Who Cannot Take Aloe Vera?

MA Hemal

Most people are familiar with aloe vera’s skin-soothing benefits for sunburns, irritations, and more. But is this medicinal plant totally safe for everyone to consume? While generally considered quite gentle, there are some groups who should avoid or limit aloe intake. As herbalists, it’s crucial we understand the potential contraindications as well as the praises of this succulent healer. In this article, I’ll explore who cannot – or should not – take aloe vera based on current research considerations.

Who Cannot Take Aloe Vera?

6 People who should not – take aloe vera if they are in the condition like:

  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
  • Diabetes and Hypoglycemia
  • Allergies and Irritations
  • Intestinal Issues and IBD
  • Parasite Infections
  • Upcoming Surgery

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

When it comes to pregnancy, research remains divided on aloe’s safety. Some studies found potential for menstrual-stimulating effects from aloe-emodin and anthraquinone derivatives possibly contained in the plant. These compounds could theoretically bring on menstruation or contractions in pregnant patients. However, other research found no safety issues. The general recommendation by larger herbals is to avoid supplementation during pregnancy, just to be on the safe side until more is known.

For breastfeeding mothers, the risk is also considered hypothetical. Trace amounts of aloe components could potentially pass into breast milk. However, no ill effects have been directly observed either. The Herb Research Foundation states aloe gel likely presents a negligible risk when nursing, but supplements should be avoided until more data becomes available. For pregnant or lactating individuals, topical gel use appears reasonably safe, but internal intake ought to be discussed with a physician.

Diabetes and Hypoglycemia

Thanks to aloe vera’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels, some studies found it able to help control minor forms of diabetes when taken internally over weeks or months. However, this same mechanism may pose risks for individuals with significant diabetes, prediabetes, or hypoglycemia. Large amounts of aloe could potentially drive blood sugar too low. It’s best for those with such conditions to avoid supplements and primarily stick to small topical applications not likely to impact sugar levels systemically. Physician supervision is suggested for internal use

Allergies and Irritations

Like any plant, aloe vera gel or latex carry a theoretical anaphylaxis risk in hypersensitive individuals. Most people tolerate it well, but rare topical or oral allergic reactions have been documented in a tiny fraction of the population. An irritation potential also exists for individuals allergic or sensitive to plants in the Liliaceae/Amaryllidaceae family, to which aloe belongs. As always, it’s wise to perform a small patch test beforehand in cases of known plant sensitivities. Those experiencing redness, pain or swelling from aloe contact should stop usage.

Intestinal Issues and IBD

While commonly used and seemingly gentle, aloe vera’s laxative anthraquinones may cause issues for those prone to diarrhea, intestinal inflammation or bowel disorders like IBD. Large supplemental doses, for example, could potentially exacerbate symptoms in susceptible patients through a hyperactive bowel effect or other mechanisms. Those recovering from intestinal surgery may also experience complications. It’s generally advisable for such groups to forgo aloe intake until more research emerges confirming its gastrointestinal safety profile.

Parasite Infections

Traditional medicinals have touted aloe as having potential antiprotozoal activity against some parasites. However, studies propose caution during infection, as the plant may also help certain parasites like giardia thrive under specific conditions versus killing them outright. For anyone undergoing treatment for parasites like amoebas or other intestinal worms, it’s most prudent not to consume aloe supplements internally until the infection clears as a precautionary measure. As always, preventing reinfection remains crucial to recovery.

Upcoming Surgery

Due to its laxative effects and potential to thin blood slightly, aloe is best avoided within two weeks of scheduled procedures. While safe for many topical uses, supplemental intake could theoretically increase bleeding risks or impact anesthesia and recovery if taken too close to surgery dates. It’s always wisest to pause or limit all new herbal supplements well ahead of planned operations and disclose everything with surgeons. Better to be on the safe side whenever possible with such matters.

In the end, aloe vera has remarkable restorative properties but also warrants caution around certain health states or populations. Used properly under medical guidance when warranted, it can effectively support wellness and healing. But for conditions like gastrointestinal issues, diabetes, infections, pregnancy and surgery, topical application alone may be preferred or interior intake limited until more safety data arises. As with any therapeutic plant or drug, understanding its potential limitations as well as benefits helps ensure it’s used appropriately for maximum well-being. Overall, aloe gel appears quite safe when used correctly.

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