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Aloe vera, wonder drug for diabetes, but...

 Written by Sade Oguntola

SCIENTIFIC studies have proven that aloe vera gel works better in various folks. The effectiveness of aloe vera extract and gel along with other herbs have shown their potential role in correction of high blood sugar level (hyperglycemia), wound healing, pain relief, constipation and ulcers.
Aloe is a plant originally from Africa. The long, green leaves contain aloe gel and a sticky yellow residue called latex. The gel is the part of the aloe plant used most commonly, both topically and orally.
Various studies on oral administration and local application of aloe vera extract/gel have shown its potential abuse like every other herb due to the thinking that all herbs are safe irrespective of its mode of use, the dose and length of usage.
Certainly, if an animal study can be extrapolated into humans, then there is the need for caution when taking aloe vera. Researchers found that aloe vera extract can be toxic to the heart muscles, if used over a long period of time.
The 2010 study published in the African Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology involved a total of 24 male albino rats, which were divided into four groups, one control and three experimental.
Animal of experimental groups were injected with aloe vera gel extract made from fresh leaves of the plant in doses of 100, 200 and 300 mg/kg. Parameters such as the state of the muscles of the heart and heart beat rate of the albino rats were determined using electrocardiograph at different times after they were injected with aloe vera gel extract.
They found that aloe vera gel may cause potassium deficiency and result in irregular heartbeat and weakness in high doses, thus making it toxic to the heart and unsafe, especially in people with heart disease, kidney disease or electrolyte abnormalities.
Previously, few studies have been done on the toxic effects of aloe gel other than occasional allergic reactions. Also its safety in children, pregnant or nursing women, or people with liver and kidney disease was not established.
But overdose of aloe latex can cause dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, red urine, severe diarrhea, kidney dysfunction, and possibly death. Use for over seven days may cause dependency or worsening of constipation after the aloe is stopped.
Ingestion of aloe for over one year has been reported to increase the risk of colorectal cancer. Individuals with severe abdominal pain, appendicitis, ileus (temporary paralysis of the bowel), or a prolonged period without bowel movements should not take aloe.
There are potentials of aloe gel interacting with conventional drugs. Aloe latex should not be taken internally with some antihypertensive medicines, steroids, drugs for irregular heartbeat and drugs that cause potassium loss.
Due to lowering of potassium levels that may occur when aloe is taken by mouth, the effectiveness of heart medications such as digoxin and digitoxin and of other medications used for heart rhythm disturbances, may be reduced. The risk of adverse effects may be increased with these medications due to low potassium levels.
In addition, aloe taken by mouth may cause blood sugar levels to become too low, especially if combined with blood sugar medications.
There have been a few case reports of acute hepatitis from aloe vera taken orally. However, the evidence is not definitive and the safety of aloe has not been systematically studied.

Read more>>>> Click: The Health and Medical Use of Aloe Vera (Biochemistry)

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