Aloe vera is a medicinal plant with antioxidant and antibacterial properties. Aloe vera benefits can include reducing dental plaque, accelerating wound healing, preventing wrinkles, and managing blood sugar.

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 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.

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Aloe vera may help treat skin injuries.

The cosmetic, pharmaceutical, and food industries use aloe vera extensively, and the plant has an estimated annual market value of $13 billion globally.

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, making the leaves thick. This water-filled tissue is the “gel” that people associate with aloe vera products.

The gel contains most of the beneficial bioactive compounds in the plant, including vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants.

Antioxidants are important for health. Aloe vera gel contains powerful antioxidants belonging to a large family of substances known as polyphenols.

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 known for its antibacterial, antiviral, and antiseptic properties. This is part of why it may help heal wounds and treat skin problems.

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 described 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 review of experimental studies found that aloe vera could reduce the healing time of burns by around 9 days compared with conventional medication. It also helped prevent redness, itching, and infections.

The evidence for aloe vera helping heal other types of wounds 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.

In a study of 152 school children ages 8-14 years, researchers compared an aloe vera mouthwash with the standard mouthwash ingredient chlorhexidine.

After 4 weeks of use, the aloe vera mouth rinse decreased plaque, gingivitis, and salivary Streptococcus mutans (a plaque-producing bacterium), making it comparable to that of chlorhexidine.

Another 2021 study concluded that aloe vera mouthwash is an effective natural alternative to chemically formulated mouthwashes.

Aloe vera gel is also effective in killing a yeast found in the mouth known as Candida albicans.

Many people experience mouth ulcers, or canker sores, at some point in their lives. These usually form underneath the lip, inside the mouth, and last for about a week.

Studies have shown that aloe vera treatment can accelerate the healing of mouth ulcers.

For example, a 2022 review of nine randomized controlled trials concluded that aloe vera treatment can accelerate the healing of mouth ulcers better than other interventions. It also offers a shorter healing time.

In another older study, aloe vera gel not only accelerated the healing of mouth ulcers but also reduced the pain associated with them.

Aloe vera may 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 well-established laxative effects.

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 2002.

Contrary to popular belief, aloe vera does not appear to be effective against other digestive conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease.

Learn more here.

There is some preliminary evidence to suggest that topical aloe vera gel can slow aging of the skin.

In a 2009 study of 30 females over the age of 45, taking oral aloe vera gel increased collagen production and improved skin elasticity over a 90-day period.

Reviews also suggest that aloe vera could help the skin retain moisture and improve skin integrity, which could benefit dry skin conditions.

Read more about aloe vera’s effects on the skin here:

People sometimes use aloe vera as a remedy for diabetes. This is because it may enhance insulin sensitivity and help improve blood sugar management.

Indeed, a 2021 review concluded there is a moderate to high quality of evidence in favor of the effects of aloe vera in patients with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.

However, the quality of these existing studies is not ideal, so scientists do not currently recommend using aloe vera for this purpose.

The benefits of aloe vera for the hair have mainly been studied in relation to seborrheic dermatitis – a skin condition that causes a reddish rash with crusty, yellow-white scales, usually on the face and scalp.

One older study indicated that aloe vera significantly reduces itchiness, scaliness, and affected area size in those with the condition.

Given that seborrheic dermatitis can lead to temporary hair loss, this underscores aloe vera’s potential for promoting hair growth.

Learn more about the benefits of aloe vera for hair here.

Aloe vera can come in various forms, including a topical gel or ointment, it can be used in its raw form, or it can even be consumed as a liquid.

Learn more here about how to use aloe vera.

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 some reports of liver injury associated with oral forms of aloe vera.

Also, there may be risks associated with non-decolorized whole leaf extract of aloe vera. This form of aloe vera is taken from the plant’s leaves and is not filtered to remove cancer-causing chemicals.

Indeed, the NCCIH 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 than 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.