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Health benefits of aloe vera



Aloe vera name derives from the Arabic word “Alloeh” meaning “shining bitter substance,” while “vera” in Latin means “true”. About 2000 years ago, Greek scientists regarded Aloe vera as the universal panacea that could heal almost every ailment and illness.

The Egyptians called aloe “the plant of immortality” for obvious reasons. Today, the Aloe vera plant has been used for various purposes, among which we can mention dermatology, health, beauty, medicinal and skin care among many others [22]. By the way, Aloe vera scientific name is Aloe barbadensis. Image: See credits below [30]. 


Family: Liliaceae

Genus: Aloe

Common name: Barbados aloe, Coastal aloe, Curaçao aloe, Indian aloe, Jaffarabad aloe, Medicinal aloe, Mediterranean aloe, Star cactus, True aloe, West Indian aloe [9].



Aloe Vera (Aloe barbadensis), is a cactus plant that belongs to the Liliaceae family, a family that includes more than 300 species of this perennial succulent plant known as aloe, from which Aloe vera is the most accepted species for various medical, cosmetic and nutraceutical purposes [5,6,7,8].

The ideal environment to grow this plant is tropical climate and low-rainfall areas [1,3]. In spite it will be difficult to talk about all the properties and health benefits of Aloe vera, in this article, we will try to explain the scientific evidence behind all these claims clearly. 



ALOE VERAAloe vera has been used medicinally for the last few thousand years. Aloe vera has been used for medicinal purposes in several cultures for millenniums: Greece, Egypt, India, Mexico, Japan and China. Egyptian queens Nefertiti and Cleopatra used it as part of their regular beauty regimes.

Alexander the Great and Christopher Columbus used it to treat soldiers’ wounds [22,23]. Wars have been fought, as by Hannibal, in order to obtain control over its growing area in North Africa around 1750 BC. Image: See credits under reference [31] below.

Mentioned in various books and Mesopotamian clay tabloids in various countries like Egypt, Greece [1,24] South Africa, India, China, Mexico, Japan[1,25] for various ailments like: 

  • Burns,
  • Hair lose,
  • Skin infections,
  • Hemorrhoids [1,26]
  • Sinusitis,
  • Gastrointestinal pain
  • Wound healer for bruises,
  • X-ray burns [1]
  • Insect bites; and
  • Anti-helminthic,
  • Somatic,
  • Anti-arthritic [1]

In modern times, the first reference to Aloe vera in The English language was found in a translation by John Goodyew in A.D. 1655 of Dioscorides’ Medical treatise De Materia Medica [22,23].

Anyway, it wasn't until the early 1800s, that Aloe vera started to be used as a laxative in the United States, being in the mid-1930s, when it was successfully used to treat chronic and severe radiation dermatitis, what  gave it the boost that brought Aloe vera to one of the first places if not the first as natural remedy for severe radiation dermatitis, position that it already keeps [22,23].

In spite the properties and health benefits of Aloe vera were known since a very long time ago, in fact since a few thousand years ago, it hasn't been until recent years that cosmetic and medical companies profited from it to make Aloe vera gel and other Aloe vera cosmetic products from the mucilaginous tissue or Aloe gel present in the center of the Aloe vera leaf.

Aloe vera plant is known to contain in all its parts many Phenolic compounds, a certain type of active constituent found in Aloe that is also found in some essential oils and plants that exert very strong antiseptic and anti-bacterial properties.



The Aloe vera leaf consists of 2 different parts:

  • The central mucilaginous part from which the Aloe gel is extracted and
  • The peripheral bundle sheath cells in the form of the green rind.

Parenchymal tissue makes up the inner portion of the aloe leaves and produces a clear, thin tasteless jelly-like material called Aloe vera gel [1,4]. 

Several studies have demonstrated that Aloe vera leaf skin possesses many pharmaceutical properties and health benefits, including:

  • Purgative [5,10],
  • Anti-bacterial [11,12],
  • Anti-cancer [13-15],
  • Anti-fungal [16] and
  • Antioxidant [17-21] properties.



