Aloe vera has been used medicinally since ancient times, but using it at higher doses and for longer than recommended can cause serious side effects. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ordered removal of all over-the-counter laxative products containing aloe vera from the US market due to safety concerns. Furthermore, there is limited scientific information to confirm the effectiveness of aloe vera for any health condition. Therefore, first talk to your doctor before using aloe vera medicinally.
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Identification and Dosing
Aloe vera is also known by such names as aloe, elephant’s gall, burn plant, cape aloe, miracle plant, plant of immortality and lily of the desert. Doses of aloe taken by mouth for constipation include 100 to 200mg of aloe or 50mg of the latex. Aloe for topical application is available as a 0.5 per cent cream that is usually applied three times a day.
Aloe is applied to the skin to treat skin conditions such as burns, wounds, frostbite, psoriasis, arthritis and cold sores. Some people take aloe by mouth for treating various conditions, including constipation, asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, stomach ulcers, arthritis and intestinal diseases such as ulcerative colitis. It is also taken to alleviate some of the problems resulting from radiation treatment.
According to the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, or NMCD, aloe vera is considered to be possibly effective for treating psoriasis when applied topically for four weeks. It is also possibly effective for treating constipation when taken by mouth, although it can take up to 10 hours for the laxative effect to work, says the NMCD. There is limited information to rate the effectiveness of aloe vera for any other medicinal use.
Aloe vera has not demonstrated important side effects when applied to the skin, reports the US National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, or NCCAM. However, stomach cramping, diarrhoea and rare cases of acute liver injury have been reported from aloe vera when taken by mouth, warns the NCCAM. Aloe vera may also lower blood glucose levels when taken orally so diabetics need to carefully monitor their glucose levels.
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