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What is aloe?
Aloe is a small, fleshy plant with greenish-yellow wedge-shaped
leaves. It is found throughout Latin America, the southern
United States and the Middle East. Many people also grow smaller
potted versions of the plant in their homes and gardens.
Aloe has been used as a medicinal plant since biblical times.
It is now found in many commercial items, including skin care
products, shampoos and conditioners.
Why do we need aloe? What is it
Historically, aloe has been used to soothe and treat burns.
Recent studies have shown aloe gel to increase the healing
rate of a variety of skin injuries, including skin ulcers,
frostbite, hives and poison ivy.
Aloe latex, which is made from specialized cells in the aloe
leaf, has been used as a laxative and to reduce the size of
kidney stones. It is also employed as a stool softener.
Other studies have found that aloe juice fights HIV, the
virus that causes AIDS. Certain compounds in the juice attack
the virus directly; they also enhance the effects of AZT,
an expensive but potent drug used to fight HIV infection.
How much aloe should I take?
The type and amount of aloe to take depends on the condition.
For skin injuries and wounds, a liberal amount of aloe gel
should be used, depending on the size of the injury. As a
stool softener, 0.5-0.20 grams of dry aloe extract are recommended.
What forms of aloe are available?
The most common form of aloe is aloe gel, which can be taken
either directly from the aloe plant and rubbed on the skin,
or purchased in a more stable form. Aloe juice is also available
in a liquid form, while aloe latex can be taken as a powder
What can happen if I take too much
aloe? Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What
precautions should I take?
Aloe gel is considered safe for external use unless it causes
an allergic reaction. If it irritates the skin, discontinue
use and consult your health provider.
Certain precautions should be taken regarding aloe latex.
Women who are nursing or pregnant should not take aloe latex
because it may cause contractions and trigger a miscarriage.
It should not be used for gastrointestinal illness, intestinal
obstructions, appendicitis, or stomach pain. It may also aggravate
ulcers, hemorrhoids, diverticulosis, diverticulitis, colitis
or irritable bowel syndrome. Chronic use of latex could also
lead to a deficiency of potassium, which could interfere with
certain heart medications.
Other Resources :
More You Know About Nutrition
1. Danhof I. Potential benefits from orally-ingested
internal aloe vera gel. International Aloe Science Council
Tenth Annual Aloe Scientific Seminar; 1991, Irving, Texas.
2. Fulton JE Jr. The stimulation of postdermabrasion wound
healing with stabilized aloe vera gel-polyethylene oxide dressing.
J Dermatol Surg Onco 1990;16:460.
3. Grindlay D, Reynolds T. The aloe vera phenomenon: a review
of the properties and modern uses of the leaf parenchyma gel.
J Ethnopharmacol 1986;16:117151.
4. Heggers J, et al. Beneficial effects of aloe in wound healing.
Phytother Res 1993;7:S48S52.
5. Saoo K, et al. Antiviral activity of aloe extracts against
cytomegalovirus. Phytother Res 1996;10:348350.
6. Vazquez B, et al. Anti-inflammatory activity of extracts
from aloe vera gel. J Ethnopharmacol 1996;55:6975.