The medicinal value of the Aloe plant comes from two components found in its leaves. The gel beneath the skin of the Aloe leaf is an effective topical treatment for a variety of skin conditions. The leathery skin (or latex) has medicinal uses as well, primarily as a laxative.
Aloe Vera has long been used as a powerful remedy for short-term constipation. The Optimal Health Network suggests that a 250 mg capsule is enough for many people, but it may be necessary for others to take a 450 mg capsule to achieve optimal results. The recommended daily dosage requirement for aloe vera laxatives is one pill per day, usually for a period of ten days.
How Does Aloe Vera Work?
Aloe Vera contains a chemical called chloride, which eases the process of bowel release by increasing the water level in the stool. The laxative effect of the Aloe Vera leaf is also derived from its inner skin in the form of a yellow, bitter liquid called aloin. This substance, when left to dry, turns into powder that is used to create laxatives. Aloe contains compounds called anthraquinones, including aloin, aloe-emodin, barbaloin and aloectic acid. According to livestrong.com, some studies have shown that the chemical combinations in anthraquinones compounds provide a powerful relief for constipation.
A Word of Caution…
Due to its strong effects on the body, Aloe Vera laxatives should be taken sparingly. The U.S. National Library of Medicine claims that “long-term use of large amounts of Aloe latex might cause diarrhea, kidney problems, blood in the urine, low potassium, muscle weakness, weight loss, and heart disturbances.”
Abdominal pains and stomach cramping are among the more common negative effects of Aloe laxatives. They should not be taken by pregnant women as it can cause nausea and painful contractions that can be harmful to the fetus. Children ages 12 and under are also susceptible to serious complications when taking Aloe Vera laxatives. Also, Diet Health Line reports that people with allergic reactions to “onions, garlic, tulips or any other plants from the liliaceae family” may have a sensitivity to Aloe Vera and should steer clear of Aloe supplements.
A friendly alternative to Aloe Vera is the Cascada Sagrada, another laxative plant in the same family as Aloe. Despite being a milder alternative to Aloe, it is still important to control its use. Laxatives in general can cause people to lose vital nutrients in their body when used for extended periods, regardless of the substance being used. Every kind of medication has its own side effects, even all-natural, plant-derived treatments. Taken with the proper precautions, however, Aloe Vera can be a welcome addition to your medicine cabinet.