Aloe’s medicinal use dates back 6,000 years and many of its same uses remain today, including treating skin conditions such as minor abrasions and burns. The topical use of aloe is now being tested for possible benefits in managing ailments such as psoriasis and genital herpes. Although aloe is one of the most commonly used herbs in the United States today, there is insufficient scientific support for any of its uses. Consult with your doctor before using aloe medicinally.
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About Genital Herpes
Genital herpes is a common sexually transmitted disease caused by a herpes virus and characterized by painful fluid-filled blisters or red bumps in the genital area. There is no cure for genital herpes and treatment is focused on relieving and preventing symptoms. Self-care activities that may help in managing genital herpes include stress reduction, healthy eating habits and using supplements such as aloe.
How It Works
The mechanism by which aloe helps to heal skin wounds is not clear. However, laboratory studies in test tubes have shown that aloe contains substances called polysaccharides, such as acemannan, that may have anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and immune-stimulating properties. Other components of aloe that may contribute to its beneficial effects on the skin include amino acids, which help in the growth and repair of body tissues, as well as zinc and the antioxidants vitamin C and vitamin E.
You can obtain aloe by just breaking off the leaves of the plant, which you can grow yourself as a houseplant, and applying the clear gel that comes out of the break. Aloe is also available commercially as a gel, ointment, cream or lotion. The gel may usually be applied to the skin as often as needed. Aloe cream has been tested in doses of 0.5 percent applied three times per day for genital herpes.
Preliminary research has shown that applying aloe topically may have benefits in managing genital herpes. A trial published in the "Journal of Dermatological Treatment" in 1997, using aloe 0.5 cream to manage people with first episodes of genital herpes, showed that aloe decreased the healing time of genital herpes blisters. Also, most people in this study did not have recurrences of genital herpes 15 months after stopping aloe treatment.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- Drugs.com: Aloe
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Aloe
- PaloAltoMedicalFoundation.org: Genital Herpes
- PaloAltoMedicalFoundation.org: Aloe
- “Journal of Dermatological Treatment”; Management of genital herpes in men with 0.5% Aloe vera extract in a hydrophylic cream: a placebo-controlled, double-blind study; TA Syed, et al.; No.2 1997
- NIH Office of Dietary Supplements: Botanical Dietary Supplements