- Indications with proven efficacy:
Constipation (popular use)
- Indications with possible, but poorly documented efficacy :
To heal burns and other superficial wounds (popular use)
- Indications with no proof of efficacy:
- Risk of Drug Interactions:
- Adverse Effects:
Part of the plant used: gel extracted from leaves (topical use) and latex (oral use)
Aloe is a tropical plant with thick triangular leafs that resemble spines. According to ancient documents, its medicinal value has been known for centuries. It was probably first used in Egypt or the Middle-East. Since then, aloe has been introduced to most warm tropical areas of the world, including Southern United-States, South America, Mexico, the Caribbean and India.
Aloe latex and gel do not contain the same active principles and should not be confused.
Direction of use
- Constipation (oral use):
Aloe sap is a potent laxative.
Used doses: 100 to 200 mg of aloe or 50 mg of aloe extract, once a day in the evening. Wait 6 to 12 hours to evaluate the effectiveness.
- Wounds (topical application):
Aloe gel, in strengths varying from 98 to 100%, might effectively promote the healing process when applied to wounds.
Apply liberally 3 to 5 times a day, as needed.
There is insufficient reliable information to conclude that aloe is effective in any other indication.
- Side effects
When recommended doses are used over short periods, aloe appears to be safe and effective. It can sometimes induce intestinal cramps or abdominal pain. In such cases, the dose should be reduced. If used for a too long period, it may cause diarrhea, muscle weakness, heart problems and weight loss. Aloe may cause a loss of electrolytes, especially potassium. This loss could be problematic, especially in people with heart disease. If use topically, it may cause itching or burning sensation, and sometimes an allergic reaction.
A frequent and long time use as a laxative is contraindicated.
Aloe should not be used in people with an inflammatory intestinal disorder, intestinal obstruction, nausea, vomiting, hemorrhoids, diabetes or in presence of kidney disorders. It is contraindicated in children less than 12 years of age.
People who take digoxin, diuretics or medications for diabetes appear to be at an increased risk for adverse reactions. Because aloes is a laxative, it may decrease the absorption of medications. Before taking aloe, check with your pharmacist to make sure that there are no interactions with your regular medication.
- Pregnancy and lactation
Oral aloe is contraindicated during pregnancy, since the product may induce a spontaneous abortion and menstruation. Because aloe is excreted in breast-milk, women should not take aloe while breast-feeding.
- Aloe juice (latex) is a potent stimulant laxative. Even though its efficacy is well-documented, it should be used only on an occasional basis, over a few days.
In 2004, Canada adopted new regulations that control the manufacturing, packaging, labeling and importing of natural health products. The new regulations also include an adverse reaction reporting system. Products that conform to the regulation's criteria are identified with a natural product number (NPN) and can be legally sold in Canada. This number indicates that the product meets specific criteria for safety and purity, not that it is effective for any indication.
Medicinal plant contents vary naturally from plant to plant - just as fruits from the same package may vary in taste and texture. There is no standard to measure the active content of each plant. Thus, efficacy of natural products should be expected to vary from brand to brand as well as from bottle to bottle of the same brand.
For more information about the Natural Health Products Regulations, or to check if a product has been assessed, visit the Health Canada website at www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/prodnatur/index-eng.php.
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- Herbal Companion to AHFS DI, American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, 2001