Aloe vera is a potent laxative and therefore very effective for treating constipation. Since using aloe vera for constipation can cause serious side effects, anyone considering using it should speak to a medical professional first. Prior to 2002, aloe was found in many commercial laxatives; however, since its safety has been questioned, these laxatives were taken off the market.
Constipation refers to a decreased frequency in bowel movements or changes in its characteristics. It is typically caused by a lack of dietary fiber or fluids or by a sedentary lifestyle. Some medical conditions can also contribute to constipation, such as irritable bowel syndrome, or spastic colon. Aloe vera, although effective for constipation, may cause significant diarrhea and may even contribute to dehydration. In addition, consuming aloe may deplete the body's potassium stores, causing heart irregularities and kidney problems.
Since aloe is very powerful, consuming it should be done with extreme caution. Drinking the juice in excess can cause bloody diarrhea, kidney problems, muscle weakness, and heart problems. In addition, taking aloe vera for constipation may cause significant weight loss because of the diarrhea that it can produce. Anyone who experiences diarrhea should stop taking aloe immediately and begin drinking water to replace the lost fluids.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid taking aloe. The laxative effect that it produces can stimulate abdominal cramping, which can lead to uterine contractions. This may lead to miscarriage or abnormal vaginal bleeding. As with any dietary supplement or herbal remedy, the benefits and risks need to be discussed with a qualified healthcare professional. Since aloe vera may contaminate breast milk, it should not be consumed by nursing mothers.
In addition to using aloe vera for constipation, it can be used for other purposes as well. Aloe gel, which comes from the aloe leaf, can help soothe minor burns, cuts, and sunburns. It is also found in many cosmetics and lotions. Aloe also has anti-inflammatory properties and may relieve inflammation and pain. Although effective in treating minor skin irritations, aloe vera products should not be applied to open wounds or broken skin.
Certain studies have suggested that aloe juice might help decrease blood sugar in diabetics. Because there is little concrete evidence, however, drinking aloe juice without consulting a medical professional is not a good idea and may even cause dangerous spikes in blood sugar levels. Aloe gel may also help those suffering from psoriasis and genital herpes, as it can soothe skin irritation and quell the inflammatory process.