Herpes is a viral disease which is caused by an enveloped virus known as Herpes Simplex Virus. The disease is transmitted sexually.
The infecting virus is of two types, Herpes Simplex Virus 1 and Herpes Simplex Virus 2. HSV-1 is the causative agent for cold sores.
These lesions occur on the mouth and lips, and they appear as blisters. HSV-2 causes genital herpes and is spread mainly through sexual contact.
The infection causes itching in the genitals. It is characterised by the appearance of small red blisters in the genitals, thigh, and inside the vagina.
Other HSV infections can spread into different parts of the body. It is known to affect the eyes and skin.
To prevent infection by HSV, one must avoid direct sexual contact with infected people, avoid sharing personal items.
The treatment objective of Herpes is to contain the outbreak of the sores and prevent the spreading of the sores. The infection generally lasts for up to 6 weeks. It is also known to be recurring and proper medication must be followed.
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What is Aloe Vera?
Aloe barbadensis, commonly known as Aloe Vera is a short flowering plant with thick and fleshy, thorn-covered leaves.
The gel within these leaves are extracted and are used for their immense medicinal properties. The ground pulp or the Aloe Vera gel is what is used as a medicinal agent. It consists mainly of water.
The remaining part of the gel contains numerous components which make the extract extremely valuable as a medical reagent.
It is composed of several vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and enzymes.
These compounds help in the control and cure of cholesterol, diabetes, digestive malfunctioning, physiological pH, skin disorders etc.
4 Surprising Benefits of Aloe vera For Herpes
Aloe vera can help in several ways with Herpes. Aloe Vera's anti-viral activity can help with oral sores and topical application is known to help with genital herpes. Further, the anti-oxidant nature of aloe vera can help stop the progress of the infection.
Various studies have identified the benefits of application of aloe vera gel in herpes blisters/sores.
1. Aloe Vera gel has anti-HSV activity and can benefit from oral canker sores.
Herpes Simplex Virus 1 or HSV-1 is an enveloped virus and is a very common viral pathogen of the human body.
It causes several diseases including Herpes, meningitis, pneumonitis and genital infections.
A study conducted in 2016 tried to evaluate the antiviral activity of Aloe vera against Herpes Simplex Virus 1.
The study proved that Aloe vera extracts have potent antiviral activity and can be used as a treatment for Herpes.
Further investigation during the study showed that this activity of Aloe vera extracts can be attributed to its polysaccharide content.
Another very important constituents of Aloe vera extract is the polyphenolic fraction.
These polyphenols are very effective antiviral agents.
The study thus shows the potential benefits of Aloe vera extracts in the form of mouthwash or gel against Herpes.
What does this mean? Consumption of Aloe vera can help in the cure of Herpes via its Antiviral Activity.
2. Anthraquinones found in aloe vera have anti-viral activity.
Anthraquinones are organic compounds which have immense health benefits including antimicrobial, antioxidant property, etc. In the Aloe vera plant, anthraquinones are extracted from the inner part of the leaf.
A wide variety of anthraquinones are found in the Aloe vera leaf extract including Aloin, emodin, barbaloin, etc.
In 1991, a study was published which evaluated the antiviral activity of these anthraquinones against Herpes Simplex Virus.
The anthraquinone which was taken into consideration in this study was called Aloe emodin.
The results of the study that Aloe emodin had immense antiviral activity against enveloped DNA and RNA virus such as Herpes Simplex Virus 1.
The anthraquinones had this activity due to its ability to disrupt the viral enveloped. With a compromised viral envelope, the viral particles are unable to adsorb onto the host cell and hence, infection is prevented.
What does this mean? Aloe vera leaf extract has anthraquinones which can help prevent infection by HSV-1 and hence, herpes.
3. Topical application of aloe vera gel benefits in genital herpes.
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease which is caused by either Herpes Simplex Virus 1 or 2.
It appears are sores on the skin or as blisters on the genital area.
The sores are painful and the healing time for herpes infection is long.
An effort was made in a 1996 study to establish the use of Aloe vera extract for the management of genital herpes.
The study focussed on the topical use of Aloe vera extracts in the form of a cream.
The study observed that application of the Aloe vera cream significantly reduced the outbreak of the sores in the infected patients.
The study also found the application of the cream is safe and did not cause any form of allergic or adverse reactions in the patients.
The application of the cream significantly reduced and healed the lesions in the patients which were caused by the infection of Herpes Simplex Virus.
What does this mean? Aloe vera extracts can be used as a topical agent to heal herpetic lesions.
4. Antioxidants in Aloe vera can control herpes infection.
Infection of Herpes Simplex Virus 1 is associated with oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is created by the generation of reactive oxygen species or ROS.
These free radicals are toxic to the cells and cause cellular damage.
The replication of the virus is promoted by oxidative stress which is produced in the infected cells and this causes the infection to spread.
Aloe vera extracts contain several important polyphenols.
These include compounds such as aloe emodin, benzoic acid, hydroxyphenylacetic acid, coumaric acid, salicylic acid etc.
The antioxidant capacity of these polyphenolic compounds is due to their ability to act as reducing agents and their free radical quenching activity.
Thus, these active components in Aloe vera gel can scavenge the free radicals which are produced during the infection of Herpes Simplex Virus 1.
This inhibits the virus from multiplying and controls the spread of the infection.
What does this mean? The antioxidant property of Aloe vera inhibits the spreading of Herpes infection.
