Amazing Aloe Vera Benefits Proven in Decade of Research

decade of aloe vera medical researdch

Photo by Lane Montgomery

By Case Adams, Naturopath

Aloe is one of the most amazing herbs. The sheer variety of uses together with its undeniable soothing properties make it irreplaceable by pharmaceuticals.

And the science backs these statements up.

The past ten years have brought us over a hundred clinical human studies using Aloe vera from university researchers from around the world. While many showed the expected outcomes relating to burns and skin issues, there are many surprising findings.

This article summarizes a decade of research on Aloe vera. While there are many anecdotal uses of aloe vera, as well as many laboratory and animal studies involving Aloe, the studies identified and reviewed in this article are strictly human clinical studies with the gold standard – randomized, double-blinded (or at least blinded) and placebo-controlled.

It should be added that these findings still provide only a sliver of the many uses for this magical herbal medicine:

Aloe for Burn treatment

Researchers from Pakistan’s Nishtar Hospital tested 50 patients with burns. They randomly selected the patients, and treated them with either aloe vera or 1% silver sulfadiazine cream. The researchers found that the aloe treated-patients had quicker relief of pain, and their wounds healed faster than the conventional silver sulfadiazine treatment.

Iranian researchers used an Aloe cream or a placebo following surgery with 49 burn patients. The Aloe group experienced significantly less post-operative pain than did the placebo group.

Another Iranian study of 30 second-degree burn patients found that treating patients with Aloe sped up healing compared to conventional treatment with silver sulfadiazine.

Aloe and Skin cancer

Researchers from Hamberg studied 40 healthy adults and found that aloe vera prevented inflammation resulting from ultraviolet radiation exposure. They also tested several other herbs, but Aloe was the only herb that significantly prevented the inflammation.

A 2008 study from Germany’s Freiburg University found that a 97% Aloe gel reduced inflammation following sun exposure, significantly greater than a 1% hydrocortisone cream.

However, it should be noted that Aloe does not offer protection from the sun. This was determined in a 2005 study from Thailand’s Chulalongkorn University.

Aloe and Pre-diabetes

Baylor College of Medicine scientists gave 45 adults with pre-diabetes two different standardized Aloe extract or a placebo for eight weeks. One extract significantly reduced low-density lipoprotein (LDL-c) levels, glucose levels and fructosamine (an indicator of glycation metabolism) levels. Another extract (2% aloesin) significantly reduced HbA1c levels, fasting glucose and insulin levels. It also reduced fructosamine and homeostatic model assessment (HOMA), which indicates beta-cell health and insulin resistance.

Aloe and Alzheimer’s Disease

Scientists from the University of Miami’s School of Medicine determined that an a constituent of aloe vera was able to reduce Alzheimer’s disease symptoms and increase cognition scores. The researchers gave a supplement with aloe polymannose – also called acemannan – to Alzheimer’s patients over a one year period. They tested them every three months.

The researchers found that the cognitive improvements occurred in 46% of the patients taking the supplement. They also found that several cytokines and other inflammatory factors significantly decreased as well – indicating a reduction in neuro-inflammation among the patients.

Aloe for Burning Mouth Syndrome

Research from Spain’s University of Murcia tested 75 patients with burning mouth syndrome. They found significant improvement among those patients who were given .5 ml of a 70% Aloe gel per day in addition to a tongue protector healed faster than those given a placebo along with the tongue protector.

Aloe and HIV

Research from Nigeria’s Obafemi Awolowo University found that giving HIV-infected women Aloe lowered CD4 count and reduced symptoms. The researchers tested 10 young women infected with HIV, comparing their results with 20 other HIV-infected women who took antiretroviral drugs.

Those taking the Aloe had 35% lower CD4 counts than the antiretroviral-treated patient after one year. The Aloe was mixed in with their food.

Aloe and Oral Submucous Fibrosis

As we reported previously, Aloe treatment applied topically into the oral cavity for three months three times a day resulted in better healing among the Aloe group.

Aloe and Diaper Rash

Researchers from Iran’s Baqiyatallah University of Medical Sciences found that Aloe successfully treated diaper rash after tested 66 infants. They found that Calendula ointment treated the rashes a bit better than Aloe, however.

