What is Aloe?
Alternate Names: Aloe barbadensis, Aloe capensis, Aloe vera, Cape aloe
Aloe is a plant originally from Africa. The long, green leaves contain aloe gel and a sticky yellow residue called latex.
Why People Use This Herb
- Constipation – The aloe latex contains anthraquinone gycosides, constituents that have laxative actions.
- Minor skin irritation
- Burns, sunburn, frostbite, wounds – Aloe gel has anti-inflammatory effects and is used topically for wound healing.
- Inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s disease – The gel (but not the laxative latex) can be taken internally for inflammatory digestive conditions.
Aloe can be found in topical and oral preparations. Practitioners often recommend topical gels and creams containing aloe gel be applied as needed for skin irritations. Aloe isn’t recommended as an oral preparation because of its strong laxative effects.
- People with intestinal disorders should not use aloe latex.
- Aloe should not be used by children or by women during pregnancy.
- Aloe should not be taken internally if you are taking the following drugs: digoxin (Lanoxin), diuretics, steroids, drugs for irregular heartbeat, and drugs that cause potassium loss.
- Overdose of aloe can cause severe diarrhea, kidney damage, and possibly death.
Important Points About Aloe
- Aloe is not recommended for use internally for longer than 10 days, because it can cause laxative dependency. Long-term use of aloe latex may cause potassium deficiency and result in irregular heartbeat and weakness.
- If side effects of dehydration and red urine occur after internal use, consult your doctor.
- Aloe gel should not be used for severe burns or wounds – people should seek medical attention.