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What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

Aloe Usage

Written by FoundHealth.


Effect of Aloe on Cold Sores (Herpes Simplex Type 1)

The exact effect of aloe vera on cold sores is not clear. There are a couple of possible explanations. First, aloe is generally regarded as a soothing balm that can enhance the healing of wounds,...

Read more about Cold Sores (Herpes Simplex Type 1) and Aloe vera.

Effect of Aloe on Psoriasis

The exact effect of aloe vera on psoriasis is not clear. Aloe is generally regarded as a soothing balm that can enhance the healing of skin irritations and wounds, though research evidence for this is...

Read more about Psoriasis and Aloe vera.

What Is Aloe Used for Today?

We suspect millions of people would swear by their own experience that applying aloe to the skin can drastically reduce the time it takes for burns (including sunburn ) to heal. However, scientific evidence fails to support this belief. Studies suggest that aloe is not effective for treating sunburn and may actually impair the healing of second-degree burns. 1 Aloe also appears to be ineffective for treating the burn-like skin damage caused by radiation therapy for cancer . In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 194 women undergoing radiation therapy for breast cancer, use of aloe gel failed to protect the skin from radiation-induced damage. 2 Lack of benefit was also seen in an open trial of 225 women. 3 One study evaluated aloe soap in 73 men and women undergoing radiation therapy for various forms of cancer and, overall, failed to find benefit except possibly at the highest doses. 4 Another study failed to find aloe gel helpful for mouth inflammation caused by radiation therapy for head and neck cancer. 5 Besides its use for burns, aloe has been widely recommended for aiding wound healing . However, while the results of test tube and animal studies of aloe for wounds have been positive, 6 one clinical report in people suggests that aloe can actually impair the healing of severe wounds. 7 Does topical aloe provide any benefit at all? There is some evidence (although quite incomplete) that it might help genital herpes , lichen planus, psoriasis , and seborrhea . See below for more information.

Aloe gel has also been tried as a treatment to be taken internally by mouth. Two studies suggest that that aloe gel taken in this way might be helpful for type 2 diabetes . 8 One study found possible benefits for ulcerative colitis . 9 Very weak evidence hints that regular intake of aloe might decrease risk of kidney stones . 10 Oral aloe is also sometimes recommended as an aid in the treatment of asthma , stomach ulcers , and general immune support , but there is no meaningful evidence that it is effective for any of these purposes.

One of the constituents of aloe gel, acemannan, has shown some promise in test tube and animal studies for stimulating immunity and inhibiting the growth of viruses. 11 12 These finding have led to the suggestion that acemannan can help HIV infection . However, the one reported double-blind, placebo-controlled trial failed to show benefits. 13


  1. Kaufman T, Kalderon N, Ullmann Y, Berger J. Aloe vera gel hindered wound healing of experimental second-degree burns: a quantitative controlled study. J Burn Care Rehabil. 9(2):156-9.
  2. Williams MS, Burk M, Loprinzi CL, Hill M, Schomberg PJ, Nearhood K, O'Fallon JR, Laurie JA, Shanahan TG, Moore RL, Urias RE, Kuske RR, Engel RE, Eggleston WD. Phase III double-blind evaluation of an aloe vera gel as a prophylactic agent for radiation-induced skin toxicity. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 36(2):345-9.
  3. Heggie S, Bryant GP, Tripcony L, Keller J, Rose P, Glendenning M, Heath J. A Phase III study on the efficacy of topical aloe vera gel on irradiated breast tissue. Cancer Nurs. 25(6):442-51.
  4. Olsen DL, Raub W Jr, Bradley C, Johnson M, Macias JL, Love V, Markoe A. The effect of aloe vera gel/mild soap versus mild soap alone in preventing skin reactions in patients undergoing radiation therapy. Oncol Nurs Forum. 28(3):543-7.
  5. Su CK, Mehta V, Ravikumar L, et al. Phase II double-blind randomized study comparing oral Aloe vera versus placebo to prevent radiation-related mucositis in patients with head-and-neck neoplasms. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2004;60:171-177.
  6. Davis RH, Leitner MG, Russo JM, et al. Wound healing. Oral and topical activity of Aloe vera. J Am Podiatr Med Assoc. 1989;79:559-562.
  7. Schmidt JM, Greenspoon JS. Aloe vera dermal wound gel is associated with a delay in wound healing. Obstet Gynecol. 1991;78:115-117.
  8. Bunyapraphatsara N, Yongchaiyudha S, Rungpitarangsi V, et al. Antidiabetic activity of Aloe vera L. juice II. Clinical trial in diabetes mellitus patients in combination with glibenclamide. Phytomedicine. 1996;3:245-248.
  9. 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. 2004;19:739-748.
  10. Kirdpon S, Kirdpon W, Airarat W, Thepsuthammarat K, Nanakorn S. Changes in urinary compositions among children after consuming prepared oral doses of aloe (Aloe vera Linn). J Med Assoc Thai. 89(8):1199-205.
  11. 't Hart LA, Nibbering PH, van den Barselaar MT, et al. Effects of low molecular weight constituents from Aloe vera gel on oxidative metabolism and cytotoxic and bactericidal activities of human neutrophils. Int J Immunopharmacol. 1990;12:427-434.
  12. Sheets MA, Unger BA, Giggleman GF Jr, Tizard IR. Studies of the effect of acemannan on retrovirus infections: clinical stabilization of feline leukemia virus-infected cats. Mol Biother. 3(1):41-5.
  13. Montaner JS, Gill J, Singer J, Raboud J, Arseneau R, McLean BD, Schechter MT, Ruedy J. Double-blind placebo-controlled pilot trial of acemannan in advanced human immunodeficiency virus disease. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr Hum Retrovirol. 12(2):153-7.

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