Aloe for the Skin: For Real or Aloed of Junk?
Many people use aloe vera for the skin, often in body wash and lotions. Is there evidence that aloe is beneficial for the skin, or is it pseudoscience and marketing? Let's look at some research. In this study, 40 rats with staphylococcus were divided into groups where hypericum perforatum and aloe vera were applied to the skin. They would have 4 different groups. One of the groups had 1% hypericum perforatum and 4% aloe vera. Another group was 4% hypericum perforatum and 1% aloe vera. The other 2 groups were a control group and a treatment group. Another group was a control group. According to the study, the rats with the 4% aloe vera and 1% hypericum performatum experienced the most healing.
http://eprints.uoz.ac.ir/2297/ It would seem this supports that aloe has healing affects. However, the sample size is only 40 people for 4 groups. Also, while we shouldn't completely dismiss the scientific validity of this study being done on rats, we also can't ignore it. Also, this study did not involve an aloe vera-only. For all we know, maybe the lower hypericum perforatum and higher aloe vera treatment had the best affect because hypericum perforatum has an optimal dosage of 1%, with anything beyond it being neutral or even counterproductive.
The following Iranian study looked at patients who had antibiotic-resistant malassezia bacteria. It suggests that the concoctions that apply a concoction with aloe vera gel had more antimicrobial affects than without. The sample size is 102, and these are human patients, so it shows some more promise, but still pretty small.
There are other studies like this one from Thailand that showed aloe vera was good for wound-healing, but it was in 1989. ttps://s3.amazonaws.com/academia.edu.documents/26059618/05_wound_healing.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAIWOWYYGZ2Y53UL3A&Expires=1544815281&Signature=E9PxjCTtU6QBdAaqDoMx4jttLh8%3D&response-content-disposition=inline%3B%20filename%3DWound_Healing_Oral_and_Topical_Activity.pdf
Now here is an British analysis of 10 studies. Below are results "Ten studies were located. They suggest that oral administration of aloe vera might be a useful adjunct for lowering blood glucose in diabetic patients as well as for reducing blood lipid levels in patients with hyperlipidaemia. Topical application of aloe vera is not an effective preventative for radiation-induced injuries. It might be effective for genital herpes and psoriasis. Whether it promotes wound healing is unclear."
Since we are talking about its benefits from applying on the skin, the results about ingesting it for lowering blood glucose are a separate topic, although beneficial to know. However, applying on the skin didn't appear to have any benefits. This analysis was from 1999, so a bit dated, although that doesn't make it useless.
The Mayo Clinic suggests that applying aloe vera on the skin may be beneficial for acne, psoriasis, wounds, burns, herpes skin lesions, among other conditions.
So what is the verdict? The evidence is there, although not strong, that aloe vera is good for the skin. It seems it is because of the anti-microbrial properties. The studies above involve applying aloe when there is a skin condition. It seems to be safe, so the pros out weight and potential downsides of applying skin cream with aloe vera for healthy people without such conditions. There are, however, various drug interactions to consuming aloe vera orally, which are mentioned in the Mayo Clinic article. They include anticoagulants, diabetes medication, digoxin, laxatives, and various other remedies. So certainly talk to your doctor if you are using any of those medications and wanting to consume aloe vera juice, for example. However, for healthy people using aloe vera body wash or lotion, there doesn't appear to be any side effects. Perhaps the anti-microbial effects may act as a preventative, or maybe it is only beneficial to people with skin conditions already. Nonetheless, as there doesn't appear to be any side effects, I say go ahead and dabble that aloe vera gel, body wash, or other concoction.