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Aloe Vera – Health Benefits of Aloe Vera

Burns, Soothing Skin and More - Does Aloe Vera Work?

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Updated October 08, 2008

Aloe vera plant

Aloe vera plant

Martin Harvey / Getty Images
Aloe vera has a long-held reputation of being good for skin, especially for the treatment of burns. In fact, my grandmother kept an aloe vera plant in her kitchen, which she would use for burns.

Nearly every lotion contains “the soothing power” of aloe vera and you can buy pure aloe vera gels and aloe vera juices in a typical supermarket. On lotions or creams that contain aloe vera, it may also be listed as burn plant, lily of the desert, elephant’s gall, aloin, aloe-emodin or barbaloin.

But what is the truth behind the health benefits claimed by aloe vera users?

What Is Aloe Vera?

Aloe vera is a succulent plant found in locations throughout the world. It has been used for thousands of years to heal wounds and help sooth skin conditions.

Aloe Vera Uses: More than Just Burns

You’ll find people who use aloe vera juice as a laxative to treat constipation, and some say it can help with diabetes, asthma and epilepsy (do not try it for these conditions without your doctor's consent). More commonly, it is used to soothe sunburns and other skin problems -- even to ease arthritis.

Health Benefits of Aloe Vera Gel and Aloe Vera Juice

Aloe vera juice (or powder in a pill form) is indeed a strong laxative. Anyone taking aloe vera juice should be very careful -- they may be heading for the bathroom more than they want to. Overdoing it could lead to dehydration and other problems.

For skin, aloe vera is best for minor burns and scraps. For anything more than minor, it should not be used as some studies have shown it can even interfere with healing.

Aloe Vera Side Effects

Overall, there are not really any significant side effects to aloe vera, especially if it is used on the skin. Be sure that the aloe vera gel that you are applying is clean (you don’t want to put dirt in a wound or on a burn).

If you are drinking the gel, it can cause cramping and diarrhea. There is also some evidence that aloe vera juice and powder can lower blood sugar, a big concern for diabetics using aloe vera.

Source: National Institutes of Health, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Herbs at a Glance.

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