Is aloe barbadensis bad for you? It has many positive uses – but there are a few concerns as well. The part of the plant just beneath the outer skin and the yellowish juice found in older aloe plants can be an irritant – so exercise caution when using aloe.
And understand it before you use it for anything.
Aloe barbadensis goes by many names. You may have heard it called true aloe, Barbados aloe, burn aloe, first aid plant, Chinese aloe or Indian aloe. All are essentially the same thing. Some even call it the miracle plant or “wand of heaven” because of its healing properties.
But the plant’s latex – or the part just beneath the skin – as well as any yellowish juice it may have can be poisonous in some circumstances.
That’s right: the plant known for healing cuts, burns and other skin issues since ancient times can be poisonous in some circumstances. When the New Testament writer John mentions it in the 19th chapter, he doesn’t mention that!
The Dangers Of Aloe Barbadensis
It’s a good idea to be cautious when dealing with aloe if you haven’t used it before or if you’re dealing with a particular plant that you haven’t used before. The plant’s leaves and juices can cause contact dermatitis in particularly sensitive people. (In fact, many plants can.)
For the best results when using aloe for its healing properties, don’t just rub a leaf on your skin. Instead, cut the skin away first and remove any yellow juice below it. It’s the gel inside the leaves that has healing properties. The yellow juice is most likely to be present on old plants, and it’s most likely to be the irritant that causes contact dermatitis.
It’s a smart idea to rub a small amount of the gel you intend to use on the skin of your inner arm to see if there’s a reaction. If there isn’t, that plant is probably safe for any area of skin on your body. You can do the same with any aloe-containing products you may buy. You may want to test all skin care products and cosmetics in this way if you’re prone to dermatitis or other skin reactions.
If you eat the latex layer or the yellow juice, you may experience irritation of the large intestine that causes a purging effect. This is caused by the natural aloin, an ingredient often found in laxatives until 2003 when it was banned in the United States for its harsh side effects and lack of data indicating it was safe.
Don’t Overlook The Power Of Aloe
Despite these concerns, it’s important not to overlook the power of aloe for skin, stomach and other issues. While there’s some debate about exactly which conditions respond to aloe, it’s a proven treatment for skin conditions, including eczema and burns. Aloe barbadensis and related aloes also reduce pain from skin conditions when applied topically.
Many people take aloe barbadensis internally in a liquid form for intestinal and esophageal conditions and stomach concerns. More controversially, some believe aloe can help with the lungs, nasal and sinus passages and more. Aloe is generally considered safe for mucous membranes as well as for use on the skin and internally.
Aloe is nearly all water, but the small amount that remains is said to contain more than 100 different things that can work for your body, including vitamins and mineral, sugars and enzymes, amino acids, fatty acids and more.
While there’s good reason to be concerned about whether aloe barbadensis is harmful to humans, there’s also good reason to turn to this plant and its extracts for healing of a variety of conditions.
As with so many things in life, it must be used correctly and for the right reasons to have a positive effect. Those who are new to it should exercise caution before using it over the long term or on a large area of the body.