Aloe and Liver disease

Tanta University (Egypt) scientists tested Aloe treatment (or placebo) on 40 patients with liver fibrosis (an advanced stage of liver damage). They found that the Aloe treatment after three months resulted in lower liver enzymes AST, ALT and ALP, as well as other fibrosis markers among the Aloe group. They concluded:

“Oral supplementation with AHM could be helpful in alleviating the fibrosis and inflammation of hepatic fibrosis patients.”

Aloe and Dry Mouth

University of Chile researchers tested 66 adult persons with dry mouth syndrome – or xerostomía – with two different mouth rinses, one containing Aloe. The Aloe mouth rinse was able to effectively reduce dry mouth symptoms.

Aloe and High cholesterol – Diabetes

Medical researchers from Iran studied 60 patients who had diabetes and high cholesterol. They gave half the group 300 milligrams of Aloe three times per day for a year.

After the year, the Aloe group had significantly lower fasting glucose levels, lower HbA1c levels, lower total cholesterol and lower levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL). The researchers concluded:

Aloe and Gingivitis

Researchers from India’s Government Dental College studied 90 patients who had gingivitis. They divided the patients into three groups, and gave them either a commercial toothpaste, a toothpaste containing fluoride and triclosan (antiseptic), or a toothpaste containing Aloe to brush with. The subjects were assessed at the beginning, at six weeks, 12 weeks and 24 weeks (six months).

They were assessed for microorganisms, gingival index, plaque and the Quigley-Hein plaque index – which rates the space between the gums and the teeth root at the gumline.

The group brushing with the Aloe toothpaste showed significantly better results than the commercial toothpaste, and similar results to the triclosan toothpaste.

Note that triclosan can also damage our healthy oral probiotics and intestinal probiotics. Learn more about our oral probiotics.
In fairness, a 2008 Brazilian study showed no difference between an Aloe toothpaste and a fluoride toothpaste with respect to plaque and gingivitis.

Aloe and Mustard gas skin lesions

Hopefully none of us will ever need to be treated for this. Iranian researchers studied 63 soldiers with chronic skin rashes who were poisoned in chemical warfare (seemingly from Iran/Iraq war). They found that a combination of Aloe and olive oil was as effective as betamethasone cream.

Aloe and Oral lichen planus

In a Spanish University study, 64 patients with oral lichen planus – an infection of the mouth – were given a placebo or Aloe gel at 70% concentration. After six and 12 weeks, the patients were assessed. After six weeks, 31% of the Aloe patients went into remission compared to 17% of the placebo group. After 12 weeks, 61% of the Aloe group went into remission compared to 42% of the placebo group.

Iranian medical researchers also studied Aloe with 46 patients with oral lichen planus. Two months after a four-week treatment, the research found that an Aloe mouth rinse was equivalent to triamcinolone acetonide mouth rinse in treating this condition.

A 2008 study from India’s Isra University found similar results among 34 patients. And a 2008 study from Thailand’s Khon Khaen University found similar results in treating 54 patients for eight weeks.

Aloe and Nutrient Absorption

Researchers from University of California’s Davis Medical Center tested 15 elderly adults for the absorption of vitamin C and vitamin B12 using Aloe. The researchers gave the patients a whole leaf Aloe extract with the vitamins; an Aloe gel with the vitamins or the vitamins with water. The researchers then tested the patients’ blood to determine the nutrient absorption.

Both Aloe products increased vitamin B12 absorption among the subjects compared to the water group. The gel significantly increased vitamin C absorption, and both Aloes increased the blood’s antioxidant capacity significantly.

Similar results were found in a 2005 study from the University of Scranton. In this study of 18 adults, Aloe gel increased vitamin E absorption by 369% and vitamin C absorption by 304%.

Aloe and Psoriasis

Research from Thailand’s Khon Kaen University studied psoriasis patients either the standard treatment of a 0.1% triamcinolone acetonide cream or Aloe vera for eight weeks. Those treated with the Aloe gel had significantly lower Psoriasis Area Severity Index scores than did the conventional treatment – 4.3 versus 3.9.

Aloe and Cancer

In a 2009 study, researchers from Italy’s St. Gerardo Hospital treated 240 patients with solid metastatic tumors of different types with chemotherapy combined with or without Aloe treatment. Ten milliliters of liquid Aloe was given daily three times a day.

