Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis)

Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis)

Overview and Health Benefits

Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis) is a renowned herbal remedy used for centuries in traditional and modern medicine. The gel from its leaves (rich in mucilage) is widely celebrated for its soothing and healing properties and often used externally, while the leaves including the skin (containing anthraquinones) have been used internally as a laxative (Heinrich et al., 2023).



Key Benefits:

  • Soothes and heals skin: Aloe vera gel is renowned for its ability to alleviate skin conditions, promote wound healing (Molazem et al., 2015), and reduce inflammation (Heinrich et al., 2023). Aloe vera extracts have been shown to help manage a range of skin conditions, including chronic psoriasis (Syed et al., 1996), diaper dermatitis in children (Panahi et al., 2012), as well as burns, cuts, abrasions and sunburns (Surjushe, Vasani & Saple, 2008). .
  • Anti-inflammatory properties: Aloe vera's components can reduce inflammation both topically and internally (Heinrich et al., 2023). Aloe vera gel has proven effective to cool and ease active ulcerative colitis, for example, when taken internally (Langmead et al., 2004).
  • Reduces plaque and promotes oral health: Aloe vera has been shown to significantly reduce plaque and gingivitis when integrated into mouthwashes or toothpastes (Gupta et al., 2014; de Oliveira et al., 2008). 
  • Laxative: Taken internally, aloe vera powder / leaf extract can function as a laxative (Heinrich et al., 2023). It is the latex of the plant – the bitter sap found between the inner part of the plant and the rind – that is rich in the laxative active compounds (anthraquinones) (IASC, 2009). However, due to its strength, it should be used with caution and preferably under professional guidance (Ulbricht et al., 2007).


Internally, Aloe vera latex contains anthraquinones, which have potent laxative effects and can lead to severe abdominal cramps, diarrhoea, and potential electrolyte imbalances if consumed in large quantities or over prolonged periods (Ulbricht et al., 2008). Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid internal use due to potential adverse effects (Surjushe, Vasani, & Saple, 2008). Additionally, individuals with kidney disorders or gastrointestinal conditions such as Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, or irritable bowel syndrome should exercise caution, as Aloe vera may exacerbate these conditions (Langmead et al., 2004). Topically, while generally safe, Aloe vera gel may cause allergic reactions in some individuals, and it should not be used in cases of staph infection (Gladstar, 2008). As with any herbal remedy, it is best to consult with a healthcare professional before using Aloe vera, especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition or are taking any prescription medications.