarthritis, asthma, diabetes and fever.

Aloe vera has numerous other names, including lily of the desert, burn plant, elephant’s gall, Aloe barbadensis, Aloe ferox, Aloe spicata and Aloe perryi. The plant was so valued in ancient Egypt, it was buried with pharaohs to accompany them to the afterlife. It was associated with immortality.

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lluviaporos
Post 3

@umbra21 - I didn't know anyone ate any part of it. Aloe is a wonderful remedy for your skin, but I can't imagine anyone getting much benefit from eating it. I wonder if there have actually been any studies, or if it's a case of people knowing that it can help on the outside, so they think it can probably help on the inside as well.

umbra21
Post 2

@MrsPramm - One of my friends from India who was visiting on a study break made a point of eating a little bit of aloe vera every day. Apparently her mother insisted that she do it, in the same way people used to insist on children taking a spoon of cod liver oil every day.

It seems to be used in a lot of health drinks now as well, so I think it's probably not dangerous as long as you stick to the gel on the inside. I'd never heard that the skin could be dangerous to eat, but then I'd never heard of anyone eating the skin either. The only part I've ever seen anyone eating is the gel.

MrsPramm
Post 1

It's quite common in places where aloe vera is grown for people to use it as a stomach medicine. I lived in West Africa for a while and it was a common remedy there for almost every kind of stomach complaint, although I don't know if it worked or not.

I would never use it, partly because I wasn't entirely sure whether it was safe to have high doses, and partly because it tastes absolutely vile. It did not taste like something people were intended to eat regularly.

It does wonders at soothing sunburn though. I would never be without it in an area where sunburn is an issue.

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