Best Aloe Vera Gel UK 2020 Buyer’s Guide

Whether you refer to it as a “miracle plant” or simply by its “last name”— vera, meaning “truth” in Latin—the semi-tropical aloe vera plants ( Aloe vera, Aloe barbadensis ) has been deemed a treatment for every ailment under the sun, from blisters and burns to indigestion and cancer. Aloe vera has a time-honoured and romantic history: Its medical properties were first described over two thousand years ago. In ancient Egypt, aloe was used for embalming. It was a plant literally fit for a queen—Cleopatra used aloe vera to beautify her complexion.

Today, pure aloe vera gel is one of the most widely used natural ingredients in skincare products like lotions, oils and moisturizer. Many people grow them at home from which they can break off the tip of a leaf and use the gel to treat minor burns including sunburn and skin irritations.

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What it Does

The clear gel from the leaves of the aloe vera is used to treat cuts, are less clear. Some research suggests that aloe may be useful in the treatment of skin rashes, psoriasis, and genital herpes, although the evidence is not definitive. Taken orally, aloe latex is a potent laxative. While its use as a laxative has been recognized for centuries, at present this use is not recommended because it is too potent and is contraindicated in many serious health conditions.

Animal studies suggest that aloe juice may help in regulating blood sugar levels in diabetes, though human studies have not yet been performed. One study found aloe gel to be useful for ulcerative colitis, but more research is needed before this can be suggested.

With over seventy-five biologically active compounds, aloe vera’s therapeutic potential is considerable. Some may exert their effects alone, but the synergistic actions of these substances likely play a bigger role in aloe’s restorative power. This can reduce inflammation, stimulate the immune system, and destroy bacteria, viruses, and fungi. It can help heal wounds, manage diabetes, prevent tumour growth, and improve arthritis. One of the longest standing and highly prized uses of aloe is as a general tonic for gastrointestinal support. Whether it’s constipation, reflux, or ulcers, aloe is the product of choice.

The part of the plant used for therapeutic purposes is important to achieve the intended effects. The clear, inner gel contains most of the bioactive components and can be used fresh or purchased in-store or online. Some products contain only the inner gel, while others have both the inner gel and latex. Compounds in the bitter yellow latex are bowel irritants and responsible for aloe’s laxative effect. The latex should only be used if this is the intended purpose.

Many commercial preparations do remove the latex so it can be used without fear of increased bowel movements, but read the information on the label should be checked first.

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How it Works

When the leaf of an organic aloe vera plant is cut, an orange-yellow sap, or latex, called aloin, is released. Because it is an irritant, this bitter sap stimulates the colon, producing a strong laxative effect, so strong that it is no longer advisable for internal use. Note: This is not the same as the aloe juice or gel and has very different properties. Removing the tough, green skin of the leaf exposes a transparent, mucus-like substance that contains a colourless, semisolid gel. Known as aloe vera gel, it has healing properties for irritating skin and also reduces inflammation and pain.

Aloe vera gel is believed to work because of its ability to penetrate deep into the face and other parts of the skin, to the level where cells grow and multiply, helping to feed and repair damaged skin cells.

How to Use It

Aloe gel may be used in a variety of forms. It may be applied topically, as a gel, or in an ointment that often includes other ingredients such as mineral oil or castor oil. Topical aloe creams should contain 0.5 % aloe and may be used as needed. Aloe gel may also be applied straightaway and applying the gel directly onto the face and body. Except in rare cases in which a person has an allergy to aloe, the topical application of aloe is generally safe. Anyone allergic to garlic, onions, tulips, or other plants of the Liliaceae family—of which aloe is a member—may have a reaction to aloe.

It is also possible to develop an allergic reaction, such as hives or a rash, after using aloe gel for an extended period of time. In 2002, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a final rule stating that aloe products are not generally recognized as safe and effective and banned the use of aloe (and cascara sagrada) as laxative ingredients in over-the-counter drug products. Bitter aloe (the latex form) should not be taken orally since it may cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea.

