Food Supplements and Vitamins. Aloe vera

Aloe_vera_plant

Background

Transparent gel from the pulp of the meaty leaves of Aloe vera has been used topically for thousands of years to treat wounds, skin infections, burns, and numerous other dermatologic conditions. Dried latex from the inner lining of the leaf has traditionally been used as an oral laxative.
There is strong scientific evidence in support of the laxative properties of aloe latex, based on the well-established cathartic properties of anthraquinone glycosides (found in aloe latex). However, aloe’s therapeutic value compared with other approaches to constipation remains unclear.
There is promising preliminary support from laboratory, animal, and human studies that topical aloe gel has immunomodulatory properties that may improve wound healing and skin inflammation.

Uses and Dosing

NB! The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

Adults (18 years and older)

  • In general, pure Aloe vera gel is often used liberally on the skin 3-4 times daily for the treatment of sunburn and other minor burns. Creams and lotions are also available. Skin products are available that contain aloe alone or aloe combined with other active ingredients.
  • For constipation, 0.04-0.17 grams of dried juice (corresponding to 10-30 milligrams of the aloe constituents hydroxyanthraquinones) taken by mouth has been recommended. Dried aloe juice (150 milligrams) has been taken by mouth daily for 28 days in combination with celandine and psyllium.
  • For diabetes (type 2), 5-15 milliliters of aloe juice has been taken by mouth twice daily.
  • For dental plaque and gingivitis, a dentifrice containing Aloe vera has been used three times daily for 30 days.
  • For genital herpes, a hydrophilic cream of 0.5% (by weight) of a 50% ethanol extract, combined with liquid paraffin and castor oil, has been used on affected areas three times daily for five days in a row per week, for up to two weeks.
  • For HIV infection, 1,000-1,600 milligrams of the aloe constituent acemannan has been taken by mouth in four equal doses daily for 48 weeks.
  • For lichen planus, an Aloe vera gel has been applied twice daily to affected area(s) for eight weeks.
  • For psoriasis vulgaris, a water-soluble cream of 0.5% (by weight) of a 50% ethanol extract of aloe, combined with mineral and castor oils, has been used three times daily for five days in a row per week, for up to four weeks.
  • For skin burns, a 97.5% Aloe vera gel has been applied to affected area(s) for two days in a row.

Children (younger than 18 years)

Topical (skin) use of aloe gel in children is common and appears to be well tolerated. However, a dermatologist and pharmacist should be consulted before starting therapy. Aloe taken by mouth has not been studied in children and theoretically may have harmful effects, such as lowering blood sugar levels. Therefore, it is not recommended.

Safety

NB! There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

Avoid with known allergy or hypersensitivity to Aloe vera , its constituents, or plants of the Liliaceae family (such as garlic, onions, and tulips). Prolonged use of aloe gel on the skin may cause hives, dermatitis, and red eyelids.

Side Effects and Warnings

Aloe taken by mouth may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in patients with diabetes or hypoglycemia, glucose intolerance, and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may need to be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.

  • Use caution when aloe latex is taken by mouth short-term as a laxative.
  • Use caution when aloe latex is taken by mouth in patients with kidney disease, heart disease, or electrolyte abnormalities, due to theoretical risk of low blood potassium levels.
  • Use cautiously in patients with impaired liver function due to reports of hepatitis from taking aloe by mouth.
  • Because aloe contains estrogen-like chemicals, the effects of other agents believed to have estrogen-like properties may be altered.
  • Avoid taking aloe latex by mouth for prolonged periods as a laxative, due to theoretical risk of dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.
  • Avoid giving aloe latex by mouth to patients with ileus, acute surgical abdomen, bowel obstruction, fecal impaction, or appendicitis.
  • Avoid using aloe on the skin for wound healing due to a lack of effect.
  • Avoid Aloe vera injections, which have been associated with cases of death under unclear circumstances.
  • Aloe may cause ammonium acid urate stones; delayed wound healing; dry skin; excessive bleeding (one case); gastrointestinal distress (abdominal cramping and diarrhea); Henoch-Schonlein purpura; hepatitis; increased risk of colon cancer, low potassium, worsened constipation and/or dependency on laxatives (with long-term use); irregular heartbeat; itchiness; muscle weakness; photodermatitis; skin changes (redness, stinging, hardness, soreness, and fissures); or thyroid dysfunction.
  • Although use of aloe on the skin is unlikely to be harmful during pregnancy or breastfeeding, taking aloe by mouth is not recommended due to theoretical stimulation of uterine contractions. The dried juice of aloe leaves should not be consumed by breastfeeding mothers.
  • Avoid with known allergy or hypersensitivity to Aloe vera, its constituents, or plants of the Liliaceae family (such as garlic, onions, and tulips). Prolonged use of aloe gel on the skin may cause hives, dermatitis, and red eyelids.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Although use of aloe on the skin is unlikely to be harmful during pregnancy or breastfeeding, taking aloe by mouth is not recommended due to theoretical stimulation of uterine contractions. It is not known whether active ingredients of aloe may be present in breast milk. The dried juice of aloe leaves should not be consumed by breastfeeding mothers.

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