Aloe vera, a perennial dryland succulent plant characterized by triangular fleshy leaves, has been an important folk remedy for thousands of years, mainly used for health, medicinal and skin care purposes.
Aloe vera is the most common variety of aloe vera, containing about 75 more natural active ingredients, including vitamins, enzymes, minerals, sugars, lignin, saponins, salicylic acid and amino acids etc.
What are the benefits of aloe vera in empirical medicine? Are there any side effects of Aloe Vera? See the latest analysis in the text for details
What does aloe vera leaves do?
Aloe vera leaves have two parts that can be used medicinally, namely the jelly-like gel inside and latex between the gel and the epidermis.
The gel part is mainly 99% water, the rest has dextran, amino acids, lipids, sterols and vitamins, external use is mainly related to burns, sunburns, frostbite, psoriasis and cold sores, and internal use is aimed at osteoarthritis, intestinal diseases, fever, itching and inflammation.
The latex part is a yellow, slightly bitter liquid composed of quinones and glycosomes, commonly used to treat depression, constipation, asthma and diabetes.
What are the recommended benefits of aloe vera?
1. Beneficial for periodontal disease
Periodontitis is one of the most prevalent oral diseases that leads to the destruction of the supporting periodontal tissue. In severe cases, tooth loss can occur.
Mechanical therapy is the gold standard method of periodontal treatment, which is carried out with the aim of reducing the bacterial load, changing the composition of the microflora, thereby reducing its toxicity and reducing the inflammatory process.
Although mechanical therapy is the most commonly used method, in some cases it does not seem to be sufficient to address the inflammatory process and rebuild periodontal health, so various auxiliary means have emerged.
A systematic literature review and meta-analysis (13 randomized controlled trials) noted that compared with different herbal and allopathic products, such as fluoride-containing triclosan, chlorhexidine, chlorine dioxide, metformin, Alendronate, O. holy basil. Sanctum), tea tree oil, antibiotic ointment (ornigreat), aloe vera (in the form of gel, mouthwash and toothpaste) can effectively improve periodontal parameters, such as: plaque index, gum index. Note 1
*Conclusion: For periodontal disease, aloe vera products may bring positive help, but due to the heterogeneity of the samples included, more studies are needed to further validate
2. Beneficial for oral lichen planus
Oral lichen planus is a chronic autoimmune disease characterized by reticular, papular, plaque-like, atrophic or bullous oral lesions of the oral mucosa, tongue and gums.
The causes are related to stress, genetics, systemic diseases, viruses, dental fillings and medications, with prevalence of about 1% to 2% of the general population, with women over 40 years of age being the most common.
A systematic literature review and meta-analysis (including 7 oral lichen planus studies) suggests that while corticosteroids remain first-line treatment, aloe vera may bring promising results with fewer side effects. Note 2
*Conclusion: Aloe vera may be of positive help in the treatment of oral lichen planus (but the evidence is insufficient), and more large-scale long-term follow-up experiments are needed for further verification
3. Good for bowel irritability (also known as irritable bowels)
Irritable bowel syndrome is characterized by abdominal pain and changes in bowel habits (which can affect depression, anxiety, and psychosomatic disorders, significantly reducing quality of life).
Affecting 11.2% of the global population, it is one of the most common functional gastrointestinal diseases, occurring mostly in people aged 30 to 50 years.
Although the exact cause of irritable bowel disorder is not fully understood, chronic low-grade mucosal inflammation, altered intestinal epithelial and immune function, and visceral hypersensitivity reactions due to changes in gut microbiome have been shown to be associated with morbidity.
A systematic literature review and meta-analysis (3 randomized controlled trials, 151 patients with irritable bowel syndrome) noted that aloe vera had significant improvements in irritable bowel syndrome symptom scores and response rates compared with placebo. Note 1
In addition, subgroup analysis observed the efficacy of aloe vera according to the treatment time (1 month versus more than 3 months), and the relevant improvement effect was more significant with short-term treatment of 1 month.
