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Aloe vera juice is extensively used in the treatment of a
number of health problems such as constipation and heartburn. However, even
this herbal cure is not without its apparent side effects. Following are some
of the aloe vera juice side effects.
With the popularity of aloe vera on the rise, and various
companies marketing the numerous health benefits of this miracle herb, little
is known about the side effects of the aloe vera extracts. The gel and leaves,
that are used for making cosmetic, food and health products, are obtained from
the Aloe Barbadensis Miller plant, which is the only type of aloe vera plant
from which substantial, clear gel extracts can be taken. The transparent, clear
gel, within the succulent aloe leaves has been used for thousands of years to
treat skin problems, wounds and burns.
Recently, people have started using the green portion of the
leaves as well. The outer part of the aloe leaves are crushed, and made into
aloe vera juice, or dried and used as a laxative. Aloe vera juice in itself has
quite a number of health benefits, which includes relief from digestive
problems, constipation, heartburn and irritable bowel syndrome. It is believed
to be beneficial in regulating the blood pressure and sugar levels. Aloe vera
juice is said to be a potent drink that is useful for strengthening the immune
system. Unfortunately, while raving about the benefits of this amazing drink,
the side effects of this drink have remained unnoticed.
Side Effects of Aloe
Aloe Vera as a
Aloe vera consists of the gel and the latex. The latex of
the aloe vera leaf refers to the yellow part which lies just beneath the leaf
skin. It contains anthraquinones like aloin, which are responsible for the
laxative properties of aloe vera. When present in aloe juice, the latex can
ease constipation, and stimulate bowel movement. However, studies have found
that when used for a long period of time, people developed a sort of tolerance,
and needed increased doses to get the same laxative effect. In fact, prolonged
usage of aloe vera juice as a laxative can increase the risk of constipation.
Moreover, the intake of aloe latex was associated with a depletion of the
potassium from the cells in the intestinal lining. This is the reason that aloe
vera laxatives were banned by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) since
November 5, 2002.
Increases Risk of
The presence of anthraquinones in aloe vera juice increases
the risk of diarrhea especially when consumed in large quantities. The diarrhea
caused by the laxative in this juice is often severe, and accompanied by pain,
stomach cramps and dehydration. It can also cause the urine to turn red.
Studies done by the National Toxicology Program (NTP), have
found carcinogenic activity in rats that consumed decolorized extracts of a
whole leaf of aloe vera. Although the studies have not been proved in humans,
the possibility of a carcinogenic risk in humans cannot be ruled out. Intake of
aloe vera juice is associated with the risk of colorectal cancer.
Leads to Electrolyte
The stimulant laxatives in unprocessed aloe vera juice can
cause dehydration, and electrolyte imbalance with frequent use. The drop in the
potassium levels in the blood results in weakness, and irregular heartbeats.
Aloe vera juice can have adverse interactions with
prescription or over-the-counter medications. For example, diuretic drugs or
water pills decrease the potassium levels in the body, which is what the
laxative in the aloe vera juice does as well. This can lead to a sharp drop in
potassium levels. Moreover, the laxative effect in aloe vera juice can decrease
the rate of absorption of medicines in the body. Here are a list of some
medications, that can have a negative reaction or cause side effects, when
taken in conjunction with aloe vera juice.
Stimulant Laxatives (Lanoxin, Correctol and Dulcolax)
Antidiabetes drugs (Examples: Glucophage, Glucotrol, Orinase
Diuretic Drugs (Examples: Diuri and Lasix)
Sevoflurane (decreases blood clotting) used for anesthesia
In addition to this, aloe vera can also have interactions
with other herbs and dietary supplements. Intake of stimulant laxative herbs,
such as jalap root, bark root, castor oil and rhubarb root along with aloe vera
juice, can cause diarrhea and dehydration. Interactions with supplements like
fenugreek, garlic and psyllium which lower the blood sugar levels, can have a
negative effect on the body. Intake of aloe vera juice, along with licorice or horsetail
should be restricted, as these herbs can lower the potassium levels
Aloe vera juice, containing the aloe latex can aggravate
health problems like Crohn's disease, colitis, intestinal obstruction, diverticulitis,
appendicitis, hemorrhoids, stomach pain or ulcers. Studies have found that aloe
vera when taken orally has the potential to lower the blood sugar levels.
However, if a person is already undergoing treatment for high blood sugar or
hypoglycemia, then it is advisable to consult a doctor before taking aloe vera
juice. Reports of hepatitis caused by oral consumption of aloe, can be a cause
for concern for people with liver problems.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Consuming aloe vera juice during pregnancy, or while breast
feeding is severely restricted due to its irritant and purgative properties.
Aloe vera should be restricted during lactation, as the presence of
anthraquinones in the breast milk may lead to diarrhea. In pregnant women, aloe
vera juice can cause uterine contractions, and even result in a spontaneous
miscarriage. Aloe vera juice is also unsafe for children below twelve years of
age, as it can lead to diarrhea and abdominal cramps.
It is important to note, that this list of side effects of
aloe vera is based on medical and other research. There is no definitive
evidence to prove the health benefits, or side effects of aloe vera juice. Most
of the side effects are due to an overdose or improper use. Some people who are
allergic to foods like onions and garlic, may be allergic to aloe vera as well.
If you are suffering from an allergy or side effects, then stop consuming aloe
vera immediately, and seek medical help as soon as you can. Also, if you are on
any medication or suffer from any health condition, then seek the doctor's
advise before having aloe vera juice.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is
solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the
advice of a medical expert.