Children and pregnant or nursing women should avoid using aloe as a laxative. The latex form, called bitter aloe (often yellow in colour and sold in capsule form), should never by anyone with appendicitis or inflammatory intestinal diseases such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis without the supervision of a doctor.

Is Taking Aloe Vera Safe?

Pure aloe vera is most often applied topically to the skin; although, oral consumption is becoming more and more prevalent. Aloe found in both cosmetics and medicines can be safely smoothed over the skin when used in appropriate amounts. Some may experience mild itching, redness, or burning after putting aloe on the skin. This could indicate an allergic reaction, but the good news is that it is reversible if further use is stopped. One precaution to take is to avoid putting aloe on the skin and then administering a steroid cream. The absorption of the cream may be increased, leading to a higher dose than intended.

The oral intake of aloe is okay in moderate doses over the short term. While most people seem to not experience an adverse reaction, some of the population needs to be careful if considering taking aloe gel. Pregnant and breast-feeding mothers should avoid aloe, due to its association with an increased risk of birth defects and miscarriage. Caution is advised in diabetics because aloe lowers blood sugar levels. If taken with insulin or hypoglycemic medication, blood sugar could dip too low. Levels must be monitored carefully.

This applies to herbal and supplement use as well. Chromium, alpha-lipoic acid, devil’s claw, and garlic are a few that are thought to have the same hypoglycemic effect on blood sugar.

People taking anticoagulants to slow blood clotting are at risk of increased bleeding and bruising if taking aloe alongside it. Aloe is also thought to slow clotting and should not be taken for two weeks prior to surgery. The combination of aloe with other herbs that slow blood clotting needs to be done carefully. This includes clove, garlic, ginger, ginkgo, and turmeric. The latex in the leaf is used as a laxative but can cause some problems when taken in high doses. One gram a day for several days has been fatal. Lower amounts may induce stomach pain, cramps, and diarrhoea. Those with inflammatory bowel disease or any type of bowel obstruction should stay away from aloe.

It is a bowel irritant and will make the condition worse. The latex is also problematic for those with haemorrhoids (increased bleeding) and kidney problems (kidney failure). Heart patients taking digoxin need to avoid aloe latex. These patients are usually given a diuretic, which can deplete potassium levels in the body. Aloe can lower potassium levels, too. The combination of these two may increase the risk of digoxin side effects. The ingestion of aloe with other laxatives that speed up the bowel could run the risk of dehydration and mineral loss. Castor oil, rhubarb root, senna leaves and pods, and alder buckthorn are a few herbs that fall into this category.

When taken with oral medications, the absorption rate of the drug may be decreased, making the medications less effective. This could have major impacts on disease control and healing time. Remember, aloe latex can be purchased on its own, combined with other ingredients, or extracted from the pulp itself. Whole leaf powders and extracts also contain latex. In most cases, the latex can safely be used as a laxative, but it’s up to the consumer to assess their health and look at their medication, herb, and supplement use in order to make an informed decision.

Bottom Line

The mucilaginous gel from the parenchymatous cells in the pulp of organic aloe vera has been used since early times for a host of curative purposes as it has got many benefits as herbal medicine. This gel should be distinguished clearly from the bitter yellow exudate originating from the bundle sheath cells, which is used for its purgative effects. Aloe vera gel has come to play a prominent role as a contemporary folk remedy, and numerous optimistic, and in some cases extravagant, claims have been made for its medicinal properties.

Modern clinical use of the gel began in the 1930s, with reports of successful treatment of X-ray and radium bums, which led to further experimental survey using laboratory animals in the following decades. The reports of these experiments and the numerous favourable case histories did not give conclusive evidence since although positive results were usually described, much of the work suffered from poor experimental design and insufficiently large test samples.

In addition, some conflicting or inconsistent results were obtained. With the recent resurgence of interest in aloe vera gel, however, new experimental work has indicated the possibility of distinct physiological effects. Chemical analysis has shown the gel to contain various carbohydrate polymers, notably either glucomannans or pectic acid, along with a range of other organic and inorganic components. Although many physiological properties of the gel have been described, there is no certain correlation between these and the identified gel components.

  • October 22, 2020