Before going ahead and find how aloe vera can help in inflammation, let's understand it in brief.
In common language, inflammation is our body’s attempt to safeguard itself from harmful stimuli.
We always associate inflammation with something bad but it is not always the case, it is actually part of our body’s healing process.
Inflammation can occur in various parts of the body and it could be due to two reasons.
One is the process off fighting off foreign bodies like viruses and bacteria, which attack our immune system, by chemicals and white blood cells.
This is a natural response and is much needed.
The other is an autoimmune disease which causes an inflammatory response even when there are no foreign bodies to fight off.
This results in damage to tissues by our own immune system.
The most common inflammatory disorders are associated with our joints like gout, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis.
Our digestive system can also suffer from inflammatory conditions like inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
Some chronic inflammatory diseases are rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, and systemic lupus erythematosus.
These diseases could be debilitating and are common especially among older people.
What are Aloe Vera and its benefits?
Aloe Vera has been tremendously popular for it's agricultural, cosmetic and medicinal benefits since a thousand centuries.
It is a plant species commonly found in tropical climates. Its use is considered highly effective and safe.
It is popularly known as the wonder plant due to the numerous properties it possesses.
These properties include its potent anti-inflammatory properties that can be helpful in treating inflammatory conditions.
Aloe Vera Benefits in Inflammation
Research studies show that Aloe Vera can help in various inflammatory disease through both topical application and oral usage. Here is a list of 11 health problems Aloe Vera can help and hoe to Use it.
1. Aloe Vera reduces gastric inflammation and ulcers
Inflammation and ulcers of the gastrointestinal tract usually result from bacterial infection. Anti-inflammatory drugs are often prescribed to cure such gastric inflammation.
Aloe Vera is a natural anti-inflammatory agent that can help in this condition.
Aloe Vera is well known for its gastroprotective activities.
According to a study conducted by Keshavarzi et al. in 2014, Aloe vera gel significantly reduced intestinal water content induced by a gastric ulcer in rat models.
Aloe Vera also reduced gastric acid levels improving gastric inflammation and ulcers, intestinal water content and inhibits secretion of gastric acids.
Another study conducted by Eamlamnam in 2006 found that aloe vera gel reduces inflammatory molecules like leucocytes and tumour necrosis factors and elevates levels of interleukins thus preventing inflammation and enhancing the rate of gastric ulcer healing in the rat models.
What does this mean? Aloe Vera is a natural anti-inflammatory agent. It reduces levels of inflammatory molecules that mediate inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract during microbial infections or due to other reasons. It can effectively heals the gastric ulcers due to this property.
2. Aloe Vera speeds up wound healing by controlling inflammation
Aloe vera is popularly known for its effectiveness in wound healing. Its anti-inflammatory property helps heal wounds at a faster rate. This has been proved by numerous research studies.
A study reported in Research in Pharmaceutical sciences that treatment of aloe vera gel formulations on animal models healed inflammation in the wound and hastened the process of healing in rat models.
Its topical application was capable of healing burn wounds and incisions at a faster rate.
One such study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology depicted that treatment of Aloe Vera gel on human keratinocyte cells hastens wound healing activity and it does not exhibit any toxicity on the treated cells.
Another study conducted by Hormozi et al. elaborated the ability of aloe vera in treating physical injuries by affecting mechanisms that regulate expression of growth factors involved in the maintenance of skin fibroblast cells (Cells of the connective tissue that form collagen and other proteins to give strength).
What does this mean? Aloe Vera speeds up wound healing process by various mechanisms. It does not have any cytotoxic effects and is capable of healing wounds caused by burns, physical injury as well as incisions.
3. It reduces obesity-induced inflammation
Inflammation caused by cytokines and tumor necrosis factors in fat tissues leads to insulin resistance in obese patients.
Aloe Vera has been found to inhibit these obesity-induced inflammation dues to its potent anti-inflammatory properties.
A study conducted by Shin et al. reported that dietary Aloe vera protects inflammation by suppressing the action of cytokines in the white adipose tissue and liver, that affect insulin resistance.
Another study examined effects of Aloe vera on obesity-induced inflammation and found that aloe vera significantly reduces levels of inflammatory cytokines, hypoxia-induced factor 1 mRNA(that are found to induce inflammatory processes) and proteins involved in inflammation in mice fed with a high-fat diet.
What does this mean? Anti-inflammatory properties of Aloe Vera reduce levels of inflammatory mediators thereby preventing inflammation induced in the fat tissues in obesity.
4. Topical aloe acts as anti-inflammatory
The use of Aloe vera in cosmetic products is very popular due to the active constituents present in it. It is also used in topical creams and lotions to heal wounds due to its healing properties.
A study published by David et al. reported that aloe Vera inhibits inflammation caused by irritation on the topical application on the affected area.
The study also emphasized that the effectiveness of processed aloe vera on decolorization produced better results than colorized aloe vera with anthraquinone derivatives.
A research study demonstrated that burns treated with aloe vera gel healing at a faster rate as compared to burn sites treated with silver sulfadiazine which is a common ingredient in creams prescribed for healing burn wounds.
