Aloe vera: side effects

Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis mille) is a plant of the Aloeacee family. The term Aloe derives from the Greek root Alos, which means “salty substance” perhaps referring to its maritime habitat; in Arabic, however, the term aloe derives from alua, which means “bitter”, as indeed is the juice of the plant.

Known for its anti- inflammatory, purifying and nourishing medicinal properties for thousands of years, it is also used extensively in cosmetics and benefits people with HIV and leukemia. Let’s find out more about the characteristics and side effects of Aloe vera.

Aloe vera: characteristics and properties

Aloe vera is a perennial succulent plant that can reach a height of 1 m. The leaves are spotted in the growth phase and of a uniform green color in the adult state. Covered with a protective film, they contain aloin and an aquifer parenchyma made up of the  much sought -after plant gel.

The aloe leaves also have thorns along the sides; the yellow to red flowers consist of a racemic inflorescence with an enlarged axis; the fruits consist of a loculicide capsule.

The active ingredients of aloe vera are contained in the gel that is extracted from the leaves and which has immunostimulating, anti-inflammatory, purifying, nourishing and remineralizing properties. 

Aloe restores the functionality of the lazy intestine, carrying out a rebalancing action of the pH and bacterial flora, useful in cases of constipation and diarrhea.

The healing and re-epithelizing properties of aloe, on the other hand, are due to the presence of polysaccharides derived from mannose (glucomannans), which stimulate the activity of macrophages, enhance collagen synthesis and increase cell regeneration.

Aloe vera also contains Acemannan, with an immunomodulating action, i.e. able to regulate immune responses to infectious or sensitizing agents, as in the case of allergies or autoimmune diseases and against toxins and tumors.

Steroids, on the other hand, are attributed the anti-inflammatory property, similar to that exerted by synthetic steroid-based drugs, frequently used in rheumatological diseases of autoimmune origin, but without all the toxic side effects of the chemical molecules in question. For this reason it helps in osteoarticular problems, such as arthritis, rheumatism and joint pain.

The intake of aloe juice also promotes the detoxification of the body from both exogenous and endogenous toxins, thus helping the purifying action of the liver. 

The side effects of aloe vera

The side effects of Aloe vera mostly affect the gastrointestinal tract, causing cramps and diarrhea.

Furthermore, its use is not recommended during pregnancy, and also during breastfeeding, as it could make breast milk bitter.

The aloe gel, on the other hand, has not shown any side effects so it can also be taken by children. In any case, as with any medicinal plant, it is always recommended to take it with caution and to consult a specialist before taking it.

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