Unlike bacteria, viruses invade healthy living cells in order to reproduce, making them difficult to destroy without negative side effects. There are no medicines that safely kill viruses, but many drugs suppress symptoms by inhibiting viral reproduction. The body’s own immune system offers the best course of treatment. Aloe Vera stimulates this natural response has proven effective against a variety of viruses including influenza, herpes, and HIV. Unlike most drugs available, Aloe is low-cost and has virtually no known risks or negative side effects. While it is not a cure, Aloe can reduce the occurrence of viral symptoms and complications, and potentially slow the spread of infection.
Aloe & Immune Response
Aloe Vera bolsters the body’s defenses at the cellular level, stimulating the immune system. Polysaccharides in Aloe stimulate white blood cell activity and increase the number of T-helper cells. These cells coordinate the immune response, resulting in the production of antibodies and ridding the body of the infectious agent. Studies have also shown that an anthroquinine called emodin in Aloe Vera disables the functioning of certain including herpes simplex virus type 1 and 2, varicella-zoster virus, pseudorabies virus, and influenza virus (1).
Aloe polysaccharides administered orally have been shown to improve helper lymphocytes in AIDS patients and inhibit the reproduction of HIV. The result is the reduced occurrence of opportunistic infections and related HIV symptoms without any negative side-effects. While it is not a magic bullet, Aloe has shown to boost the beneficial effects of drugs used in conventional treatment, including AZT. In an early study using 100% Aloe Vera juice as a nutritional supplement for AIDS patients, most of the participants reported a decrease in symptoms within three to five days. The study concluded that Aloe Vera represents a promising non-toxic complementary therapy capable of “halting the progression of the HIV virus by boosting the immune system, decreasing the P24 core antigen activity and improving the overall quality of the patient’s life (2).”
The herpes virus lies dormant in the nervous system, becoming active when the immune system is stressed. Both Type 1 and 2 are extremely common, HSV-1 commonly manifesting as cold sores or fever blisters, while HSV-2 causes genital herpes. Current synthetic anti-viral drugs used to combat herpes fall short for a number of reasons. They do not prevent outbreaks, addressing only active infections, and have been associated with some serious side-effects and the development of resistant viral strains (3). As with HIV treatment, Aloe may also be used safely in conjunction with conventional drugs such as acylovir (the active ingredient in Valtrex, used to treat HSV-2). While more research is needed to test oral supplements, the topical use of Aloe gels and creams have proven effective in reducing symptoms. In addition to being painful, open sores are associated with an increased risk of HIV and other types of infection. Aloe heals sores and lesions, reducing the duration and severity of outbreaks.
Purchasing Aloe Vera
Used topically, Aloe is most effective in its natural form, straight from the leaf of a mature Aloe plant. Many commercially available creams and gels work well as long as Aloe is the principle ingredient, with a concentration of 95 percent or higher. There are a wide variety of oral supplements available including juices and gel capsules. Look for the least processed products with highest concentration of available. For more information and a list of high quality Aloe supplements, visit the International Aloe Science Council site.
(1) Sydiskis, R J. Inactivation of enveloped viruses by anthraquinones extracted from plants. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 1991 Dec; 35(12): 2463-2466.
(2) Pulse, T.L. A Significant Improvement in a Clinical Pilot Study Utilizing Nutritional Supplements, Essential Fatty Acids and Stabilized Aloe Vera Juice in 29 HIV Seropositive, ARC and Aids Patients. Journal of Advancement in Medicine. 1990 winter; 3(4)
(3) Zandi, Keivan. Antiviral activity of Aloe vera against herpes simplex virus type 2:an in vitro study. African Journal of Biotechnology. 2007 Aug; 6 (15): 1770-1773.