Health Benefits of Aloe Vera Extract
Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis Miller, family Xanthorrhoeaceae) is a perennial green herb that grows in hot, dry regions of North Africa, the Middle East of Asia, the Southern Mediterranean, and the Canary Islands. It has vivid yellow tubular flowers. The colorless mucilaginous gel from aloe vera leaves has been extensively used with pharmacological and cosmetic applications. Traditionally, this medicinal plant has been employed to treat skin problems (burns, wounds, and anti-inflammatory processes). Moreover, aloe vera has shown other therapeutic properties including anticancer, antioxidant, antidiabetic, and antihyperlipidemic. More than 75 different substances have been found in aloe vera, including vitamins (vitamin A, C, E, and B12), enzymes (i.e., amylase, catalase, and peroxidase), minerals (i.e., zinc, copper, selenium, and calcium), sugars (monosaccharides such as mannose-6-phosphate and polysaccharides such as glucomannans), anthraquinones (aloin and emodin), fatty acids (i.e., lupeol and campesterol), hormones (auxins and gibberellins), and others (i.e., salicylic acid, lignin, and saponins) .
The Benefits of Aloe Vera Extract
Digestive Diseases Protection
Gastric acids moving up into the esophagus is a common chronic digestive disease known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are often prescribed drugs for reflux. However, long-term use of these PPIs can result in a number of adverse effects, including withdrawal symptoms, nutritional deficiencies (specifically, vitamin B12 and magnesium), rebound acid hypersecretion, acute interstitial nephritis, gastric cancer, adverse effects with concomitant medication, bone fractures, enteric infections, and pneumonia [1, 2]. Alternative treatments with less adverse effects are needed. In a 4-week study, aloe vera syrup (10 mL/day) reduced the frequency of GERD symptoms including heartburn, food regurgitation, dysphagia, flatulence, belching, nausea, and acid regurgitation without having any negative side effects (only one case of vertigo and another of stomach ache were reported) .
Mucopolysaccharides are a special group of polysaccharides in aloe. These chemical organic compounds belong to glycosaminoglycans, which have various functions in the organism. They protect the stomach and duodenum walls from the digestive effect of pepsin. They activate the protective barrier of the mucosa through the stimulation of mucus secretion and reduce susceptibility to allergies and irritations .
High concentrations of anthraquinones such barbaloin, emodin, and anthranol, a potent antioxidant, can be found in aloe vera. Anthraquinones are involved in free-radical-mediated reactions during the inflammatory response to inhibit free radical-mediated cytotoxicity and lipid peroxidation. They also have potent anti-inflammatory properties and can function as antioxidants. Lophenol and cycloartanol, two phytosterols contained in aloe, can also cause the downregulation of fatty acid synthesis, which is involved in lipid peroxidations. Aloe vera has been shown to inhibit the inflammatory process by the reduction of leukocytes adhesion, inhibiting the cyclooxygenase pathways, and reducing prostaglandin E2 production. Duansak reported that aloe vera was characterized by the reduction of leukocyte adhesion, as well as proinflammatory cytokines, so the levels of TNF‐α and IL‐6 were also decreased significantly .
Additionally, studies have demonstrated that anthraquinones inhibit the activation of NF‐κB, JNK, p38 MAPK, Erk1/2, and 5‐LOX and suppress the expression of TNF‐α, IL‐6, IL‐1β, MPO, MDA, CINC‐1, MIP‐2, ICAM‐1, and MMP‐9 in an acute inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). Considering these facts, natural anthraquinone derivatives have shown to exhibit potential therapeutic effects in the treatment and/or prevention of various inflammatory disorders .
Due to insulin resistance or an insulin deficiency, diabetes is a chronic disease that manifests as elevated blood glucose levels. Animal models induced by streptozotocin have primarily been investigated in studies on the impact of aloe vera on diabetes and related complications. Consistent evidence supports that oxidative stress is a main cause of the beginning and the progression of diabetes complications such as nephropathies and neuropathies. Consequently, using this experimental model, aloe vera demonstrated the ability to lower blood sugar levels, raise insulin levels, and improve the number, volume, area, and diameter of pancreatic islets. Additionally, this medicinal plant protected against oxidative stress-induced diabetic nephropathy and anxiety/depression-like behaviors .
Yongchaiyudha et al, divided 72 diabetic women into two groups without the use of medication. For 42 days, they were given a tablespoon of placebo or aloe vera gel. Blood glucose levels subsequently decreased from 250 mg to 141 mg percentage in the experimental group, while controls showed no significant changes. In addition, cholesterol, serum triglycerides, weight, and appetite were also monitored. With the exception of triglyceride levels, which significantly decreased in the actively treated group (220 mg percentage to 123 mg percentage; no change in controls), these variables remained unaltered in both groups. This study was neither randomized nor was it blinded to patient or investigator .
The three primary mucopolysaccharides found in aloe are heparin, acemannan, and hyaluronic acid, however acemannan is the most abundant. It has a long carbon chain, which is mainly composed of uronic acids and amino sugars. Acemannan has bactericidal, virucidal and fungicidal properties. It is one of the most potent immunomodulators of plant origin and is also responsible for the immune reactions of the organism. Acemannan activates macrophages that bind and destroy microorganisms. It accumulates in cell membranes where it makes a specific protective barrier and consequently tightens cell walls. As a result, it inhibits the absorption of toxins from the intestine into the cardiovascular system. Additionally, it aids the regeneration of natural bacterial flora .
- Sánchez M, González-Burgos E, Iglesias I, Gómez-Serranillos MP. Pharmacological Update Properties of Aloe Vera and its Major Active Constituents. Molecules. 2020 [cited 2022 November 14]; 25: 1-37. Available form: https://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/25/6/1324
- Ried K, Travica N, Dorairaj R, Sali A. Herbal formula improves upper and lower gastrointestinal symptoms and gut health in Australian adults with digestive disorders. Nutrition Research. 2020 [cited 2022 November 14]; 76: 37-51. Available form: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S027153171931187X?via%3Dihub
- Hęś M, Dziedzic K, Górecka D, Jędrusek-Golińska A, Gujska E. Aloe vera (L.) Webb.: Natural Sources of Antioxidants – A Review. Plant Foods for Human Nutrition. 2019 [cited 2022 November 14]; 74: 255-65. Available form: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11130-019-00747-5
- Naini M, Zargari A, Mehrvarz S, Tanideh R, Ghorbani M, Dehghanian A, et al. Anti-Inflammatory, Antioxidant, and Healing-Promoting Effects of Aloe vera Extract in the Experimental Colitis in Rats. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2021 [cited 2022 November 14]; 2021: 1-12. Available form: https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2021/9945244/
- Vogler BK, Ernst E. Aloe vera: a systematic review of its clinical effectiveness. British Journal of General Practice. 1999 [cited 2022 November 14]; 49: 823-8. Available form: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1313538/