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Aloe vera

Aloe vera is a fleshy cactus-like plant.

Aloe vera has many traditional uses, and can be found as an ingredient in some cosmetics, skin care products, drinks, supplements and even tissues.

Aloe vera gel contains vitamins, enzymes, minerals, sugars, lignin, saponins, salicylic acids and amino acids.

aloe plant and lotion


Cuts, scrapes, burns and more

The simplest way people use aloe vera is to have a plant at home, and to break off part of a leaf to squeeze out the juicy gel to help treat minor cuts, scrapes, burns and sunburn. However, firm scientific evidence for wound healing has been contradictory.

Aloe vera-containing gels and creams are also available for these uses.

Aloe vera is not suitable for deep cuts or severe burns, and some people may have an allergic reaction to aloe vera.

Some studies have found aloe gel may help with psoriasis, seborrhoea (oily skin) and dandruff, and in genital herpes sores in men.

The British Association of Dermatologists says treatments for excessive sweating may cause less sensitivity if they contain aloe vera.

Crohn's and Colitis UK says some people find aloe vera gel helpful for sore skin around the bottom after frequent diarrhoea.

Drinking aloe juice has a strong laxative effect and can cause cramping and diarrhoea.

Seek medical advice before drinking any type of aloe vera as it could interact with medicines and supplements.

Aloe vera and cancer

Cancer Research UK cautions against trying to use aloe vera as a cancer treatment, saying there is currently no evidence to support this and it may also cause severe side effects.

Some research has suggested that aloe vera may help with skin reactions to radiotherapy.

After an operation, aloe vera may help prevent dryness around healing wounds, but seek medical advice first.

WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on February 24, 2017

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