Aloe Summary:

Aloe is a succulent plant genus, made up of around 360 species. The most commonly used species for medicine, however, are Aloe vera, and Aloe barbadensis. 

As described by the International Aloe Science Council, 3 components of the plant can be used:

  1. Leaf Juice
  2. Inner Leaf Juice
  3. Aloe latex

The main internal uses for aloe are for digestive complaints. It has a soothing effect on the digestive tract, helping to reduce inflammation from conditions like irritable bowel disease or Crohns disease.

Aloe is also appropriate for reducing cholesterol and hyperlipidemia (high blood fat levels which can include cholesterol and triglycerides). These conditions have been closely linked with heart disease. Reducing blood lipids is the mainstay of modern cardiac disease prevention. 

Another useful application of aloe, and by far the most well established is for topical wounds, especially burns. The gel has a cooling sensation that helps with the immediate symptoms of a burn, but also stimulate the skins repair to reduce healing time, and sterilize the area to protect it from infection. In burn patients, the most dangerous scenario is an infection. Therefore something like aloe that can provide both symptomatic, and wound healing/cleaning effects couldn't be a better choice for managing burns.

Herbal Actions:


  • Immunomodulator (enhancer?)
  • Antiviral
  • Vulnerary
  • Antiinflammatory [4]
  • Antitumor
  • Emollient
  • Hypocholesterolemic [8]

Botanical Name:

Aloe spp.

Aloe vera

Aloe barbadensis





Part used:

Leaf and leaf juice


Juice/Succas (4.5:1)

25 - 100 ml/day

Best broken up into 1-4 doses per day [12].
Recommended to take concentrated juice with pineapple or orange juice [12].
Best taken away from other medicines [12].


Apply Aloe spp. gel or leaf juice directly to wounds and burns topically.

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  • Non insulin dependant diabetes mellitus
  • Hypertriglyceridemia
  • Adjuvant treatment for HIV and AIDS 
  • Improving immune response
  • Constipation


  • Herpes
  • Psoriasis
  • Seborrheic dermatitis
  • Burns
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Wounds
  • Abscesses
  • Dermatitis
  • Radiation induced dermatitis

Traditional Uses:

Aloe vera (and other Aloes) have been used for a long time in various cultures, for its actions on conditions such as: anti-inflammatory, immunostimulant, antiseptic, wound and burn healing, anti-tumoral and laxative effects [5-8]. 

In the Ayurvedic and Thai medicine, Aloe was used to treat peptic ulcers, burns, wounds, abscesses, mouth ulcers, and inflammation [12]. 

    Botanical Description:

    Aloes have thick, succulent leaves, and a large taproot. 

    Habitat Ecology, and Distribution:

    Still compiling research. 

    Harvesting Collection, and Preparation:

    Leaf extracts containing quantified levels of the chemical acemanna are recommended (no less than 11.25 mg/ml) [12]. 

    Aloe extracts containing low anthraquinones (through removal process) are also preferred for internal use [12]. 


    [1, 12]

    Aloe vera contains roughly 75 potentially active constituents [1]. 

    • Anthraquinone glycosides
    • Polysaccharides
      • Acemannan
    • Vitamins
    • Enzymes
    • Minerals
    • Sugars
    • Lignins
    • Saponins
    • Salicylic acids
    • Amino acids

    Pharmacology and Medical Research:



    Aloe vera's confirmed anti-inflammatory actions [4], as well as its hypocholesterolemic actions [8] may be the main mechanism of actions in its suggested ability to treat, and prevent atherosclerosis. Inflammation has been linked closely with the development of atherosclerosis [1, 2], and using antinflammatory medications such as Aloe vera may soon become a mainstay of treating or preventing this ultimately deadly disease process. 



    The emollient actions of Aloe vera has been well studied, and has been shown to be an effective treatment in radiation induced dermatitis [1].

    In burns, a topical application of Aloe gel is suggested to inhibit thromboxane B2, and prostaglandin F-2-alpha formation. This subsequently preserves dermal circulation and improves outcome of both first degree, and 2nd degree burns/ [12]. 



    Still compiling research. 



