Oct 16, 2010

Aloe Vera Plant [Uses and Benefits]

          Aloe Vera is a species of Aloe, native to northern Africa.Its era has long been a popular houseplant. Often called the 'miracle plant' or the 'natural healer', Aloe Vera is a plant of many surprises. It flourishes in warm and dry climates, and to many people it looks like a cactus with fleshy thorny leaves. In fact it is a member of the Lily family, staying moist where other plants wither and die by closing its pores to prevent moisture loss.

There are around 400 species of Aloe, but it is the Aloe Barbadensis Miller (Aloe Vera or "true aloe") plant which has been of most use to mankind because of the medicinal properties it displays.
     Some species, particularly Aloe vera are used in alternative medicine and in the home first aids. Both the translucent inner pulp and the resinous yellow aloin from wounding the Aloe plant are used externally to relieve skin discomforts. As an herbal medicine, aloe vera juice is commonly used internally to relieve digestive discomfort "aloe for heartburn".
Some modern research suggests Aloe vera can significantly slow wound healing compared to normal protocols of treatment. Other reviews of randomised and controlled clinical trials have provided no evidence that Aloe vera has a strong medicinal effect.

            Today, aloe vera is used both internally and externally on humans. The gel found in the leaves is used for soothing minor burns, wounds, and various skin conditions like eczema and ringworm. The extracted aloe vera juice aloe vera plant is used internally to treat a variety of digestive conditions. The use of this herbal medicine was popularized in the 1950s in many Western countries. The gel's effect is nearly immediate; it also applies a layer over wounds that is said to reduce the chance of any infection.
There have been relatively few studies about possible benefits of Aloe gel taken internally. Components of Aloe may inhibit tumor growth. There have been some studies in animal models which indicate that extracts of Aloe have a significant anti-hyperglycemic effect, and may be useful in treating Type II diabetes. These studies have not been confirmed in humans.
The use of aloe vera is being promoted for a large variety of conditions. The aim of this systematic review was to summarize all dermatology-oriented in vitro and in vivo experiments and clinical trials on aloe vera preparations. Extensive literature search were carried out to identify all in vitro and in vivo studies as well as clinical trials on the subject.
  • Data were extracted from these in a predefined standardized manner. Forty studies were located. The results suggest that oral administration of aloe vera in mice is effective on wound healing, can decrease the number and size of papillomas and reduce the incidence of tumors and leishmania parasitemia by >90% in the liver, spleen, and bone marrow
  • Topical application of aloe vera is not an effective prevention for radiation-induced injuries and has no sunburn or suntan protection. 
  • It can be effective for : 
  1. genital herpes, 
  2. psoriasis,
  3. human papilloma virus, 
  4. seborrheic dermatitis, 
  5. aphthous stomatitis,
  6. xerosis, 
  7. lichen planus,
  8. frostbite, 
  9. burn, 
  10. wound healing and 
  11. inflammation. 
  • It can also be used as a biological vehicle and an anti-microbial and antifungal agent and also as a candidate for photodynamic therapy of some kinds of cancer. Even though there are some promising results with the use of aloe vera for diverse dermatologic conditions, clinical effectiveness of oral and topical aloe vera is not sufficiently and meticulously explored as yet.
  • Tackling mouth ulcers

Aloe vera is an effective treatment for a skin disorder and could be used to treat mouth ulcers, researchers   say.
Gels containing extracts from the plant were found to ease the burning, stinging pain and ulcers associated with oral lichen planus, a chronic inflammatory disorder of the mouth.
Affecting more than 1 in 100 people, persistent mouth ulcers due to lichen planus can give rise to               C
cancerous  changes within the ulcer, and so need to be monitored by a doctor.
Previously the condition has been hard to treat, but a study in the British Journal of Dermatology confirms anecdotal reports that aloe vera gel could help to soothe symptoms.
  • Constipation (laxative)
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.
  • Genital herpes
Limited evidence from human studies suggests that extract from Aloe vera in a hydrophilic cream may be an effective treatment of genital herpes in men (better than aloe gel or placebo). Additional research is needed in this area before a strong recommendation can be made.
  • Psoriasis vulgaris
Early evidence suggests that an extract from aloe in a hydrophilic cream may be an effective treatment of psoriasis vulgaris. Additional research is needed in this area before a strong recommendation can be made.
  • Seborrheic dermatitis (seborrhea, dandruff)
Early study of aloe lotion suggests effectiveness for treating seborrheic dermatitis when applied to the skin. Further study is needed in this area before a strong recommendation can be made.
  • Cancer prevention
There is early evidence 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. 
  • Canker sores (aphthous stomatitis)
There is weak evidence 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 firm recommendation can be made.
  • Diabetes (type 2)
Study results are mixed. More research is needed to explore the effectiveness and safety of aloe in diabetics.
  • Dry skin
Traditionally, aloe has been used as a moisturizer. Early low-quality studies suggest aloe may effectively reduce skin dryness. Higher quality studies are needed in this area
  • HIV infection
Without further human trials, the evidence cannot be considered convincing either in favor or against this use of aloe.
  • Lichen planus
Limited study suggests that aloe may be a helpful, safe treatment for lichen planus, which is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the lining of the mouth. Additional study is needed.
  • Skin burns
Early evidence suggests that aloe may aid healing of mild to moderate skin burns. Further study is needed in this area.
  • Skin ulcers
Early studies suggest aloe may help heal skin ulcers. High-quality studies comparing aloe alone with placebo are needed.
  • Ulcerative colitis (including inflammatory bowel disease)
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.
  • Wound healing
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.
  • Mucositis
There is early evidence that oral aloe vera does not prevent or improve mucositis (mouth sores) associated with radiation therapy.
  • Pressure ulcers
Early well-designed studies in humans found no benefit of topical acemannan hydrogel (a component of aloe gel) in the treatment of pressure ulcers.
  • Radiation dermatitis
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 skin irritation caused by prolonged exposure to radiation, although scientific evidence suggests a lack of benefit in this area.
      Key to grades
A Strong scientific evidence for this use
B Good scientific evidence for this use
C Unclear scientific evidence for this use
D Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work)
F Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work)

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0FKA/is_4_69/ai_n18791510.  "aloe alt med". http://altmedicine.about.com/od/therapiesfrometol/a/heartburn.htm.  "Aloe IBS study"
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