Is Aloe Effective for Blood Pressure, Inflammatory Bowel, Wound Healing, and Burns?

Is Aloe Effective for Blood Pressure, Inflammatory Bowel, Wound Healing, and Burns?
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The risks and benefits of aloe vera.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

“Aloe vera is one of the most popular home remedies in use today, yet most physicians know little about it. In fact, most dismiss it as useless, while their patients firmly believe in its healing properties.” “The usual tendency of most [doctors] is to dismiss as useless any popular remedy that can be purchased without a prescription. However, the aloe plant deserves a closer look, because, surprising as it may seem, there may be a scientific basis for some of its uses.” It has, after all, been used medicinally for thousands of years by a number of ancient civilizations. Only recently, though, has it been put it to the test.

But, the tests have been like finding out if you can use aloe to ameliorate damage to albino rat testicles, or to affect the cholesterol and estrogen responses in juvenile goldfish.

Yes, if you inject aloe in the bloodstream of rats, their blood pressure drops. But, if you feed it to people, it doesn’t appear to have any blood pressure-lowering effect. In rats, drinking aloe causes colorectal tumors to form, whereas it appears to have anti-inflammatory effects on human intestinal lining—in a petri dish. But, when put to the test for irritable bowel syndrome, no benefit was found as to improving symptoms or quality of life in IBS patients.

What about IBD—inflammatory bowel disease? No benefit found there, either.

What about the beneficial effects of aloe in wound healing? Evidently, “so miraculous as to seem more like myth than fact.” Works when you slice open guinea pigs, or when you try to frostbite off the ears of bunny rabbits. But, in people, it may make things worse, with aloe causing “a delay in wound healing.” Twenty-one women were studied who had wound complications after having a Caesarean or other abdominal surgery, healing on their own in an average of 53 days, whereas the wounds treated with aloe vera gel required 83 days—50% longer. They thought it would help, based on the animal research, but when put to the test with people, it failed.

At this point in my research, it was looking like the only benefit of aloe was to improve the quality of cheap beef burgers. But what about burns? Aloe has been used to treat burns since antiquity, but, in their ageless wisdom, they were also applying excrement to burns. So, I wouldn’t put too much faith in ancient medical traditions.

That’s why we have science. What is the effectiveness of aloe vera gel compared with silver sulphadiazine as burn wound dressings in second degree burns? “The introduction of topical antimicrobial agents has resulted in a significant reduction in burn mortality,” and the most commonly used is silver sulfadiazine. Unfortunately, it may delay wound healing, and become toxic to the kidneys and bone marrow. So, they tried it head-to-head against topical aloe gel, and the aloe treated burns healed 50% faster, and the pain went away about 30% quicker. The researchers concluded that aloe has “remarkable efficacy” in the treatment of burn injuries. Anyone see the flaw in that logic, though? What was this study missing? Right, a placebo control group. Why? Because I just told you that one of the side effects of the drug (silver sulphadiazine) is delayed wound healing. So, maybe the aloe worked better just because it wasn’t delaying healing, but wouldn’t have worked better than nothing.

When put to the test against nothing, aloe vera in Vaseline versus the Vaseline alone, the aloe really did seem to help—speeding healing by about a third. And, indeed, put all the studies together, and aloe vera also does appear to significantly speed up the healing of second degree burns. Okay, but blistering burns are thankfully less common than just like sunburns, where your skin just turns red. What is the efficacy of aloe vera in the prevention and treatment of sunburn? “The aloe vera cream was applied…30 minutes before, immediately after, or both before and after” burning people with a UV lamp. And, surprisingly, the aloe appeared to offer “no sunburn…protection and [had] no efficacy in sunburn treatment when compared to placebo.”

But, hey, at least it works for blistering burns. So, should we keep some aloe vera gel in the medicine cabinet? The problem is that aloe vera at the store may have no aloe vera at all.

Oh, they say they have aloe vera as the first or second ingredient, but they are apparently lying. See: “There’s no watchdog assuring that aloe products are what they say they are.” “That means suppliers are on an honor system,” and when health and nutrition are mixed with profit, honor, too often, goes out the window.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: casellesingold via Pixabay. Image has been modified.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video.

