Using aloe vera gel, supplements, and other aloe-based products is generally safe for most adults. However, in some cases aloe vera may have negative side effects. Consider the following before using aloe vera, and be sure to consult your pharmacist or healthcare expert if you notice any allergic reactions.
Possible side effects
- Using aloe vera gel directly on your skin may cause an allergic reaction if you have especially sensitive skin. (Tip: Try new products on a small patch of skin, either on your arm or your leg. After 1 hour, if there is no reaction then it's safe to use that product on your skin.)
- Taking aloe latex is possibly unsafe and if taken in high doses can cause stomach pain and cramps.
- Long term use of aloe latex may cause diarrhoea, kidney problems, blood in the urine, muscle weakness, low potassium, weight loss, and heart disturbances. Taking aloe latex 1 gram each day for several days had been fatal in more severe cases.
- In several rare cases aloe leaf extract caused liver problems in certain individuals. However, this is not a common occurrence, and the general thought is that this only occurs in people who are extra sensitive to aloe.
- Pregnancy or breastfeeding: Avoid taking any products that contain aloe vera when you are pregnant or breastfeeding. In most cases of a delayed period, aloe gel or juice can be taken to quicken the process. For this reason use of aloe, either in its gel or latex form is unsafe when taken by mouth during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Several reports and case studies show that aloe was associated with miscarriage and could possibly raise the risk of birth defects.
- Children: Aloe vera is possibly unsafe for children under the age of 12 when taken by mouth. Younger children who take aloe may experience negative side effects of abdominal pain, cramps, and diarrhoea.
- Intestinal conditions (Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, or obstruction): Aloe latex acts as a bowel irritant and should not be taken if you have any of these conditions. Keep in mind that products made from aloe vera leaves will also have aloe latex in them, as the latex is located just between the gel and the leaf.
- Diabetes: Research suggests that aloe may lower blood sugar in some people. If you have diabetes and are taking aloe products for other health related issues, be mindful that you must monitor your blood sugar levels closely.
- Haemorrhoids: Refrain from consuming any aloe containing products if you have haemorrhoids. Aloe will only worsen haemorrhoids. Keep in mind that aloe based products will also have latex in them, as it is located just between the gel and the leaf.
- Surgery: Aloe might affect your blood sugar levels and interfere with blood sugar control both during and after surgery. To avoid any negative side effects, stop taking alone at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery