Aloe Vera is a succulent plant that is found primarily in South and East Africa and it has been used medicinally for centuries. Over the past few decades Aloe Vera has become quite popular in North America, with its gel being sold at most drug stores for topical use and its juice available for drinking at many health food stores. Aloe has many healing properties; it is a natural antibiotic, antifungal, antiviral and antioxidant agent. Many studies have also found that drinking Aloe Vera and/or applying it externally, are two temporary pain relief techniques that can ease a variety of ailments.
Aloe and Inflammation
Aloe’s pain relief powers are due in large part to its ability to reduce inflammation. Studies have found that Aloe inhibits the production of prostanoids in damaged tissue. This is beneficial because prostanoids are a group of complex fatty acids that produce inflammation and pain and may even increase a person’s sensitivity to the sensation of pain. Preliminary studies suggest that Aloe also helps reduce inflammation and prevent pain by blocking certain integrins, which are proteins that mediate cell adherence. When integrins are blocked, neutrophils, which can cause marked tissue damage, are unable to enter the damaged tissue where they would otherwise cause increased pain and inflammation.
Topical Aloe as a Pain Relief Technique
The gel of the Aloe plant is commonly used topically to enhance healing and provide pain relief for wounds, ulcers, burns, dermatitis, cankers, dandruff and other types of rashes. Aloe Vera’s wide range of phytonutrients help to hasten healing and its antiseptic properties help to prevent a secondary infection from developing. In fact, a study conducted on patients with partial thickness burn wounds, found that the application of Aloe Vera gel resulted in complete healing and pain relief after 11.89 days, whereas the application of Vaseline took 18.19 days. Another study found that the topical application of Aloe cream helped to reduce postoperative pain, analgesic requirements and healing time when applied to surgical wounds.
Drinking Aloe Vera for Pain Relief
According to Phyllis Balch, CNC, in her book “Prescription for Nutritional Healing,” when Aloe is taken internally it helps to reduce inflammation, as well as to heal and produce pain relief for the following conditions: stomach disorders, ulcers, hemorrhoids, rectal itching, diarrhea, colitis and most bowel issue. Aloe also has laxative properties and Dr. Oz recently stated on his popular TV series “The Dr. Oz Show” that Aloe is one of favorite remedies for constipation.
Although there have not been too many studies to confirm the usefulness of drinking Aloe for these condition, there is tons of anecdotal evidence suggesting its beneficial properties, and the few studies that have been conducted have yielded mostly positive results. One of the most recent Aloe studies was conducted on ulcerative colitis sufferers. The participants of the study drank 2 to 7 ounces of aloe juice for four weeks and at the end of the study 47 percent of the colitis sufferers reported measurable pain relief, as well as reduction in their other colitis related symptoms.