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The aloe vera plant grows naturally throughout the world in most tropical and subtropical areas and is also cultivated in parts of the Mediterranean and Asia. Its use in Wound healing dates back to the time of Alexander the Great.
The part of aloe that is most used is the gel inside its cactus-like leaves. The Skin of the leaves can be condensed to form a sticky substance called "drug aloe", which is a powerful but unpleasant laxative. The information provided here will focus on uses of the aloe gel.
When used topically, aloe vera can be applied liberally. When taken orally, the recommended dosage is an amount that would provide 800 to 1600 mg per day of acemannan, a substance found in aloe vera.
Burns and cuts:
Aloe topical gel is useful for Burns and cuts. While there is little scientific documentation, abundant anecdotal evidence credits aloe gel for reducing healing time for a burn. Studies on the effect of aloe on wound healing have been contradictory (1).
The juice can be used as a digestive aid.
Some of its extracts have been found to enhance the Immune System and so it is also used as a treatment for AIDS.
However, it is not yet a proven treatment.
Recent research suggests it may contain antibacterial and antifungal substances and is considered useful in skin conditions, including Psoriasis (2-7). In one study, improvement was seen in patients with psoriasis even a year after treatment was stopped (8).
Oral aloe vera has also been recommended as treatment for diabetes, Asthma, stomach Ulcers, and general immune weakness. However, further research is necessary to determine its effectiveness.
Aside from occasional allergic reactions, aloe vera is generally recognised as safe by the FDA. However, it has a purgative ability that warrants caution when it is used internally. Comprehensive safety studies are not yet available.
Pregnant women should take extra caution when using aloe vera internally.
INTERACTIONS AND CONTRA-INDICATIONS
Aloe may enhance the effects of hydrocortisone cream (9).
1.Schmidt JM, et al. Aloe vera dermal Wound gel is associated with a delay in Wound healing. Obstet Gynecol 78: 115-117, 1991.
2. Brown, J. B. Use of aloe vera on radiation Burns. Cancer J Clin., 1963. 14; 14-15.
3. Crewe, J. E. Aloes in the treatment of Burns and scalds. Minnesota Med., 1939; 538-539.
4. Bruce, W. G. Investigations of antibacterial activity in the aloe. S Afr Med J., 1967 41; 984.
5. Rovatti, R. & F. J. Brennan. Aloe vera ointment tested on third degree Burns. Indust Med Surgery, 1959: 364-368.
6. Zawahry, M. E., M. R. Heazy & M. Helal. Use of aloe in treating leg Ulcers and dermatoses. Int J Dermatol., 1973. 12(1); 70-72.
7. Barnes, T. C. The healing action of extracts of aloe vera leaf on abrasions on human Skin. Am J Bot., 1947 34; 597.
8. Syed TA, Ahmad A, Holt AH, et al. Management of Psoriasis with Aloe vera extract in a hydrophilic cream: a placebo-controlled, double-blind study. Trop Med Internat Health 1: 505-509, 1996.
9. Davis RH, et al. Aloe vera as a biologically active vehicle for hydrocortisone acetate. J Am Pod Med Assoc 81(1): 1-9, 1991.