*Conclusion: For irritable bowel disorder, short-term application of aloe vera may be of positive help, but limited by the small sample size, more long-term large trials are needed to confirm its efficacy and safety
4. Beneficial to improve psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a chronic systemic inflammatory disease (mainly related to genetic inheritance, stress, immune function, hormones) that affects about 1–3% of the global population, with the most common being 16 to 22 years old and 57 to 60 years old, characterized by lumpy or scaly erythema of the skin, and may also be accompanied by arthritis symptoms. Note 1
A systematic review (including 4 clinical studies) pointed out that as of now, aloe vera has not been clearly concluded on the improvement effect of psoriasis, so it cannot be recommended for therapeutic use. Note 2
*Conclusion: The results of aloe vera in the treatment of psoriasis are still inconsistent, and the safety is unknown, which needs to be confirmed
5. Beneficial for wound repair
The skin is one of the largest and most important organs of the human body, protecting the body from dehydration and various external harmful substances.
Although the skin has the ability to heal itself after injury, in some cases (extensive skin loss, deep burns, chronic wounds, non-healing ulcers) improper care can increase the chance of infection and transition to chronic wounds. Note 1
A Cochrane Review (7 RCTs, 347 participants) shows that the use of aloe vera-related products (dressings or gels) for acute (wounds, surgical incisions and burns) or chronic (infected wounds, arterial and venous ulcers) wounds can be described as both positive and negative. Note 2
*Conclusion: Up to now, the application of aloe vera in the treatment of acute and chronic wounds still lacks high-quality clinical research support, which needs to be further confirmed
6. Improve diabetes
Diabetes is caused by a variety of metabolic dysfunction, with high prevalence, easy disability, complications and other characteristics, so far there are nearly 4 million people in the world, it is estimated that it will grow to 25 million in 6 years, forming a huge burden of care.
Because of the potential side effects of glycaemic medications, such as liver toxicity, weight gain, and even cardiovascular disease, nearly 5% of patients have sought alternative therapies.
A systematic literature review and meta-analysis (8 studies, 480 participants) noted that oral administration of aloe vera may be positively beneficial in patients with pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes (improving fasting blood glucose or glycosylated hemoglobin). Note 3
*Conclusion: According to the development of different diseases, taking aloe vera has a positive effect on blood glucose control, but limited by the high heterogeneity of the evidence included, more large-scale experiments are needed
7. Improve acne
Acne is the most common skin disease in the young and middle-aged population, often occurring in places with dense sebaceous glands such as the face, chest and back, and 85% of the 11 to 30 years old in the United States alone are affected by this disease. Note 4
Due to the change in appearance, the patient’s self-image is damaged, which often leads to interpersonal difficulties, serious and even alienation and loneliness.
The occurrence of acne can be divided into 4 major steps, namely: increased androgens lead to sebum secretion, keratinization changes, Propionibacterium sores infection and inflammation.
A randomized, double-blind controlled study (8 weeks, 60 patients with mild to moderate acne) showed that the combination of aloe vera gel produced a more significant lesion improvement (whether inflammatory or non-inflammatory) than the control group with topical A acid (tretinoin) alone. Note 5
*Conclusion: The combination of aloe vera gel in addition to the traditional anti-acne drug A acid can have a better acne treatment effect
Are there any side effects of aloe vera?
Aloe gel for topical use is considered safe for use on the skin, but it is forbidden to use on open wounds. Side effects reported include redness, burning, rash, and tingling sensation (often in patients with sensitive skin).
Possible side effects of oral aloe latex include: abdominal cramps, diarrhea, dark urine, hepatitis, kidney dysfunction, hypokalemia, muscle weakness, weight loss, etc
Safety precautions (8 oral contraindications)
1. Do not use by pregnant women, as oral administration of aloe vera may increase the risk of uterine contractions, miscarriage and even birth defects
2. Do not use lactating women, children, liver and kidney function (due to unknown safety)
3. People who have been allergic to plants of the lily family (Liliaceae, characterized by rhizomes, bulbs or bulbs) should not use it, common species include tulips, garlic, onions, lilies, fritillary and so on
4. Do not use 2 weeks before surgery (may have anticoagulant effect, which will increase the risk of bleeding)
5. Diabetic patients or those taking related hypoglycemic drugs, please use carefully and monitor blood sugar regularly (because aloe vera has a hypoglycemic effect)
6. Do not use if you have intestinal diseases such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis or intestinal obstruction (because aloe vera latex has intestinal irritation)
7. Do not use if you have hemorrhoids (may worsen symptoms)
8. Because oral aloe latex has irritating and laxative effect, it should not be used together with drugs, which may affect the efficacy of drugs or increase side effects, such as diuretics, cardiovascular drugs (Digoxin), laxatives (bisacodyl/cascara/castor oil/senna), anticoagulants (Warfarin), etc