Every year a new food is added to the super food list and then all the food companies, cosmetic companies and the so called fake experts (actually students of Google search) start promoting it. Aloe Vera is one such name. What is actually Aloe Vera? What are the benefits of Aloe Vera? Let us find out..!!
Aloe Vera is species of genus Aloe originating from Arabian Peninsula. It grows wild in tropical climates around the world. In India, it is found in Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. It is used for cosmetic and medicinal purpose. (1)
If you go to a super market every second product – cosmetic or medicinal will have Aloe Vera in its content list. There are very less scientific studies in support of its benefits and more effective trials are still needed.
Aloe Vera is a cactus like stemless plant with triangular fleshy leaves of grey green to bright green color. The leaf of Aloe Vera is used for cosmetic and medicinal purpose. It has 3 layers – the outer most layer is 15-20 cells thick, also called as Rind. The middle layer is of yellow sap also called as latex and the innermost layer is the transparent gel layer. (4)
The chemical composition of Aloe Vera shows 75 potentially active constituents which include certain vitamins, minerals, sugars, enzymes, lignin, saponins, amino acids and salicylic acid. (5)
Due to the technological advancement, Aloe Vera is being used in varied aspects of Human life. The processing industry has helped in the stabilization of the gel resulting in multifactorial applications. Some of the categories include:
- Wound Healing – A complex carbohydrate – Acemannan is known to accelerate wound healing and reduces radiation induced skin reactions. The fresh gel is more effective in treating radiation related burns. (4)
- Anti inflammatory and analgesic action – Aloe vera contains campesterol, Lupeol, Beta sitosterol and cholesterol which are known to be anti inflammatory in nature and also work as analgesic to reduce pain. (5)
- Moisturizing and Anti aging – Muco polysaccharides helps bind moisture to the skin and amino acids soften the hardened skin. The Zinc present in the gel helps in pore tightening. (4)
- Laxative effects – The anthraquinones present in the latex stimulates mucus secretion, increases intestinal water secretion and intestinal peristalsis. The effect starts after 6- 24 hours post oral administration. (4)
Due to its moisturizing and soothing effects, it is found in moisturizers, lotions, toothpastes, cleansers, lotions, shaving creams and shampoos.(2)
Aloe vera is used in preparation of health drinks and Tea. According to Serrano et al. the gel can be used to make an edible coating to prolong the freshness and quality of fresh produce as it inhibits micro organism growth and hence spoilage of food.(2)
Common Uses (3)
- Teeth and Gums – Aloe Vera in tooth gels helps fighting cavities just like other toothpaste due to the presence of anthraquinones in the latex which have anti-inflammatory properties thus healing actively and reducing pain. The gel needs to be stabilized before it can show beneficial effects.
- Constipation – Germany has allowed aloe liquid or capsule in the dosage of 50-200mg to be used to treat constipation but USFDA has not approved such usage of Aloe gel due to lack of studies supporting its safety and efficacy.
- Diabetes induced foot ulcers – The study was carried out at Sinhgad College of Pharmacy, India in which they used a gel formed by combining carbopol 974p (1 %) and Aloe Vera on diabetic rats. The gel promoted significant wound healing and closure. Efficacy on humans yet to be tested.
- Antioxidant and Antimicrobial properties – The extracts from leaf skin and flowers of Aloe vera are good natural anti oxidant sources.
- UV irradiation protection – As per the research done by Kyung Hee University Global Campus, South Korea, Baby Aloe shoot extract is more potential in protecting skin from UVB induced damage compared to Aloe shoot Extract.
Yes Aloe Vera has innumerable usage and benefits. A lot of scientific studies are needed to identify the whole range of Aloe applications. But did you know that Aloe Vera has side effects too!! No?? Let me help you with it then.
- Topical – The gel may cause redness, burning and stinging sensation in sensitive individuals. Sometimes a generalized dermatitis is also seen. Aloin and barbaloin are the anthraquinones to produce such reactions. Hence it is advised to use it on a small patch and wait for 24 hours to check for possible allergic reactions. (6)
- Oral – Abdominal cramps, red urine, worsened constipation, diarrhea or hepatitis. Prolonged usage can cause colorectal cancer. The laxative effect leads to electrolyte imbalance. Oral usage is contraindicated in pregnant ladies due to theoretical stimulation of uterine contractions and lactating women because it may cause gastrointestinal distress in nursing infant. (6)
Further controlled experiments are yet needed to prove Aloe Vera’s safety and efficacy under various conditions and application areas.
- Aloe vera (n.d). In org. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aloe_vera#Description
- Christaki, Efterpi & Florou-Paneri, Panagiota. (2010). Aloe vera: A plant for many uses. Journal of Food, Agriculture and Environment. 8. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/265268175_Aloe_vera_A_plant_for_many_uses
- Nordqvist, Christian (2017). Nine Health Benefits and Medicinal Uses of Aloe Vera. Medical News Today. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/265800.php
- Sahu, Pankaj et al. (2013). Therapeutic and Medicinal Uses of Aloe vera: A Review. Pharmacology & Pharmacy. 4. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/262698658_Therapeutic_and_Medicinal_Uses_of_Aloe_vera_A_Review
- Sanghi, Dr Shail Balal (2015). ALOE VERA: A MEDICINAL HERB. International Journal of Research – Granthaalayah, 3(11): 32-34. Retrieved from http://granthaalayah.com/Articles/Vol3Iss11/05_IJRG15_C11_28.pdf
- Surjushe, A., Vasani, R., & Saple, D. G. (2008). ALOE VERA: A SHORT REVIEW. Indian Journal of Dermatology, 53(4), 163–166. Retrieved from http://doi.org/10.4103/0019-5154.44785