ALOE FLOWERAloe vera has been identified as beneficial in the treatment of psoriasis and atopic dermatitis, respectively, due to their anti-inflammatory properties [27]. Topical aloe vera (AV) has been used to treat various skin conditions, including psoriasis, with good results.

In a study was Aloe vera was compared with 0.1% triamcinolone acetonide, it was concluded that Aloe vera cream may be more effective than 0.1% triamcinolone acetonide cream in reducing the clinical symptoms of psoriasis [28].  Image left: See credits under reference [32] below.

In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study to evaluate the clinical efficacy and tolerability of topical Aloe vera extract 0.5% in a cream to cure patients with psoriasis vulgaris, the findings suggested that topically applied aloe vera extract 0.5% in a hydrophilic cream is more effective than placebo, not showing any toxic or other side-effects.

Therefore, the regimen can be considered a safe and alternative  treatment to cure patients suffering from psoriasis[28].



Periodontitis is an infectious inflammatory disease. Bacteria modulate the inflammatory response and alter the diversity of periodontal disease. In recent years, various host-response modulation therapies and local drug therapies have been developed to block the pathways responsible for periodontal tissue breakdown [1,2], among them, some natural herbal remedies including Aloe vera as one of them.

Several studies demonstrate how the subgingival administration of Aloe vera gel results in improvement of periodontal condition. Aloe vera gel can be used as a local drug delivery system in periodontal pockets [1,2].

Disclaimer: The information presented on this website is not intended to prescribe or give in any way or form medical advice, recommend or diagnose. Please read the disclaimer at the button of this page for more info.



