Aloe Vera - Get the Facts on Herbal Supplements

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  • Pure Aloe vera gel is often used liberally on the skin three to four times per day for the treatment of sunburn and other minor burns.<a href="#hdng0">(More...)</a>

  • The gel form of Aloe vera, ingested twice daily for 4 weeks, seems to have therapeutic effects in inflammatory bowel disease.<a href="#hdng1">(More...)</a>

  • Aloe vera's use can be traced back 6,000 years to early Egyptian civilization, where the plant was depicted on stone carvings.<a href="#hdng2">(More...)</a>



<a name="hdng0"></a>Pure Aloe vera gel is often used liberally on the skin three to four times per day for the treatment of sunburn and other minor burns. <a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a> Transparent gel from the pulp of the meaty leaves of Aloe vera has been used topically for thousands of years to treat wounds, skin infections, burns, and numerous other dermatologic conditions.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a>

There is limited but promising research of the use of oral aloe vera in ulcerative colitis (UC), compared to placebo. It is not clear how aloe vera compares to other treatments used for UC.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a> Langmead L, Feakins RM, Goldthorpe S, et al. Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of oral aloe vera gel for active ulcerative colitis.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a> 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.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a> Heggie S, Bryant GP, Tripcony L, et al. Phase III study on the efficacy of topical aloe vera gel on irradiated breast tissue.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a> Syed TA, Cheema KM, Ahmad SA, et al. Aloe vera extract 0.5% in hydrophilic cream versus aloe vera gel for the measurement of genital herpes in males.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a> Syed TA, Afzal M, Ashfaq AS. Management of genital herpes in men with 0.5% Aloe vera extract in a hydrophilic cream.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a> Limited evidence from human studies suggests that extract from Aloe vera in a hydrophilic cream may be an effective treatment of genital herpes in men (better than aloe gel or placebo). Additional research is needed in this area before a strong recommendation can be made.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a>

Dal'Belo SE, Gaspar LR, Maia Campos PM. Moisturizing effect of cosmetic formulations containing Aloe vera extract in different concentrations assessed by skin bioengineering techniques.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a> There is early evidence that oral aloe vera does not prevent or improve mucositis (mouth sores) associated with radiation therapy.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a> J Derm Treatment 1999;10(1):7-11. Vogler BK, Ernst E. Aloe vera: a systematic review of its clinical effectiveness.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a> Vardy AD, Cohen AD, Tchetov T. A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of Aloe vera (A. barbadensis) emulsion in the treatment of seborrheic dermatitis.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a> Rabe C, Musch A, Schirmacher P, et al. Acute hepatitis induced by an Aloe vera preparation: a case report.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a>

Aloe vera gel can be found in hundreds of skin products, including lotions and sunblocks.<a href="http://nccam.nih.gov/health/aloevera/" TARGET="_blank" [2]</a> Aloe gel does not prevent burns from radiation therapy. There is not enough scientific evidence to support aloe vera for any of its other uses.<a href="http://nccam.nih.gov/health/aloevera/" TARGET="_blank" [2]</a> Abdominal cramps and diarrhea have been reported with oral use of aloe vera.<a href="http://nccam.nih.gov/health/aloevera/" TARGET="_blank" [2]</a> Diarrhea, caused by the laxative effect of oral aloe vera, can decrease the absorption of many drugs.<a href="http://nccam.nih.gov/health/aloevera/" TARGET="_blank" [2]</a> The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved aloe vera as a natural food flavoring.<a href="http://nccam.nih.gov/health/aloevera/" TARGET="_blank" [2]</a>

