Whenever the topic of beauty ingredients arises, our mind can’t help but instantly think of aloe vera. Yes, aloe vera is one of those superhero ingredients that works amazingly well for your skin, hair and even your gut. If you think back to all the times you experienced dry patches on the skin, dull and rough hair, rashes or dark spots on the face, you’d recall your mother or friends advising you to apply some aloe vera gel to heal it quickly and safely. And, currently, there’s a major fraction of health-conscious people who also trust the oral intake of aloe vera juice.
But a universal fact is – excess of any product or ingredient proves to be harmful. And with aloe vera juice, there could be times when it doesn’t suit your body and could lead to health risks or allergies. Since the succulent plant has multiple parts that are used topically as well as consumed orally, it is always important to stay alert and knowledgeable of which part of aloe vera can possibly cause side effects. Today, we focus on the supplement, aloe vera juice. To help us navigate the side effects of aloe vera juice, we spoke to expert Dermatologist and Trichologist Dr. Mrunal Shah, Owner & Director – Shine Skin Hair & Laser Clinic, Mumbai. But first, let us understand the structure of the aloe vera plant and its uses.
- First, What is Aloe Vera?
- Side Effects of Aloe Vera Juice
- Drop in Blood Sugar Levels
- Leads To Dehydration
- Causes Diarrhoea
- Sudden Fatigue
- Stomach Cramps
- Reaction To Drug Intake
- Affects Pregnant Women
- Skin and Throat Irritation
First, What is Aloe Vera?
Interestingly, there are currently more than 500 different species of aloe vera plants around the world. Used and trusted for centuries, one of the most commonly used aloe species for skin, hair and oral intake is dubbed aloe barbadensis miller, popular for its incredible healing benefits. This green spiky succulent shrub grows naturally in tropical and dry climates in different parts of the world, from Asia and Europe to Africa and America.
An aloe vera plant generally has three parts that can be used on the skin and body – its outer green skin, the gooey, colorless gel inside and the latex. While the gel is found inside the leaves, the yellowish latex pulp is present between the thin layers of the leaves. Dr. Shah informs us, “Sometimes, people consume the latex as a laxative but it’s not very safe to consume. It could cause loose motions, kidney failure, abdominal pain, weakness in muscles and a very high dose of the latex could also be life-threatening. So, it is safer to not have aloe vera latex orally.”
Side Effects of Aloe Vera Juice
Dr. Shah states, “Even though aloe vera is used extensively and usually doesn’t have a lot of side effects, in some cases, there are incidents that show that aloe vera juice could result in skin and body allergies and reactions.” To give you a clear picture, we sum up the key side effects of aloe vera juice below…
Drop in Blood Sugar Levels
When it comes to oral consumption of aloe vera juice, it is best to first consult your doctor and take appropriate measures. It has been observed that drinking aloe vera juice may cause blood sugar levels to drop, especially if you are diabetic or have any other medical condition linked to insulin. Aloe vera is known to decrease insulin resistance in the human body and its laxative effects may lead to electrolyte imbalance causing severe health disorders in the long run.
Leads To Dehydration
Excessive and unregulated consumption of aloe vera juice is also known to cause dehydration. It reduces the count of electrolytes like sodium and potassium in the body, which are otherwise in charge of maintaining the body’s fluid levels and electrical charge of the cells. Dehydration can also affect the colour of your body’s urine discharge.
A common but troublesome side effect of aloe vera juice’s consumption is that the laxative elements in it readily interfere with bowel function and increase the likelihood of having irritable bowel syndrome. This could lead to diarrhoea. The latex contains what is called anthraquinones, which escalates intestinal motility, a process through which the consumed food travels via the digestive tract. This causes cramps as well as frequent, loose stools that result in diarrhoea.
As mentioned above, potassium is an essential electrolyte and mineral found in the body that takes care of the water level inside. But, it is also important as it sends nerve signals and manages muscle contractions in the body. Once the potassium levels are disturbed and strike an imbalance, it could likely cause sudden fatigue and weakness, accompanied by abnormal heartbeats, muscle cramps and numbness. It is often advised that people with heart conditions, severe medical conditions or ageing elders should not consume aloe vera juice.
One of the most commonly observed side effects of aloe vera juice is that it leads to sudden and serious stomach cramps. It is generally caused by the aloe latex that irritates the muscles inside and triggers contractions in the stomach. If you already have any previous symptoms or conditions related to stomach pain, it is best to avoid drinking aloe vera juice.
Reaction To Drug Intake
Whether you are currently prescribed medicines or are undergoing medical treatments, it is not ideal to drink aloe vera juice or any kind of oral dose of aloe vera. It has been seen that consuming aloe vera alongside a medical drug could cause severe side effects. The laxative present in aloe can react and block the absorption of prescription drugs in your body and could directly affect your health. Furthermore, aloe doesn’t match well with ingredients like garlic and fenugreek, so beware of mixing the two.
Affects Pregnant Women
While others may still be able to consume aloe vera juice in regulated quantities, it is highly advisable to pregnant and lactating mothers to avoid oral intake of aloe vera juice, and other supplements with latex in it. Dr. Shah explains, “It is a proven fact that oral ingestion of aloe vera acts as a uterine stimulant that could lead to a woman’s uterus to contract. If this contraction happens any time before nine months, it could likely cause miscarriage, birth defects or premature deliveries.” The laxative compound is known to trigger these medical problems. Do note, it is also not recommended for children below 12 years of age.
Skin and Throat Irritation
Many individuals could also be allergic to the compounds present in aloe vera juice, which could affect the skin. Dr. Shah comments, “The external use of aloe does not usually have side effects but occasionally, we have had patients who have complained of allergic reactions to aloe vera.” Similarly, excessive oral intake of aloe vera juice could also be a possible reason behind individuals experiencing swollen skin, inflammation, burning sensation, chest pain or throat irritation. Hence, make sure to talk to your doctor first and weigh out the various pros and cons of having aloe vera orally.