[1] Aloe vera: Nature's soothing healer to periodontal disease Geetha Bhat, Praveen Kudva, and Vidya Dodwad
[2] Killoy WJ, Polson AM. Controlled local delivery of antimicrobials in the treatment of periodontitis. Dent Clin North Am. 1998;43:263–83.
[3] Grindlay D, Reynolds T. The Aloe vera phenomenon: A review of the properties and modern uses of leaf parenchyma gel. J Ethnopharmacol. 1986;16:117–51.
[4] Wynn RL. Aloe vera gel: Update for dentistry. Gen Dent. 2005;53:6–9.
[5] In vitro study of the PLA2 inhibition and antioxidant activities of Aloe vera leaf skin extracts Maher Kammoun,1 Sonia Miladi,2 Yassine Ben Ali,1 Mohamed Damak,2 Youssef Gargouri,1 and Sofiane Bezzine1
[6] Reynolds T. The compounds in Aloe leaf exudates: Review. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. 1985;90:157–177. doi: 10.1111/j.1095-8339.1985.tb00377.x.
[7] Grindly D, Reynolds T. The Aloe vera phenomenon. A Review of the properties and modern uses of the leaf parenchyma. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 1986;16:117–151. doi: 10.1016/0378-8741(86)90085-1.
[8] Haller JJS. A drug for all seasons: medical and pharm. History of Aloe. Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine. 1990;66:647–659.
[9] Plant names: http://www.plantnames.unimelb.edu.au/Sorting/Aloe.html
[10] Akao T, Che QM, Kobashi K, Hattori M, Namba T. A purgative action of barbaloin is induced by Eubacterium sp. Strain BAR, a human intestinal anaerobe, capable of transforming barbaloin to aloe-emodin anthrone. Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin. 1996;19:136–138.
[11] Wang HH, Chung JG, Ho CC, Wu LT, Chang SH. Aloe-emodin effects of arylamine N-acetyl transferase activity in the bacterium Helicobacter pylori. Planta Medica. 1998;64:176–178. doi: 10.1055/s-2006-957399.
[12] Tian B, Hua YJ, Ma XQ, Wang GL. Relationship between antibacterial activity of Aloe and its anthraquinone compounds. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2003;11:1034–1037.
[13] Pecere T, Gazzola MV, Mucignat C, Parolin C, Vecchia FD, Cavaggioni A, Basso G, Diaspro A, Salvato B, Carli M. et al. Aloe-emodin is a new type of anticancer agent with selective activity against neuroectodermal tumors. Cancer Research. 2000;60:2800–2804.
[14] Lee HZ, Hsu SL, Liu MC, Wu CH. Effects and mechanisms of aloe-emodin on cell death in human lung squamous cell carcinoma. European Journal of Pharmacology. 2001;431:287–295. doi: 10.1016/S0014-2999(01)01467-4.
[15] Lee HZ. Protein kinase C involvement in aloe-emodin and emodin induced apoptosis in lung carcinoma cell. British Journal of Pharmacology. 2001;134:1093–1103. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjp.0704342.
[16] Jasso de Rodriguez D, Hernández-Castillo D, Rodriguez-García R, Angulo-Sánchez JL. Antifungal activity in vitro of Aloe vera pulp and liquid fraction against plant pathogenic fungi. Industrial Crops and Products. 2005;21:81–87. doi: 10.1016/j.indcrop.2004.01.002.
[17] Lee KY, Weintraub ST, Yu BP. Isolation and identification of a phenolic antioxidant from Aloe barbadensis. Free radical biology and medicine. 2000;28:261–265. doi: 10.1016/S0891-5849(99)00235-X.
[18] Hu Y, Xu J, Hu Q. Evaluation of Antioxidant Potential of Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis Miller) Extracts. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2003;51(26):7788–7791. doi: 10.1021/jf034255i.
[19] Hu Q, Hu Y, Xu J. Free radical-scavenging activity of Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis Miller) extracts by supercritical carbon dioxide extraction. Food Chemistry. 2005;91:85–90. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2004.05.052.
[20] Wu FH, Liu XM, Guo SH. [Study on mechanism of yangxincao capsule in regulating lipid metabolism] Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 2006;26(2):131–134.
[21] Chan-hui L, chang-hai W, Zhi-liang X, Yi W. Isolation, chemical characterization and antioxidant activities of two polysaccharides from the gel and the skin of Aloe barbadensis Miller irrigated with sea water. Process Biochemistry. 2007;42:961–970. doi: 10.1016/j.procbio.2007.03.004.
[22] ALOE VERA: A SHORT REVIEW Amar Surjushe, Resham Vasani, and D G Saple
[23] Marshall JM. Aloe vera gel: What is the evidence? Pharma Jr. 1990;24:360–2.
[24] Shelton RM. Aloe vera its chemical and therapeutic properties. Int J Dermatol. 1991;30:679–83.
[25] Wynn RL. Aloe vera gel: Update for dentistry. Gen Dent. 2005;53:6–9.
[26] Coats BC, Ahola R. Dailas: Bilic coats; 1979. Aloe vera the silent healer: A modern study of Aloe vera; pp. 1–288.
[27] Innovations in natural ingredients and their use in skin care. Fowler JF Jr, Woolery-Lloyd H, Waldorf H, Saini R. University of Louisville, Division of Dermatology, Louisville, KY 40202, USA.
[28] A prospective, randomized clinical trial comparing topical aloe vera with 0.1% triamcinolone acetonide in mild to moderate plaque psoriasis. Choonhakarn C, Busaracome P, Sripanidkulchai B, Sarakarn P. Division of Dermatology, Department of Medicine, Srinagarind Hospital Medical School, Faculty of Medicine, Khon Kaen University, Khon Kaen 40002, Thailand.
[29] Anticancer potential of aloes: antioxidant, antiproliferative, and immunostimulatory attributes. Harlev E, Nevo E, Lansky EP, Ofir R, Bishayee A. Institute of Evolution and International Graduate Center of Evolution, University of Haifa, Mount Carmel, Haifa, Israel.
[30] Pixibay image under Public Domain CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) License.
[31] Pixibay image under Public Domain License CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) License.
[32] Pixibay image under Public Domain License CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) License.