aloe vera (generic name)
- Auto Immune Conditions
- Bladder & Kidney Health
- Brain & Nervous System
- Care Transitions
- Dental Health
- Emotional Health
- Eye Health
- Falls Prevention
- Financial Planning
- General Safety
- Health Care Basics
- Healthy Living
- Hearing Loss
- Heart Health
- High Blood Pressure
- Life Transitions
- Lung Health
- Men's Health
- Nutrition & Weight Management
- Pain Management
- Preventive Health
- Sexual Health
- Stomach & Digestive Health
- Stress & Anxiety
- Women's Health
Interactions with Drugs
Aloe taken by mouth may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when taken with medications that may also lower blood sugar. Patients taking drugs for diabetes by mouth or injection should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare professional. Medication adjustments may be necessary. In addition, insulin may add to the decrease in blood potassium levels that can occur with aloe.
Due to the 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.
Caution should be used in patients taking loop diuretics, such as Lasix® (furosemide), or thiazide diuretics, such as hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ), that increase the elimination of both fluid and potassium in the urine. Combined use may increase the risk of potassium depletion and of dehydration.
Use of aloe with laxative drugs may increase the risk of dehydration, potassium depletion, electrolyte imbalance, and changes in blood pH. Due to its laxative effect, aloe may also reduce the absorption of some drugs.
Application of aloe to skin may increase the absorption of steroid creams such as hydrocortisone. In addition, oral use of aloe and steroids such as prednisone may increase the risk of potassium depletion.
There is one report of excess bleeding in a patient undergoing surgery receiving the anesthetic drug sevoflurane, who was also taking aloe by mouth. It is not clear that aloe or this specific interaction was the cause of bleeding.
Drugs used for cancer and for hormone activity (hormone replacement therapy, birth control pills) may also interact with aloe.
Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements
Based on the laxative properties of oral aloe, prolonged use may result in potassium depletion. Aloe may increase the potassium-lowering effects of other herbs such as licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra). Theoretically, use of oral aloe and other laxative herbs such as senna may increase the risk of dehydration, potassium depletion, electrolyte imbalance, and changes in blood pH.
Oral aloe can reduce blood sugar. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements such as bitter melon that may also lower blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may require monitoring, and doses may need adjustment.
Herbs and supplements used for cancer or the heart may interact with aloe. Phytoestrogens such as soy, as well as antivirals may also interact with aloe. Aloe may increase the absorption of vitamin C and vitamin E.
This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com): Jennifer Armstrong, PharmD (University of Rhode Island); Ethan Basch, MD (Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center); Samuel Basch, MD (Mt. Sinai Medical Center, NY); Steve Bent, MD (University of California, San Francisco); Dawn Costa, BA, BS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Cynthia Dacey, PharmD (Northeastern University); Sean Dalton, MD, PhD, MPH (Harvard University); Ivo Foppa, MD, ScD (Harvard University); Paul Hammerness, MD (Harvard Medical School); Jenna Hollenstein, MS, RD (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Catherine Kirkwood, MPH, CCCJS-MAC (MD Anderson Cancer Center, University of Texas); David Sollars, M.Ac, H.M.C. (New England School of Acupuncture); Shaina Tanguay-Colucci, BS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Catherine Ulbricht, PharmD (Massachusetts General Hospital); Wendy Weissner, BA (Natural Standard Research Collaboration).