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114443614Over the last few years, there’s been an increase of drinks and dietary supplements made with aloe vera that claim to balance stomach acidity, detoxify, and improve overall well-being.

However, there is new evidence that drinks and supplements made with aloe vera can have serious health effects. Studies by the U.S. government found that male and female rats that were given extracts made from aloe vera developed intestinal cancers.

Aloe vera was often used topically to heal burns. Later, it was promoted as a natural, healthy laxative. The Food and Drug Administration banned it as a laxative in 2002, due to safety concerns. But it’s still being sold in drinks and supplements. However, using aloe vera externally on sunburns and blisters is still safe and recommended for fast healing.

If taken orally, aloe vera can cause cramps and diarrhea, and may lead to electrolyte imbalances.

Considering the effects it can have on your digestive system, it goes without saying that individuals with Crohn’s disease and other stomach disorders should avoid any drinks and supplements that are made with aloe vera.

If you have diabetes and you’re taking glucose-lowering medication, you should also avoid taking any aloe vera related products since there is evidence that it can further lower your glucose levels. Taking aloe vera supplements in high concentrations can also lead to kidney damage and failure.

If you have an allergy to Liliaceae, the plant family that aloe vera is a part of, you should avoid taking it both orally and applying it externally.

Source(s) for Today’s Article:
Aldhous, P., et al., “Aloe Vera extract gave rats tumors,” New Scientist web site, April 11, 2011; http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn20365-aloe-vera-extract-gave-rats-tumours.html, last accessed August 22, 2013.
Haris, N., et al., “Health Risks & Benefits of Taking Aloe Vera Internally,” SFGate web site; http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/health-risks-benefits-taking-aloe-vera-juice-internally-5017.html, last accessed August 22, 2013
“Find A Vitamin Or Supplement: Aloe,” WebMD web site; http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-607-ALOE.aspx?activeIngredientId=607&activeIngredientName=ALOE, last accessed August 22, 2013.




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Dr. Victor Marchione, MD

About the Author, Browse Victor's Articles

Victor Marchione, MD received his Bachelor of Science Degree in 1973 and his Medical Degree from the University of Messina in 1981. He has been licensed and practicing medicine in New York and New Jersey for over 20 years. Dr. Marchione is a respected leader in the field of smoking cessation and pulmonary medicine. He has been featured on ABC News and World Report, CBS Evening News and the NBC Today Show and is the editor of the popular The... Read Full Bio »