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What is Aloe?

Aloe is a plant originally from Africa. The long, green leaves contain aloe gel and a sticky yellow residue called latex.

The gel is the part of the aloe plant used most commonly, both topically and orally. Aloe latex (also known as drug aloe) contains anthraquinone gycosides, constituents that have strong laxative effects, so it is rarely found in commercial laxative products.

Health Benefits of Aloe

So far, scientific support for the potential benefits of aloe is limited.

1) Burns

One of the most popular uses of aloe vera gel is for healing burns and sunburns. 

2) Radiation-induced Skin Reactions

A study published in Current Oncology evaluated an aloe vera lotion for the prevention of radiation-induced dermatitis in 60 people with cancer (breast cancer, pelvic cancer, head and neck cancer and other cancers).

People were given the aloe lotion to use on half of the irradiated area, with no medication used on the other half. From week four to week six during radiation and weeks two and four after radiation, the authors found that the areas treated with aloe lotion showed a lower grade of dermatitis than did areas that were not treated.

In a randomized controlled trial, 58 head and neck cancer patients received either oral aloe vera gel or placebo while undergoing radiation therapy. At the end of the study, oral aloe vera wasn't found to be significantly more effective than placebo in improving tolerance to radiation, mucositis, soreness, and well-being.

Another study looked at whether topical aloe vera gel could help reduce skin redness, pain, itching, and other side effects of radiation compared with a non-aloe cream in 225 patients with breast cancer.

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