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Measuring the Effectiveness of Aloe Vera on Wound/Scar Healing

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Aloe Vera, Wounds, Scar Treatment

Measuring the Effectiveness of Aloe Vera on Wound/Scar Healing

April 15, 2009

By: Tony Edwards for Scars1

Aloe vera was known as the “plant of immortality” in Egypt more than 6,000 years ago and it is likely already part of your skin care regimen. It may be in the gel you put on your child’s cuts to help them heal more quickly or in the lotion you use to treat sunburn.

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Help for Healing Scars:

  • Read the labels before taking aloe vera orally. It was used as a laxative and may also inhibit the effectiveness of any other medications you are taking.
  • Talk with your doctor about your scars or wounds. There are numerous treatment options, some of which may be more effective than others for your specific case.
  • Blood flow promotes wound healing. To achieve optimum blood flow, don’t smoke, reduce your caffeine intake and try to exercise daily.
  • Aloe vera is not appropriate for all wounds. A conversation with your doctor is the best way to determine if it’s a good treatment for your wound.
  • According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), aloe vera is used for treating diabetes, asthma, epilepsy and osteoarthritis. Although according to NCCAM, there is not enough scientific evidence for using aloe vera for those conditions, including diabetes and deep surgical wounds.
    Aloe vera is a plant. The leaves of the plant contain a clear gel that can be used to treat skin problems and other conditions. The green part of the leaf is sometimes used to make a juice or latex that can be taken orally.
    While aloe vera is often incorporated into skin care and wound healing products, why is it effective in wound healing? Particularly, what kind of effect does it have on two of the most important components of wound healing: fibroblasts and keratinocytes?
    Fibroblasts are the most common cells in connective tissue and a key part of wound healing. Keratinocytes are the major part of your skin, comprising up to 95 percent of it, according to dermatology textbooks.
    With fibroblasts and keratinocytes playing such major roles in wound healing, and with some studies suggesting that aloe vera helps in certain wounds, but not in others, researchers from the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine wanted to find out what effect aloe vera has on keratinocytes and fibroblasts and what it might mean to treating wounds, scars and burns.
    To measure what effect, if any, aloe vera gel extract may have, researchers compared growth numbers of cells, and cell viability in a laboratory. They measured the results of three compounds: a control compound, a compound containing aloe vera mixed with its usual preservative and an aloe vera mix. Researchers also created what they called “cross-shaped” wounds in the laboratory since no people or animals were used in this study.
    To their surprise, researchers found that the cells treated with the aloe vera and its usual preservative decreased significantly (in scientific terms, the aloe vera and preservative inhibited their proliferation/growth).However, the aloe vera alone had the reverse effect, actually increasing keratinocyle and fibroblast growth and viability. This led researchers to suggest that it may be the preservative, not the aloe vera that is inhibiting wound healing.
    Perhaps if paired with a less-inhibiting preservative, researchers said aloe vera may have an increasingly prominent role in healing wounds of all kinds.
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