Oral Aloe vera as a treatment for osteoarthritis: a summary

Br J Community Nurs. 2010 Jun;15(6):280-2. doi: 10.12968/bjcn.2010.15.6.48369.


While pain relief is a basic tenet of health care, pain is under-treated in the UK (Davies and Mcvicar, 2000) and this issue remains unresolved. This paper suggests that oral Aloe vera could be used in the treatment of chronic non-cancer pain (CNCP), particularly that caused by osteoarthritis (OA). Despite being used as arthritis treatment for centuries (Yoo et al, 2008), evidence of effectiveness of Aloe vera is anecdotal or from small studies. The perceived benefits of prescribing Aloe vera for OA may be twofold: it has utility as an anti-inflammatory agent and also as a prophylactic against the gastrointestinal irritant effects of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Long-term, randomized, controlled studies are still needed to address the lack of evidence informing optimum prescribing of pain medication for people with OA (Cowan, 2007). There is no reason that so called 'nutraceutical' agents should not be subjected to the same rigorous randomized, controlled, double-blind trials as other 'mainstream' drugs. Therefore, it is appropriate to ask whether NSAID treatment and side effects can be improved by the addition of oral Aloe vera. Thus, we may then be in a more informed position to resolve the ongoing 'Pandemonium over Painkillers' (Cowan, 2007).

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Aloe* / adverse effects
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / adverse effects
  • Dietary Supplements / standards
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Herb-Drug Interactions
  • Humans
  • Osteoarthritis* / complications
  • Osteoarthritis* / drug therapy
  • Pain* / etiology
  • Pain* / prevention & control
  • Phytotherapy / adverse effects
  • Phytotherapy / methods*
  • Research Design
  • Safety


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal