What is Aloe Vera?

Aloe Vera is a short-stemmed shrub that is known for its soothing and healing properties. There are at least 420 different plant species of Aloe, but aloe vera is specifically referred to Aloe barbadensis.

Aloe is native to North Africa and coastal areas surrounding the Mediterranean Sea.

Today, aloe is the most commonly used herb in the U.S., and its gel can be applied externally to relief burns or internally for gastrointestinal problems.

From relieving heartburn to aid digestion to relieve mild psoriasis, researchers are just beginning to unlock the benefits of this universal plant and its many potential side effects.

Possible Uses for Aloe Vera

The two parts of the Aloe Vera plant that are utilized are the clear gel and the yellow latex.  

The gel is the inner mucilaginous part from the plant. It contains polysaccharides, compounds that have a soothing effect on mucous membranes, and enzymes that coat the irritated skin of the esophagus caused by heartburn and eases the pain.

The yellowish-brown sap in the outer green leaf contains the anthraquinone aloin, a powerful substance that can irritate the stomach and causes a laxative effect.

Aloe Vera may help in alleviating the inflammation that happens in the stomach from those with IBS and works as a laxative to treat constipation.

Potential Risks and Limitations

Children and pregnant or nursing mothers should not take aloe internally.

Since Aloe Vera has laxative properties, consuming large amounts can lead to diarrhea. People with hemorrhoids or kidney problems should not take aloe latex.

Aloe may lower blood sugar levels and people who use sugar-lowering medication should be cautious as aloe may lower blood glucose levels.

The Bottom Line

Aloe vera is available as a whole living plant, gel, lotions, and juices. It is a potent laxative and is much less astringent than other purgatives.

If you want to ingest aloe, I suggest obtaining an aloin-free product or removing the yellow-colored substance when peeling the plant.

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