The researchers found that those treated with Aloe had a significantly longer survival rate and had significantly more regression of tumors.

Aloe and Scabies

Research from Nigeria’s Obafemi Awolowo University in 2009 treated 30 patients with scabies – an infection of the Sarcoptes scabiei mite – with either benzyl benzoate standard treatment or with an Aloe vera gel. All of the patients except 5 – 3 in the benzyl benzoate group and 2 in the Aloe group – showed no scabies lesions. The researchers concluded that Aloe treatment was as good if not better than benzyl benzoate group.

Aloe and Diabetic Foot, Veinous ulcers

Spanish hospital researchers tested a combination of Aloe and Mimosa tenuiflora with 195 patients. About a third of the patients had symptoms of vein ulcers, and a little over a third had skin lesions. The researchers found the combination resulted in the improvement of nearly every patient, and completely eliminated dryness, itching, pain and eczema on most of the patients after five months of treatment.

Aloe and Kidney Stones

Thailand researchers found in 2006 that 100 grams of fresh aloe taken twice a day significantly reduced the risk of contracting kidney stones. The researchers tested 13 healthy boys at risk of kidney stones, and then 31 adults, and found that seven days of Aloe supplementation resulted in lower risk as identified by urine analysis.

Aloe and IBS

A 2006 study from the UK’s St Georges Hospital Medical School gave Aloe or a placebo for one month to 58 IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). Of those taking Aloe, 35% had significant improvement in symptoms, while 22% of the placebo group had symptom improvement.

Aloe and Ulcerative Colitis

A 2004 study from London’s Queen Mary School of Medicine and Dentistry had similar findings. Here 44 ulcerative colitis patients were given either 100 milliliters of Aloe gel (orally) or a placebo twice a day for a month.

Of the 30 patients treated with the Aloe, 30% experienced clinical remission, 37% experienced improvement and 47% experienced reduced symptoms (clinical response). Among the placebo group, these results were 7%, 7% and 14% respectively.

Aloe and Dry Skin

Duh. Yes, multiple studies have determined that Aloe treats dry, irritated and cracked skin. A 2004 study showed decreases in wrinkles as well.

Aloe Contains Hundreds of Nutrients and Constituents

Aloe vera contains over 200 active constituents and nutrients, including B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, folate), vitamin A, C, and E. It contains 20 minerals, including zinc, chromium, selenium, calcium, magnesium, potassium and copper. Aloe also contains all of the essential amino acids and up to 20 aminos total.

Aloe contains at least eight enzymes. These include superoxide dismutase, bradykinase, carboxypeptidase, peroxidase, aliiase, alkaline phosphatase, amylase, catalase, cellulase and lipase. The last four increase the breakdown and absorption of starches and plant-based nutrients, and bradykinase reduces inflammation. SOD is an antioxidant.

The fatty acid content in Aloe is one of its unique characteristics. Beta-sitosterol, campesterol and other fatty acids such as oleic and caprylic acids provide medicinal properties that help reduce low-density liproproteins.

Aloe also contains several polysaccharides called glucomannans and polymannoses. One of the most studied is the aloe polymannose used in the formula that improved cognition and reduced Alzheimer’s disease symptoms. Aloe also contains D-mannose, known for its anti-inflammatory and urinary tract health effects.

One unique polysaccharide called mannose-6-phosphate. This compound has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects and appears to be one of its central wound-healing compounds.

Another anti-inflammatory component of Aloe is gibberellin. This has been shown to reduce inflammation related to diabetes and leukocyte infiltration.

Aloe is truly one of nature’s miracle medicines. Growing a plant or two around or even in the house is probably a good call.

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Case Adams is a California Naturopath with a PhD in Natural Health Sciences, and Board Certified Alternative Medicine Practitioner. He has authored 26 books on natural healing strategies. “My journey into writing about alternative medicine began about 9:30 one evening after I finished with a patient at the clinic I practiced at over a decade ago. I had just spent the last two hours explaining how diet, sleep and other lifestyle choices create health problems and how changes in these, along with certain herbal medicines and other natural strategies can radically yet safely turn ones health around. As I drove home that night, I realized I needed to get this knowledge out to more people. So I began writing about health with a mission to reach those who desperately need this information. The strategies in my books and articles are backed by scientific evidence along with wisdom handed down through traditional medicines for thousands of years.”

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