4 Health Benefits Of Aloe Vera

It is not hard to notice how aloe vera is found in everything from food flavoring to creams and lotions. With a reputation for therapeutic properties, it has also become a popular topic of study in medical research.

Though topical aloe gel is generally regarded as safe to use, the Mayo Clinic states that people should avoid using aloe latex orally as it might contain cancer-causing compounds or lead to kidney damage.

In reality, there is not enough research to back up a lot of the bold claims made about aloe vera, most often by cosmetic brand marketing. While researchers conduct more studies to gain a better understanding, here are some of the potential benefits of aloe vera:

1. Treating cold sores

"Aloe vera is an antiseptic, containing six agents known to help inhibit fungi, bacteria, and viruses, including salicylic acid, phenols, and sulfur," David Lortscher, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in California, told Prevention.

Caused by a herpes simplex virus, cold sores are the patches of blisters that tend to form around the border of the lips. While they usually heal in a couple of weeks, aloe vera gel may accelerate the process or reduce associated pain.

2. Helping marks fade

It has been suggested that aloe vera may be useful in helping post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation fade. But aloe vera alone has not been established as an effective treatment to target acne itself.   

Instead, you can ask your dermatologist if there are any aloe products you could use along with conventional acne treatment medication. One study from 2014 showed that this combination might be more effective in some cases.  

3. Better oral health

One study found that aloe vera mouthwash could help in reducing periodontal indices. Another one, published in General Dentistry, suggested that aloe vera tooth gel was found to be effective in getting rid of pathogenic oral microflora in the mouth. The benefit was attributed to compounds known as anthraquinones.

Dilip George, a co-author of the study, explained that aloe "must not be treated with excessive heat or filtered during the manufacturing process," and how the product should contain the stabilized gel, emphasizing the importance of manufacturing standards. However, it is not yet proven that the gel can completely substitute commercial toothpaste in eradicating bacteria.

4. Healing sunburns

Spent too much time in the sun without applying sunscreen correctly? There may be something to help with the discomfort. "Aloe vera can feel soothing to the skin," Nada Elbuluk, M.D., a dermatologist at NYU Langone Medical Center, told SELF.

To soothe sunburned skin, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends moisturizers that contain aloe vera and avoiding ones that contain ingredients such as petroleum, benzocaine, or lidocaine. Keep in mind that applying aloe vera on your skin is not an alternative to wearing sunscreen.