Q-Notes for Adult Medicine
Scientists have studied aloe for the following health problems:
Scientific research suggests that some of the chemicals in aloe latex (the dried inner lining of the leaf) may work as laxatives. However, there are few studies of aloe latex taken by mouth as a laxative. Further study is needed to answer whether aloe is a good treatment for constipation and how it compares to other laxatives.
Inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis
Early study in this area seems promising. Further research is needed before a recommendation can be made. Side effects and interactions have been reported. Please do not self-treat with aloe before discussing with your doctor and pharmacist.
Early research suggests that aloe gel applied to the skin may help to heal minor burns. However, these studies are small and of low quality. Further research is necessary before a definitive answer is known.
Pressure ulcers occur when people are not able to move around well and their skin breaks down because of pressure placed on one spot for a long time. These ulcers can become very deep or infected. There is early evidence that aloe does not help the healing of pressure ulcers. Therefore, aloe should not be used for this purpose.
Early evidence suggests that when aloe gel is placed on surgical wounds, they take longer to heal. Another case report of the use of aloe vera gel resulted in full wound healing after treatments such as antibiotics, surgical debridement, and skin grafting had failed. Study results conflict, and therefore further research is needed befor a conclusion can be drawn.
Early evidence suggests that aloe may be helpful for treating psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis and genital herpes in men. However, there is not enough research to make a clear recommendation. Aloe has also been studied for radiation skin damage, allergic rash, type 2 diabetes, HIV infection and cancer prevention, but clear answers are not known at this time.
Aloe has been suggested for many other uses, based on tradition or on scientific theories. However, these uses have not been thoroughly studied in humans, and there is limited scientific evidence about safety or effectiveness. Some of these suggested uses are for conditions that are potentially very serious and even life-threatening. You should consult a health care provider before taking aloe for any unproven use.
Chronic fatigue syndrome
Congestive heart failure
Damaged blood vessels
Gastrointestinal cytoprotective agent
Heart disease (for prevention)
Liver inflammation (hepatitis)
Mast cell stabilizer
Merkel cell carcinoma
Worm infections of the intestine or skin
Pregnancy And Breast-Feeding
Interactions with drugs, supplements and other herbs have not been thoroughly studied. The interactions listed below have been reported in scientific publications. If you are taking prescription drugs, speak with your health care provider or pharmacist before using herbs or dietary supplements.
Interactions With Drugs
A survey showed 30 percent of surgical patients reported using aloe as an herbal medicine within 2 years before surgery. Awareness of the increasing use of herbals is important to prevent, recognize, and treat potential health problems that may arise due to interactions. Surgeons need to be aware of the use of herbal medication in their patients to prevent possible harmful effects and perioperative complications.
Taking aloe by mouth should be avoided by people taking oral drugs for diabetes or using insulin. Aloe should be used cautiously by people taking thiazide diuretics, such as hydrochlorothiazide; oral corticosteroids; or digoxin (Lanoxin). Taking aloe latex by mouth at the same time as laxatives may increase diarrhea, dehydration or electrolyte imbalances in the blood. When taken by mouth, aloe gel may interfere with the absorption of other drugs.
Interactions With Herbs And Dietary Supplements
When taken by mouth, aloe may increase the laxative properties of agents such as senna and may cause diarrhea. Aloe may also add to the effects of herbs that lower blood sugar levels, such as bitter melon (Momordica charantia). Aloe latex may increase the potassium-lowering effects of other herbs such as licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra).
The doses listed below are based on scientific research, publications or traditional use. Because most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly studied or monitored, safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients even within the same brand. Combination products often contain small amounts of each ingredient and may not be effective. The appropriate dosing should be discussed with a health care provider before starting therapy; always read the recommendations on a product's label. The dosing for unproven uses should be approached cautiously, because scientific information is limited in these areas.
For Minor Skin Burns
Adults (Aged 18 Or Older): Aloe gel: The gel is often used liberally on the skin. Severe burns should be treated by a health care provider immediately.
Children (Younger Than 18): Aloe gel: The gel is often used on children's skin. Severe burns should be treated by a health care provider immediately.
Adults (Aged 18 Or Older): Capsules: A dose of 40 to 170 milligrams of aloe latex (dried inner lining of the leaf) per day, for no longer than seven days, has been taken by mouth. Combination products containing aloe latex and other laxative herbs or supplements are available.
Children (Younger Than 18): Aloe taken by mouth has not been studied in children and theoretically may have harmful effects, such as lowering blood sugar levels. Therefore, it is not recommended.
Aloe vera is widely used in food supplements, beverages, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics. Aloe has been suggested for many conditions. Chemicals in aloe latex have been shown to have laxative effects as well as a potential therapeutic effect in irritable bowel syndrome.
The information in this monograph was prepared by the professional staff at Natural Standard, based on thorough systematic review of scientific evidence. The material was reviewed by the Faculty of the Harvard Medical School with final editing approved by Natural Standard.
Selected Scientific Studies: Aloe
Natural Standard reviewed more than 275 articles to prepare the professional monograph from which this version was created.
Some of the more recent studies are listed below: