Therapeutic Uses of Aloe Vera

Excerpt from: Aloe Vera by Alexander G. Schauss, Director, Life Sciences Division, American Institute for Biosocial Research, Tacoma, Washington.

Therapeutic uses of aloe vera have been reported in the medical literature for over 50 years, although it has been reported in the botanical and naturopathic literature for many more years. Scientific studies exist that support the antibacterial and antifungal effect of substances in aloe vera. Studies and case reports provide support for the use of aloe vera in the treatment of radiation ulcers and stasis ulcers in humans, and burn and frostbite injuries in experimental animals.

Modern clinical medical use of aloe began in the 1930s with reports of successful treatment of X-ray and radium burns. These case studies were later confirmed in animal experiments and controlled clinical trials with humans. In one such experiment, 10 rabbits were subjected to 14,000 or 28,000 rep of beta radiation from strontium-90. Two of four areas were treated with aloe vera gel, the remaining two left untreated. Gross and microscopic morphological changes in the skin resulting from the radiation were compared in the treated and untreated areas. Consistently the aloe treated areas were completely healed within two months, whereas the untreated ulcerations remained four months later.

Dermatologists have shown considerable interest in aloe vera due to its antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. In in vitro studies, marked zones of inhibition (bacteriostatic activity) were shown for Staphylococcus aureus 209, E. coli, Streptococcus pyogenes, Coryenbacterium xerose, Shigella paradysenteriae, Salmonella typhosa, Salmonella schotimuelleri, and Salmonella paratyphi. In a study by Rodriquez-Bigas et al (1988) wound bacterial counts were quantitatively measured and found to be effectively decreased equally by either 1% silver sulfadiazine (p=0.015) or aloe vera extract (p=0.015) in an experimental study using Hartley guinea pigs. The guinea pigs received full-thickness burns covering 3% of their body surface. The average time to complete healing in the control group was 50 days, while the aloe vera-treated animals healed on an average of 30 days (p.<0.02). Such data supports the belief that aloe gel dermal extracts allow faster healing of burn wounds.

Aloe vera has also been shown to be of benefit in numerous studies in the treatment of burns, frostbite, and skin abrasion injury. Aloe vera ointments have been carefully and systematically tested for their efficacy on third-degree burns. The process of gradual formation of the eschar has been followed in these experiments, examining the gross and microscopic changes that occur step by step. In one study, albino rabbits were given identical burns and found to benefit from an aloe vera gel called preparation S, which is a specially prepared bland ointment base with 5% lanolin, found to be the most effective in forming microscopic eschar.

From Desert Harvest: 

Most of the scientific literature about aloe vera refers to its topical use. Only limited clinical trials have been conducted using super-strength aloe vera taken internally. Desert Harvest has sponsored clinical trials (double-blind, placebo-controlled) of its super-strength aloe vera capsules in Interstitial Cystitis/Bladder Pain Syndrome (IC/BPS) patients with proven results. Research has been done with aloe vera concentrates in people with AIDS, diabetes, cancer, high cholesterol, and heart disease. If you would like information regarding any of these studies, please explore our Learn area of the website.