Aloe is often used topically as a soothing rinse or topical preparation. Aloe contains a number of beneficial chemicals. The prostaglandins in aloe have beneficial effects on inflammation, allergy, and wound healing. While many would profess to appreciate the healing effect of aloe on wounds and burns, there have never been any properly designed scientific studies that can tell us just how effective aloe really is for these conditions.
Topical aloe gel may improve the rate of healing of minor cuts and scrapes, although one report suggests aloe can actually impair healing in severe wounds.
Therapeutic Uses Acemannan, a polysaccharide immune stimulant found in aloe vera, may be helpful for pets with allergies, skin infections, and other diseases (feline leukemia, feline, immunodeficiency virus infection) that suppress the immune system.
Acemannan is approved for use as part of the therapy for treating fibrosarcoma tumors in pets.
Aloe has antibacterial and antifungal effects; the antibacterial effects have been compared to silver sulfadiazine.
In people, aloe has been used internally as a laxative or tonic (lower doses) for the gastrointestinal system.
Oral aloe vera is also sometimes recommended to treat AIDS, diabetes, asthma, stomach ulcers, and general immune weakness. While the evidence for benefit in these conditions is slight to nonexistent, one of the constituents of aloe, acemannan, does seem to possess numerous interesting effects. Test-tube and animal studies suggest it may stimulate immunity and inhibit the growth of viruses. Aloe vera is definitely not a proven treatment for any of these conditions.
Dosages Aloe is best used externally. Aloe extracts such as acemannan can be used as injectable medicines or externally.
Safety Issues If used internally, aloe possesses strong purgative properties that can result in severe diarrhea due to the anthroquinones located in the latex skin. The juice, while bitter, can be used in small doses and is safer.
In pets, aloe should only be used externally without direct veterinary supervision; internal application can result in strong laxative effects due to its anthroquinone (aloin) content. Acemannan can be used safely internally.
Do not use in pregnant or lactating animals. In people, oral aloe is not recommended for those with severe liver or kidney disease; the same warning is probably justified in pets.
Shawn Messonnier, DVM
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Shawn Messonnier DVM Past Supporting Member, Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians Author, the award-winning The Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats, The Natural Vet’s Guide to Preventing and Treating Cancer in Dogs, and Breast Choices for the Best Chances: Your Breasts, Your Life, and How YOU Can Win The Battle!
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