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

“Aloe vera is one of the most popular home remedies in use today, yet most physicians know little about it. In fact, most dismiss it as useless, while their patients firmly believe in its healing properties.” “The usual tendency of most [doctors] is to dismiss as useless any popular remedy that can be purchased without a prescription. However, the aloe plant deserves a closer look, because, surprising as it may seem, there may be a scientific basis for some of its uses.” It has, after all, been used medicinally for thousands of years by a number of ancient civilizations. Only recently, though, has it been put it to the test.

But, the tests have been like finding out if you can use aloe to ameliorate damage to albino rat testicles, or to affect the cholesterol and estrogen responses in juvenile goldfish.

Yes, if you inject aloe in the bloodstream of rats, their blood pressure drops. But, if you feed it to people, it doesn’t appear to have any blood pressure-lowering effect. In rats, drinking aloe causes colorectal tumors to form, whereas it appears to have anti-inflammatory effects on human intestinal lining—in a petri dish. But, when put to the test for irritable bowel syndrome, no benefit was found as to improving symptoms or quality of life in IBS patients.

What about IBD—inflammatory bowel disease? No benefit found there, either.

What about the beneficial effects of aloe in wound healing? Evidently, “so miraculous as to seem more like myth than fact.” Works when you slice open guinea pigs, or when you try to frostbite off the ears of bunny rabbits. But, in people, it may make things worse, with aloe causing “a delay in wound healing.” Twenty-one women were studied who had wound complications after having a Caesarean or other abdominal surgery, healing on their own in an average of 53 days, whereas the wounds treated with aloe vera gel required 83 days—50% longer. They thought it would help, based on the animal research, but when put to the test with people, it failed.

At this point in my research, it was looking like the only benefit of aloe was to improve the quality of cheap beef burgers. But what about burns? Aloe has been used to treat burns since antiquity, but, in their ageless wisdom, they were also applying excrement to burns. So, I wouldn’t put too much faith in ancient medical traditions.

That’s why we have science. What is the effectiveness of aloe vera gel compared with silver sulphadiazine as burn wound dressings in second degree burns? “The introduction of topical antimicrobial agents has resulted in a significant reduction in burn mortality,” and the most commonly used is silver sulfadiazine. Unfortunately, it may delay wound healing, and become toxic to the kidneys and bone marrow. So, they tried it head-to-head against topical aloe gel, and the aloe treated burns healed 50% faster, and the pain went away about 30% quicker. The researchers concluded that aloe has “remarkable efficacy” in the treatment of burn injuries. Anyone see the flaw in that logic, though? What was this study missing? Right, a placebo control group. Why? Because I just told you that one of the side effects of the drug (silver sulphadiazine) is delayed wound healing. So, maybe the aloe worked better just because it wasn’t delaying healing, but wouldn’t have worked better than nothing.

When put to the test against nothing, aloe vera in Vaseline versus the Vaseline alone, the aloe really did seem to help—speeding healing by about a third. And, indeed, put all the studies together, and aloe vera also does appear to significantly speed up the healing of second degree burns. Okay, but blistering burns are thankfully less common than just like sunburns, where your skin just turns red. What is the efficacy of aloe vera in the prevention and treatment of sunburn? “The aloe vera cream was applied…30 minutes before, immediately after, or both before and after” burning people with a UV lamp. And, surprisingly, the aloe appeared to offer “no sunburn…protection and [had] no efficacy in sunburn treatment when compared to placebo.”

But, hey, at least it works for blistering burns. So, should we keep some aloe vera gel in the medicine cabinet? The problem is that aloe vera at the store may have no aloe vera at all.

Oh, they say they have aloe vera as the first or second ingredient, but they are apparently lying. See: “There’s no watchdog assuring that aloe products are what they say they are.” “That means suppliers are on an honor system,” and when health and nutrition are mixed with profit, honor, too often, goes out the window.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: casellesingold via Pixabay. Image has been modified.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video.

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