Like all herbs, there are some precautions you should take before using aloe vera medicinally.
Aloe Vera Preparations and Dosage
To treat a burn, slice a plump aloe leaf lengthwise, and apply it directly to the skin. You also can scrape out the leaf's inner pulp, mash it with a fork, and apply the moist gel to the burn. If you don't use all the gel in the leaf, it will seal its own cut, allowing you to save the leaf and remaining gel for later use. Always cut the outermost, oldest leaves first, as the aloe plant produces new leaves from its center. A wide variety of commercial aloe preparations, including gels, soaps, skin creams, and burn remedies, also are available.
Aloe Vera Precautions and Warnings
Health food stores sometimes carry aloe vera juice for oral consumption, claiming it relieves gastrointestinal complaints such as indigestion. Such claims are unproven; thus, it's wise to limit aloe vera to external use, particularly if you are pregnant, a nursing mother, or have one of the following conditions: gastritis, heartburn, kidney disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, intestinal obstruction, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, hemorrhoids, or menstrual disorders.
Aloe vera gel is sometimes recommended as a laxative. While aloe does contain a purgative agent (an agent that stimulates bowel movements), the bowels may become dependent on aloe vera if it's used regularly to regulate the bowels. If you experience constipation, take a close look at your diet. If increased fiber and water intake do not improve the problem, consult your physician. People with diabetes should be careful using aloe -- studies have shown it can reduce blood sugar levels.
Possible Side Effects of Aloe Vera
To learn more about treating common medical conditions at home, try the following links:
- For an overview of all of our herbal remedies, go to the main Herbal Remedies page.
- To learn more about treating medical conditions at home, visit our main Home Remedies page.
- One of the best things you can do for your health and well being is to make sure you are getting enough of the vital nutrients your body needs. Visit our Vitamins page to learn more.
Jennifer Brett, N.D. is director of the Acupuncture Institute for the University of Bridgeport, where she also serves on the faculty for the College of Naturopathic Medicine. A recognized leader in her field with an extensive background in treating a wide variety of disorders utilizing nutritional and botanical remedies, Dr. Brett has appeared on WABC TV (NYC) and on Good Morning America to discuss utilizing herbs for health.This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.Before engaging in any complementary medical technique, including the use of natural or herbal remedies, you should be aware that many of these techniques have not been evaluated in scientific studies. Use of these remedies in connection with over the counter or prescription medications can cause severe adverse reactions. Often, only limited information is available about their safety and effectiveness. Each state and each discipline has its own rules about whether practitioners are required to be professionally licensed. If you plan to visit a practitioner, it is recommended that you choose one who is licensed by a recognized national organization and who abides by the organization's standards. It is always best to speak with your primary health care provider before starting any new therapeutic technique.