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AloeVera: Uses, side effects,Benefits and medical uses

Team AckoJan 16, 2023

Aloe Vera is a very popular plant found in several households in India. The leaves of the plant are swollen and contain a soft transparent gel within them. This gel can be easily collected by splitting open the leaves. For thousands of years, Aloe gel has been utilised as a beauty secret and to improve overall health. History documents the use of Aloe Vera in treating the wounds of soldiers in battle as well! This article highlights why Aloe is so widely used.

Aloe Vera

Contents

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Uses of Aloevera

Here are some common uses of Aloe Vera. 

1. Skincare

One of the most well-known uses of Aloe is in the treatment of dry skin. Aloe Vera is used as a natural moisturiser to hydrate the skin. Studies also show it to be potentially beneficial as an anti-ageing agent to prevent wrinkles. Aloe Vera gel is also commonly used by patients with acne to soothe the skin. It can also safely be used along with other anti-acne medications.

2. Hair care

Aloe Vera gel is used commonly to treat various scalp conditions and improve the texture of hair. Its calming properties are helpful in treating seborrheic dermatitis and scalp psoriasis. Being rich in vitamins, it also strengthens the hair and reduces hair fall. For these reasons, it is usually mixed with other ingredients and used as a hair mask. 

3. Aloe juice to lower blood sugar

Consuming Aloe juice or the refined form of Aloe has been found to help diabetics in controlling blood sugar levels.

4. Natural laxative

Aloe Vera should be used very carefully as a laxative as there is much debate regarding its safety and interactions with other medications. It has also been associated with cramps. However, in small quantities of about 0.05 grams, Aloe juice can help improve bowel movements.

5. Antibacterial and antiseptic properties

Aloe Vera gel is commonly applied on wounds. It is also applied to soothe the skin in case of sunburns. 

6. Anal fissures

An anal fissure is a painful condition in which there is a break in the skin near the anal opening resulting in extreme discomfort while passing stools. Aloe Vera gel may help in faster healing of the fissure and reduction in pain and bleeding during defecation.

7. Miscellaneous uses

  • Treatment of mouth ulcers

  • As a mouthwash to prevent dental plaque, improve oral hygiene, and provide relief in patients with bleeding gums

  • As an antioxidant

  • To protect from chronic exposure to ultraviolet radiation

  • As a makeup remover

  • Can be used alone or mixed with vitamin E and essential oils as a natural shaving cream

  • It is commonly used in combination with oatmeal or sugar to make body scrubs at home. Body scrubs help exfoliate the skin and remove dead skin cells leaving the skin feeling soft and glowing.

  • As a lubricant 

  • To relieve itching and pain at the site of insect bites

  • Because of its astringent properties, it is used alone or along with lemon to degrease the scalp. Regular use helps cleanse the scalp and reduces oil production.

  • As a cream to apply over cracked heels

  • As an eyebrow gel to keep stray hair strands in place.

Side effects of Aloevera use

Here are some common side effects of Aloe. 

  • Applying fresh Aloe Vera directly from a plant can cause skin irritation. To avoid this, always perform a patch test. Take a small quantity of the gel and apply it behind the ear or on the inside of the wrist. Monitor for 24 hours and look out for any redness or irritation in the area. 

  • Oral consumption of Aloe Vera has been associated with diarrhoea and cramps. Therefore, patients with piles are advised to avoid using Aloe.

  • Aloe use also interferes with the action of several medications such as steroids or heart medication. It should also be used carefully by diabetic patients who are already on medication as it can result in a dangerous drop in sugar levels. 

  • Aloe gel when consumed orally can also reduce the absorption of several medications.

  • Aloe Vera has also been linked with electrolyte imbalances and kidney disease. As a general measure, it is best to consume Aloe orally only after consulting a doctor regarding the right formulation and dose. Do not consume it daily for extended periods of time.

  • Commercially available Aloe Vera gel often has added colours and preservatives. If you are using fresh Aloe Vera gel, make sure to freeze it if you want to store it for longer. Refrigerated fresh Aloe Vera gel can only be used for a few days.

  • Patients who are pregnant or breastfeeding and below the age of 12 years are advised to avoid using Aloe as its safety in these patients has not yet been established. 

  • It is recommended that people who are allergic to onion, garlic, and tulips should avoid using Aloe.

How to collect fresh Aloe Vera gel

Growing Aloe Vera plants is quite a simple process. They grow well in warm climates seen in India and other tropical countries, and thrive when kept in indirect sunlight. Too much direct sunlight can dry out the plant.

It is important to remember that Aloe plants do not require much water. Generally, watering about once a week is sufficient. If they are watered too frequently, the leaves start to wither. Make sure to use a pot with holes at the bottom so the excess water can drain out.

When you want to collect fresh gel, simply cut off one leaf from the outer edge of the plant. Keep it on a cutting board and slice it open from one end. The thick, slimy gel can be scooped out or cut with a knife. You can blend the gel and store it in a jar in the freezer for a maximum of one week.

It is important to note that not all Aloe Vera is edible. Make sure to get the correct form if you are purchasing it for oral use.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some common questions and their answers related to Aloe Vera.

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How can I get Aloe Vera gel?

Aloe Vera gel can be harvested fresh from an Aloe Vera plant for immediate use. If that is not possible, it can be purchased from any local pharmacy. Make sure to purchase the natural form of the gel.

Will using Aloe Vera on my face make it more oily and sticky?

Although Aloe Vera gel has a slimy texture, it does not leave any oily residue. It may make the skin feel a little tight initially. The Aloe Vera gel can be rinsed lightly under cool water to reduce sliminess.

What will happen if too much Aloe is used?

Applying too much Aloe on your skin can cause irritation. Consuming too much Aloe orally can also have several dangerous side effects from diarrhoea and cramps to electrolyte imbalances.

How is an allergy to Aloe treated?

If you are allergic to Aloe you may get redness, irritation, or a rash at the site. In this case, wash off the Aloe and apply bland petroleum jelly. The allergy should subside in a few hours. If the irritation persists, visit a doctor to assess the need for further treatment.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. Please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions.

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