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Nutritional Supplement

Aloe

  • Skin Protection

    Psoriasis

    Topically applied aloe may improve skin-healing in people with psoriasis.
    Psoriasis
    ×
     

    A double-blind trial in Pakistan found that topical application of an aloe extract (0.5%) in a cream was more effective than placebo in the treatment of adults with psoriasis.8 The aloe cream was applied three times per day for four weeks.

    Wound Healing

    Aloe has been shown to decrease inflammation, promote cellular repair, and facilitate wound healing.
    Wound Healing
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    In animal studies of skin inflammation, both topical and oral aloe vera have proven beneficial in decreasing inflammation and promoting cellular repair.9,10 Topical aloe vera has facilitated wound healing in controlled human research, as well.11 In one controlled trial, however, topical aloe vera gel was inferior to conventional management of surgical wounds.12

    Burns

    The herb Aloe vera is a popular remedy for minor burns, and a preliminary study found it more effective than Vaseline in treating burns.
    Burns
    ×
     

    Aloe is a popular remedy for minor burns and a small preliminary study found it more effective than Vaseline in treating burns.13 The stabilized aloe gel is typically 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,14 but a large, double-blind trial did not find aloe effective in this regard.15

    Seborrheic Dermatitis

    Topically applied aloe may help improve scaling and itching.
    Seborrheic Dermatitis
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    A crude extract of aloe (Aloe barbadensis, Aloe vera) may help seborrheic dermatitis when applied topically. In a double-blind trial, people with seborrheic dermatitis applied either a 30% crude aloe emulsion or a similar placebo cream twice a day for four to six weeks.16 Significantly more people responded to topical aloe vera than to placebo: 62% of those using the aloe vera reported improvements in scaling and itching, compared to only 25% in the placebo group.

    Skin Ulcers

    Aloe has been used historically to improve wound healing and studies have shown it to be effective in healing skin ulcers.
    Skin Ulcers
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    Aloe vera has been used historically to improve wound healing and contains several constituents that may be important for this effect. A group of three patients who had chronic skin ulcerations for 5, 7, and 15 years, respectively, had a rapid reduction in ulcer size after the application of aloe gel on gauze bandages to the ulcers, according to a preliminary report.17 A controlled study found most patients with pressure ulcers had complete healing after applying an aloe hydrogel dressing to the ulcers every day for ten weeks.18 However, this result was not significantly better than that achieved with a moist saline gauze dressing. The amorphous hydrogel dressing used in the above study and derived from the aloe plant (Carrasyn Gel Wound Dressing, Carrington Laboratories, Irving, TX) is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the management of mild to moderate skin ulcers.

    Sunburn

    Topically applied Aloe vera is often recommended for soothing sunburn.
    Sunburn
    ×
     

    Topical aloe (Aloe vera) is often recommended for soothing burns, but only one preliminary human study involving sunburn has been published, and applying aloe gel after ultraviolet exposure had no effect on reddening of the skin.19 No research has investigated whether applying aloe gel before ultraviolet exposure might be more effective.

  • Digestive Support

    Constipation

    Aloe is considered a stimulant laxative because it stimulates bowel muscle contractions. Aloe is very potent and should be used with caution.
    Constipation
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    The laxatives most frequently used world-wide come from plants. Herbal laxatives are either bulk-forming or stimulating. Stimulant laxatives are high in anthraquinone glycosides, which stimulate bowel muscle contraction. The most frequently used stimulant laxatives are senna leaves, cascara bark, and aloe latex. While senna is the most popular, cascara has a somewhat milder action. Aloe is very potent and should be used with caution. Other stimulant laxatives include buckthorn, alder buckthorn(Rhamnus frangula), and rhubarb (Rheum officinale, R. palmatum).20

