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Aloe vera is a popular medicinal plant that people have used for thousands of years.
Aloe vera, or Aloe barbadensis, is a thick, short-stemmed plant that stores water in its leaves. It is best known for treating skin injuries, but it also has several other uses that could potentially benefit health.
This article lists eight potential health benefits of aloe vera. It also covers some of the risks associated with use.
The cosmetic, pharmaceutical, and food industries use aloe vera extensively, and the plant has an estimated annual market value of
Aloe vera is known for its thick, pointed, and fleshy green leaves, which may grow to about 12–19 inches (30–50 centimeters) in length.
Each leaf contains a slimy tissue that stores water, and this makes the leaves thick. This water filled tissue is the “gel” that people associate with aloe vera products.
Antioxidants are important for health. Aloe vera gel
These polyphenols, along with several other compounds in aloe vera, help inhibit the growth of certain bacteria that can cause infections in humans.
Aloe vera is
People most often use aloe vera as a topical medication, rubbing it onto the skin rather than consuming it. In fact, it has a long history of use in treating sores, and particularly burns, including sunburn.
The United States Pharmacopeia describe aloe vera preparations as a skin protectant as early as 1810–1820.
Studies suggest that it is an effective topical treatment for first and second degree burns.
For example, a
The evidence for aloe vera helping heal other types of wound is inconclusive, but the research is promising.
Tooth decay and diseases of the gum are very common health problems. One of the best ways to prevent these conditions is to reduce the buildup of plaque, or bacterial biofilms, on the teeth.
After 4 days of use, the aloe vera mouth rinse appeared to be just as effective as chlorhexidine in reducing dental plaque.
Aloe vera is effective in killing the plaque-producing bacterium Streptococcus mutans in the mouth, as well as the yeast Candida albicans.
Studies have shown that aloe vera treatment can accelerate the healing of mouth ulcers.
For example, in a 7-day
However, it did not outperform the conventional ulcer treatment: corticosteroids.
Aloe vera may also help treat constipation.
This time it is the latex, not the gel, that provides the benefits. The latex is a sticky yellow residue present just under the skin of the leaf.
The key compound responsible for this effect is called aloin, or barbaloin, which has
However, people have raised concerns about safety with frequent use. For this reason, aloe latex has not been available in the U.S. as an over-the-counter medication since
There is some preliminary evidence to suggest that topical aloe vera gel can slow aging of the skin.
Read more about aloe vera’s effects on the skin here:
For example, a
However, the quality of the existing studies is not ideal, so scientists do not currently recommend using aloe vera for this purpose.
Aloe vera is a safe remedy with few known side effects.
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) say that topical use is likely safe.
That said, the oral use of aloe vera may cause stomach cramps or diarrhea due to its laxative effects. There have also been
The NCCIH also report that nondecolorized whole leaf extract of aloe vera seems to be associated with cancer risk in rats.
Aloe vera has a range of therapeutic properties, especially as an ointment for the skin and gums.
People can use bottled aloe vera gel or take it directly from the leaf of an aloe plant. Aloe vera juice has different uses to aloe vera gel.
Oral options should contain decolorized whole leaf extract of aloe vera to minimize risk.
A person should always speak to a doctor before using aloe products to treat a condition.
SHOP FOR ALOE VERA PRODUCTS
Various aloe vera products are available to purchase in health food stores or online: