Health Benefits of Aloe Vera

A centuries-old treatment for burns and other medical conditions

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Aloe vera is a succulent plant that has been used as medicine for centuries, most commonly to treat sunburn, rashes, burns, wounds, and other skin conditions. It may also help ease digestion problems like heartburn and constipation, reduce blood sugar in people with diabetes, fight cavities, and condition and strengthen hair.

Aloe vera is widely available as a distilled juice, dietary supplement, and ingredient in shampoos, face creams, body lotions, and skin ointments. Although the stems of the aloe plant and the gooey gel inside can be eaten raw or cooked, they may be unsafe if consumed in excess.

This article takes an unbiased look at the health benefits of aloe vera as well as possible side effects, risks, and interactions. It also explains how to use aloe safely whether taken internally or externally.

Forms of aloe vera
 Verywell / JR Bee

Also Known As

  • Burn Plant
  • Elephant's Gall
  • Lily of the Desert
  • Ghritkumari (Hindi)
  • Kathalai (Ayurvedic medicine)
  • Lu Hui (traditional Chinese medicine)

Medical Uses of Aloe Vera

The aloe vera plant has long, thick triangular leaves and is relatively easy to grow. The thick outer layer is the rind, the middle layer is a bitter yellow sap, and at the center is a gel that can be applied directly to the skin.

In traditional and folk medicines, aloe vera has been used internally and externally to treat a wide range of unrelated medical conditions. Today, there are aloe vera supplements, juices, and skin and hair care products that are thought to have therapeutic effects.

Here is some of what the current research says about the health benefits of aloe vera:

Skin Wound and Conditions

Aloe vera gel when applied to the skin is thought to treat, prevent, or relieve many conditions, including:

Of the available studies, there is evidence that aloe vera gel is highly suitable for wound dressings and can promote the healing of burn wounds better than petroleum jelly gauze or silver sulfadiazine 1% ointment.

Similar results were seen with surgical wounds in which aloe vera gel not only promoted healing but helped ease incision pain.

Laboratory studies suggest that aloe vera does so by accelerating new skin cell growth, including protective keratinocytes and strengthening fibroblasts. Additionally, the gel appears to have potent antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Even so, study results remain inconsistent, with some studies showing no improvement in wound healing or even delays.

A review published in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology concluded there was not enough evidence to recommend aloe vera to treat psoriasis or similar conditions like eczema, both of which involved abnormal immune responses.

There is also no evidence that aloe vera can speed the healing of cold sores or genital herpes, both of which are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV).

Is Aloe Vera Anti-Aging?

in addition to increased skin cell turnover, aloe vera gel contains antioxidants and UV-protective compounds that can prevent long-term skin damage and photoaging, For this reason, aloe vera may be beneficial for daily skincare, with some studies showing significant reductions in facial wrinkles and dryness after just eight weeks.


Diabetes is a disease in which the body is unable to control blood glucose (sugar) levels. Type 2 diabetes is a common form linked to poor diet, lack of exercise, and obesity.

Studies are conflicted on whether aloe vera taken by mouth can improve blood sugar control with type 2 diabetes. A 2021 review published in Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome concluded that based on a review of four quality studies, there was only modest evidence that aloe vera could lower blood sugar levels either when taken in juice form or as a supplement.

Some studies have shown that aloe vera supplementation can decrease harmful triglyceride levels and improve beneficial HDL cholesterol levels in people with type 2 diabetes, both of which are associated with a reduction in the risk of heart disease and metabolic syndrome. With that said, aloe vera had very little, if any, effect in lowering harmful LDL cholesterol levels.

Gastrointestinal Symptoms

Aloe vera when taken by mouth is thought to treat chronic digestive diseases like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). The evidence supporting these claims is weak, but aloe vera may have properties that can help manage certain symptoms of these diseases, such as cramping constipation, and heartburn.

For instance, aloe vera contains substances like latex that act as a potent stimulant laxative. It works by increasing peristalsis, meaning the coordinated contractions of intestinal muscles that move stool through the digestive tract.

While this may help with certain conditions, like constipation-dominant IBS (IBS-C), it can also lead to diarrhea and may cause cramping and stomach pain if overused.

There is evidence, albeit slight, that aloe vera may help ease symptoms of ulcerative colitis (UC), a more severe form of IBD which causes ulcers in the colon. A small study reported that aloe vera taken daily for four weeks in a 200-milliliter dose helped ease symptoms in roughly one-third of people with UC with no reported side effects in any of the users.

A similar study published in 2015 suggested that oral aloe vera gel can help reduce heartburn, belching, and regurgitation in people with GERD and was nearly as effective in doing so as the drugs Prilosec (omeprazole) and Zantac (ranitidine).

In 2002, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned laxative manufacturers from including aloe in their over-the-counter products due to a lack of evidence supporting its safety.

Possible Side Effects of Aloe Vera

Side effects of aloe vera are uncommon. Even in oral forms, the plant is generally well tolerated. This is especially true of topical and oral aloe preparations in which latex has been removed.

Common Side Effects

Common side effects of aloe vera include:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Vomiting
  • Skin irritation when applied topically

Aloe vera can also cause allergies and hives, most especially in people who are allergic to other plants in the lily family such as onions, garlic, and tulips.

Severe Side Effects

The risk of side effects can vary by the aloe vera formulation. Aloe vera gel and juice appear to cause fewer reactions than whole-leaf aloe vera extract and aloe latex found in certain oral supplements. By and large, problems occur when aloe vera is overused.

When taken at higher doses, aloe vera may cause:

  • Drug-induced hepatitis: The risk varies, but liver toxicity generally occurs with the prolonged use of aloe vera supplements over the course of months or years.
  • Acute kidney failure: Kidney injury may occur with the prolonged use of aloe vera latex in doses greater than 1 gram per day. Some cases of aloe vera-induced kidney failure have been fatal.

Aloe Vera and Cancer Risk

Some studies in rats have suggested that a compound called aloin found in high concentrations in aloe vera latex and whole-leaf aloe vera extract may cause cancer, including colorectal cancer. Thus far, studies in humans have not found a clear link.

Drug Interactions

Aloe vera may interact with certain medications. In some cases, it can increase the concentration of the drug in the bloodstream (along with the risk of side effects), and, in others, reduce the concentration of the drug in the bloodstream (along with the drug's effectiveness).

Advise your healthcare provider if you take any of the following if you intend to use aloe vera for health purposes:

  • Laxatives
  • Diabetes medications, including insulin and Glucophage (metformin)
  • Diuretics ("water pills"), such as Lasix (furosemide)
  • Heart rhythm medications, such as Lanoxin (digoxin)
  • Anticoagulants ("blood thinners"), such as aspirin and Coumadin (warfarin)


Stimulant laxatives are used with extreme caution during pregnancy and only for the short-term relief of constipation. Because aloe vera latex and whole-leaf aloe vera extract have stimulant laxative properties, similar precautions should be taken. The overuse of stimulant laxatives can induce uterine contractions and increase the risk of miscarriage or preterm birth.

It is not known if aloin or latex can be passed through breast milk. To be safe, avoid taking aloe vera while breastfeeding as some studies suggest it may cause diarrhea.

Recommended Dosage

There are no recommended doses of aloe vera in any form.

Aloe vera products for the skin can vary in concentration from as little as 0.5% to over 99%. There is no evidence that lower concentrations are less effective than higher concentrations. As a rule of thumb, start with the lowest possible dosage and increase gradually if needed, never exceeding the manufacturer's recommended dosage.

Oral formulations of aloe vera include capsules, extracts, powders, and juices. To be safe, follow the manufacturer's dosing instructions, particularly with aloe vera latex and whole-leaf extract supplements.

Preparation and Selection

Pure aloe vera gel contains healing amino acids, fibers, lipids, sterols, and vitamins. The gel from the plant is safe to eat, but you should not consume store-bought aloe vera gel.

Aloe vera products include topical gels, juice, and oral capsules.

These are approved for cosmetic or dietary supplement use, but are not intended to treat any medical condition. They are also not tested for quality or safety.

Dietary supplements are not regulated in the United States, meaning the FDA does not approve them for safety and effectiveness before products are marketed. When possible, choose a supplement that has been tested by a trusted third party, such as USP, ConsumerLabs, or NSF.

However, even if supplements are third-party tested, that doesn’t mean they are safe for all or effective in general. Therefore, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider about any supplements you plan to take and check in about potential interactions with other supplements or medications.

Since few aloe vera supplements are certified by the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP) or similar certifying bodies, stick with well-known brands with an established market presence.

Aloe vera

It is essential to carefully read a supplement's ingredient list and nutrition facts panel to know which ingredients and how much of each ingredient is included. Please review this supplement label with your healthcare provider to discuss potential interactions with foods, other supplements, and medications.

How to Store Aloe Vera

Store aloe vera in a cool, dry place. Keep it away from direct sunlight. Discard the supplement as recommended by the manufacturer on the packaging.


People have used Aloe vera for medicinal purposes for centuries. It remains an alternative medicine option today, but the research supporting its health benefits is limited.

Its most common use is its application to the skin to assist in burn healing. There is weak evidence to support its effectiveness in supporting recovery from ultraviolet radiation and thermal burns. Additionally, a limited amount of evidence supports aloe vera's ability to improve blood sugar and lipids. Additionally, more research is needed regarding the effect of aloe vera on gastrointestinal conditions.

Finally, aloe vera latex, also found in non-decolorized whole leaf extract, has laxative properties. However, latex is also associated with more adverse effects than aloe vera gel. Due to this, you mustn't use this product before talking with your healthcare provider. To be safe, you should always discuss with your healthcare provider before beginning a new nutritional supplement.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Who is at risk for an aloe vera allergy?

    People with known allergies to other plants in the lily family are at risk for an aloe vera allergy. Members of the lily family that are commonly eaten include onion and garlic.

  • How do I care for an aloe vera plant?

    Plant it in a potting mix for cactus and other succulent plants. Keep the aloe vera in bright, indirect light. Let the top third of the soil dry out before watering so the roots don't rot.

  • How do you get aloe vera gel out of the plant?

    With clean hands, snip one of the leaves close to the bottom of the plant. Put the cut side down in a glass to allow the latex to drain for about 10 minutes. Then remove the leaf spikes and use a vegetable peeler to get to the clear gel inside. Scoop it out and store in a clean container.

21 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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Additional Reading

By Brandon Petrovich, RD
& peer-reviewed author with over five years of work in nutrition and healthcare.

Originally written by Cathy Wong
Cathy Wong

Cathy Wong is a nutritionist and wellness expert. Her work is regularly featured in media such as First For Women, Woman's World, and Natural Health.

Learn about our editorial process