Written by Edzard Ernst and the CAM-Cancer Consortium.
Updated March 20, 2013

Aloe vera

Abstract and key points

  • Aloe vera is a cactus-like plant with a long history of medicinal use.
  • Aloe vera gel is applied topically and is used for radiation-induced skin problems. However, clinical trials show that it is ineffective for that purpose.
  • Aloe vera latex (juice) is taken orally. It has been insufficiently tested as a cancer therapy.
  • Oral use might cause abortion in pregnant women.

This summary is currently (April 2016) being updated, the version published here was last updated in March 2013. 

Aloe vera is a plant remedy used for a wide range of problems. In oncology, it is mostly advocated as a topical treatment to prevent or treat skin irritation after radiotherapy. The trial data, however, seem to indicate that it is ineffective for that purpose. Oral Aloe vera juice has been tested as a cancer treatment but studies are too preliminary to tell whether it is effective. Numerous adverse events are on record but they are generally mild and reversible. Oral use might cause abortion.

Read about the regulation, supervision and reimbursement of herbal medicine at NAFKAMs website CAM Regulation.

Citation

Edzard Ernst, CAM-Cancer Consortium. Aloe vera [online document]. http://cam-cancer.org/The-Summaries/Herbal-products/Aloe-vera. March 20, 2013.

Document history

Fully updated and revised in March 2013 by Edzard Ernst.
Summary first published in July 2011, authored by Edzard Ernst.

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