Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera contains mucilaginous polysaccharides (very hard to digest for people with compromised digestive systems) and increases the release of tumor necrosis factor (what Remicade blocks) which is associated with IBD inflammation and increased immune stimulation.

Aloe vera is a herb that has frequently been used in natural remedies. It is believed to have positive effects on skin and healing (even though laboratory studies may not support this).

A 2-year National Toxicology Program (NTP) study on oral consumption of non-decolorized whole leaf extract of aloe vera found clear evidence of carcinogenic activity in male and female rats, based on tumors of the large intestine. According to the NTP, from what is known right now there is nothing that would lead them to believe that these findings are not relevant to humans. However, more information, including how individuals use different types of aloe vera products, is needed to determine the potential risks to humans.

Aloe vera gel may be beneficial to patients with active ulcerative colitis. A small study showed that around a half of patients given 100ml of gel twice daily had an improvement in disease activity, however there was no significant improvement in laboratory scores or sigmoidoscopy scores. No significant side effects were reported.

Aloe vera may have side effects such as abdominal cramping, or diarrhoea. It can also contribute to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. It may also interact with medications. It is recommended that it should not be used in people who have undergone abdominal surgery, or who have Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.

Aloe Mucilaginous Polysaccharides (AMP) aims to remove these side effects, by isolating what is believed to be the most helpful ingredient in the aloe, concentrating it and removing the others. Essentially, the AMPs are long chain sugar molecules. The different lengths of chains are believed to have different benefits, including anti-inflammatory, anti-bacteria and anti-oxidant effects, and even modulating the immune system.

However, very little research has actually been carried out into AMP (only anecdotal evidence offered by companies selling the product). Also, as aloe is classed as a food, rather than a drug, there is little regulation over the manufacturing process. Therefore products will vary greatly in the actual concentration of AMP (and other aloe ingredients) present.

The opinion of is that people with Crohn's disease should avoid Aloe Vera supplements.


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