From time immemorial, there has been sustained and increasing interest in turning the clock back on beauty and the effects of aging on the skin. Modern science has offered a host of options, and various procedures that help to either enhance beauty, or fix flaws in skin and appearance. However, the cosmetic superstar of all tie has undoubtedly been aloe vera, the nectar of beauty. The herb has historical significance, finding mention in anecdotes and linked to the incomparable beauty of persons in historical texts.

Aloe vera comes with striking benefits in helping individuals get soft and supple skin, enhancing beauty naturally, safely. However, it is important to understand that the herb could trigger unpleasant effects in certain individuals. Here is a look at aloe vera side effects and the best manner to use the extracts safely without undesirable effects.

Undesirable outcomes from poor manufacturing practices

There are multiple reasons for undesirable outcomes of the aloe vera extract. This includes existing conditions, medications in use, and the possibility of poor manufacturing practices. The extract of the herb is generally safe, either for consumption or for application. However, unlike the past, when the extract was used immediately, with most of its natural properties intact, there is a need to rely on mechanised manufacturing processes for the increase in demand. Consequently, there is the possibility of unsafe manufacturing processes having an impact on the quality. The source of the herb, and the processing techniques, determine the safety and efficacy of the product. Caner causing chemicals have been found in aloe latex, and this can be prevented by choosing a reputed manufacturer with GMP.

Long term use of aloe vera and impact on health

There is also the possibility of an impact on the kidneys as a result of long-term oral consumption of aloe vera. This is especially true among individuals or patients diagnosed with renal issues, or with undiagnosed renal impairment. The consequences of long-term damage to the kidneys can be serious in nature, and it is important to carry out routine tests to determine the health of the kidneys. This will give greater clarity if the extract can be consumed on a long-term basis.

Aloe vera side effects on specific categories of individuals

The natural properties give it the tag of an all-round herb; however, the same properties could end up causing undesirable consequences on certain categories of individuals. The reduction in blood glucose levels is essentially a huge plus, making it a healthy product for individuals grappling with high blood glucose levels. However, this could turn out to be a hazard for another category of users – those who are already on medications for lowering blood glucose levels. It may be necessary to alter the intake of either the medications or the aloe latex to prevent untoward consequences of lowered blood glucose levels.

Effect on heart and possible traces of urine in the blood

While the topical formulations of aloe vera are safe and can be used for a long period, the oral formulations need to be taken with care. Aloe latex is not intended to be taken on a long-term basis and is to be taken only in moderation. The herb can cause a reduction in potassium levels, which in turn could impact the heart. When the oral form is consumed for a long period, there is the possibility of individuals experiencing some sort of muscle weakness, not attributed to any other reason. Weight loss is another outcome that is linked to continued use of aloe vera in oral form.

In addition to the possibility of renal damage, as mentioned earlier, there is also the possibility of visible traces of blood in the urine as a result of long-term oral consumption of aloe latex. There is also the possibility of liver damage among individuals who are categorised as hypersensitive. This is however, restricted only to a very small section of users, and is not a cause for concern among other users.

Is aloe vera safe for pregnant women?

Unknown to a large number of users, there is the possibility of aloe vera oral forms causing birth defects in children of breastfeeding mothers. Pregnant women are to avoid taking aloe vera as the possibility of miscarriage is high. As the actual importance of desired or expected outcomes of aloe vera are les critical in nature when compared with the risks, it is best to choose alternative medications during pregnancy and while breast feeding. This will eliminate risks, and the product can be continued after the risky period or stage is crossed.

Drug interactions and aloe vera side effects

There is the possibility of drug interactions between aloe vera in different forms and other medications, OTC products and herbal remedies or supplements. There are various outcomes from the conflicting mechanism of action of two products. For instance, contraindications could include increased outcomes from one of the two products, reduction in effectiveness, or there is also the possibility of increased side effects than normally expected from either of the products.

