Aloe (or aloe vera)

The aloe plant produces gel and latex, with anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties.

What are its health benefits?

Aloe benefits are numerous and it has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties. It has many health uses when applied externally or orally.

Research shows that aloe vera contains anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties. This helps the immune system cleanse the body of toxins. It also helps balance the immune system to reduce the effects of allergies, rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory immune disorders.

Other benefits include:
Topically:

  • Moisturises skin
  • Assists in the management of burns
  • Assists in the relief of itching and dandruff

Orally:
• Assists in the management of stomach ulcers and mouth ulcers
• Provides symptomatic relief associated with constipation

How does aloe vera work?

The useful parts of aloe are the gel and latex. The gel is obtained from the cells in the centre of the leaf, and the aloe latex comes from the cells just beneath the leaf skin.

Aloe gel may cause changes in the skin that may be useful in the management of skin conditions.

Aloe seems to be able to speed up the wound healing process by improving blood circulation through the area and preventing cell death around a wound.

Aloe gel also has properties that are harmful to certain types of bacteria and fungi, while aloe latex contains chemicals that have laxative properties.

Recommended dietary allowance (RDA)

Different brands have different formulations and effects and are used topically and orally.
If you are considering taking aloe vera, first talk to your doctor or Clicks pharmacist about whether you should be taking it and the correct dosage if so. 

Possible side effects

Don't use aloe vera gel if you’re allergic to any of its ingredients.

Aloe vera supplements should not be used by children, or by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Side effects of aloe gel associated with topical use may include:

  • Skin rash
  • Severe allergic reactions
  • Swelling of the face

Side effects of aloe gel associated with oral use may include:

  • Abdominal cramping
  • Diarrhoea
  • Dehydration

Side effects of aloe gel when used in the management of burns may include:

  • Chest tightness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of the lips or tongue
  • Trembling
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision

Ensure you discuss dietary supplementation with your Clicks pharmacist to avoid the potential for side effects and adverse interactions with medications.

The accuracy of this information was checked and approved by Clicks' pharmacist Waheed Abdurahman in August 2015