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What’s the Deal with Aloe Vera?

benefits of aloe vera

You may have seen big green jars of aloe vera gel in the store, or large gallons of its juice for sale in health food stores. But what are the real benefits of aloe vera? And if it is useful, for what indication? Let’s see what the science says for some of the common applications.

1. Aloe Gel
You may have slathered that sticky green jelly on your skin after too much time in the sun. On this use, the scientific evidence is mixed. Some studies show aloe gel to be helpful for 1st and 2nd degree burns, and also wound healing, while other review studies haven’t found consistent results. When applied topically, aloe is pretty safe, so no harm no foul. And if it soothes your burns, then have at it.

2. Aloe Supplements
Some studies have shown aloe supplements to be helpful for constipation, both in rats and in humans. In these reports, it seemed that aloe was as beneficial as senna, a stimulant laxative. A word to the wise though, there have been some concerns over liver irritation when aloe is used as a laxative.

3. Aloe Juice
Many people swear by aloe vera juice for calming down bad cases of heartburn. A search of the scientific literature reveals very few actual studies. Remember, a lack of studies isn’t the same thing as no evidence. Many physicians have seen aloe vera juice in small quantities (about 8 ounces) work very successfully for their patients.

So, what’s the verdict? We’ll leave it up to you to decide. Aloe looks promising in some areas, and needs a lot more research in others. If you’re thinking about using it internally, talk to your friendly doctor.

Sources: NIH 1, NIH 2, NIH 3, NIH 4

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