    Ulcerative Colitis

    Drinking aloe juice may improve your symptoms and your chances for remission.
    Ulcerative Colitis
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    Aloe vera juice has anti-inflammatory activity and been used by some doctors for people with UC. In a double-blind study of people with mildly to moderately active ulcerative colitis, supplementation with aloe resulted in a complete remission or an improvement in symptoms in 47% of cases, compared with 14% of those given a placebo (a statistically significant difference).21 No significant side effects were seen. The amount of aloe used was 100 ml (approximately 3.5 ounces) twice a day for four weeks. Other traditional anti-inflammatory and soothing herbs, including calendula, flaxseed, licorice, marshmallow, myrrh, and yarrow. Many of these herbs are most effective, according to clinical experience, if taken internally as well as in enema form.22 Enemas should be avoided during acute flare-ups but are useful for mild and chronic inflammation. It is best to consult with a doctor experienced with botanical medicine to learn more about herbal enemas before using them. More research needs to be done to determine the effectiveness of these herbs.

    Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

    Aloe is a soothing herb traditionally used to treat reflux and heartburn.
    Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
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    Other herbs traditionally used to treat reflux and heartburn include digestive demulcents (soothing agents) such as aloe vera, slippery elm, bladderwrack, and marshmallow.23 None of these have been scientifically evaluated for effectiveness in GERD. However, a drug known as Gaviscon, containing magnesium carbonate (as an antacid) and alginic acid derived from bladderwrack, has been shown helpful for heartburn in a double-blind trial.24 It is not clear whether whole bladderwrack would be as useful as its alginic acid component.

    Crohn’s Disease

    Aloe juice has historically been recommended by doctors for people with Crohn’s disease.
    Crohn’s Disease
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    A variety of anti-inflammatory herbs historically have been recommended by doctors for people with Crohn’s disease. These include yarrow, chamomile, licorice, and aloe juice. Cathartic preparations of aloe should be avoided. No research has been conducted to validate the use of these herbs for Crohn’s disease.

  • Pain Management

    Wound Healing

    Aloe has been shown to decrease inflammation, promote cellular repair, and facilitate wound healing.
    Wound Healing
    ×
     

    In animal studies of skin inflammation, both topical and oral aloe vera have proven beneficial in decreasing inflammation and promoting cellular repair.25,26 Topical aloe vera has facilitated wound healing in controlled human research, as well.27 In one controlled trial, however, topical aloe vera gel was inferior to conventional management of surgical wounds.28

    Burns

    The herb Aloe vera is a popular remedy for minor burns, and a preliminary study found it more effective than Vaseline in treating burns.
    Burns
    ×
     

    Aloe is a popular remedy for minor burns and a small preliminary study found it more effective than Vaseline in treating burns.29 The stabilized aloe gel is typically 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,30 but a large, double-blind trial did not find aloe effective in this regard.31

  • Blood Sugar and Diabetes Support

    Type 2 Diabetes

    Aloe vera leaf gel may help lower blood glucose levels and hemoglobin-A1c, a marker of long-term glycemic control, in people with type 2 diabetes.
    Type 2 Diabetes
    ×
    Several randomized controlled trials and two meta-analyses have found that aloe vera can help lower blood glucose levels and HgbA1c, and may improve lipid levels, in people with type 2 diabetes. The variety in study protocols makes it difficult to identify a consistently effective dose. In one trial, taking 300 mg of aloe vera leaf gel twice per day was effective for improving glycemic control and lipid metabolism in people with medically treated type 2 diabetes; in another trial, both 100 and 200 mg per day of powdered aloe vera gel had beneficial effects.32,33
  • Oral Health

    Canker Sores

    A gel containing the herbal Aloe vera polysaccharide acemannan may speed the healing of canker sores.
    Canker Sores
    ×
     

    A gel containing the Aloe vera polysaccharide acemannan was found in one double-blind trial to speed the healing of canker sores better than the conventional treatment Orabase Plain.34 The gel was applied four times daily. Because acemannan levels can vary widely in commercial aloe gel products, it is difficult to translate these results to the use of aloe gel for canker sores.

