Aloe is commonly known to benefit sun burns and relieve constipation. How does it work? There are two different parts that are used medicinally – the latex and the gel.
The latex is the solid residue obtained from scoring the leaf and it works as a laxative. In 8-12 hours after ingestion there is evacuation of the bowels. Lower doses will increase gut motility while higher doses will cause an increased electrolyte secretion and diarrhea.
The gel is the mucilaginous material obtained from the center part of the leaf, that most people are familiar with. The gel acts as a demulcent to moisten and cool, decrease inflammation, support the immune system, and heal wounds. Hence, it is applied topically to relieve sun burns as well as for cuts, skin abrasions, and psoriasis. If taken internally, the gel can help to coat the linings of organs to benefit dry/irritated coughs, GERD, gastritis, peptic ulcer disease, urinary tract irritation, kidney stone passage, interstitial cystitis, esophagitis, etc.
When it comes to ingesting herbs, you should always be aware of the potential side effects and contraindications. The latex constituent is contraindicated in pregnancy, lactation, intestinal obstruction, IBD, abdominal pain of unknown origin, hemorrhoids, kidney disorders, severe dehydration, children under 10 years old. Aloe should be taken away from other herbs & medications and should not be taken for more than 10 days. An overdose can result in abdominal pain and spasm and severe diarrhea with consequent loss of fluid and electrolytes.