Another study showed how the anti-inflammatory properties of aloe vera could prevent skin diseases like psoriasis and acne induced inflammation on topical application of aloe vera gel.
What does this mean? Aloe vera has found to be helpful in treating burn wounds, acne, psoriasis and other skin disease when natural or processed aloe Vera gel is applied on affected areas. It also heals the wound or inflammation induced at a quicker pace. This property justifies its use in creams, moisturizers and lotions and its ability for future use in treating a variety of other medical conditions.
5. It reduces pain by alleviating inflammation
Aloe Vera has been found to be an effective painkiller.
According to a study published in Inflammation in 2012 aloe vera reduced pain in animal models on oral administration of its aqueous extract.
A study on animal models was conducted for determining the anti-arthritic property of Aloe Vera extracts.
The results indicated that aloe vera significantly reduced swelling and pain in arthritis animal models suggesting that its extracts contain anti-inflammatory compounds that can be used in anti-arthritic medication to relieve pain and inflammation.
What does this mean? Aloe Vera has effective painkilling effects and thus can be used in place of pain killers that cause certain side effects. It is found to be safe for use. The anti-inflammatory property of aloe vera inhibits severe inflammation thereby relieving pain.
6. It benefits in oral ulcers
Oral ulcers are inflammation of the mucosal lining that results in blisters and inflammation of the mouth making eating and drinking extremely uncomfortable.
It may result due to the side effect of chemotherapy due to irradiations.
A study conducted by Cuba et al. demonstrated that Aloe Vera, when administered along with Vitamin E, reduced inflammation and enhanced the healing effect on tongue lesions.
The results were compared with a control group and it was observed that Aloe vera along with Vitamin E reduced inflammation caused by oral ulcers tremendously within a period of seven days.
Another study published in Chinese Journal for integrative medicine in 2012 reported that the Aloe Vera mouthwash contains anti-inflammatory properties of Aloe Vera among others that heal oral mucositis which is a common side effect observed in patients undergoing chemotherapy.
The study concluded that it can be used in the therapy of patients suffering from oral ulcers as a side effect in chemotherapy.
What does this mean? The anti-inflammatory property of Aloe Vera makes it an effective agent in curing inflammation and healing blisters in oral ulcers. It uses as an active ingredient is gaining immense popularity in products like mouthwashes and topical creams or as natural drug agents for providing relief from mouth ulcers.
7. It protects from alcohol-induced liver toxicity
Research studies reveal that acute and chronic administration of alcohol in large amounts often leads to the production of cytokines that cause increased inflammation and lead to hepatic damage.
It is important to consume anti-inflammatory compounds to keep a check on uncontrolled inflammation produced in this medical condition.
A study published examined the effects of a herbal formulation that included leaves of Aloe vera along with other natural agents on liver induced toxicity.
The results of the study indicate that Aloe Vera possesses certain protective effects on the liver that prevent damage of liver cells induced by alcohol toxicity.
Various other preliminary studies have been conducted to confirm the protective effects of aloe vera on the liver thereby preventing liver damage induced by alcohol toxicity.
What does this mean? Alcohol toxicity often leads to liver damage induced mainly due to inflammation. The anti-inflammatory and its protective effects on the liver cells can prevent liver damage induced by alcohol toxicity.
8. It benefits in gingivitis
Aloe vera is often used as an ingredient in herbal toothpastes due to its benefits in dentistry.
According to a study published in Oral diseases in 2014 aloe vera was found to be effective in controlling plaque and gingivitis. Its anti-inflammatory properties were found to reduce inflammation in patients with gingivitis.
A study conducted by Ajmera et al. in 2013 described clinical trials conducted on patients with gingivitis.
The study showed that although three different groups were subjected to different concentrations of aloe vera mouthwash, a reduction in inflammation in gingivitis was observed in all three groups.
Most effective results were found in the group subjected to aloe vera mouthwash and scaling too. The study concluded that aloe vera is an effective therapy for treating inflammation and plaque in gingivitis.
A study published in oral health and dental management suggested that the use of aloe vera mouthwash for a span of 30 days improves dental health. It also showed that aloe vera produced no side effects as observed with chlorhexidine, a common agent used in mouthwash.
What does this mean? Aloe Vera has found to be an effective agent in improving dental health and reducing inflammation and plaque in gingivitis.
It can, therefore, be used as a medical therapy in mouthwashes and toothpastes to provide relief to patients suffering from gingivitis.
9. It aids in psoriasis
As aloe vera is known for its healing properties on skin diseases and its use in cosmetic products there is no doubt that the essential properties contained within it can cure psoriasis (scaly and itchy skin).
Psoriasis is a skin disease caused due to the disorder of the immune system.
A study published in Phytotherapy research in 2015 suggested the use of aloe vera in treatment of psoriasis.
The study found that administration of aloe vera to patients with psoriasis was well tolerated and effective. Most importantly it did not produce any side effects in the patients underlying its safety for use.
Another study conducted by Vogler et al. in 1999 reported the effectiveness of Aloe Vera in the treatment of psoriasis on oral administration.