Aloe vera gel contains carbohydrate polymers, such as glucomannans or pectic acid, and various vitamins and essential amino acids, as well as other organic and inorganic compounds. This agent has been used internally or externally for sunburn, skin problems, insect bites, ulcers, arthritis, constipation, and as an immune system enhancer.<a href="http://www.cancer.gov/Templates/drugdictionary.aspx?CdrID=41546" TARGET="_blank" [3]</a> The four ingredients of collagen/aloe vera/vitamin E/lidocaine topical hydrogel may promote wound repair and new tissue growth in which : collagen, a structural protein in connective tissue, provides a connective tissue matrix for the attachment of various cells involved in wound repair; aloe vera carbohydrate polymers provide a moist wound environment; vitamin E promotes blood vessel formation; and lidocaine acts as a local anesthetic.<a href="http://www.cancer.gov/Templates/drugdictionary.aspx?CdrID=542697" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a> RESULTS: Ten studies were located. They suggest that oral administration of aloe vera might be a useful adjunct for lowering blood glucose in diabetic patients as well as for reducing blood lipid levels in patients with hyperlipidaemia.<a href="http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1313538" TARGET="_blank" [5]</a> CONCLUSION: Even though there are some promising results, clinical effectiveness of oral or topical aloe vera is not sufficiently defined at present. The Full Text of this article is available as a PDF (53K). These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.<a href="http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1313538" TARGET="_blank" [5]</a> Topical application of aloe vera is not an effective preventative for radiation-induced injuries. It might be effective for genital herpes and psoriasis.<a href="http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1313538" TARGET="_blank" [5]</a> Davis RH, Leitner MG, Russo JM. Topical anti-inflammatory activity of Aloe vera as measured by ear swelling.<a href="http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1313538" TARGET="_blank" [5]</a> Kaufman T, Kalderon N, Ullmann Y, Berger J. Aloe vera gel hindered wound healing of experimental second-degree burns: a quantitative controlled study.<a href="http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1313538" TARGET="_blank" [5]</a> Schmidt JM, Greenspoon JS. Aloe vera dermal wound gel is associated with a delay in wound healing.<a href="http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1313538" TARGET="_blank" [5]</a> 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.<a href="http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1313538" TARGET="_blank" [5]</a> Yagi A, Egusa T, Arase M, Tanabe M, Tsuji H. Isolation and characterization of the glycoprotein fraction with a proliferation-promoting activity on human and hamster cells in vitro from Aloe vera gel.<a href="http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1313538" TARGET="_blank" [5]</a> Vázquez B, Avila G, Segura D, Escalante B. Antiinflammatory activity of extracts from Aloe vera gel.<a href="http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1313538" TARGET="_blank" [5]</a> Syed TA, Ahmad SA, Holt AH, Ahmad SA, Ahmad SH, Afzal M. Management of psoriasis with Aloe vera extract in a hydrophilic cream: a placebo-controlled, double-blind study.<a href="http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1313538" TARGET="_blank" [5]</a> Heggers JP, Elzaim H, Garfield R, Goodheart R, Listengarten D, Zhao J, Phillips LG. Effect of the combination of Aloe vera, nitroglycerin, and L-NAME on wound healing in the rat excisional model.<a href="http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1313538" TARGET="_blank" [5]</a> Davis RH, Donato JJ, Hartman GM, Haas RC. Anti-inflammatory and wound healing activity of a growth substance in Aloe vera.<a href="http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1313538" TARGET="_blank" [5]</a> Fulton JE Jr. The stimulation of postdermabrasion wound healing with stabilized aloe vera gel-polyethylene oxide dressing.<a href="http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1313538" TARGET="_blank" [5]</a> BACKGROUND: The use of aloe vera is being promoted for a large variety of conditions. Often general practitioners seem to know less than their patients about its alleged benefits.<a href="http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1313538" TARGET="_blank" [5]</a> AIM: To define the clinical effectiveness of aloe vera, a popular herbal remedy in the United Kingdom.<a href="http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1313538" TARGET="_blank" [5]</a>

Under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, it is illegal to market a drug that has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of specific illnesses. Hoffman, doing business as T-Up, Inc., of Baltimore, Md., and Astec Biologics, Inc. of Hanover, Pa., charged cancer patients and their families up to $18,000 for a two-week treatment with intravenous aloe vera. He also sold bottled combinations of aloe vera and other unapproved drugs to treat auto-immune diseases.<a href="http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/answers/2001/ans01122.html" TARGET="_blank" [6]</a> The U.S. District Court of Maryland in Baltimore has sentenced Allen J. Hoffman to 46 months in prison and ordered him to pay $222,506 in restitution for selling aloe vera mixtures as treatment for AIDS, cancer and other auto-immune diseases in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.<a href="http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/answers/2001/ans01122.html" TARGET="_blank" [6]</a>

