A gel made from the herb aloe vera is being investigated as a possible treatment for stomach and intestinal ulcers, reports BBC News Online.
Aloe already has a reputation as a painkiller, and has long been used as an effective treatment for burns. Now scientists believe it might be effective in treating ulcers which can often be a side-effect of taking anti-inflammatory NSAID drugs.
A team from the Barts and London, Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry carried out tests which show that the herb has a beneficial effect on the production of substances which help boost the healing process in cases of ulceration in the gut, the report said.
The aloe vera gel was tested on a culture of gastric cells, using the concentration likely to be found in the stomach after swallowing a dose of the gel.
The BBC also cites a separate study of aloe vera which is focusing on its effects on irritable bowel syndrome. It said that researchers at Morriston Hospital, Swansea, led by gastroenterologist Professor John Williams, had attempted to test anecdotal evidence that aloe could help treat IBS, a benign but troublesome malady.
"We have some anecdotal evidence that aloe vera may help, but we need to know if this is genuine effect, or simply linked to the fact that the condition improves and then relapses," Professor Williams old BBC News Online.
The results of the IBS trial, in which approximately 250 people will take part, will not be known for two years.