Aloe Vera Studies on Wounds
I chose to research available studies that have been done on the aloe vera plant and how it has an effect on wound healing. Many people refer to the use of aloe vera (whether fresh or store bought products) in the case of skin burns and rashes. It is typically a common household item that can be found in the kitchen or in the medicine cabinet and even as a growing plant within the home or outside.
The first study that I came across is titled Aloe Vera Gel and Cesarean Wound Healing; A Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial. This clinical trial was done by four researchers from the University of Medical Sciences in Iran, with the participation of a gynecological surgeon. The expecting mothers in this study were chosen based on an inclusion and exclusion criteria. Their pregnancy term had to be between 37 and 42 weeks with a body mass index that was higher than 29 and have not had more than two prior cesarean sections. Exclusions from this study included placenta previa, placental abruption, chorioamnit, meconium discharge, polyhydramnios, a history of diseases that can effect wound healing, abnormal fetus, hospitalization of fetus in the NICU, severe bleeding or transfusion, undergone a hysterectomy or myomectomy during the operation, history of smoking cigarettes or drug abuse, membranes ruptured prior to operation, operation lasting longer than 90 minutes, and not referring to the hospital eight days post operation. (Molazem, Mohseni, Younesi, & Keshavarzi, 2014) After the selection process was completed, the study included 90 women. Out of the 90 women, 45 were put into an aloe vera group, and the other 45 were the control group. The same surgeon performed each cesarean section at the Amir-al-Momenin Hospital located in Gerash, Iran. This clinical study lasted from July 23 to November 22 of 2013. Using what is known as the REEDA scale, the wounds from the surgery were analyzed. The REEDA scale looks at five factors which include redness, edema, ecchymosis, discharge, and the approximation of the two edges of the wound. Each factor is scored from zero to three points, so the highest score possible would be a 15. This high score shows the weakest in wound healing. After the surgical procedure, the aloe vera group had fresh aloe vera mucilage applied to their incision site and bandaged with gauze. The control group only had gauze applied with no aloe vera gel. (Molazem, Mohseni, Younesi, & Keshavarzi, 2014) After 24 hours, the participant’s incision sites were inspected and the dressing was removed so the nurses and researchers could assess using the REEDA scale. After eight days, the participants were to be examined again in the hospital and then have their stitches removed. This study showed that the aloe vera gel was effective within 24 hours of the operation when compared to the control group, but the results were not as different after eight days. The researchers believe that this is because the intervention with the aloe vera gel only lasted for 24 hours. I do agree with them and I would like to see a study done in the same fashion but with the aloe vera gel being used as an intervention for a full week. I think continuous use of aloe vera would be even more beneficial in a longer time frame. I think aloe vera gel would be a great addition to hospitals maternity or labor and delivery wards to help heal incision sites.
This next paper that I found was quite extensive but actually rather interesting to go through. This paper, titled Aloe Vera for Treating Acute and Chronic Wounds, was published February 15, 2012 in the Cochrane Library database. Four researchers wanted to determine the effects of various aloe vera products on the healing of acute and chronic wounds by comparing research studies. The paper does not state how long it took the researchers to compile their studies and analyze them. Their search criteria were set for randomized trials which were published or unpublished and in any language. The research could include trials that had human participants of any age and with any types of disease states with acute or chronic wounds. The definition of acute wounds included surgical wounds, burns, lacerations and other skin injuries from trauma. A chronic wound was defined as a skin ulcer, infected wound, surgical wounds that were healing from secondary intention, pressure ulcers, and arterial or venous ulcers. (Dat, Poon, Pham, & Doust, 2012) The types of interventions of aloe vera included products derived from aloe vera, combination of aloe vera and other dressings when compared with placebo, standard wound care, and other wound healing interventions. The databases the researchers used to pull studies from included the Cochrane Wounds Group Specialized Register, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Ovid MEDLINE, Ovid EMBASE, Ovid AMED, and EBSCO CINAHL. The results of their searching included 178 possibly relevant studies. Seven of these studies from their search results met their inclusion criteria after screening was done. These study trials were conducted in India, Iran, Thailand, and the USA. The studies focused on acute wounds and burns, post-haemorrhoidectomy wounds, shave biopsies of skin, pressure ulcers, and post gynecological surgical wounds. The interventions used were aloe vera cream, aloe vera mucilage, a commercial aloe vera gel dressing, and aloe vera gel alone. After reviewing and analyzing the search results, the researchers concluded that there is insufficient clinical trial evidence regarding the effects of aloe vera for treatment of acute or chronic wounds because the available trials were not of high quality and did not have adequate methodology. (Dat, Poon, Pham, & Doust, 2012) I do agree with this as there really wasn’t much clinical trial research done on this topic. The risk of bias with the available studies is also high because of the low amount of participants in the studies. I would like to see more clinical trials with larger groups of participants with chronic skin issues.
To conclude, although many people use aloe vera products for wounds including sunburns and other burns, there really isn’t much clinical evidence out there to support its medicinal effects. I would like to see more research and studies because I do believe from personal experience that it does help.
Dat, A., Poon, F., Pham, K., & Doust, J. (2012, February 15). Aloe vera for treating acute and chronic wounds. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD008762.pub2/full
Molazem, Z., Mohseni, F., Younesi, M., & Keshavarzi, S. (2014, August 31). Aloe Vera Gel and Cesarean Wound Healing; A Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4796446/