Aloe vera is one of nature's most revered therapeutic healing herbs. The beneficial effects of this tropical succulent have spurred recurrent legends about its properties that have persisted from the fourth century B.C. throughout world history (Coats and Ahola, 1979; Cole and Chen, 1943; Gottleib, 1980; Morton, 1961, 1970; Lewis and Elvin-Lewis, 1977). Even so, it has not been until recently that the scientific community has turned greater attention toward this mysterious plant extract (Table 10.1). Scientific interest was initially triggered by a single case report of accelerated wound healing with aloe's use in radiation-induced dermatitis of the scalp (Collins and Collins, 1935). This initial publication in 1935 and three similar cases reported shortly thereafter spurred a great deal of research investigating and detailing Aloe vera's wound-healing abilities (Wright, 1936; Loveman, 1937). In 1937, Crewe noted improvement in burn and scald wounds treated with the topical application of aloe (Crewe, 1939). Mandeville in 1939 and Rowe etal. in 1941 observed an increased rate of wound healing in radiation-induced ulcer wounds (Mandeville, 1939; Rowe etal., 1941). Aloe was shown to be effective in the treatment of second-degree thermal burn wounds in 1943 and in the treatment of
Table 10.1 History of Aloe gel in Wound Healing.
1935 Collins and
Collins 1937 Crewe 1939 Mandeville 1941 Rowe etal. 1943 Tchou
Thermal burns treated with aloe mixed with mineral oil. Radiation-induced ulcers successfully treated with aloe. Increased healing in radiation-induced ulcers in rats with aloe. Successful treatment of second degree thermal and radium burns with aloe.
Accelerated healing of abrasions treated with aloe.
Accelerated ulcer healing in rabbits and increased collagen deposition with aloe.
Accelerated healing in frostbite wounds treated with aloe. Increased tissue survival in frostbite wounds treated with aloe. Fresh aloe promotes human cell growth in vitro (15). Increased tissue survival in frostbite wounds treated with aloe. Accelerated healing of full-thickness thermal burns treated with aloe. Post-dermabrasion wound healing stimulation with Aloe vera gel.
Case of radiodermatitis healed with aloe gel.
1947 Barnes 1953 Lushbaugh and
1964 Sjostom etal.
1980 Raine etal.
1981 Winters et al. 1983 McCauley etal.
1990 Fulton dermal abrasions in 1947 (Tchou, 1943; Barnes, 1947). Lushbaugh and Hale in 1953 showed accelerated wound healing and increased collagen deposition in wounds treated with aloe. In 1964, Sjostrom etal. showed increased healing in frostbite wounds, and Raine etal. in 1980 and McCauley etal. in 1983 showed increased tissue survival in frostbite wounds with the application of Aloe vera gel. In 1988 and 1989, the topical application of the gel showed improved healing in the treatment of full thickness wounds and in 1990 a commercially prepared aloe product was able to show marked improvement in wound re-epithelialization (Rodriguez-Bigas etal, 1988; Watcher and Wheeland, 1989; Fulton, 1990).
The complete composition of Aloe vera gel and each of its components' effects on wound healing is still being unraveled today. Many of the abilities of the gel have already been ascribed to certain of its constituents and it is well known that Aloe vera contains many unique biologically active compounds that have wound-healing, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activities.
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