The Aloe vera plant has been used for thousands of years to heal a variety of conditions, most notably Burns
irritations, and Constipation
. It is grown in subtropical and tropical locations, including South Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Aloe was one of the most frequently prescribed medicines throughout most of the 18th and 19th centuries and it remains one of the most commonly used herbs in the United States today. However, oral use of aloe for Constipation
is no longer recommended, as it can have severe side effects.
Aloe gel, made from the central part of the aloe leaf, is a common household remedy for minor cuts and Burns
, as well as sunBurns
. It can be found in many commercial Skin
lotions and cosmetics. Aloe contains active compounds that may reduce Pain
and stimulate Skin
growth and repair. It is also an effective moisturizing agent. For this reason, aloe vera gel has gained tremendous popularity for relief of Burns
. In one study, burn sites treated with aloe healed completely in less than 16 days compared to 19 days for sites treated with silver sulfadiazine. In a review of the scientific literature, researchers found that patients who were treated with aloe vera healed an average of almost 9 days sooner than those who were not treated with the medicinal plant. However, other studies show mixed results. At least one study found that aloe actually delayed healing. Aloe is best used for minor Burns
irritations and should never be applied to an open Wound
Herpes and Skin conditions
Preliminary evidence suggests that aloe gel may improve symptoms of genital Herpes
and certain Skin
conditions such as Psoriasis
. One study found that aloe vera gel displayed Anti-inflammatory
effects superior to 1% hydrocortisone cream or a placebo gel. Another study found that aloe vera gel combined with tretinoin was more effective than tretinoin alone for treating Acne
. As such, researchers claim that aloe vera gel may be useful in the treatment of inflammatory Skin
conditions, such as ultraviolet-induced erythema.
Aloe juice or aloe latex, a yellow, bitter liquid derived from the Skin
of the aloe leaf, is a powerful Laxative
. However, it can cause Pain
ful cramping and is not safe to use in this way.
Studies show that aloe vera gel inhibits the activity of several types of Bacteria
that may lead to cavities and gum disease. More research is needed.
Preliminary studies suggest that aloe juice may help lower Blood Sugar
levels in people with type 2 (adult onset) Diabetes
. More research is needed to determine whether aloe is helpful for Diabetes
Alcohol-induced Liver Disease
Preliminary studies suggest that aloe vera extract may help mitigate the effects of alcohol-induced Liver
Aloe vera is a perennial, succulent plant (meaning its leaves hold large quantities of water). The plant can grow up to 4 feet tall, and its tough, fleshy, spearlike leaves can grow up to 36 inches long. The clear, thick gel found in the inner part of the leaf is most commonly used for minor cuts and Burns
What is it Made Of?
Although aloe is 99 percent water, aloe gel also contains substances known as glycoproteins and polysaccharides. Glycoproteins speed the healing process by stopping Pain
while polysaccharides stimulate Skin
growth and repair. These substances may also stimulate the Immune
You can get aloe by simply breaking off leaves of the plant (which can be grown as a houseplant), but it is also available commercially in ointments, creams, and lotions. Aloe gel is often included in cosmetic and over-the-counter Skin
care products as well. You can purchase aloe in the form of capsules, tablets, juice, gel, ointment, cream, and lotion.
How to Take It
Pure aloe gel may be applied to the surface of the Skin
for minor Skin
irritations. Children should never take oral aloe preparations.
Slit the leaf of an aloe plant lengthwise and remove the gel from the inside, or use a commercial preparation. Carefully clean affected area, and then apply aloe gel liberally to the Skin
. DO NOT apply to open Wound
The use of herbs is a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. Herbs, however, can trigger side effects and can interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, you should take herbs with care, under the supervision of a health care provider.
Aloe gel is considered safe when applied to the surface of the Skin
, but should not be applied to open or deep Wound
s. In rare cases, it may cause an allergic reaction, mainly a Skin Rash
. If you develop a Rash
, stop using the gel.
Taking aloe latex orally may cause severe intestinal Cramps
and is not recommended. Pregnant
women should never take aloe latex because it may cause Uterine
contractions and trigger miscarriage. Nursing mothers should not take aloe latex either because the effects and safety for infants and children are not known. High doses of aloe can cause Kidney
If you are being treated with any of the following medications, you should not use aloe vera without talking to your doctor. DO NOT take aloe for 2 weeks prior to any surgical procedure as it may increase Bleeding
Medications for Diabetes
: The combination of aloe vera and glyburide, a medication used to treat type 2 Diabetes
, may help control Blood Sugar
and triglyceride (fat) levels in the blood. People with Diabetes
who use aloe either alone or in combination with other medications must be monitored closely by their doctor to make sure Blood Sugar
levels don't fall too low (a condition called hypoglycemia).
Digoxin and Diuretic
s: Because taking oral aloe can decrease levels of potassium in the body, aloe latex should not be used by people taking Diuretic
s (water pills) or digoxin (a medication used to treat irregular Heart
rhythms and congestive Heart
failure). These drugs also lower potassium levels in the body, so a combination of aloe and digoxin or Diuretic
s could cause potassium levels to fall too low.
Due to aloe's effects on the Bowel
s, it can potentially interfere with the absorption of any medication. Talk to your doctor if you plan to take oral aloe.