    Aloe vera has well documented actions as an anti-inflammatory [4, 12]. The antinflammatory action is reported to rely on the prescence of anthraquinones [12]. 



    Aloe vera was shown to significantly reduce the atherosclerosis formation, and blood cholesterol levels of animals fed a high cholesterol diet vs those with just a high cholesterol diet [8]. This common disease process is one of the major risk factors for developing chronic heart disease, or mycocardial infarction, and stroke. 



    Anthraquinones extracted from Aloe barbadensis was found to inhibit the adsorption of some enveloped virus' into cells. Thus it was able to prevent the virus' from replicating. The mechanism of action was found to be through an interaction with the viral envelope. [11].  

    It has reported to possess activity against virus' such as HIV [12], 

    Toxicity and Contraindications:

    Avoid use with known hypersensitivity to aloe juice products [12].


    Aloe has been known to produce dermatitis in some individuals both topically and internally. If this occurs, cease use immediately.

    Aloe contains anthraquinones unless removed through processing.

    Traditional Chinese Medicine:

    Pinyin: Lu Hui

    Taste: Bitter [13]

    Energy: Cold [13]

    Channels: Liver and large intestine [13]

    Action: Removes liver heat, improves intestinal motility [13], 

    Indications: Constipation with restless insomnia due to heat accumulation [13]

    Cautions: Do not use during pregnancy or in patients with cold deficient spleen or stomach disorders [13]. 


    This herb is best used internally alone [12].


    Justin Cooke

    The Sunlight Experiment

    Updated: March 2017

    Recent Blog Posts:


    1. Haddad, P., Amouzgar-Hashemi, F., Samsami, S., Chinichian, S., & Oghabian, M. (2013). Aloe vera for prevention of radiation-induced dermatitis: a self-controlled clinical trial.Current Oncology, 20(4), 345. doi:10.3747/co.20.1356
    2. Vogler BK, Ernst E (1999). Aloe vera: a systematic review of its clinical effectiveness. Br J Gen Pract. 49:823-8. 
    3. Natural Products Insider. (2009). International Aloe Science Council presents a scientific primer on aloe. www.naturalproducts aspx
    4. Davis RH, Leitner MG, Russo JM, Byrne ME. (1989). Wound healing. Oral and topical activity of Aloe vera. J Am Podiatr Med Assoc. 79(11):559–62.
    5.  Reynolds T, Dweck AC. (1999). Aloe vera leaf gel: a review update. J Ethnopharmacol. 68(1-3):3–37.
    6. Heggers JP, Kucukcelebi A, Listengarten D, Broemel KF. (1995). Wound healing effects of Aloe gel and other topical antibacterial agents in rat skin. Phytotherapy Res. 9(6):455–7.
    7. Chithra P, Sajithlal GB, Chandrakasan G. (1998). Influence of Aloe vera on the healing of dermal wounds in diabetic rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 59(3):195– 201.
    8. Dana, N., Javanmard, S. H., Asgary, S., Asnaashari, H., & Abdian, N. (2012). The effect of Aloe vera leaf gel on fatty streak formation in hypercholesterolemic rabbits. J Res Med Sci, 17(5), 439-442.
    9. Libby P, Ridker PM. (2004). Inflammation and atherosclerosis: role of C-reactive protein in risk assessment. Am J Med. 2004;116(Suppl 6A):9S–16S. 
    10. Hansson GK, Libby P. (2006). The immune response in atherosclerosis: a double-edged sword. Nat Rev Immunol. 2006;6(7):508–19.
    11. Sydiskis, R. J., Owen, D. G., Lohr, J. L., Rosler, K. H., & Blomster, R. N. (1991). Inactivation of enveloped viruses by anthraquinones extracted from plants. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 35(12), 2463-2466. doi:10.1128/aac.35.12.2463
    12. Bone, K. (2003). A clinical guide to blending liquid herbs: Herbal formulations for the individual patient. Edinburgh [u.a.: Churchill Livingstone. (Pg. 61-64). 
    13. Wu, J. N. (2005). An illustrated Chinese materia medica. New York: Oxford University Press. (Pg 62-63). 
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