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<a name="hdng1"></a>The gel form of Aloe vera, ingested twice daily for 4 weeks, seems to have therapeutic effects in inflammatory bowel disease. The latter is perhaps the result of the antioxidant effects of Aloe vera, a known scavenger of anions generated by xanthine oxidase, or to the inhibition of cyclo-oxygenase-2, prostaglandin E 2, and interleukin-8. <a href="http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1065071" TARGET="_blank" [7]</a> Langmead L, Feakins RM, Goldthorpe S, Holt H, Tsironi E, De Silva A, Jewell DP, Rampton DS. Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of oral Aloe vera gel for active ulcerative colitis.<a href="http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1065071" TARGET="_blank" [7]</a> Yagi A, Kabash A, Mizuno K, Moustafa SM, Khalifa TI, Tsuji H. Radical scavenging glycoprotein inhibiting cyclo-oxygenase-2 and thromboxane A 2 synthase from Aloe vera gel.<a href="http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1065071" TARGET="_blank" [7]</a> The gel extracted from the leaf of Aloe vera has been used since ancient times to treat burns, sunburn, insect bites, and scrapes.<a href="http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1065071" TARGET="_blank" [7]</a> Aloe is a common ingredient in cosmetics and hand lotions. It is said that Cleopatra and Nefertiti used Aloe vera to accentuate their legendary beauty and that Alexander the Great carried it to battle as a treatment for wounds.<a href="http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1065071" TARGET="_blank" [7]</a> The preliminary findings of Macias and colleagues using a DRP compound derived from Aloe vera (avDRP) are intriguing. Not clear from their experiments, however, is whether the improved response to avDRP resulted from changes in capillary blood flow and red cell drag or from a direct effect of Aloe vera.<a href="http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1065071" TARGET="_blank" [7]</a> In a recent study by Macias and colleagues, rats subjected to profound hemorrhagic shock were resuscitated with small volumes of a solution containing a drag-reducing polymer (DRP) derived from Aloe vera.<a href="http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1065071" TARGET="_blank" [7]</a> Aloe vera ( Aloe barbadenis ) is a member of the lily family, found in African deserts and in the islands of Aruba and Barbados.<a href="http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1065071" TARGET="_blank" [7]</a>

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<a name="hdng2"></a>Aloe vera's use can be traced back 6,000 years to early Egyptian civilization, where the plant was depicted on stone carvings. <a href="http://nccam.nih.gov/health/aloevera/" TARGET="_blank" [2]</a>

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  • Combined use may increase the risk of potassium depletion and of dehydration.<a href="#hdng3">(More...)</a>



<a name="hdng3"></a>Combined use may increase the risk of potassium depletion and of dehydration. Use of aloe with laxative drugs may increase the risk of dehydration, potassium depletion, electrolyte imbalance, and changes in blood pH. Due to its laxative effect, aloe may also reduce the absorption of some drugs. Application of aloe to skin may increase the absorption of steroid creams such as hydrocortisone. Oral use of aloe and steroids such as prednisone may increase the risk of potassium depletion. <a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a> Based on the laxative properties of oral aloe, prolonged use may result in potassium depletion. Aloe may increase the potassium-lowering effects of other herbs such as licorice ( Glycyrrhiza glabra ). Theoretically, use of oral aloe and other laxative herbs such as senna may increase the risk of dehydration, potassium depletion, electrolyte imbalance, and changes in blood pH.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a> Dried latex from the inner lining of aloe leaves has been used traditionally as a laxative taken by mouth. Although few studies have been conducted to assess this effect of aloe in humans, the laxative properties of aloe components such as aloin are well supported by scientific evidence. A combination herbal remedy containing aloe was found to be an effective laxative, although it is not clear if this effect was due to aloe or to other ingredients in the product.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a> Although topical (skin) use of aloe is unlikely to be harmful during pregnancy or breastfeeding, oral (by mouth) use is not recommended due to theoretical stimulation of uterine contractions. It is not known whether active ingredients of aloe may be present in breast milk.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a> Injected use is not recommended due to a lack of safety data. Other uses of aloe from scientific studies include the treatment of genital herpes (cream applied to lesions for five consecutive days per week for up to two weeks) and psoriasis (cream applied to skin three times per day for five consecutive days per week for up to four weeks).<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a> Early low-quality studies suggest aloe may effectively reduce skin dryness. Higher quality studies are needed in this area.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a> Early evidence suggests that aloe may aid healing of mild to moderate skin burns. Further study is needed in this area.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a> Early study of aloe lotion suggests effectiveness for treating seborrheic dermatitis when applied to the skin. Further study is needed in this area before a strong recommendation can be made.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a>

