Aloe Vera

Plant Part Used

Leaf gel; latex

Introduction

Aloe is a succulent plant, mostly found in East and South Africa that has been used medicinally for centuries. Traditional applications abound, including topical use in wounds, burns, rashes, and internal use as a laxative. While the gel from the aloe leaf may provide the wound healing properties, the bitter, yellow latex from the plant contains a bowel stimulant that may function as a laxative.

Today, aloe vera gel is found in many commercial skin-care products, shampoos, and conditioners while the latex is a key component of many commercial laxatives.

Interactions and Depletions

Interactions

Dosage Info

Dosage Range

Leaf gel: Apply topically as needed to affected areas. Aloe vera gel may be taken internally at doses of 1-3 tablespoons, up to 3 times daily; recommended to use aloin and aloe-emodin free products if using internally.

Latex: 20-30mg hydroxyantracene derivatives daily.

Most Common Dosage

Leaf gel: Apply topically as needed to affected areas. Internally: 2 tablespoons, 3 times a day; recommended to use aloin and aloe-emodin free products if using internally.

Latex: 20mg hydroxyanthracene derivatives daily.

Standardization

[span class=doc]Standardization represents the complete body of information and controls that serve to enhance the batch to batch consistency of a botanical product, including but not limited to the presence of a marker compound at a defined level or within a defined range.[/span]

Leaf gel: If using internally, it is recommended to use aloin and aloe-emodin free products.

Latex: The most current available medical and scientific literature indicates that this dietary supplement should be 20-30mg hydroxyanthracene derivatives per dose of the latex, calculated as anhydrous aloin.

Reported Uses

Aloe vera gel has been used for centuries, both internally and externally, to treat a wide variety of wounds including traumatic wounds, burns, lacerations, abrasions, punctures, sunburns, inflammation, and frost bite. It has been used to treat skin disorders like psoriasis, a rare skin disease known as lichen planus, (1) and diabetic and pressure ulcers. (2) Internally, aloe may also be useful in the treatment of peptic ulcers, some studies suggest. (3) , (4) Taken orally, aloe vera gel helped reduce symptoms of patients with ulcerative colitis because of its anti-inflammatory effect. (5)

Scientists think aloe enhances the body’s natural wound-healing systems while stimulating the activity of collagen and elastin, which are responsible for regenerating and maintaining tissue structure and integrity. (6) Aloe also contains vitamins and minerals that may be beneficial in wound healing. (7) , (8) What’s more, aloe may have anti-inflammatory effects, which might further contribute to wound healing. (9)

Aloe vera has been reported for years to be effective in treating various types of burns, (10) , (11) , (12) including those resulting from radiation therapy. Without the use of aloe gel the radiation effects to the skin occurred in three weeks compared to five weeks when the gel was used. (13)

While aloe is best known for its ability to mend our wounds, it may also have a few other applications. Most important of these is aloe’s role as a laxative. Scientists and traditional healers alike have long known that the latex form of aloe vera can have laxative effects. (14)

Studies suggest that one component of aloe vera may support immunity and function as an anti-viral agent. (15) , (16) Some studies have even looked at the use of aloe in the treatment of HIV and type 1 herpes, but results are inconclusive at this time. (17) Other studies have looked at aloe’s potential antibacterial and antifungal properties. (18)

Though studies have conflicting results, aloe may help support proper blood sugar levels in people with diabetes or similar disorders. (19) , (20)

Toxicities & Precautions

Introduction

[span class=alert]Be sure to tell your pharmacist, doctor, or other health care providers about any dietary supplements you are taking. There may be a potential for interactions or side effects.[/span]

General

Because of the laxative effects of latex, overuse may cause electrolyte imbalances. (21)

If used in wound healing and the wound has not improved in five to seven days, consult your physician or seek further medical attention.

Side Effects

Occasional side effects have been reported with the use of this dietary supplement. Discontinue topical use if rash or irritation develops. (22) Tell your doctor if these side effects become severe or do not go away.

Pregnancy/ Breast Feeding

This dietary supplement should not be used in pregnant women. (23)

This dietary supplement should not be used if you are breast-feeding an infant. (24)

Age Limitations

To date, the medical literature has not reported any adverse effects specifically related to the use of this dietary supplement in children. Since young children may have undiagnosed allergies or medical conditions, this dietary supplement should not be used in children under 10 years of age unless recommended by a physician.

