Absence of contact sensitization to Aloe vera (L.) Burm. f.

Research paper by N N Reider, A A Issa, T T Hawranek, C C Schuster, W W Aberer, H H Kofler, P P Fritsch, B M BM Hausen

Indexed on: 21 Dec '05Published on: 21 Dec '05Published in: Contact Dermatitis


Aloe vera has been used as a cosmetic and medical remedy since ancient times and has gained increasing popularity in recent years. Despite its widespread use, reports of allergic reactions are rare. We patch tested 702 consecutive patients with an oily extract from the leaves, Aloe pulvis from the entire plant and concentrated Aloe vera gel. A specially designed questionnaire was used for the use of Aloe vera, reasons and location of application, adverse reactions, occupation, hobbies and atopy. None of the subjects showed any reaction to one of the preparations. 2 components of the plant have to be distinguished: the bark of the leaves contains anthrachinones with pro-peristaltic and potential antibiotic and anticancer properties. Constraints have been imposed due to their considerable toxic potential. Today, mostly the Aloe gel from the center of the leaves is processed. It almost exclusively consists of carbohydrates to which also many medical effects have been attributed. Carbohydrates are not likely to induce contact sensitization, which might explain the outcome of our study. However, this does not justify unrestrained promotion of Aloe products, as scientific studies investigating the claims on its constitutional effects are few in number, and the majority of them have been unable to diminish the intuitive scepticism against miracle cures, like Aloe seems to be.