The pursuit of timeless beauty is as old as the times man first roamed the earth. Ancient civilizations are known to have relied on various topical applications and herbs to enhance beauty, in addition to making attempts to achieve immortality. One of the most popular herbal remedies of all times is aloe vera, and history’s most famous beauties are known to have used aloevera in beauty treatments. The proven ability of topical application of aloe vera gel in helping achieve soft supple skin continues to make it a smashing hit globally. However, its popularity has also created opportunities for overuse and misuse, resulting in possible undesirable outcomes. Here is a good look at side effects of aloe vera to help users understand the ideal usage of the herbal remedy.

Proven benefits from aloe vera for specific conditions

Wound healing properties:

Studies, both documented and anecdotal have clearly established the efficacy of aloe vera in helping treat or manage specific conditions. For instance, it is a natural wound healer and is applied on wounds, burns for faster healing. The properties of the herb help in reducing the time taken normally for healing of burns and wounds, including burns and wounds classified as first degree and second degree.

Cosmetic superstar :

One of the reasons for the immense popularity of aloe vera gel is its ability to function as a cosmetic superstar, helping women get rid of acne. It is part of combination or holistic options in the management of acne.  The gel of aloe vera, when applied routinely helps achieve faster results in treating acne. Medications in different forms prescribed for acne, are known to be more effective with a faster duration of action, when used in combination with aloe vera gel.

Herpes simplex virus lesions :

The healing properties of aloe vera make it a popular choice in the treatment of lesions formed by herpes simplex virus. Various topical applications available in the market contain aloe vera as an ingredient and these topical applications help in quickly healing the lesions. Aloe vera gel, when applied on lesions, helps deliver faster results without undesirable effects.

Constipation :

The popularity of aloe vera as an herbal remedy also finds use in other health conditions. For instance, it has been used for helping individuals with constipation. It is used either as a laxative or in oral form. However, it is too early to conclusively state that aloe vera in any form is a better choice for managing constipation than other science backed medications and remedies.

Oral lichen planus :

Aloe vera is also widely used in the management of an inflammatory condition that typically occurs on the insides of the mouth. Commonly known as oral lichen planus, this condition presently has no cure, and the chronic inflammation which affects the mucous membranes inside the mouth can only be managed. This is achieved by reducing the pain, discomfort associated with the condition. Medications and other options are generally targeted at healing the severe lesions that form in the mouth. Aloe vera can help soothe and heal the lesions, thereby helping in managing the condition.

Psoriasis management :

As a topical application, aloe vera, is also popular in managing the visible manifestations of psoriasis. The condition causes itching and inflammation, apart from scaling and a reddish appearance on the affected area of the skin. Many topical applications contain aloe vera as an important ingredient in the management of the condition. Creams with high percentage of aloe vera are regarded as an effective option in managing the condition. Psoriasis is one among the various conditions that presently do not have a cure. All options presently in use, include medications, applications and cosmetic procedures aimed at managing or masking the condition.

Possible drug interactions

Drug interactions are common to most medications and herbal supplements or remedies. This is mainly because of the mechanism of action of medications of products that may result in an interaction. Some of the possible outcomes of drug interactions include a sudden or abnormal increase in the outcome of one medication, beyond the desired outcomes. Similarly, interactions could also have an impact on the efficacy of one medication. Some interactions may trigger an increase in the side effects normally associated with a medication.

Drug interactions are unlike side effects of medications. In most cases, the undesirable effects of medications typically differ from person to person and depend on various factors, including the patient’s health, and the body’s response to the medication. Effectively, there is limited possibility of all users of a medication experiencing undesirable effects. However, in the case of drug interactions the outcomes are different. The possibility of drug interactions is relatively common to users, as this is mostly due to the interactions between two substances. Commonly associated drug interactions of aloe vera with other medications or substances include the following.

Impact on potassium levels :

Aloe latex is known to bring about a reduction in potassium levels in the body. Patients on medications such as digoxin for certain heart ailments, may end up experiencing undesirable effects. Low levels of potassium are known to trigger an increase in the possible undesirable effects of the medication. I therefore necessary to avoid aloe latex when on digoxin. Consult a specialist to understand the time gap between the two and the possible outcomes of taking both together.

