ALOE VERA SIDE EFFECTS
October 1, 2011
Aloe is a succulent plant widely used in alternative medicine. There are at least 420 different plant species
of Aloe. Aloe vera specifically refers to the Aloe barbadensis Miller plant, which is the most common form
used in Aloe-based products.
Traditionally, the clear gel from the Aloe plant is rubbed on the skin as an ointment to treat wounds and
burns. The green part of the leaf can be made into a juice or dried and taken orally as a laxative. Aloe vera
is used in many commercial products in various forms, including drinks, concentrates, capsules, powders,
and as a flavoring.
Traditionally, aloe was used topically to heal wounds and for various skin conditions, and orally as a
laxative. It is believed that aloe vera benefits people at risk of various conditions such as diabetes,
asthma, epilepsy, and osteoarthritis. People use aloe topically for osteoarthritis, burns, sunburns, and
psoriasis. Aloe vera gel can be found in hundreds of skin products, including lotions and sunblocks. [For
details, please click Aloe Vera Benefits]
Non-Decolorized Aloe Vera Side Effects - Carcinogenic in rats
A two-year National Toxicology Program (NTP) study of a non-decolorized whole leaf extract of Aloe
vera given in an animal’s drinking water found clear evidence of carcinogenic activity in male and female
rats, based on tumors of the large intestine. There was no evidence of carcinogenic activity in mice. NTP
did not conduct two-year studies of ingestion of the Aloe vera gel or of the plant’s decolorized whole leaf
extracts. The difference between decolorized and non-decolorized whole leaf extracts is mostly in how the
leaf is processed or filtered. In many cases, manufacturers of oral products containing Aloe vera use a
charcoal filtration process to decolorize and remove some of the components from the leaf, including
Anthraquinones act like laxatives. Some anthraquinones have previously been shown to be carcinogenic.
Product advertisements claim the drinks can be used to cleanse the digestive system or relieve
constipation. An organic component in the outer leaf pulp of Aloe leaves, known as the latex, contains
anthraquinones. Aloin is an example of an anthraquinone found in the latex that may give the plant its
laxative qualities. Industry usually processes the Aloe vera leaf to make a decolorized whole leaf extract to
remove aloin. Industry has a self-regulated upper limit standard of 10 ppm of aloin in orally ingested
products, but there are no labeling requirements for aloin content.
Aloe Vera Side Effects and Cautions
1. Use of topical aloe vera is not associated with significant side effects.
2. Oral consumption of non-decolorized whole leaf extract of aloe vera may be carcinogenic.
3. Oral use of aloe vera may further include side effects like abdominal cramps and diarrhea Diarrhea,
caused by the laxative effect of oral aloe vera, can decrease the absorption of many drugs.
4. People with diabetes who use glucose-lowering medication should be cautious if also taking aloe by
mouth because preliminary studies suggest aloe may lower blood glucose levels.
5. One potential serious aloe vera side effect is hepatitis. There have been a few case reports of acute
hepatitis from aloe vera taken orally. However, the evidence is not definitive.
National Toxicology Program. Aloe Vera. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Web site.
Accessed at www.niehs.nih.gov/news/video/health/2011/aloevera/ntp-aloe-fact-sheet.pdf on April 5, 2011.
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine Publications. Accessed at http://nccam.nih.
MORE ABOUT THE SIDE EFFECTS OF ALOE VERA
Side effects of ingestion of low dose of Aloe vera are seldom reported. However, Aloe vera side effects
can include diarrhea, electrolyte imbalance, kidney dysfunction, and conventional drug interactions.  As
discussed before, case of hepatitis has been reported.  Side effects caused by topical use include
contact dermatitis, erythema, and phototoxicity. According to Drugs.com (October 1, 2011), Aloe vera gel
may lead to side effects such as skin rash or irritation, severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; difficulty in
breathing; chest tightness etc.). Further, Aloe Vera Burn Relief Spray with Lidocaine Aerosol may lead to
side effects such as irritation, numbness and some other serve side effects. Users must stop using the
products and inform their doctors immediately, if they experience any unwanted Aloe vera side effects.
Do not use Aloe vera together with other platelet aggregation inhibitors, such as sevoflurane and before or
after surgery. Compounds contained within Aloe vera can cause a reduction in prostaglandin synthesis,
which may inhibit secondary aggregation of platelets. Aloe vera may interact with sevoflurane or other
similar substances based on their antiplatelet effects. Herbal medications with antiplatelet potential should
be discontinued before anesthesia and surgery. 
 Boudreau MD, Beland FA. An evaluation of the biological and toxicological properties of Aloe barbadensis
(miller), Aloe vera. J Environ Sci Health C Environ Carcinog Ecotoxicol Rev. 2006 Apr;24(1):103-54.  Lee A, et al
Possible interaction between sevoflurane and Aloe vera. Ann Pharmacother. 2004 Oct;38(10):1651-4.
Aloe Vera Benefits
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