Read More

  1) Botanical Info

  2) Safety

References

  1. View Abstract: Hayes SM. Lichen Planus--Report of Successful Treatment with Aloe Vera. Gen Dent. May1999;47(3):268-72.
  2. Salcido R. Complementary and alternative medicine in wound healing. Adv Wound Care. Nov1999;12(9):438
  3. Sotnikova EP. [Therapeutic use of aloe in experimental stomach ulcers]. Vrach Delo. Jun1984;(6):71-4.
  4. View Abstract: Saito H, et al. [Effects of aloe extracts, aloctin A, on gastric secretion and on experimental gastric lesions in rats].Yakugaku Zasshi. May1989;109(5):335-9.
  5. View Abstract: 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. Apr2004;19(7):739-47.
  6. View Abstract: Chithra P, et al. Influence of Aloe vera on collagen characteristics in healing dermal wounds in rats. Mol Cell Biochem. Apr1998;181(1-2):71-6.
  7. View Abstract: Andrews M, et al. The role of zinc in wound healing. Adv Wound Care. Apr1999;12(3):137-8.
  8. View Abstract: Wipke-Tevis DD, et al. Nutrition, tissue oxygenation, and healing of venous leg ulcers. J Vasc Nurs. Sep1998;16(3):48-56.
  9. View Abstract: Reynolds T, et al. Aloe vera leaf gel: a review update. J Ethnopharmacol. Dec1999;68(1-3):3-37.
  10. View Abstract: Visuthikosol V, et al. Effect of aloe vera gel to healing of burn wound a clinical and histologic study. J Med Assoc Thai. Aug1995;78(8):403-9.
  11. View Abstract: Rodriguez-Bigas M, et al. Comparative evaluation of aloe vera in the management of burn wounds in guinea pigs. Plast Reconstr Surg. Mar1988;81(3):386-9.
  12. View Abstract: Somboonwong J, et al. Therapeutic effects of Aloe vera on cutaneous microcirculation and wound healing in second degree burn model in rats. J Med Assoc Thai. Apr2000;83(4):417-25.
  13. View Abstract: Olsen DL, Raub W Jr, Bradley C, Johnson M, Macias JL, Love V, et al. The effect of aloe vera gel/mild soap versus mild soap alone in preventing skin reactions in patients undergoing radiation therapy. Oncol Nurs Forum. Apr2001;28(3):543-7.
  14. View Abstract: Ishii Y, et al. Studies of aloe. III. Mechanism of cathartic effect. (2). Chem Pharm Bull. Tokyo. Jan1990;38(1):197-200.
  15. Saoo K, et al. Antiviral activity of aloe extracts against cytomegalovirus. Phytotherapy Res. 1996;10:348-350.
  16. View Abstract: Womble D, et al. The impact of acemannan on the generation and function of cytotoxic T-lymphocytes. Immunopharmacol Immunotoxicol. 1992;14(1-2):63-77.
  17. View Abstract: Montaner JS, et al. Double-blind placebo-controlled pilot trial of acemannan in advanced human immunodeficiency virus disease. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr Hum Retrovirol. Jun1996;12(2):153-7.
  18. View Abstract: Ali MI, et al. Antifungal effects of different plant extracts and their major components of selected aloe species. Phytother Res. Aug1999;13(5):401-7.
  19. View Abstract: Ghannam N, et al. The antidiabetic activity of aloes: preliminary clinical and experimental observations. Horm Res. 1986;24(4):288-94.
  20. View Abstract: Okyar A, Can A, Akev N, Baktir G, Sutlupinar N. Effect of Aloe vera leaves on blood glucose level in type I and type II diabetic rat models. Phytother Res. Mar2001;15(2):157-61.
  21. View Abstract: Ishii Y, et al. Studies of aloe. III. Mechanism of cathartic effect. (2). Chem Pharm Bull. Tokyo. Jan1990;38(1):197-200.
  22. View Abstract: Ernst E. Adverse effects of herbal drugs in dermatology. Br J Dermatol. Nov2000;143(5):923-9.
  23. View Abstract: Telefo PB, et al. Effects of an aqueous extract of Aloe buettneri, Justicia insularis, Hibiscus macranthus, Dicliptera verticillata on some physiological and biochemical parameters of reproduction in immature female rats. J Ethnopharmacol. Dec1998;63(3):193-200.
  24. View Abstract: Telefo PB, et al. Effects of an aqueous extract of Aloe buettneri, Justicia insularis, Hibiscus macranthus, Dicliptera verticillata on some physiological and biochemical parameters of reproduction in immature female rats. J Ethnopharmacol. Dec1998;63(3):193-200.