Aloe (Aloe vera)

2014

Medical Uses

Aloe is discussed here for external use only. It may be applied topically for wound healing, insect bites, burns, and sunburn.

Historical Uses

Aloe has been used as a medicinal plant to heal the skin for more than 4000 years. It is also called the burn plant.

Growth

This member of the lily family may grow to 30 feet or more in height. It may also be grown as a houseplant and is cultivated in the West Indies. Unlike most plants, aloe maybe grown in the bedroom because it maybe beneficial, helping to increase oxygen during sleep time and removing toxins.

Part Used

• Gel inside leaves

Major Chemical Compounds

• Anthraquinones (aloin.barbaloin)

• Polysaccharides (glycoproteins, acemannan, mucopolysaccharides)

• Prostaglandins

• Fatty acids

• Zinc

• Vitamins C and E

Aloe: Clinical Uses

Aloe is discussed here for external use only. It maybe applied topically for wound healing, insect bites, burns, and sunburn.

Mechanism of Action

Prostaglandins decrease inflammation and promote wound healing. Vitamin C, vitamin E, and zinc are needed for wound healing also. Polysaccharides assist in wound repair and epidermal growth.

Aloe: Dosage

In the store, look for products that list aloe as the first ingredient. Apply aloe vera gel liberally to wounds or burns. If using a leaf from an aloe plant, wash the leaf thoroughly, snip off a piece, open the leaf, and scrape away some of the gel. Then apply the gel directly to the wound. Refrigerate any leftover gel to keep it from spoiling.

Side Effects

None are known.

Contraindications

• Do not apply to deep wounds.

• Aloe may delay surgical wound healing after a laparotomy.

Herb-Drug Interactions

None are known.

Pregnancy and Breast-Feeding

Aloe may delay surgical wound healing after a Caesarean section.

Pediatric Patients

No restrictions are known.

Summary of Studies

Roberts & Travis (1995). In a study of wound healing in mice, aloe gel applied daily for 2 weeks reduced acute radiation-induced skin reactions in mice, whereas lubricating jelly and healing ointment did not.

Davis et al. (1994). In an assay using saline controls in wound healing in mice, aloe improved wound healing and inhibited inflammation.

Davis et al. (1994). In a wound tensile strength assay in mice, aloe vera at 100 and 300 mg/kg daily for 4 days blocked the wound-healing suppression of hydrocortisone acetate up to 100 percent using the assay. There was a dose-response relationship.

Davis et al. (1992). In this in vivo study, aloe vera inhibited inflammation, stimulated fibroblasts, and promoted wound healing without side effects.

Aloe: Warnings

• Don’t apply aloe to deep wounds. It may delay wound healing after a laparotomy or a Caesarean section.

• No restrictions are known during breast-feeding.

• No restrictions are known for children.