  • Healthy Pregnancy and New Baby

    Seborrheic Dermatitis

    Topically applied aloe may help improve scaling and itching.
    Seborrheic Dermatitis
    ×
     

    A crude extract of aloe (Aloe barbadensis, Aloe vera) may help seborrheic dermatitis when applied topically. In a double-blind trial, people with seborrheic dermatitis applied either a 30% crude aloe emulsion or a similar placebo cream twice a day for four to six weeks.35 Significantly more people responded to topical aloe vera than to placebo: 62% of those using the aloe vera reported improvements in scaling and itching, compared to only 25% in the placebo group.

What Are Star Ratings?
×
Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.

For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.

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Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by Scientific Studies)

Aloe has been historically used for many of the same conditions for which it is used today—particularly constipation and minor cuts and burns. In India, it has been used by herbalists to treat intestinal infections, suppressed menses, and colic.

References

1. Penneys NS. Inhibition of arachidonic acid oxidation in vitro by vehicle components. Acta Derm Venerol Stockh 1981;62:59-61.

2. Visuthikosol V, Chowchuen B, Sukwanarat Y, et al. Effect of aloe vera gel to healing of burn wound: A clinical and histologic study. J Med Assoc Thai 1995;78:403-9.

3. Loveman AB. Leaf of Aloe vera in treatment of Roentgen ray ulcers. Arch Derm Syph 1937;36:838-43.

4. Williams MS, Burk M, Loprinzi CL, et al. Phase III double-blind evaluation of an Aloe vera gel as a prophylactic agent for radiation-induced skin toxicity. Int J Rad Oncol Biol Phys 1996;36:345-9.

5. Yongchaiyudha S, Rungpitarangs V, Bunyapraphatsara N, Chokechaijaroenporn O. Antidiabetic activity of Aloe vera L. juice. I. Clinical trial in new cases of diabetes mellitus. Phytomedicine 1996;3:241-3.

6. Bunyapraphatsara N, Yongchaiyudha S, Rungpitarangsi V, Chokechaijaroenporn O. Antidiabetic activity of Aloe vera L juice. II. Clinical trial in diabetes mellitus patients in combination with glibenclamide. Phytomedicine 1996;3:245-8.

7. Syed TA, Ahmed SA, Holt AH, et al. Management of psoriasis with Aloe vera extract in a hydrophilic cream: A placebo-controlled, double-blind study. Tropical Med Inter Health 1996;1:505-9.

8. Syed TA, Ahmed SA, Holt AH, et al. Management of psoriasis with Aloe vera extract in a hydrophilic cream: A placebo-controlled, double-blind study. Tropical Med Inter Health 1996;1:505-9.

9. Davis RH, Stewart GH, Bregman PJ. Aloe vera and the inflamed synovial pouch model. J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 1992;82(3):140-8.

10. Davis RH, Leitner MG, Russo JM, Byrne ME. Wound healing. Oral and topical activity of Aloe vera. J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 1989:79:559-62.

11. Shelton RW. Aloe vera, its chemical and therapeutic properties. Int J Dermatol 1991;30:679-83.

12. Schmidt JM, Greenspoon JS. Aloe vera dermal wound gel is associated with a delay in wound healing. Obstet Gynecol 1991;78:115-7.

13. Visuthikosol V, Chowchuen B, Sukwanarat Y, et al. Effect of aloe vera gel to healing of burn wound: A clinical and histologic study. J Med Assoc Thai 1995;78:403-9.

14. Loveman AB. Leaf of Aloe vera in treatment of Roentgen ray ulcers. Arch Derm Syph 1937;36:838-43.

15. Williams MS, Burk M, Loprinzi CL, et al. Phase III double-blind evaluation of an Aloe vera gel as a prophylactic agent for radiation-induced skin toxicity. Int J Rad Oncol Biol Phys 1996;36:345-9.

16. Vardy DA, Cohen AD, Tchetov T, et al. A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of an Aloe vera (A. barbadensis) emulsion in the treatment of seborrheic dermatitis. J Dermatol Treat 1999;10:7-11.