Impact on blood glucose levels :

Aloe vera is known to help in reducing fasting blood sugar levels. When taken together with drugs that are prescribed for lowering blood glucose, the result may be possible hypoglycemia. This condition refers to lowered blood sugar levels, and in this instance is attributed to the combined effect of the medication and aloe vera. It is necessary to avoid aloe vera when on medications to reduce blood glucose levels.

Laxative effects and interactions :

The action of aloe latex and stimulant laxatives may be similar in nature, and when aloe latex is taken in combination with laxatives, it may result in possible dehydration. The bowels may end up overstimulated, and this may cause dehydration in patients. Patients are advised to avoid either of the two, when looking at options with a laxative effect.

Effect on absorption of medications :

The mechanism of action of aloe vera ,may sometimes impact the manner in which other mediations are absorbed by the body. This may have a direct effect on the efficacy of the medication as the body will absorb lesser of the medication. Individuals on medications that have an important or necessary outcome are to avoid taking aloe vera during the period of treatment with the medication.

Reduction in blood clotting :

Aloe vera in oral form is also known to have an effect on blood clotting, by reducing the pace of blood clotting. Patients on medications that are prescribed or procured over the counter for the purpose of reducing blood clotting are to avoid aloe vera. When the medications are taken along with aloe vera oral formulations, this may cause increased bleeding in patients, which may in turn end up with serious consequences, depending on the nature of bleeding.

Indirect impact on surgical procedures :

Patients undergoing surgical procedures, planning a surgery, or during post-surgery phases are advised to stay off aloe vera during the period. This is because of the impact of aloe vera on blood clotting, and the manner in which it may interact with drugs administered for anesthesia. With mechanism s of action that are similar to drugs used for administering anesthesia, aloe vera may cause an increased risk of bleeding during or after surgery.

Blood thinners and diarrhea :

Aloe vera in oral form is known to cause diarrhea. It is therefore important for patients on blood thinners to avoid use of aloe vera in oral form as there is increased possibility of bleeding. The mechanism of action of blood thinners and the possible side effects include bleeding if the patient has diarrhea when on the medication. It is therefore important to prevent possible bleeding.

Possible undesirable effects of aloe vera

Unsafe manufacturing practices and chemicals :

Though it is relatively safe, there is the possibility of individuals experiencing side effects of aloe vera due to one of many reasons. For instance, the quality of aloe vera available commercially, depends on the source and the manner in which it is processed. If it is not processed in the right manner, with safe ingredients and practices, there is the possibility of effects on health. Anecdotal evidence points to the possibility of aloe latex containing cancer causing chemicals. Similarly, if aloe latex is taken orally for a certain extended period, there is a possibility of individuals ending up with renal impairment or damage. This could in turn, end up with unfortunate fatal consequences.

Reduction in blood glucose levels :

Some of the undesirable side effects of aloe vera are attributed in part to the properties and the outcomes of aloe in different extract forms. For instance, its ability to reduce blood glucose levels can be a boon for some, while it could pose a health hazard for others on medications. Oral formulations of aloe (latex) are not to be taken in high doses, and are definitely not safe for long term consumption. Possible side effects of aloe vera from long term consumption include damage to eh kidneys as mentioned above and possible passing of blood along with urine. The effects may also include abnormal weakness in the muscles and an impact on heart health due to the reduction in potassium levels. Individuals may also experience sudden weight loss when on the oral formulations over a long period.

Impact on pregnant women and breastfeeding women:

Patients with hypersensitivity to aloe may also experience some effect on the liver. Women who are either breastfeeding or pregnant are advised to avoid aloe vera in oral form as there is a strong possibility of causing birth defects in the child. Additionally, there is also a possibility of miscarriage when aloe vera is taken orally by pregnant women. It is essential to exercise complete caution and seek medical advice before taking aloe vera oral formulations in such conditions. These  are the side effects of aloe vera in various conditions.

Leave a Reply