Aloe vera is a popular medicinal plant that people have used for thousands of years.
Aloe vera, or Aloe barbadensis, is a thick, short-stemmed plant that stores water in its leaves. It is best known for treating skin injuries, but it also has several other uses that could potentially benefit health.
1. It contains healthful plant compounds
Aloe vera may help treat skin injuries. The cosmetic, pharmaceutical and food industries use aloe vera extensively, and the plant has an estimated annual market value of $13 billion trusted Source globally.
Aloe vera is known for its thick, pointed, and fleshy green leaves, which may grow to about 12–19 inches (30–50 centimeters) in length. Each leaf contains a slimy tissue that stores water, and this makes the leaves thick. This water-filled tissue is the “gel” that people associate with aloe vera products. The gel contains most of the beneficial bioactive compounds in the plant, including vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants.
2. It has antioxidant and antibacterial properties
Antioxidants are important for health. Aloe vera gel contains a trusted Source of powerful antioxidants belonging to a large family of substances known as polyphenols.
These polyphenols, along with several other compounds in aloe vera, help inhibit the growth of certain bacteria that can cause infections in humans.
Aloe vera is known as its trusted Source of its antibacterial, antiviral, and antiseptic properties. This is part of why it may help heal wounds and treat skin problems.
3. It accelerates wound healing
People most often use aloe vera as a topical medication, rubbing it onto the skin rather than consuming it. In fact, it has a long history of use in treating sores, and particularly burns, including sunburn. The United States Pharmacopeia describes aloe vera preparations as a skin protectant as early as 1810–1820.
Studies suggest that it is an effective topical treatment for first and second-degree burns.
For example, a review trusted Source of experimental studies found that aloe vera could reduce the healing time of burns by around 9 days compared with conventional medication. It also helped prevent redness, itching, and infections. The evidence for aloe vera helping heal other types of wounds is inconclusive, but the research is promising.
4. It reduces dental plaque
Tooth decay and diseases of the gum are very common health problems. One of the best ways to prevent these conditions is to reduce the buildup of plaque, or bacterial biofilms, on the teeth. In a mouth rinse study trusted Source by 300 healthy people, researchers compared 100% pure aloe vera juice with the standard mouthwash ingredient chlorhexidine.
After 4 days of use, the aloe vera mouth rinse appeared to be just as effective as chlorhexidine in reducing dental plaque. Another study trusted Source found similar benefits of aloe vera mouth rinse over a 15- to 30-day period.
Aloe vera is effective in killing the plaque-producing bacterium Streptococcus mutans in the mouth, as well as the yeast Candida albicans.
5. It helps treat canker sores
Many people experience mouth ulcers, or canker sores, at some point in their lives. These usually form underneath the lip, inside the mouth, and last for about a week Trusted Source. Studies have shown that aloe vera treatment can accelerate the healing of mouth ulcers. For example, in a 7-day study trusted Source of 180 people with recurrent mouth ulcers, applying an aloe vera patch to the area was effective in reducing the size of the ulcers. However, it did not outperform the conventional ulcer treatment: corticosteroids.
In another study trusted Source, aloe vera gel not only accelerated the healing of mouth ulcers, but also reduced the pain associated with them.