Aloe vera health benefits and side effects you should know about

The health benefits of aloe vera are legendary. The herbal plant was used from as far back as 6,000 years ago in Egypt where it was known as the “plant of immortality.” What you may not know, however, is that like most other herbal plants aloe vera has both benefits and side effects or reactions that can be quite severe, especially if used as self-medication.

Aloe vera health benefits

Historically, aloe vera was used topically to treat various skin conditions and to heal wounds, as well as orally as a laxative. It was (and still is) valued for its healing, cleansing and repair properties when consumed as a nutritional drink.

Today, aloe vera is used widely as a remedy for a wide range of conditions, including asthma, osteoarthritis, diabetes and even epilepsy. Aloe vera juice is also beneficial for decreasing inflammations in colitis, irritable bowel syndrome and other inflammations of the gut.

Aloe vera juice may have a similar inflammations-decreasing effect on the digestive tract lining when consumed as a drink. These and other benefits have led to aloe vera being used as a natural food flavoring.

Aloe vera skin products

Aloe vera gel is found in hundreds of skin products today, including sunblocks and lotions. When applied externally, the gel’s natural healing compounds set to work and help soothe and heal skin. This makes aloe vera skin products good treatment options for sunburns, burns and psoriasis.

While using aloe vera gel topically helps heal abrasions and burns, it does not normally prevent burns from radiation therapy. In fact, some studies show that aloe vera gel inhibits healing of deep surgical wounds. This is one of those situations where aloe vera displays its benefits and side effects powerfully.

Aloe vera cautions and side effects

The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre observes that aloe vera has benefits and side effects and should be taken internally with great care, especially if you are already using prescription drugs and/or over-the-counter medications.

Aloe vera supplements can have severe interactions with medications and either inhibit or increase the effects of some drugs. Drinking aloe vera, for example, can cause adverse side effects like diarrhea.

Always consult your doctor or nutritionist before consuming this herb. Also, only ingest aloe vera that is expressly produced for internal use.

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