Aloe (Aloe vera)

background

Clear gel from the aloe leaves has been applied to the skin to treat wounds, skin infections, burns, and for many other skin conditions. Dried latex from the aloe leaf has been taken by mouth traditionally as a laxative.
There is good scientific evidence for use of aloe latex as a laxative. However, it is unclear if it is better than other therapies for constipation. A report of liver toxicity from ingesting aloe raises a question of safety.
Aloe may benefit genital herpes, inflammatory skin conditions, and dandruff. For numerous other conditions, aloe has an unclear or lack of benefit.

Related Terms

Acemannan, Aloe africana, Aloe arborescens Miller, Aloe barbadensis, Aloe barbadesis, Aloe capensis, Aloe ferox, aloe latex, aloe mucilage, Aloe perfoliata, Aloe perryi Baker, Aloe spicata, Aloe vulgari, aloe-coated gloves, babosa (Spanish), Barbados aloe, bitter aloe, burn plant, Cape aloe, Carrisyn®, Curaçao aloe, elephant's gall, first-aid plant, ghai kunwar (India), ghikumar (India), hirukattali, hsiang-dan (Chinese), jelly leek, kumari, lahoi, laloi, lily of the desert, Lu-Hui, medicine plant, maloyl glucan compounds, Mediterranean aloe, miracle plant, mocha aloes, musabbar, natal aloes, nohwa, plant of immortality, plant of life, rokai, sabilla (Spanish), Savila, Socotrine aloe, subr, true aloe, Venezuela aloe, za'bila (Swahili), Zanzibar aloe.
Combination product examples: Mepentol Leche (an emulsion based on hyperoxygenated fatty acids, Aloe barbadensis, and Mimosa tenuiflora).

evidence table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
 
Constipation (Grade: B)
Anthraquinone glycosides, a component of aloe, have well established laxative effects. However, case reports have associated hepatitis with aloe taken by mouth. Further research is needed on the efficacy and safety of aloe as a laxative.
Genital herpes (Grade: B)
Research suggests that aloe may be an effective treatment for genital herpes. Additional research is needed in this area.
Psoriasis (skin disease) (Grade: B)
Evidence suggests that aloe cream is an effective treatment for psoriasis. Additional research is warranted in this area.
Seborrheic dermatitis (seborrhea, dandruff) (Grade: B)
Early evidence supports aloe for treating seborrheic dermatitis, flaky skin found at oily areas. Further research is needed before a firm conclusion can be made.
Cancer prevention (Grade: C)
There is preliminary evidence that aloe consumption may reduce the risk of lung cancer or tumor growth. Further research is needed in this area.
Canker sores (Grade: C)
Evidence that aloe gel reduces canker sore pain and prolongs ulcer-free intervals is unclear. Further research is needed.
Chemotherapy adjuvant (Grade: C)
Early evidence suggests that aloe, in addition to chemotherapy, may improve chemotherapy effects on tumor growth and survival. Further evidence is needed in this area.
Chemotherapy side effects (Grade: C)
There is early evidence that aloe applied to the skin may improve hand-foot syndrome due to chemotherapy. Further high-quality trials are needed in this area.
Common cold / upper respiratory tract infection (Grade: C)
A combination treatment containing aloe may benefit lung cells. Further research on aloe alone is needed before conclusions may be drawn.
Dental conditions (Grade: C)
Aloe may benefit inflammation of a bone in the mouth. Further research is needed in this area.
Dental plaque (Grade: C)
Aloe lacked benefit in reducing plaque and gingivitis. Further research is needed before conclusions can be drawn.
Diabetes (Grade: C)
The effect of aloe gel taken by mouth on lowering blood sugar is unclear. More studies are needed to explore the efficacy and safety of aloe in diabetics.
Dry mouth (Grade: C)
Limited research using a combination aloe product has benefitted dry mouth. Further research using aloe alone is needed before firm conclusions may be drawn.
Dry skin (Grade: C)
Aloe has been traditionally used to accelerate wound healing and as a moisturizer. Early research reports that aloe may reduce skin dryness. Higher-quality studies are needed in this area.
Gum disease (Grade: C)
A toothpaste containing aloe may benefit gum disease. Further research is needed on this topic.
High cholesterol (Grade: C)
Aloe has been reported to safely control cholesterol levels in diabetic patients. Further research is needed before firm conclusions may be drawn.
Inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis) (Grade: C)
Aloe gel may be beneficial in people with ulcerative colitis. Further research is needed to confirm these results.
Itching (Grade: C)
A cream with aloe has been used to treat skin lesions and has shown some evidence of benefit. Further studies are needed using aloe alone.
Lichen planus (Grade: C)
Lichen planus causes an itchy rash of small purplish bumps, often on the arms, legs, back, or inside the mouth. Research has found that aloe may benefit lichen planus on the mouth or genitals. Additional research is needed.
Mucositis (mouth ulcers) (Grade: C)
Cancer treatment is often associated with side effects, such as mouth ulcers. Early evidence suggests that aloe use lacks improvement in mucositis symptoms. Further research is needed on this topic.
Scabies (itchy skin condition) (Grade: C)
Aloe has been studied for use in scabies treatment, with little evidence of benefit. Additional research is needed before firm conclusions may be drawn.
Skin burns (Grade: C)
Preliminary evidence suggests that aloe may be effective in promoting healing of skin burns. Further research is needed in this area.
Skin damage caused by the sun (Grade: C)
A study has evaluated an aloe combination treatment for sun damaged skin, with some evidence of benefit. Further research using aloe alone is needed in this area.
Skin inflammation (tungiasis) (Grade: C)
A combination aloe product for control of tungiasis showed some evidence of benefit. Further research using aloe alone is needed before firm conclusions can be made.
Skin ulcers (Grade: C)
A dressing containing aloe and
Colorectal cancer (Grade: D)
Aloe use may not reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer. Further studies are needed before firm conclusions can be made.
Diaper rash (Grade: D)
Early research suggests that aloe cream may not benefit diaper rash. Further research is needed before a firm conclusion may be drawn.
Heart disease (Grade: D)
The evidence for aloe in treating heart disease is unclear. Further research is needed before firm conclusions may be drawn.
HIV infection (Grade: D)
Acemannan, a component in aloe gel, has been shown to stimulate the immune system and fight the HIV virus. Early results from human trials are mixed. Further research is needed.
Liver disease (Grade: D)
Early research suggests that aloe lacks benefit in people with liver disease. Additional research is needed in this area.
Pressure ulcers (Grade: D)
Wound cleansing using an aloe solution has shown a lack of benefit. Further research is needed on this topic.
Radiation dermatitis (skin damage from radiation exposure) (Grade: D)
Preliminary research suggests that aloe applied to the skin may lack improvement for pain or skin peeling related to radiotherapy. Additional well-designed studies are needed in this area.
Wound healing (Grade: D)
Aloe may alter immune function and reduce inflammation. However, evidence is lacking for aloe use in wound healing. Further research is needed in this area.