Studies have shown positive results for the anti-viral action of Aloe vera on the virus HSV-2 (causes genital herpes).
This result can have a positive implication against HSV-1 as well.
With the same thought, this study is an attempt to explore the potential and effectiveness of Aloe vera against HSV-1 infection that causes oral herpes sores.
What happened in the study?
This study was done to examine the antiviral activity of Aloe vera gel extract against the herpes simplex virus, HSV-1.
This study was conducted in vitro, i.e., in an artificial environment on Vero cell line (cells grown from the kidney cells of African green monkey).
It was a twofold study, one to assess the toxicity of Aloe vera gel extract on the cell line and the other to assess the antiviral activity of the gel extract.
The examination of toxicity of the gel extract was done by adding different concentrations of the gel extract solution to the cell line, respectively.
Tests were done to see whether any concentration of the Aloe vera gel extract is toxic to the cells of the Vero cell line.
The anti-viral effect was examined by firstly, infecting the cell line with the herpes simplex virus, HSV-1.
Each plate of the infected cells was then introduced with various concentrations of the Aloe vera gel extract solution, respectively.
Tests were carried out to find the intensity of infection in each plate of the cell line, respective to different gel extract concentration.
The intensity of infection was seen regarding reduction or increase in the replication of the virus in the formation of plaques ( the visible structure formed by virus upon replicating and causing cell destruction on a nutrient medium).
Control for both the studies was prepared for comparison. A replica of the healthy cell line without the gel extract and a replica of a virus-infected cell line without the gel extract were controls.
What was the result?
For the first study, i.e., assessment of toxicity of the Aloe vera gel extract on the Vero cell line, the result was negative.
No concentration of the gel extract was toxic for the cell line, compared to the control (healthy untreated cell line).
For the study of the anti-viral activity of the Aloe vera gel extract on the HSV-1 infected cell line, the results were as following:
- All the concentration of the gel extract inhibited the replication of the virus in a significant manner.
- Higher concentrations had considerably more anti-viral activity than the lower concentrations.
- The 5% concentration of the Aloe vera gel extract was most effective in reducing the virus plaques. 2% concentration was similar in the action.
- The gel extract concentrations 0.2%, 0.5% &1% had much lesser anti-anti-viral than the 5% concentration.
How does this occur?
The result showing non-toxicity of the Aloe vera gel extract towards the Vero cell line eliminates the possibility of any external influence on the cell line when it is infected with the virus, HSV-1.
This confirms that the infection-induced in the cell line was by the virus only.
Herpes simplex virus is an enveloped virus, glycoproteins (proteins bonded with sugar moiety) being the constituent of the envelope.
The mechanism of its infection is by binding to the surface of the host cell, entering the cell and taking over the cell’s replication machinery.
The virus replicates and the cell bursts releasing new viruses and the infection spreads to the other neighboring cells.
The antiviral activity of Aloe vera is owed to the presence of anthraquinones (naturally occurring phenolic compounds) in the gel. Some of these compounds are
Aloin and Emodins.
Anthraquinones are known to be effective against various enveloped viruses, including herpes simplex virus.
One of the emodins from Aloe vera, called Aloe emodin was active against these viruses.7
The mechanism of action of the Aloe emodin against these viruses is found to be a disruption of the viral envelope.
This disruption prevents the binding of the virus to the host cell which is an initial step in the process of the infection.
This prevents replication of the virus ceasing the further spread of the infection.
A polysaccharide, acemannan from the Aloe vera gel is also found to have anti-viral activity against many viruses.
It is an immunostimulator which means it can inhibit viral infections by enhancing the immune responses.
The concentration-based efficiency of the gel against the virus suggests that even lower concentrations have a positive effect.
But better outcomes can be achieved by using higher concentrations of the Aloe vera gel.
It can be concluded that the antiviral and immune-enhancing property of the various constituents of the Aloe vera gel extract is capable of overpowering the oral herpes infection.
What does it mean?
This means Aloe vera is a good alternative to combat oral herpes sores.
Regular use of Aloe vera gel based mouthwash or ointment products can prove to be effective in reducing the transmission of the virus through saliva.
Consumption of the fresh gel or Aloe vera juice can have a twofold effect, in the curtailment of infection by viral inhibition as well as by boosting the immune system.
Read the full study at:
The dosage of Aloe Vera for Herpes
The extracts of Aloe vera are generally consumed in the crushed form, which is incorporated into juices for internal consumption or into creams and gels for topical application.
For liquid consumption, it is recommended dosage for Aloe vera extract per day is around 250 mL, but starting with small doses say 10-30ml is advised.
For application as a topical agent, around 0.5% of the gel is considered to be safe for daily use.
Aloe vera extracts have a compound called Aloin.
The possible side effects of Aloe vera is due to the presence of this compound.
Aloin is a laxative and is a cause of several abdominal diseases like diarrhoea, cramps, and dehydration.
The consumption of Aloe vera is not recommended during pregnancy as it might cause uterine contractions and miscarriages due to the presence of Aloin.
Commercially available Aloe vera juice generally does not contain aloin and is hence, safer.
Herpes infections spread rapidly due to sexual contact. It can cause painful sores and lesions which take a long time to cure.
Consumption of Aloe vera extracts or the application of the gel can help prevent the spread of the disease. The bioactive components of the gel also prevent infection by Herpes Simplex Virus.