The use of aloe vera in herbal and traditional medicine has a long history, but medical science isn't quite ready to throw its support behind the use of the plant for treating heart conditions.
The usefulness of aloe vera, typically applied as a gel, has been clinically studied for treating burns (many are familiar with aloe vera for sunburns), genital herpes, and seborrheic dermatitis or dandruff, according to the Natural Medicine Journal.
But studies involving other applications, such as for psoriasis, type 2 diabetes, and heart problems have been small and lack appropriate scientific methodology.
Still, aloe vera, taken as a juice, which is sometimes called "latex," is promoted by many alternative health practitioners as a path to heart health. According to WebMD
, there is support that aloe juice is a "powerful laxative," and there are initial findings that it lowers blood sugar levels in some people with diabetes and may lower cholesterol.
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Some limited studies have found aloe vera might have a positive effect on heart health. One, detailed on the National Institutes of Health website, found that aloe vera gel
had a positive impact on the side effects of doxorubicin, which is used to treat cancer. The rat study found the gel helped to fight against heart problems that are sometimes a side effect of using the drug.
A study posted in the journal Angiology
looked at 5,000 patients who had chest or heart pain over five years, and found when taking psyllium husks and aloe vera, patients reported reduced frequency in angina attacks, and also reduction in total serum cholesterol, serum triglycerides, and lowered blood sugar levels in diabetic patients, among other things
Another study, according to LiveStrong.com, found that aloe vera
juice may help to heal the GI tract, treating things like heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD.
Until more research is done, patients should consult with their doctors about adding aloe vera, particularly orally, to their diets. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicines cautioned
that taking aloe juice can cause serious problems, and the dosage should be closely monitored. In addition, one rat study found that eating aloe leaf caused carcinogenic activity in male and female rats.
WebMD said, "High doses of oral aloe are dangerous. Don’t take oral aloe if you have intestinal problems, heart disease, hemorrhoids, kidney problems, diabetes, or electrolyte imbalances."
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