Aloe Vera May Treat Battle Wounds
Rapid blood loss on the battlefield is hard to replace quickly and can lead to organ failure in wounded soldiers. University of Pittsburgh scientists found juice from aloe vera leaves preserved organ function in rats that had lost massive volumes of blood. They report their findings in the journal Shock.
Aloe vera has been hailed for its anti-inflammatory properties. It is used to sooth inflammation of the skin from things like burns.
Scientists have also been looking at its ability to treat internal inflammatory diseases like irritable bowel syndrome. Now Dr Mitchell Fink and colleagues believe it might also be useful for managing severe blood loss.
When the body loses a large volume of blood it goes into shock - haemorrhagic shock. Blood is diverted from the rest of the body to the vital organs such as the brain, heart and liver, and the blood pressure drops. If the loss is too great and the blood is not replaced, the vital organs can fail and the person dies.
The University of Pittsburgh team had previously found aloe vera leaf extracts decreased the force required by blood to flow through vessels. Dr Fink thinks the extract works by making the blood more slippery. His team is carrying out further studies to check whether this increased slipperiness would also mean an increased risk of bleeding. $quot;It is conceivable that clotting could be impaired$quot;. $quot;There's a lot of work to be done before anyone would consider giving this to humans$quot; he said. Dr Fink said that if the treatment did prove to be safe and effective, it could have wider applications than for managing trauma on the battlefields.
Trudy Morris, a member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists, said: $quot;We all know that plants can be powerful in their effects and yet they are generally very safe materials.$quot; But she said further research was needed, especially in humans.