17. Zawahry ME, Hegazy MR, Helal M. Use of aloe in treating leg ulcers and dermatoses. Int J Dermatol 1973;12:68-73.

18. Thomas DR, Goode PS, LaMaster K, Tennyson T. Acemannan hydrogel dressing versus saline dressing for pressure ulcers. A randomized, controlled trial. Adv Wound Care 1998;11:273-6.

19. Crowell J, Penneys N. The effects of aloe vera on cutaneous erythema and blood flow following ultraviolet B (UVB) exposure. Clin Res 1987;35:676A [abstract].

20. Weiss RF. Herbal Medicine. Hippokrates Verlag GmbH, Stuttgart, Germany, 1988:105-111

21. Langmead L, Feakins RM, Goldthorpe S, et al. Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of oral aloe vera gel for active ulcerative colitis. Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2004;19:739-47.

22. Weiss RF. Herbal Medicine. Beaconsfield, UK: Beaconsfield Publishers Ltd, 1989, 114-5.

23. Golan R. Optimal Wellness. New York: Ballantine Books, 1995, 373-4.

24. Chevrel B. A comparative crossover study on the treatment of heartburn and epigastric pain: Liquid Gaviscon and a magnesium-aluminum antacid gel. J Int Med Res 1980;8:300-3.

25. Davis RH, Stewart GH, Bregman PJ. Aloe vera and the inflamed synovial pouch model. J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 1992;82(3):140-8.

26. Davis RH, Leitner MG, Russo JM, Byrne ME. Wound healing. Oral and topical activity of Aloe vera. J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 1989:79:559-62.

27. Shelton RW. Aloe vera, its chemical and therapeutic properties. Int J Dermatol 1991;30:679-83.

28. Schmidt JM, Greenspoon JS. Aloe vera dermal wound gel is associated with a delay in wound healing. Obstet Gynecol 1991;78:115-7.

29. Visuthikosol V, Chowchuen B, Sukwanarat Y, et al. Effect of aloe vera gel to healing of burn wound: A clinical and histologic study. J Med Assoc Thai 1995;78:403-9.

30. Loveman AB. Leaf of Aloe vera in treatment of Roentgen ray ulcers. Arch Derm Syph 1937;36:838-43.

31. Williams MS, Burk M, Loprinzi CL, et al. Phase III double-blind evaluation of an Aloe vera gel as a prophylactic agent for radiation-induced skin toxicity. Int J Rad Oncol Biol Phys 1996;36:345-9.

32. Huseini H, Kianbakht S, Hajiaghaee R, Dabaghian F. Anti-hyperglycemic and anti-hypercholesterolemic effects of Aloe vera leaf gel in hyperlipidemic type 2 diabetic patients: a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Planta Med 2012;78:311–6.

33. Choudhary M, Kochhar A, Sangha J. Hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic effect of Aloe vera L. in non-insulin dependent diabetics. J Food Sci Technol 2014;51:90–6.

34. Plemons JM, Reps TD, Binnie WH, et al. Evaluation of acemannan in the treatment of recurrent aphthous stomatitis. Wounds 1994;6:40-5.

35. Vardy DA, Cohen AD, Tchetov T, et al. A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of an Aloe vera (A. barbadensis) emulsion in the treatment of seborrheic dermatitis. J Dermatol Treat 1999;10:7-11.

36. Schmidt JM, Greenspoon JS. Aloe vera dermal wound gel is associated with a delay in wound healing. Obstet Gynecol 1991;78:115-7.

37. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Boston, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 80-1.

38. Guo X, Mei N. Aloe vera: A review of toxicity and adverse clinical effects. J Environ Sci Health C Environ Carcinog Ecotoxicol Rev 2016;34:77–96. doi:10.1080/10590501.2016.1166826.

Copyright © 2020 TraceGains, Inc. All rights reserved.

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The information presented by TraceGains is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2020.

Copyright © 2020 TraceGains, Inc. All rights reserved.

The information presented by TraceGains is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2020.