Botanical name: Aloe barbadensis, Aloe vera
The aloe plant originally came from Africa. The leaves, which are long, green, fleshy, and have spikes along the edges, are used medicinally. The fresh leaf gel and latex are used for many purposes. Aloe latex is the sticky residue left over after the liquid from cut aloe leaves has evaporated.
How is it used?
50 to 200 mg of aloe latex once per day for a maximum of ten days
Aloe is considered a stimulant laxative because it stimulates bowel muscle contractions. This herb is very potent and should be used with caution.
Apply gel three to five times per day
Aloe vera is a popular remedy for minor burns, and a preliminary study found it more effective than Vaseline in treating burns.
• Canker Sores
Follow label instructions
A gel containing the herbal Aloe vera polysaccharide acemannan may speed the healing of canker sores.
• Genital Herpes
Apply a 0.5% cream three times per day
One trial found that aloe cream shortened healing time of genital herpes outbreaks.
Apply a 0.5% extract three times daily
Topically applied aloe may improve skin-healing in people with psoriasis.
• Skin Ulcers
Apply gel on gauze or dressings daily
Aloe has been used historically to improve wound healing and studies have shown it to be effective in healing skin ulcers.
• Type 2 Diabetes
1 Tbs (15 ml) of gel daily
Aloe, either alone or in combination with the oral hypoglycemic drug glibenclamide, has been shown to effectively lower blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes.
• Wound Healing
Apply stabilized gel three to five times daily
Aloe has been shown to decrease inflammation, promote cellular repair, and facilitate wound healing.
The constituents of aloe latex responsible for its laxative effects are known as anthraquinone glycosides. These molecules are split by the normal bacteria in the large intestines to form other molecules (aglycones), which exert the laxative action. Since aloe is such a powerful laxative, other plant laxatives such as senna or cascara are often recommended first.
Topically, it is not yet clear which constituents are responsible for the wound healing properties of aloe. Test tube studies suggest polysaccharides, such as acemannan, help promote skin healing by anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and immune-stimulating actions. Aloe’s effects on the skin may also be enhanced by its high concentration of amino acids, as well as vitamin E, vitamin C, zinc, and essential fatty acids.
Aloe has been used to treat minor burns. Stabilized aloe gel is applied to the affected area of skin three to five times per day. Older case studies reported that aloe gel applied topically could help heal radiation burns, and a small clinical trial found it more effective than a topical petroleum jelly in treating burns. However, a large, modern, placebo-controlled trial did not find aloe effective for treating minor burns.
Two small controlled human trials have found that aloe, either alone or in combination with the oral hypoglycemic drug, glibenclamide, effectively lowers blood sugar in people with type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes.
An aloe extract in a cream has been shown effective in a double-blind trial in people with psoriasis.
Are there any side effects or interactions?
Except in the rare person who is allergic to aloe, topical application of the gel is generally safe. For any burn that blisters significantly or is otherwise severe, medical attention is absolutely essential. In some severe burns and wounds, aloe gel may actually impede healing.
The latex form of aloe should not be used by anyone with inflammatory intestinal diseases, such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or appendicitis. It should also not be used by children, or by women during pregnancy or breast-feeding.
In people with constipation, aloe latex should not be used for more than ten consecutive days as it may lead to dependency and fluid loss. Extensive fluid loss may lead to depletion of important electrolytes in the body such as potassium.
At the time of writing, there were no well-known interactions with this supplement.
Copyright © 2009 Aisle7. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of the Aisle7 content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Aisle7. Healthnotes Newsletter is for educational or informational purposes only, and is not intended to diagnose or provide treatment for any condition. If you have any concerns about your own health, you should always consult with a healthcare professional. Aisle7 shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. AISLE7 is a registered trademark of Aisle7.
Aisle7, 215 NW Park Ave., Portland, OR 97209, Info@Aisle7.net, www.Aisle7.net