advertisement



Herbs


Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Aloe Vera
Aloe vera

Aloe (also called aloe vera) is a flowering succulent plant native to Africa. Its thick, fleshy leaves contain a gel that is used medicinally, while the green, more fibrous part that surrounds the gel is the source of aloe latex, which is principally used as a laxative. Aloe has a 6,000-year history of use – it was known in ancient Egypt as the “plant of immortality,” and depicted on stone carvings and given as burial gifts to pharaohs. It was used then, as it is today, for medicinal purposes. Aloe gel is widely used in skin products such as moisturizing lotion and sun block, and is a natural food flavoring.



Used for:

Aloe can be used topically or orally. When taken orally, aloe soothes the gastrointestinal tract. One study found the gel to be beneficial for those with ulcerative colitis. A review of studies also found it to be helpful when used as a mouthwash to prevent oral mucositis (mouth ulcers) in people undergoing cancer treatment. When used topically, as a gel from the leaves, aloe is an effective, natural treatment for a variety of skin conditions, including burns, abrasions, cold sores, psoriasis, sunburn and frostbite. Three studies have shown that it has some beneficial effect as a topical treatment for mild psoriasis. While widely thought to promote the healing of wounds, studies of this therapeutic use have yielded mixed results.



Available in:

Whole living plants, gel, lotions and juices



Herb / drug interactions:

Aloe latex should not be taken with other stimulant laxatives, medications and herbs to decrease blood sugar or decrease clotting of the blood, or water pills or herbs that can affect potassium levels.



Other safety concerns:

Aloe latex taken orally may be unsafe in high doses, and should be avoided. Women who are pregnant should avoid taking aloe latex orally, as it may raise the risk of miscarriage and birth defects. People with hemorrhoids or kidney problems should not take aloe latex. Because aloe may affect blood sugar levels, people scheduled for surgery should not take aloe for at least two weeks prior to the scheduled date.



When buying:

Look for fresh aloe plants, juices or gels that contain only the inner fillet of aloe and say on the label that it is anthraquinone or aloin (laxative) free, and lotions with the highest percentage of aloe gel.



Dosage:

For internal use of aloe gel, 30 ml three times a day. Topically, apply the fresh gel as needed.



Child dosage:

Children should follow directions on manufacturer’s label or as instructed by health care provider for internal use. Topically, aloe is safe to apply to mild burns and abrasions.



Dr. Weil says:

Aloe is so useful for burns that I encourage everyone to keep a potted aloe vera plant in the kitchen (or just outside the kitchen door – here in Arizona, it grows profusely outdoors with little or no irrigation). There are many species, but aloe vera is the "true" aloe, and has the best effect. Keep the plant in good light and in a pot with good drainage. To use the fresh plant, simply cut off a lower leaf near the central stalk, remove the spines along the edge, and split the leaf lengthwise. Then rub the exposed, gel-containing interior on the skin, and continue rubbing until the residue is mostly absorbed.

If you want to use aloe vera juice - whether to help heal ulcers or another GI tract irritation - avoid products that contain aloin (the laxative part of aloe).

Reviewed by Tieraona Low Dog, M.D., April 24th, 2014.

SOURCES:
Aloe. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer version. Stockton, CA: Therapeutic Research Faculty, updated June 6, 2013, accessed March 13, 2014 at http://naturaldatabaseconsumer.therapeuticresearch.com/nd/Search.aspx?rn=4&cs=NONMP&s=NDC&pt=100&id=607&fs=NDC&searchid=45584529

Aloe Vera, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Last updated April 2012, accessed March 13, 2014 at http://nccam.nih.gov/health/aloevera

Langmead L, et al. Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of oral aloe vera gel for active ulcerative colitis. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2004 Apr 1;19(7):739-47.

Worthington HV, Clarkson JE, Bryan G, et al. Interventions for preventing oral mucositis for patients with cancer receiving treatment. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011 Apr 13;(4):CD000978.




advertisement

Are You Getting The Herbs and Supplements You Need?
Everyone's dietary needs are different based on a number of factors including lifestyle, diet, medications and more. To find out which herbs and supplements are right for right for you, take theWeil Vitamin Advisor.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being
in just eight weeks!
Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!
 

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe
Wellness Guide

Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid
Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you
and their corresponding answers
from Dr. Weil.

 
Copyright © 2014 Weil Lifestyle, LLC
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here