The Truth About Aloe Vera

In medicine, many folk remedies are met with indifference by physicians, but are embraced by the lay. This sometimes leads to suspicion by the lay that docs are "hiding" something from people. That brings to mind the story of aloe vera. Many of you have used aloe vera. I, too, have an aloe plant in my house and I've used it myself. And the consumer part of me has only heard good things about aloe.

For centuries the lore has been to break off a piece of the leaf and rub the sap onto burns or wounds to help them heal faster. If it didn't ease the burning sensation, we wouldn't be using it on wounds. But for the last few decades, it has been touted in anti-aging creams.How did it make the jump from wounds to wrinkles?

Aloe sap actually contains at least 13 different drugs. And some of these do inhibit tumors and others stop the pain of sunburn. It kills bacteria, viruses, and fungus. It increases collagen in wounds. And it helps psoriasis and some skin rashes. All good so far. But in some people, it can paradoxically causes rashes and worse, it can actually cause mutations in cells. And not a single study has ever shown that it has an anti-aging effect.

Bottom line. If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, stay away from aloe vera. Otherwise, it joins the list of many unproven and possibly dangerous "natural" substances.