Five Scientific studies support Aloe Vera’s health benefits, taken internally or externally.
What is Aloe Vera?
You can find evidence of its use as an herbal medicine as long as 5,000 years ago. While many people know that it can be applied topically, you may be surprised to learn that you can also take parts of the plat orally for many more aloe health benefits.
The two parts of the aloe plant that are most commonly used for health purposes are the gel – a clear, jelly-like substance inside the leaf – and the plant’s latex, a yellowy substance found just under the leaf’s skin. These two substances are taken both topically and internally.
Aloe vera gel is used as an ingredient of countless skin products. It’s also been FDA-approved for use as a food flavoring. Aloe gel and juice products designed to be swallowed can be found in many grocery stores, health food stores, or online.
Benefits of aloe
But we’ll focus in this article on five of the scientifically supported health benefits of aloe vera, as some of the other uses have either not been tested for veracity of the claims or have been tested and the results did not support some of the specific health claims of aloe vera.
1. Aloe aids type 2 diabetic patientsIn a 2012 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, researchers concluded that aloe is a safe anti-hyperglycemic and anti-hypercholesterolemic agent for hyperlipidemic type 2 diabetic patients. The aloe gel significantly lowered study participants’ fasting blood glucose, HbA1c, total cholesterol, and LDL levels, and with no noteworthy negative effects.
2. Aloe vera gel delivers anti-inflammatory benefitsHistorically, aloe vera has been used for anti-inflammatory benefits, especially among patients with inflammatory bowel disease. A 2004 study, also randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled, appeared to support those claims. Patients took it for four weeks and experienced a measurable benefit. The aloe also safely reduced colitis disease activity.
3. Aloe is safe and effective treatment for vulval lichen planusVulval lichen planus is a disease of unknown cause that creates an itchy, burning, or painful rash or lesions on the skin throughout the body. Researchers in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled 2008 study in India, found that locally applying aloe gel resulted in vast improvement after eight weeks of treatment.
4. Aloe helps in some types of burn wound healingIn 2007, scientists combined research data from four controlled clinical trials with a total of 371 patients, compiling results to determine if aloe vera can aid in burn wound healing. The conclusion is that, for first to second degree burns, aloe helped, reducing burn wound healing time by nearly nine days.
5. Psoriasis sufferers find relief from aloeA 1996 double-blind study of adults with psoriasis used aloe cream to treat this chronic skin condition. The aloe treatment produced symptom relief that remained for up to a year after treatment was stopped, with some patients apparently cured of the condition. Another study showed that aloe cream worked better in treating psoriasis than traditionally used corticosteroids.
Aloe Vera Risks, Aloe Vera Cautions
- Drug interactions: Aloe can interact or interfere with many drugs, so check with your doctor for possible contraindication.
- Allergies: Avoid aloe if you have known sensitivities to it.
- Abdominal pain: If you are experiencing abdominal pain, do not use aloe to treat it, due to the possible nature of the pain source (appendicitis, bowel obstruction, fecal impaction, etc.).
- Skin reactions: Continued use of aloe skin gel applied to the skin can cause allergic skin reactions. Do not use for for severe wounds, burns, or frostbite.
- Pregnancy: Though generally safe to use externally during pregnancy, avoid taking it internally. During lactation, do not take the dried juice from aloe leaves.
- Blood sugar: Aloe can lower your blood sugar levels, which may interfere with blood-sugar-lowering medications.
- Medicines, herbs, supplements: Aloe can interact with many herbs and supplements, as well as certain anesthetics and antifungals.
Consult your doctor right away if you experience side effects.