Patients on medications for lowering blood glucose are to seek advice on use of aloe vera.  This is necessary to prevent hypoglycemia that may possibly occur as a result of the combination of both products/medications. The condition can have serious consequences, and individuals need to monitor blood glucose levels accordingly.

Patients on digoxin medication for heart conditions may experience lowered levels of potassium when taken along with aloe latex. It is critically important to ensure that there is adequate gap between the two products, and specific advice regarding continued use of both products will help prevent undesirable outcomes and consequences.

Individuals with constipation, and on laxatives are also advised to evaluate the use of laxatives and aloe vera in combination. The mechanism of action and the outcomes of both are more or less similar, and this could cause overstimulated bowels and dehydration. It is therefore necessary to discontinue use of aloe vera taken orally when on laxatives.

Efficacy of medications may be affected as a result of aloe vera oral consumption. This is attributed to the mechanism of action of aloe vera and it is therefore necessary to check the outcomes and evaluate the use of aloe vera by comparing the desired effects.

Patients on medication for reducing blood clotting are advised to discontinue use of aloe vera in oral forms.  The risk of an increase in bleeding is high when the medications are taken along with aloe vera and this makes it a potential health risk. This extends to patients planning to undergo surgical procedures.  The dual impact of reducing the efficacy of drugs, and the increased risk of blood clotting make it necessary for patients to strictly go off aloe vera during the period. The continued use of aloe vera after the surgery is to be decided only with medical consultation.

Documented benefits of the herb

With all the side effects and undesirable outcomes of the product outlined in detail, it is time to look at the benefits of the product. Documented benefits clearly highlight the extensive positive outcomes from use of herb in various extracted forms. The most popular form are topical applications, due to the link to beauty and the relatively safe profile of use when applied topically.

Aloe vera has been used as traditional medicine across geographies for healing of wounds. Burns and wounds heal faster, and the herb has been used over the ages for bringing about faster healing. Burns are classified as first degree, second degree and third-degree burns. Aloe vera is effective as a burn and wound healer across all categories.

Acne is one of the modern scourges of women, and various medications are available in the market for dealing with acne. However, all studies clearly indicate a faster outcome of medications when used in combination with the gel. Aloe vera has been used effectively either as a separate treatment regimen or as part of holistic approach to treat acne in women, with impressive results.

Aloe vera is also used in the treatment of constipation, by virtue of the mechanism of action that is similar to certain laxatives. Typically, it is taken orally for the laxative effect, and is known to have desired outcomes. However, this is not claimed to be a replacement of laxative medications, but is an additional choice that can be considered by individuals with the condition, who experience side effects from medications.

Aloe vera is used in treating lesions attributed to the herpes simplex virus. A large number of topical applications available in the market for treating the lesions contain aloe vera as an ingredient. This highlights the healing and soothing effect of the herb. It is also safe to apply aloe vera on the wound for faster healing without the risk of unwanted outcomes that may be linked to other topical applications.

The management of Oral lichen planus is also achieved with a great degree of success by aloe vera. This inflammatory condition is known to manifest on the insides of the mouth, and unfortunately does not have a cure presently. The only way to deal with the chronic inflammation is to manage it with topical applications for bringing down the pain and the discomfort, as a result of the inflamed mucous membranes. The soothing properties of aloe vera help manage the discomfort and pain of the lesions.

Aloe vera is also used for managing psoriasis. This is an another condition that does not have a cure presently, but can only be managed through a holistic approach or through a combined use of various medications and applications.  The discernible manifestations of psoriasis, include itching, inflammation, scaling and discoloration of the skin to a reddish color. Various topical applications presently available in the market for treating managing the condition, contain aloe vera as an ingredient indicating the effectiveness of the herb. This makes it a potent choice for managing a condition that can only be managed, and the efficacy of the management is important to ensure patients with the condition lead a life that is not affected too severely due to the condition.

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