Aloe vera is a medicinal plant known for its therapeutic purposes. The leaves of this succulent contain a clear gel that’s sometimes applied topically. Aloe vera can also be taken orally, and many people even enjoy drinking aloe vera juice.

Aloe vera juice is believed to help improve the immune system, and some people claim that it can treat lung cancer.

Here’s what you need to know about aloe vera and lung cancer, including whether aloe vera juice is an effective treatment.

Lung cancer develops when malignant cells grow unmanaged and form a tumor in the lungs. Common symptoms include coughing, wheezing, and chest pain.

Typical treatments for lung cancer include chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, and targeted drug therapy. However, some people also consider aloe vera juice a cancer treatment.

This is likely due to aloe vera containing acemannan, a chemical compound with anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and anticancer properties. It’s believed to also have a tumor suppressant effect.

There are reports of this compound being extracted from the plant and injected into the body as an alternative cancer therapy. However, this treatment has caused some deaths.

Currently, there’s no scientific evidence to suggest that either aloe vera or aloe vera juice are effective cancer treatments.

While aloe vera juice is not a treatment for lung cancer, aloe vera itself might provide some lung benefits.

The plant’s anti-inflammatory abilities could possibly improve respiratory problems caused by asthma, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis. The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center suggests that taking aloe vera by mouth helps reduce swelling and irritation in the airways, making it easier to breathe.

In one 2019 study, researchers exposed lab rats to the smoke of eight cigarettes for 30 minutes a day. The treatment group received aloe vera gel 1 hour prior to exposure.

After 6 weeks, the alveoli epithelial cells, which protect the lungs, were higher in the treatment group compared to the control group. Because of this, researchers concluded that oral aloe vera gel could possibly protect lung tissue from damage.

Always talk with a doctor first

Always discuss things with a doctor before adding alternative treatments or supplements to your routine.

Even naturally-occurring substances like juices can be high in vitamins or other compounds that could interact with other medications you’re currently taking, according to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA).

A doctor will be able to make sure your entire treatment plan is working in harmony.

Keep in mind that aloe vera can also cause negative side effects in some people, according to Cancer Research UK. These include:

  • skin rash
  • stomach cramping
  • diarrhea
  • low potassium

While aloe vera is not a cancer treatment of any kind, it has plenty of benefits when applied topically to the skin or taken orally, including:

Treating burns

Aloe vera is generally safe to use on the skin, and it’s often used to treat minor burns, like sunburns. The active compounds in aloe can lessen pain and inflammation. It also contains polysaccharides which help stimulate wound healing, according to a 2019 review.

Soothing other kinds of skin irritation

In addition to burns, aloe might relieve irritation and inflammation caused by other skin conditions. It can help reduce swelling, itchiness, and redness caused by eczema, psoriasis, and acne.

It might also reduce skin irritation caused by radiation therapy in the treatment of lung cancer. Aloe vera has a soothing, moisturizing effect too, so it’s sometimes an ingredient in lotions and other skin care products.

Strengthening your hair

Active ingredients in aloe vera, like vitamins A, C, E, and B12, might improve the health of hair follicles and strengthen your hair. The anti-inflammatory effect of aloe vera also helps reduce skin conditions that affect the scalp, such as psoriasis and dandruff.

You can purchase hair care products containing aloe vera. You can also remove the gel from a cut aloe vera leaf, massage it into your hair and scalp, let it sit for a few minutes, and then rinse off.

Improving blood sugar

When taken orally, aloe vera may also improve blood sugar. More research is needed, but one 2016 review found that aloe vera could possibly improve fasting glucose levels in people with prediabetes.

Relieving constipation

Aloe juice can also have a laxative effect. Some chemotherapy drugs for lung cancer can cause constipation. Drinking aloe vera juice helps stimulate bowel movements and reduces irregularity.

Chemotherapy, radiation treatment, surgery, immunotherapy, and targeted drug therapy are known to be effective treatments for some cancers.

There is no evidence supporting the use of alternative therapies and supplements as a replacement for medical cancer treatment, so avoid any therapy that promises to cure cancer.

That said, it can sometimes be helpful to use alternative therapies as a complement to medical treatments.

For example, your doctor might recommend a daily supplement to ensure your body receives essential nutrients, according to the CTCA. Some supplements, like selenium and folic acid, might increase the effectiveness of cancer treatments and protect your cells from damage.

Similarly, you may find that a ginger or peppermint tea might reduce your nausea and other gastrointestinal symptoms caused by chemotherapy.

Always consult your doctor before taking a vitamin or supplement. Some complementary therapies can interfere with conventional treatments. Even some foods are known to reduce your body’s ability to metabolize some chemotherapy drugs.

Getting support during lung cancer treatment

Going through cancer treatments can be overwhelming sometimes, but you’re not alone. Your doctor or oncology team may have recommendations for local support groups and be able to get you in touch with others that understand what you’re going through.

There’s also a host of other resources available to you:

Online Support Groups

Other Mental Health Resources

Lung Cancer Clinical Trials

While aloe vera might benefit the lungs in some ways, it’s not an effective cancer treatment.

However, alternative or complementary therapies using aloe vera can help relieve some symptoms caused by cancer treatments, including constipation.