What is Aloe Vera Used For?
Written by Phillip LaVeque
Monday, 16 November 2009
Aloe vera's use can be traced back 6,000 years to early Egypt, where
the plant was depicted on stone carvings. Known as the "plant of
immortality," aloe was presented as a burial gift to deceased pharaohs.
What it is Used for
* Traditionally, aloe was used ically to heal wounds and for various skin conditions, and orally as a laxative.
* Today, in addition to traditional uses, people take aloe orally
to treat a variety of conditions, including diabetes, asthma, epilepsy,
and osteoarthritis. People use aloe ically for osteoarthritis, burns,
* Aloe vera gel can be found in hundreds of skin products, including lotions and sunblocks.
* The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved aloe vera as a natural food flavoring.
* Aloe leaves contain a clear gel that is often used as a ical ointment.
* The green part of the leaf that surrounds the gel can be used to
produce a juice or a dried substance (called latex) that is taken by
What the Science Says
* Aloe latex contains strong laxative compounds. Products made with
various components of aloe (aloin, aloe-emodin, and barbaloin) were at
one time regulated by the FDA as oral over-the-counter (OTC) laxatives.
In 2002, the FDA required that all OTC aloe laxative products be
removed from the U.S. market or reformulated because the companies that
manufactured them did not provide the necessary safety data.
* Early studies show that ical aloe gel may help heal burns and
abrasions. One study, however, showed that aloe gel inhibits healing of
deep surgical wounds. Aloe gel does not prevent burns from radiation
* There is not enough scientific evidence to support aloe vera for any of its other uses.
Side Effects and Cautions
* Use of ical aloe vera is not associated with significant side effects.
* Abdominal cramps and diarrhea have been reported with oral use of aloe vera.
* Diarrhea, caused by the laxative effect of oral aloe vera, can decrease the absorption of many drugs.
* People with diabetes who use glucose-lowering medication should
be cautious if also taking aloe by mouth because preliminary studies
suggest aloe may lower blood glucose levels.
* Tell your health care providers about any complementary and
alternative practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do
to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.