Aloe vera has been found to be dermatologically safe for topical application and oral administration being a natural agent.
What does this mean? Although patients with skin diseases like psoriasis suffer irritation and side effects after consuming synthetic drugs, aloe Vera can be an effective treatment for this condition.
10. It protects from sunburns
Aloe vera is commonly used in cosmetic products. It has the ability to protect the skin from harmful ultraviolet radiations.
Sunburns often results due to exposure of the skin to the sun for long hours. Numerous studies have found the topical application of aloe vera to be helpful in treating sunburns.
A study published in the Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology described an experiment conducted on animal models subjected to ultraviolet radiations and the effect of an aloe vera extract, aloe saponaria on their sunburns.
The animals were treated with topical application of aloe vera extract on the affected areas.
It was observed that aloe saponaria reduced oxidative stress and inflammation in the affected region treating the sun burns and simultaneously providing pain relief.
According to an observational study published in Pharmacognosy reviews in 2011 suggested that herbs like aloe vera stimulate the skin and promote the growth of new cells.
Aloe vera protects the skin from ultra violet radiations. Topical application of aloe vera gel can be helpful in treating skin affected by sunburns at a faster rate with no side effects.
What does this mean? Aloe vera inhibits inflammation caused due to sun burn. Its healing properties cure the affected area of the skin exposed to ultraviolet radiations or sunburn caused due to long term exposure to the sun with no side effects since it is a natural agent.
11. It benefits in Arthritis
Arthritis is inflammation in the joints and therefore consumption of anti-inflammatory agents or applying anti-inflammatory lotions or creams on the affected area helps in curing arthritis.
Aloe vera has found to be helpful in curing arthritis symptoms mainly inflammation and pain without side effects.
An experimental study conducted by Kshirsagar et al. in 2014 revealed that an extract derived from aloe vera called aloe emodin had the ability to cure arthritis induced in animal models.
This property was accounted for its characteristic anti-arthritic and anti-inflammatory effects.
Its anti-oxidant properties regulate expression of cyclooxygenase-2 (inhibition of this enzyme helps relieve pain and inflammation).
The study reported significant inhibition of inflammation in arthritic models on using aloe vera extracts.
Aloe vera is found to be helpful in treating osteoarthritis. According to a study published in the British Journal of community nursing in 2010 if prevents inflammation and is capable of replacing non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that have various side effects.
Aloe vera has gastroprotective effects and does not lead to gastric irritation, unlike these anti-inflammatory drugs.
What does this mean? The anti-inflammatory properties of Aloe vera prevent pain and inflammation in arthritis. It relieves pain in the joints. It does not produce any side effect and therefore can be consumed in place of drugs that irritate the gastrointestinal tract.
The dietary dosage of aloe vera and its topical application both are considered safe for use.
It is easily available in the local market in the form of supplements and in various cosmetic products or it can be grown as a houseplant.
If you wish to apply it topically, scrape the Aloe Vera gel off the leaf and apply it directly to the affected joints or skin to relieve pain and inflammation.
For wound healing, aloe vera gel can be applied to the affected area up to 3 times a day until the wound is healed.
Aloe Vera gel can be consumed in the form of juice and can be drunk 2-3 times a day to decrease the inflammation.
It is most helpful in relieving pain and inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis.
This is because aloe vera gel contains plant sterols which are known to exhibit similar effects as those shown by steroidal drugs on inflammation.
Since there is no specific recommended dosage it is best to consult a doctor before using any form of aloe vera whether in the form of juice, creams or capsules to avoid any allergic reactions.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women and children are not advised to consume aloe vera in any form.
If you wish to opt for aloe vera supplements or are suffering from any medical conditions like cancer or bleeding disorders, consult a health practitioner before opting for its consumption.
Although aloe vera is considered safe and effective it may induce certain side effects in some conditions which you must look out for before consuming or applying it.
Aloe Vera may cause redness, burning, stinging sensation and in rare cases even dermatitis if it does not suit your skin on when topically applied.
Allergic reactions are mainly caused due to the presence of anthraquinone derivatives (organic compounds found in the plant) in Aloe Vera. Thus one must test for allergic reaction by doing a small patch test on the skin.
Drinking aloe vera juice has been known to cause side effects like diarrhoea, abdominal cramps, constipation, and hepatitis. Aloe vera juice can lower blood glucose levels and may interact with drugs.
Its intake for a longer duration can increase the risk of colorectal cancer and the laxative present in it can cause electrolyte imbalance. One should stop drinking aloe vera juice if any of these side effects are observed.
To avoid interactions with drugs maintain a 3-4 hour gap between the medications and aloe vera consumption.
However, it is recommended that those on medications or suffering from any medical conditions must consult a doctor before consumption of Aloe vera on a daily basis.
Pregnant women should avoid intake of aloe vera as it may cause uterine contractions and in breastfeeding women, it can lead to gastrointestinal problems in the infant.
Aloe vera has diverse therapeutic applications in the health industry.
Its safety, easy availability and efficacy make it a potential therapeutic agent and thus easily help in various disorders naturally.