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The Aloe vera plant has been known and used for centuries for its health, beauty, medicinal and skin care properties. The name Aloe vera derives from the Arabic word “Alloeh” meaning “shining bitter substance,” while “vera” in Latin means “true.” 2000 years ago, the Greek scientists regarded Aloe vera as the universal panacea. The Egyptians called Aloe “the plant of immortality.” Today, the Aloe vera plant has been used for various purposes in dermatology.

 

History

Aloe vera has been used for medicinal purposes in several cultures for millennia: Greece, Egypt, India, Mexico, Japan and China. ¹  Egyptian queens Nefertiti and Cleopatra used it as part of their regular beauty regimes. Alexander the Great, and Christopher Columbus used it to treat soldiers’ wounds. The first reference to Aloe vera in English was a translation by John Goodyew in A.D. 1655 of Dioscorides’ Medical treatise De Materia Medica. ²  By the early 1800s, Aloe vera was in use as a laxative in the United States, but in the mid-1930s, a turning point occurred when it was successfully used to treat chronic and severe radiation dermatitis. ²

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Plant

The botanical name of Aloe vera is Aloe barbadensis miller . It belongs to Asphodelaceae (Liliaceae) family, and is a shrubby or arborescent, perennial, xerophytic, succulent, pea- green color plant. It grows mainly in the dry regions of Africa, Asia, Europe and America. In India, it is found in Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.

 

Anatomy

The plant has triangular, fleshy leaves with serrated edges, yellow tubular flowers and fruits that contain numerous seeds. Each leaf is composed of three layers: 1) An inner clear gel that contains 99% water and rest is made of glucomannans, amino acids, lipids, sterols and vitamins. 2) The middle layer of latex which is the bitter yellow sap and contains anthraquinones and glycosides. 3) The outer thick layer of 15-20 cells called as rind which has protective function and synthesizes carbohydrates and proteins. Inside the rind are vascular bundles responsible for transportation of substances such as water (xylem) and starch (phloem). ³

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Active components with its properties: Aloe vera contains 75 potentially active constituents: vitamins, enzymes, minerals, sugars, lignin, saponins, salicylic acids and amino acids. ₄,⁵,₆

  1. Vitamins : It contains vitamins A (beta-carotene), C and E, which are antioxidants. It also contains vitamin B12, folic acid, and choline. Antioxidant neutralizes free radicals.
  2. Enzymes : It contains 8 enzymes: aliiase, alkaline phosphatase, amylase, bradykinase, carboxypeptidase, catalase, cellulase, lipase, and peroxidase. Bradykinase helps to reduce excessive inflammation when applied to the skin topically, while others help in the breakdown of sugars and fats.
  3. Minerals: It provides calcium, chromium, copper, selenium, magnesium, manganese, potassium, sodium and zinc. They are essential for the proper functioning of various enzyme systems in different metabolic pathways and few are antioxidants.
  4. Sugars: It provides monosaccharides (glucose and fructose) and polysaccharides: (glucomannans/polymannose). These are derived from the mucilage layer of the plant and are known as mucopolysaccharides. The most prominent monosaccharide is mannose-6-phosphate, and the most common polysaccharides are called glucomannans [beta-(1,4)-acetylated mannan]. Acemannan, a prominent glucomannan has also been found. Recently, a glycoprotein with antiallergic properties, called alprogen and novel anti-inflammatory compound, C-glucosyl chromone, has been isolated from Aloe vera gel.  ₇,₈
  5. Anthraquinones: It provides 12 anthraquinones, which are phenolic compounds traditionally known as laxatives. Aloin and emodin act as analgesics, antibacterials and antivirals.
  6. Fatty acids: It provides 4 plant steroids; cholesterol, campesterol, β-sisosterol and lupeol. All these have anti-inflammatory action and lupeol also possesses antiseptic and analgesic properties.
  7. Hormones: Auxins and gibberellins that help in wound healing and have anti-inflammatory action.
  8. Others : It provides 20 of the 22 human required amino acids and 7 of the 8 essential amino acids. It also contains salicylic acid that possesses anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Lignin, an inert substance, when included in topical preparations, enhances penetrative effect of the other ingredients into the skin. Saponins that are the soapy substances form about 3% of the gel and have cleansing and antiseptic properties.

