Aloe vera is a plant that has been used throughout history as a gel, juice, and food additive. It is a member of the Liliaceae family, much like onions, asparagus and garlic. Proponents of aloe claim it provides health benefits, but more scientific studies need to be conducted to prove or refute health claims. When used topically in gel form, it is generally safe.
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SacredEarth.com claims that documented use of aloe dates back 3,500 years to Egypt. It naturally grows in the arid environments of northern and eastern Africa but is now cultivated in the U.S., Mexico and China. Aloe is a succulent, so it thrives in hot, dry climates. The aloe plant has fat, meaty leaves that store gel, which has been used to combat symptoms of burning and itching skin. Today aloe gel is found is hundreds of skincare and beauty products.
Aloe gel is considered safe and effective in treating burns. Its oils are soothing to the touch and can relieve pain and decrease inflammation. The Mayo Clinic suggests that mild evidence supports its efficacy in treating symptoms of psoriasis, canker sores and genital herpes, though more studies are needed before they will strongly recommend it.
No evidence suggests that using aloe vera gel topically during pregnancy has any harmful effects. However, the American Pregnancy Association does not recommend that it be taken orally, as it can cause uterine contractions and drops in blood sugar. The stretching of the skin on the abdomen can itch, and rubbing a small amount of aloe gel on the area can relieve it, helping to prevent stretch marks. Due to conflicting data, speak to a physician before placing aloe on an open wound.
Aloe vera gel can be used liberally on the skin three or four times per day in the presence of burns and itching. No formal evidence claims that components of the gel can be absorbed through the skin to cause any internal reactions or adverse effects during pregnancy. Excess usage can dry out the skin, so start with smaller doses.
Prolonged use of aloe vera gel has been associated with dry skin, eczema and rash. People with certain food allergies to plants in the Liliaceae family may have allergic reaction to aloe vera. Use over a surgical wound has been shown to slow the healing process. Use prior to sun exposure can cause dryness and rash in areas exposed to sun. If you are prone to rash or have further questions about the use of aloe gel, especially during pregnancy, speak to a physician.