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Description - Research and Analysis
Aloe is a succulent shrub and member of the lily family. Native to southern Africa, and commonly known as aloe vera, it's often used in gel form to heal burns. In German medicine, aloe is taken internally and is valued as a laxative. One way or another, it has been used medicinally for a long time. The ancient Greeks used aloe; in fact, it was prized by Alexander the Great, who used aloe to treat the burns and wounds of soldiers in his conquering armies.
Potential Health Benefits
Commission E approved aloe for just one use: as a laxative. Indeed, aloe barbadensis is a straightforward, naturally based alternative to synthetically made laxatives with long lists of ingredients. The medically useful part of the plant is the juice from aloe's fleshy leaves, which stimulates the colon. Besides being used to soothe sunburn and regular bums, aloe vera gel is a popular ingredient in cosmetics.
Commission E published monographs on this herb in 1985 and 1993. In both cases, commission studies found that aloe is reliable and effective; scientists attribute pharmacological action of the herb to its 1,8-dihydroxy-anthracene derivatives. Other health writers cite exciting possible uses for aloe. In the National Geographic book Nature's Medicine, Joel L. Swerdlow, Ph.D., writes: "In laboratory tests, aloe-emodin (an ingredient in aloe) has shown signs of being able to combat leukemia." Aloe juice has also been tested as a treatment for diabetes, with mixed results. A 1997 study published in the journal Phytomedicine found that 77 people who took 1 tablespoon of aloe juice twice daily for up to 42 days had a significant reduction in blood sugar levels. Another study, published in Psychotherapy Research in 1994, found no helpful action against diabetes. In any case, aloe's laxative powers are long-established; if anything, North American herbalists consider it stronger than it has to be, often recommending gentler laxatives.
Consumer Products Available
Aloe is available in health food stores as an extract or powder, and in health food stores and drugstores as aloe vera gel. The product label should specify "stabilized" gel for best results on the skin. Aloe juice is sometimes marketed as a virtual panacea and even as a cure for AIDS. Commission E and reputable herbalists stop well short of making such claims, which the American health writer Andrew Weil, M.D., calls "sheer fantasy."
The typical dose is 50 to 200 milligrams taken at bedtime. When aloe vera is consumed in drinks, no matter what the contents state on the label, there is really no way to know how much is being taken because it breaks down very rapidly. Neither the U.S. nor the European governments have set limits on the amount that can be added to food or beverages, and consumers should closely read the labels of all products.
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Take 1 capsule, 3 times daily, with meals.
Long-term internal use of aloe juice, more than the recommended one to two weeks, could cause an electrolyte imbalance or a potassium deficiency. Aloe shouldn't be given to children under 12 or used by nursing mothers or during pregnancy. Overdoses can cause intestinal cramps. Commission E concluded that "The preparation should be used only if no effect can be obtained through change of diet or use of bulk-forming products." There's no risk to using aloe externally on the skin.
More Photographs - Aloe Vera Leaf (Lu Hui) - 450 mg
End of More Photographs - Aloe Vera Leaf (Lu Hui) - 450 mg
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Products are intended to support general well being and are not intended to treat, diagnose, mitigate, prevent, or cure any condition or disease.