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Mechanism of actions

  1. Healing properties: Glucomannan, a mannose-rich polysaccharide, and gibberellin, a growth hormone, interacts with growth factor receptors on the fibroblast, thereby stimulating its activity and proliferation, which in turn significantly increases collagen synthesis after topical and oral Aloe vera. Aloe gel not only increased collagen content of the wound but also changed collagen composition (more type III) and increased the degree of collagen cross linking. Due to this, it accelerated wound contraction and increased the breaking strength of resulting scar tissue. An increased synthesis of hyaluronic acid and dermatan sulfate in the granulation tissue of a healing wound following oral or topical treatment has been reported. 
  2. Effects on skin exposure to UV and gamma radiation: Aloe vera gel has been reported to have a protective effect against radiation damage to the skin.  Exact role is not known, but following the administration of aloe vera gel, an antioxidant protein, metallothionein, is generated in the skin, which scavenges hydroxyl radicals and prevents suppression of superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase in the skin. It reduces the production and release of skin keratinocyte-derived immunosuppressive cytokines such as interleukin-10 (IL-10) and hence prevents UV-induced suppression of delayed type hypersensitivity.
  3. Anti-inflammatory action: Aloe vera inhibits the cyclooxygenase pathway and reduces prostaglandin E2 production from arachidonic acid. Recently, the novel anti-inflammatory compound called C-glucosyl chromone was isolated from gel extracts. 
  4. Effects on the immune system: Alprogen inhibit calcium influx into mast cells, thereby inhibiting the antigen-antibody-mediated release of histamine and leukotriene from mast cells. In a study on mice that had previously been implanted with murine sarcoma cells, acemannan stimulates the synthesis and release of interleukin-1 (IL-1) and tumor necrosis factor from macrophages in mice, which in turn initiated an immune attack that resulted in necrosis and regression of the cancerous cells.  Several low-molecular-weight compounds are also capable of inhibiting the release of reactive oxygen free radicals from activated human neutrophils. 
  5. Laxative effects: Anthraquinones present in latex are a potent laxative. It increases intestinal water content, stimulates mucus secretion and increases intestinal peristalsis. 
  6. Antiviral and antitumor activity: These actions may be due to indirect or direct effects. Indirect effect is due to stimulation of the immune system and direct effect is due to anthraquinones. The anthraquinone aloin inactivates various enveloped viruses such as herpes simplex, varicella zoster and influenza.  In recent studies, a polysaccharide fraction has shown to inhibit the binding of benzopyrene to primary rat hepatocytes, thereby preventing the formation of potentially cancer-initiating benzopyrene-DNA adducts. An induction of glutathione S-transferase and an inhibition of the tumor-promoting effects of phorbol myristic acetate has also been reported which suggest a possible benefit of using aloe gel in cancer chemoprevention. 
  7. Moisturizing and anti-aging effect: Mucopolysaccharides help in binding moisture into the skin. Aloe stimulates fibroblast which produces the collagen and elastin fibers making the skin more elastic and less wrinkled. It also has cohesive effects on the superficial flaking epidermal cells by sticking them together, which softens the skin. The amino acids also soften hardened skin cells and zinc acts as an astringent to tighten pores. Its moisturizing effects has also been studied in treatment of dry skin associated with occupational exposure where aloe vera gel gloves improved the skin integrity, decreases appearance of fine wrinkle and decreases erythema.  It also has anti-acne effect.
  8. Antiseptic effect: Aloe vera contains 6 antiseptic agents: Lupeol, salicylic acid, urea nitrogen, cinnamonic acid, phenols and sulfur. They all have inhibitory action on fungi, bacteria and viruses.

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Aloe vera juice may be a potential treatment for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). This condition involves the inflammation of the intestine, leading to pain and other issues. Aloe has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. ₉

 

Aloe vera is known to reduce inflammation, and arthritis is an inflammatory disease. In research involving rats, aloe did reduce inflammation, according to a study published in 2014 in the International Journal of Inflammation. ¹º

 

Whether it’s applied to pimples or to general areas of redness and irritation, aloe vera has been found to soothe and diminish the appearance and prominence of acne and even acne scars. ¹¹

Aloe vera contains vitamins A, C, and E. All three of these vitamins contribute to cell turnover, promoting healthy cell growth and shiny hair. ¹²

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We are very proud to just now find these fresh reviews placed independently on our website in the last week. It makes our mission worthwhile…Please enjoy!

“I love the Aloe Vera powder, my husband and I drink it every morning. I started using it for digestive issues which helped immensely then my husband started for arthritis in his hands. He couldn’t use the car steering wheel for long periods or use a shovel but all that changed with the Aloe drink. It took about 6 weeks and has never come back! I also use the skin/hair gel on any skin problems. And also the massage cream for my business oh and the hair shampoo. That shampoo is sooo good, does not make my hair greasy or fly away,,, best shampoo ever! Yes I’m into these products. Thanks Saul, you’ve created the best from the Aloe plant” –  Karen

 

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REFERENCES:
  1. Marshall JM. Aloe vera gel: What is the evidence? Pharma Jr 1990;24:360-2.
  2. Davis RH. Aloe vera: A scientific approach. New York: Vantage Press.
  3. Tyler V. The honest herbal: A sensible guide to the use of herbs and related remedies.
  4. Atherton P. Aloe vera revisited. Br J Phytother 1998;4:76-83.
  5. Shelton M. Aloe vera, its chemical and therapeutic properties. Int J Dermatol 1991;30:679-83.
  6. Atherton P. The essential Aloe vera: The actions and the evidence. 2nd ed. 1997.
  7. Ro JY, Lee B, Kim JY, Chung Y, Chung MH, Lee SK, et al.Inhibitory mechanism of aloe single component (Alprogen) on mediator release in guinea pig lung mast cells activated with specific antigen-antibody reactions. J Pharmacol Exp Ther 2000;292:114-21.
  8. Hutter JA, Salmon M, Stavinoha WB, Satsangi N, Williams RF, Streeper RT, et al.Anti-inflammatory C-glucosyl chromone from Aloe barbadensis. J Nat Prod 1996;59:541-3.
  9. https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-aloe-vera-juice#:~:text=Aloe%20vera%20juice%20contains%20several,a%20way%20to%20relieve%20constipation.&text=Aloe%20vera%20juice%20may%20be,irritable%20bowel%20syndrome%20(IBS).
  10. https://www.everydayhealth.com/arthritis/treatment/natural-ways-ease-arthritis-pain/
  11. https://www.everydayhealth.com/alternative-health/potential-health-benefits-of-aloe-vera/
  12. https://www.healthline.com/health/aloe-vera-for-hair#benefits-for-hair