Aloe Vera gel is an all-natural and non-toxic product derived from the succulent plant species of the same name. Nicknamed the “Lily of the Desert” and “The Plant of Immortality,” for thousands of years the remarkable botanical has been known for its healing and other medicinal properties. Today we know Aloe Vera as a nutrient-dense plant that many consider a superfood. It is a source of antioxidants, folic acid, and is loaded with multiple vitamins, important minerals, 20 amino acids, and 7 key enzymes that help break down food and boost nutrient absorption. Research has shown Aloe’s health benefits are numerous, from boosting the immune system to treating burns and aiding the digestive system.
Is Aloe Vera Safe?
When taking or applying Aloe Vera gel as recommended, or products made from the gel, it is perfectly safe. Aloe is safe to consume orally and is listed in federal regulations as a natural substance to be used in foods and drinks. As with any product, natural or synthetic, the potential for adverse side effects from using Aloe Vera happens when not following recommended dosages or directions. There is also the rare occasion that an allergic reaction may occur. Otherwise, studies have shown Aloe Vera gel safe to take or apply.
Are There Side Effects to Taking Aloe Vera?
The potential for adverse side effects lies in consuming the wrong part of the plant. Each Aloe Vera leaf contains two substances:
- Inner Gel – A clear gel that contains acemannan, the unique compound that gives Aloe Vera its benefits
- Outer Skin – A yellow-colored latex that coats the inner rind of the leaf. The yellow latex contains the chemical compound aloin, an anthraquinone glycoside with powerful laxative properties. Anthraquinone is a natural chemical found in mushrooms and other fungi, lichens, rhubarb root, alder tree bark, and flowering plants, of which, Aloe Vera is one.
The potential for any side effects from Aloe Vera is not from the gel, the nutrient rich part of the plant, but in consuming the latex. Just as any fruit or vegetable with a protective layer, to access Aloe Vera’s nutritional gel substance found on the inside, it must be peeled away. Almost all Aloe Vera products are processed to remove any aloin-containing parts of the plant and so are safe to use with no serious side effects aside from rare allergic reactions.
Note: Although aloin can have laxative side effects, it should not be used to relive constipation. Only the inner gel of the Aloe Vera leaf is safe to eat, and the skin or rind should be carefully avoided.
Aloe Vera Allergies
It is important to note that rare occurrences of Aloe Vera allergies can cause any of the following:
- Redness or irritation of the skin
- Chest pain
- Trouble breathing
If you experience any of the above after topically applying or consuming Aloe Vera, stop using it at once and talk to a medical professional.
Aloe Vera has long been marketed as an effective and safe botanical product. The risk of adverse side effects come when not following recommended dosages or directions. Consuming the latex substance can lead to potential harmful digestive reactions, and should not be taken orally. To avoid any negative side effects from Aloe Vera, before ingesting the gel in any form, make sure that the latex coating is carefully removed. Finally, before purchasing store-bought Aloe Vera products, read the label to ensure that it is made from pure Aloe Vera gel and free from any aloin.