There is early evidence that oral aloe may reduce the risk of developing lung cancer. Further study is needed in this area to clarify if it is aloe itself or other factors that may cause this benefit.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a> Early evidence suggests that an extract from aloe in a hydrophilic cream may be an effective treatment of psoriasis vulgaris. Additional research is needed in this area before a strong recommendation can be made.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a>

Further study is needed, since wound healing is a popular use of topical aloe.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a> Further study is needed to establish dosing and to compare the effectiveness and safety of aloe with other commonly used laxatives.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a> More research is needed to explore the effectiveness and safety of aloe in diabetics.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a>

People with thyroid disorders, kidney disease, heart disease, or electrolyte abnormalities should also use oral aloe only under medical supervision.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a> There is a report of hepatitis (liver inflammation) with the use of oral aloe.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a> There are no reports that using aloe on the skin causes absorption of chemicals into the body that may cause significant side effects.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a> There is one report of excess bleeding in a patient undergoing surgery receiving the anesthetic drug sevoflurane, who was also taking aloe by mouth. It is not clear that aloe or this specific interaction was the cause of bleeding.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a> Aloe taken by mouth may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in patients with diabetes or hypoglycemia, and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a> However a dermatologist and pharmacist should be consulted before starting therapy. 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.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a>

Preliminary reports suggest that levels of AZT, a drug prescribed in HIV infection, may be increased by intake of aloe.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a> Drugs used for cancer and for hormone activity (hormone replacement therapy, birth control pills) may also interact with aloe.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a> Herbs and supplements used for cancer or the heart may interact with aloe. Phytoestrogens such as soy, as well as antivirals may also interact with aloe.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a> Ingestion of aloe for over one year has been reported to increase the risk of colorectal cancer.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a>

The use of aloe on surgical wounds has been reported to slow healing; redness and burning has been reported after aloe juice was applied to the face after a skin-peeling procedure (dermabrasion).<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a> Without further human trials, the evidence cannot be considered convincing either in favor or against this use of aloe.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a> Use for over seven days may cause dependency or worsening of constipation after the aloe is stopped.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a> Healthcare professionals should watch for changes in potassium and other electrolytes in individuals who take aloe by mouth for more than a few days.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a> As an alternative, in combination with celandine (300 milligrams) and psyllium (50 milligrams), 150 milligrams of the dried juice per day of aloe has been found effective as a laxative in research.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a>

Electrolyte imbalances in the blood, including low potassium levels, may be caused by the laxative effect of aloe. This effect may be greater in people with diabetes or kidney disease.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a> People with heart disease, kidney disease, or electrolyte abnormalities should not take aloe by mouth.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a> People with known allergy to garlic, onions, tulips, or other plants of the Liliaceae family may have allergic reactions to aloe.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a>

Study results of aloe on wound healing are mixed with some studies reporting positive results and others showing no benefit or potential worsening of the condition.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a> Skin products are available that contain aloe alone or aloe combined with other active ingredients.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a> Oral aloe can reduce blood sugar. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements such as bitter melon that may also lower blood sugar.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a> Application of aloe prior to sun exposure may lead to rash in sun-exposed areas.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a>

Topical (skin) use of aloe gel in children is common and appears to be well tolerated.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a> Reports in the 1930s of topical aloe's beneficial effects on skin after radiation exposure lead to widespread use in skin products. Currently, aloe gel is sometimes recommended for skin irritation caused by prolonged exposure to radiation, although scientific evidence suggests a lack of benefit in this area.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a> There is promising preliminary support from laboratory, animal, and human studies that topical aloe gel has immunomodulatory properties that may improve wound healing and skin inflammation.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a> Early well-designed studies in humans found no benefit of topical acemannan hydrogel (a component of aloe gel) in the treatment of pressure ulcers.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a> There is weak evidence that treatment of recurrent aphthous ulcers of the mouth with aloe gel may reduce pain and increase the amount of time between the appearance of new ulcers.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a> Individuals using aloe gel for prolonged times have developed allergic reactions including hives and eczema-like rash.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a>

