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 glycoprotein
s and polysaccharides. Glycoprotein
s 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.
Aloe Vera Benefits
The nutrients found in aloe vera juice can provide some health benefits. Beta-carotene is a yellow-red pigment that's found in aloe vera plants. It acts as an Antioxidant
that can help support eye health, including retinal and corneal function.
burn is a Pain
ful condition that involves Acid
leaving the Stomach
and traveling up the Esophagus
. A recent study has shown that aloe vera juice can reduce the symptoms of Heart
burn without any uncomfortable side effects.
. Aloe vera juice contains several compounds known to act as Laxative
s. While drinking aloe vera juice is unlikely to cause Digestive
issues in people with normal Bowel
movements, it has shown promise as a way to relieve Constipation
May improve IBS symptoms. Aloe vera juice may be a potential treatment for irritable Bowel
syndrome (IBS). This condition involves the Inflammation
of the Intestine
, leading to Pain
and other issues. Aloe has been shown to have Anti-inflammatory
properties. In one trial, people with IBS who drank aloe vera juice said some of their symptoms improved. However, scientists need to do more research.
Aloe Vera Nutrit
Aloe vera juice is a rich source of Antioxidant
s, which help fight free radicals. This lowers oxidative Stress
on your body and reduces the risk of chronic conditions such as Diabetes
disease, and Cancer
Aloe vera juice is also an excellent source of:
Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Beta-carotene, Folic Acid
, Calcium, Magnesium
Aloe vera juice contains high levels of Magnesium
, which is a vital nutrient for Nerve
helps your body with more than 300 different Enzyme
reactions, including those that regulate your Blood Pressure
. It also helps regulate Heart
Aloe Vera Uses
Research backs up the ancient use of topical aloe vera as a Skin
treatment, at least for specific conditions. Studies have shown that aloe gel might be effective in treating Skin
, Seborrhea, Dandruff
, Minor Burns
injured by radiation, Herpes Sores
, Anal fissures
There's also strong evidence that aloe vera juice, which contains latex, taken by mouth is a powerful Laxative
. In fact, aloe juice was once sold in over-the-counter Constipation
drugs. But because aloe vera's safety was not well-established, the FDA ordered in 2002 that over-the-counter Laxative
s containing aloe vera either be reformulated or removed from store shelves.
Aloe vera gel taken by mouth seems to help lower Blood Sugar
levels in people with Diabetes
. It may also help to lower Cholesterol
. The results of aloe vera studies for other medical conditions have been less clear.
How much aloe vera should you use?
Creams and gels with aloe vera vary in dosage. Some creams for minor Burns
have just 0.5% aloe vera. Others used for Psoriasis
may contain as much as 70% aloe vera. As an oral supplement, it has no set dose.
, some use 100-200 milligrams of aloe vera juice -- or 50 milligrams of aloe vera extract -- daily as needed. For Diabetes
, 1 tablespoon of the gel has been used daily.
How to Prepare Aloe Vera Juice
Aloe vera juice can be found in supermarkets around the country. It typically comes in bottles, mixed with water to make it less thick.
It’s also possible to make aloe vera juice yourself. Take an aloe vera spike from a plant and trim the pointed edges off of the sides. Then, carefully slice off the Skin
on the flat side of the leaf and remove the gel from inside. This gel is the edible part of the plant.
Make sure you remove all traces of the Skin
from the plant. The Skin
adds a bitter, unpleasant flavor. You can rinse the gel under running water to help remove all traces of it.
Once you have the gel, you can toss it in a blender. Blend until smooth, then add water until it reaches the thickness you like. The result is a fresh, clean-tasting beverage.
Aloe Vera Risks
Talk to your doctor before using it. Researchers warn against the chronic use of aloe vera. But if the aloe vera product is free of aloin -- an extract of the plant that has been found to cause colorectal Cancer
in rats -- it may be OK as a topical remedy for Sunburn
. Aloin is found between the outer leaf of the aloe plant and the gel inside.
Side effects. Topical aloe vera might irritate your Skin
. Oral aloe vera, which has a Laxative
effect, can cause cramping and Diarrhea
. This may cause electrolyte imbalances in the blood of people who ingest aloe vera for more than a few days. It can also stain the Colon
, making it hard to get a good look at the Colon
during a Colon
oscopy. So avoid it for a month before having a Colon
oscopy. Aloe vera gel, for topical or oral use, should be free of aloin, which can irritate the Gastrointestin
Risks. Do not apply topical aloe vera to deep cuts or severe Burns
. People allergic to garlic, onions, or tulips are more likely to be allergic to aloe. High doses of oral aloe vera are dangerous. Don’t take oral aloe vera if you have intestinal problems, Heart
, or electrolyte imbalances.
Interactions. If you take any drugs regularly, talk to your doctor before you start using aloe vera supplements. They could interact with medicines and supplements like Diabetes
s, steroids, and licorice root. The oral use of aloe vera gel may also block the absorption of medicines taken at the same time.
Given the lack of evidence about its safety, aloe vera supplements should not be used orally by children and by women who are Pregnant