aloe vera usesCredit: Bigstockphoto

Aloe vera, also called lily of the desert, is a cactus related succulent that is used as a herbal supplement.  Aloe vera can be taken orally or as a gel and applied to the skin. The gel is found inside the leaf, and the latex is a yellow substance found on the leaf. Crushing the leaf causes the gel and latex to mix together. The herbal supplement can be taken as aloe vera juice. Aloe vera oil can be used on the skin. Although this is a natural herbal supplement, you should first understand aloe vera uses and side effects before taking or using it.


Aloe Vera Uses

Some recommend taking the gel orally for fever, inflammation, diabetes, asthma, osteoarthritis, itching, and bowel problems such as ulcerative colitis, and stomach ulcers. It has been recommended as a general tonic. It can be used for skin conditions such as psoriasis, and to treat sunburn, frostbite, burns, and cold sores. It is also used for constipation. It is used to treat radiation treatment side effects. Scientific studies indicate lily of the desert may help skin conditions by increasing blood circulation near the skin and kill bacteria.


Aloe Vera Side Effects and Cautions

Consult a physician when using Aloe vera with diabetes medication such as hydrocortisone, digoxin and diuretics. Aloe vera may help adult type 2 diabetes by lowering blood sugar levels. A physician should monitor blood sugar because the herbal supplement may cause blood sugar to drop too much and cause hypoglycemia. Aloe vera can cause hydrocortisone to increase swelling, and with digoxin and other diuretics may cause lowering the potassium level. Digoxin and diuretics treat irregular heart rhythms and congestive heart failure. Taking large doses is unsafe when using as a laxative. Aloe vera shouldn’t be used for long periods as a laxative. It can cause stomach pain and irritate stomach problems. Even though aleo vera is used to help these conditions, it could aggravate hemorrhoid, Crone’s disease, and ulcerative colitis conditions.

The University of Maryland Medical Center indicates test results for helping minor burns to heal give mixed results. Some indicate aloe vera hastens healing, others indicate it hinders. Aloe vera shouldn’t be used on open wounds.

Physicians recommend not to take this herbal supplement when pregnant or breast feeding. There is a possible hazard for miscarriage and birth defects. There may be hazards when giving aloe vera orally to children under 12 years old.


Aloe Vera's Interaction With Other Medication

The aloe vera herbal supplement will interact with other medication, so caution should be used and a person's  doctor should be informed of aleo vera use. It shouldn’t be used when taking a laxative. It shouldn’t be taken with blood thinners such as Warfarin, Coumadin and Plavix because aleo vera reduces the ability for blood to clot. Taking aloe vera with diuretics may reduce the potassium levels in the body to a harmful level.


Aloe Vera Conclusions

Take care when taking all prescription medicine and herbal supplements. Prescription medicine and herbal supplements may counteract each other and cancel or enhance the effects of some of them to cause other problems. Even though it is “natural supplement”, aloe vera uses can have medical risks to those taking it.