The use of aloe or aloe latex by mouth for laxative effects can cause cramping or diarrhea.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a> There is strong scientific evidence in support of the laxative properties of aloe latex, based on the well-established cathartic properties of anthroquinone glycosides (found in aloe latex).<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a>

Known as the "plant of immortality," aloe was presented as a burial gift to deceased pharaohs.<a href="http://nccam.nih.gov/health/aloevera/" TARGET="_blank" [2]</a> 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.<a href="http://nccam.nih.gov/health/aloevera/" TARGET="_blank" [2]</a> Today, in addition to traditional uses, people take aloe orally to treat a variety of conditions, including diabetes, asthma, epilepsy, and osteoarthritis.<a href="http://nccam.nih.gov/health/aloevera/" TARGET="_blank" [2]</a> This fact sheet provides basic information about aloe vera--common names, uses, potential side effects, and resources for more information.<a href="http://nccam.nih.gov/health/aloevera/" TARGET="_blank" [2]</a>

Traditionally, aloe was used topically to heal wounds and for various skin conditions, and orally as a laxative.<a href="http://nccam.nih.gov/health/aloevera/" TARGET="_blank" [2]</a> 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.<a href="http://nccam.nih.gov/health/aloevera/" TARGET="_blank" [2]</a>

One study, however, showed that aloe gel inhibits healing of deep surgical wounds.<a href="http://nccam.nih.gov/health/aloevera/" TARGET="_blank" [2]</a>

Zawahry ME, Hegazy MR, Helal M. Use of aloe in treating leg ulcers and dermatoses.<a href="http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1313538" TARGET="_blank" [5]</a>
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<a name="sources"><a href="#" onclick="toggle_visibility('srcs'); return false;" title="Most Informative Documents, used in preparation of this report.">
SELECTED SOURCES<image src="apx4.jpg" alt="Most Informative Documents, used in preparation of this report."></a>



1. <a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank">MedlinePlus Herbs and Supplements: Aloe (Aloe vera)</a>
<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html" TARGET="_blank">http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-aloe.html</a>

2. <a href="http://nccam.nih.gov/health/aloevera/" TARGET="_blank">Aloe Vera [NCCAM Herbs at a Glance]</a>
<a href="http://nccam.nih.gov/health/aloevera/" TARGET="_blank">http://nccam.nih.gov/health/aloevera/</a>

3. <a href="http://www.cancer.gov/Templates/drugdictionary.aspx?CdrID=41546" TARGET="_blank">Definition of aloe vera gel - National Cancer Institute Drug Dictionary</a>
<a href="http://www.cancer.gov/Templates/drugdictionary.aspx?CdrID=41546" TARGET="_blank">http://www.cancer.gov/Templates/drugdictionary.aspx?CdrID=41546</a>

4. <a href="http://www.cancer.gov/Templates/drugdictionary.aspx?CdrID=542697" TARGET="_blank">Definition of collagen/aloe vera/vitamin E/lidocaine topical hydrogel - National Cancer Institute Drug Dictionary</a>
<a href="http://www.cancer.gov/Templates/drugdictionary.aspx?CdrID=542697" TARGET="_blank">http://www.cancer.gov/Templates/drugdictionary.aspx?CdrID=542697</a>

5. <a href="http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1313538" TARGET="_blank">Aloe vera: a systematic review of its clinical effectiveness.</a>
<a href="http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1313538" TARGET="_blank">http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1313538</a>

6. <a href="http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/answers/2001/ans01122.html" TARGET="_blank">Maryland Businessman Sentenced for Illegally Marketing Aloe Vera Compounds as AIDS and Cancer Treatments</a>
<a href="http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/answers/2001/ans01122.html" TARGET="_blank">http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/answers/2001/ans01122.html</a>

7. <a href="http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1065071" TARGET="_blank">Of hemorrhagic shock, spherical cows and Aloe vera</a>
<a href="http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1065071" TARGET="_blank">http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1065071</a>

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