Aloe latex contains compounds known as anthraquinones that stimulate the activity of the gastrointestinal tract (UMM).
Information form University of Maryland Medical Center (UMM) & Medline Plus:
Aloe gel, made from the central part of the aloe leaf, is a common household remedy for minor cuts and burns as well as sunburns. It can be found in many commercial skin lotions and cosmetics. Aloe contains active compounds that stop pain and inflammation and stimulate skin growth and repair. For this reason, aloe vera gel has gained tremendous popularity for relief of burns, with individual success in helping minor burns. In fact, preliminary research, in both animals and people, suggests that this folkloric use has some scientific validity. These results seem encouraging, but studies comparing aloe gel with standard medication may help determine whether the herb is as effective for the treatment of burns as more customary therapies (UMM).
While scientific research is slow to acknowledge the fact that Aloe vera gel is very soothing to burned skin and does promote healing, it should be remembered that depending on the severity of the burn, Aloe vera gel is often combined with Lavendar oil and/or other essential oils and herbs (eg: Echinacea, Burdock, etc.) to promote the healing effect as well as offer protection of the burned skin from microbial attack.
Herpes and Skin Conditions
Preliminary evidence also suggests that aloe gel may improve symptoms of genital herpes and certain skin conditions such as psoriasis (UMM).
Limited evidence from human studies suggests that 0.5% extract from Aloe vera in a hydrophilic cream may be an effective treatment of genital herpes in men (better than aloe gel or placebo). Although seemingly well designed, there may have been problems with the way these studies were conducted. Additional research is needed in this area before a strong recommendation can be made (MedlinePlus).
Evidence from one human trial suggests that 0.5% extract from aloe in a hydrophilic cream is an effective treatment of psoriasis vulgaris. However, there may have been problems with the way this study was conducted. Additional research is needed in this area before a strong recommendation can be made (MedlinePlus).
Seborrheic dermatitis (seborrhea, dandruff)
One study using 30% aloe lotion suggests effectiveness for treating seborrheic dermatitis when applied to the skin twice daily for 4-6 weeks. Further study is needed in this area before a strong recommendation can be made (MedlinePlus).
Aloe vera gel is often confused with another part of the aloe plant known as aloe juice, but the two substances are quite different. Aloe juice (also known as aloe latex or aloe sap) is a yellow, bitter liquid derived from the outer layer of the aloe leaf. It contains substances that, when taken by mouth, have very strong laxative effects. For example, in a study of 35 men and women with constipation, those who received capsules containing aloe latex, and other laxatives including psyllium (a natural substance high in fiber) experienced softer and more frequent stools compared to those who received placebo (UMM).
Although aloe latex is a powerful laxative, it is not used frequently because it can cause painful cramping. Other gentler, herbal laxatives from the same plant family as aloe (such as cascara and senna) are generally recommended first (UMM).
Dried latex from the inner lining of aloe leaves has been used traditionally as a laxative taken by mouth. Although few studies have been conducted to assess this effect of aloe in humans, the laxative properties of aloe components such as aloin are well supported by scientific evidence. A combination herbal remedy containing aloe was found to be an effective laxative, although it is not clear if this effect was due to aloe or to other ingredients in the product. Further study is needed to establish dosing and to compare the effectiveness and safety of aloe with other commonly used laxatives (MedlinePlus).
Preliminary studies suggest that aloe juice may help lower blood sugar levels in people with type 2 (adult onset) diabetes. Although further studies are need to fully assess the safety and effectiveness of aloe in the treatment of diabetes, it seems possible that the herb may prove to be a useful addition to the diet, exercise, and medication program for type 2 diabetics (UMM).
Laboratory studies show that aloe can stimulate insulin release from the pancreas and can lower blood glucose levels in mice. Results from two poorly conducted human trials suggest that oral aloe gel may be effective in lowering blood glucose levels, although a third, smaller study found no effect. More research is needed to explore the effectiveness and safety of aloe in diabetics (MedlinePlus).
Any herbal treatmemnt of Diabetes would however include additional herbs, not just Aloe juice.
Acemannan, a component of aloe gel, has been shown in laboratory tests to have immune-stimulating and anti-viral activities. Results from early human studies are mixed, and due to weaknesses in the way these studies were designed, firm conclusions are not possible. Without further human trials, the evidence cannot be considered convincing either in favor or against this use of aloe (MedlinePlus).
Herbal preparations of Echinacea purpurea and other powerful herbs would likely be chosen by any medical herbalist to be used in preference to or in conjunction with an aloe preparation.
There is preliminary evidence from a small case-control study that oral aloe may reduce the risk of developing lung cancer. Further study is needed in this area to clarify if it is aloe itself or other factors that may cause this benefit (MedlinePlus).
Canker sores (aphthous stomatitis)
There is weak evidence from two studies that treatment of recurrent aphthous ulcers of the mouth with aloe gel may reduce pain and increase the amount of time between the appearance of new ulcers. Further study is needed before a recommendation can be made (MedlinePlus).
There is limited but promising research of the use of oral aloe vera in ulcerative colitis (UC), compared to placebo. It is not clear how aloe vera compares to other treatments used for UC (MedlinePlus).
Study results of aloe on wound healing are mixed with some studies reporting positive results and others showing no benefit or potential worsening of the condition. Further study is needed, since wound healing is a popular use of topical aloe (MedlinePlus).
There is preliminary evidence from a human trial that oral aloe vera does not prevent or improve mucositis (mouth sores) associated with radiation therapy (MedlinePlus).
One well-designed human trial found no benefit of topical acemannan hydrogel (a component of aloe gel) in the treatment of pressure ulcers (MedlinePlus).
Reports in the 1930s of topical aloe's beneficial effects on skin after radiation exposure lead to widespread use in skin products. Currently, aloe gel is sometimes recommended for radiation-induced dermatitis, although scientific evidence suggests a lack of benefit in this area (MedlinePlus).
Studies in test tubes and animals suggest that active substances in aloe leaf extracts (which contain both aloe gel and aloe latex) may have immunostimulant and anti-cancer effects. This information has inspired the production of a substance for people with cancer combining aloe leaf, honey, and gin. However, studies of the use of this substance in people are lacking and, therefore, the safety and effectiveness of this substance is not known (UMM).
Use of aloe may enhance the effectiveness of some medications used to treat the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), but well-designed research trials are needed to confirm these findings (UMM).
Aloe is also being evaluated for use in treating asthma (UMM).
As with any other herbal medicine, consult a qualified, experience medical herbalist before using this plant. Never self prescribe herbs at any time without consulting a qualified helth professional.