in this article:
About 350 species of Aloe are known and of these, 125 are distributed in South Africa; among all, the most used in herbal medicine is Aloe vera. The etymology of the name Aloe comes from the Greek and means salt and… sea: in fact they are plants that have the ideal habitat for the sea areas; it is probable that the name of the plant may derive from the Arabic word which means bitter, alluding to the juice of the plant which is in fact very bitter.
Aloe vera introduction and history: what is Aloe vera?
Aloe vera has been known for centuries for its medicinal properties and it is curious that modern research has confirmed the validity of what was already done more than a thousand years ago.The references of ethnobotany on Aloe vera are very numerous and we can retrace the most significant stages in the history of this plant. The Assyrians used the juice of Sibaru, ‘a plant whose leaves resembled scabbards of knives’, or the juice of Aloe, as an antidote to the ingestion of spoiled foods and to reduce abdominal swelling.
Aloe was the plant of immortality for the Egyptians: it was placed at the entrance of the pyramids to indicate to the deceased Pharaohs the path to the land of the dead. In the ‘Ebers Papyrus’ there is a very detailed botanical description of Aloe vera and a long list of its healing properties. Aloe juice was a fundamental ingredient of the secret mixture used for mummification of Egyptian rulers and it seems that Cleopatra, famous for its baths in goat’s milk, ordered to add aloe in the massage creams or to finely chop it to obtain eye drops to make the color of his eyes brighter. Some propitiatory potions of Egyptian mythology called for the juice of Aloe and even today in Egypt this succulent plant is placed in front of the door to ensure happiness and protection.
According to the legend, Alexander the Great, wounded in battle by an arrow, was treated with a miraculous ointment based on Aloe collected on the island of Socotra, and was thus advised to conquer the island, rich in these plants, to have available a juice that can soothe and heal the wounds of his soldiers and even make them invincible. In a passage from the Gospel of John it is said that a mixture of Myrrh and Aloe was used to prepare the body of Christ for burial. Dioscorides and Pliny the Elder described the therapeutic uses of Aloe juice in case of abdominal pain, constipation, headache, insomnia, irritation of the skin and the oral cavity.
In Ayurvedic medicine Aloe vera is defined as a friend of women and even today the Aloe gel is a very effective tonic for female disorders, as well as an excellent liver detoxifier. In Milione, Marco Polo describes the diffusion of this plant in the Chinese Empire and then arrived in the Far East. Christopher Columbus notes in his diary that one must always have on board ‘the medicinal in pot’ (Aloe vera). In Japan, the plant is associated with an ideogram that, literally translated, means ‘it does not need the doctor’.
In 1852 two English researchers managed to isolate an active ingredient with a laxative action that they called aloin in the Aloe for the first time. In 1934, the first scientific research on Aloe was published in the United States, demonstrating the extraordinary effectiveness of this plant in the treatment of a severe form of radiodermatitis in a woman suffering from cancer.
In the following years, clinical studies demonstrated the therapeutic properties of Aloe in peptic ulcer, in dermatological diseases, in stomatological affections, in some bacterial and viral infections and in the treatment of herpes, in severe burns, in gastrointestinal disorders, in diabetes. The scientific studies of recent times have mainly investigated the antioxidant and immunomodulatory properties of Aloe
Aloe is historically classified in the Liliaceae family. Dr Tom Reynolds, a London researcher, proposed a new classification by introducing the specific family of the Aloeaceae.
Looking at the trunk of the Aloe plant we can distinguish three botanical groups:
- Aloe acauleas: those plants that do not have a trunk or that have a very short trunk such as Aloe barbadensis, Aloe saponaria and Aloe aristata.
- Aloe subcauleas: those plants that have a visible trunk but small (up to some tens of centimeters) such as Aloe succotrina and Aloe chinensis.
- Aloe cauleas: that is, those plants that have an extended and branched trunk (even a few meters) such as Aloe ferox and Aloe arborescens.
Aloe vera is a perennial herbaceous plant, up to one meter tall, the leaves (from twelve to thirty units) are arranged like a tuft like the petals of a rose and present long lanceolate, with acute apex, they have a very thick cuticle and of the spines only along the sides, they are fleshy, of light green color that can fade to the gray-green. By cutting the leaves, we notice a scarring of the cut almost immediately; in fact, the plant releases a protective exudate that prevents the escape of the sap.
In the center of this rose of leaves, from stiff and woody stems, in summer the Aloe flowers in the shape of a cluster emerge in the shades of red, yellow and orange with bright hues. You can find tea with aloe flowers on the market because they are very aromatic. It is a plant of African origin (hence the popular name lily of the desert) that prefers warm and dry climates; it adapts to any type of terrain but must never be excessively humid. There are Aloe plantations on every continent, in Europe the largest producer is Spain, while in Italy this type of cultivation is still in its infancy. Aloe vera can also survive in the apartment, if bright, and be kept even in the bedroom because it is able to release oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide; it is a very suitable plant for ornamental compositions.
Complex sugars, namely mucopolysaccharides, in particular glucomannans, mannans and mannanes acetylated (i.e. linked to residues of acetic acid) such as acemannans, are found above all in the gelatinous and transparent mass (parenchyma) contained within the Aloe vera leaf and immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory and healing action.
Anthraquinones such as aloin A, in particular aloin B (barbaloin): they are mainly found in the outer, green and coriacea (cuticle) membrane of the leaf and have a detoxifying, strongly laxative activity. Barbaloin is distinguished by its very bitter taste and its strongly acrid odor.
Vitamins (vitamin A, C, E, those of group B, folic acid), minerals (iron, copper, calcium, magnesium, zinc, chromium, potassium, sodium, manganese, selenium, phosphorus, germanium), simple sugars or monosaccharides ( mannose, glucose), essential and non-essential amino acids, fatty acids, plant sterols, plant hormones, phospholipids (choline, inositol), enzymes, saponins, lecithins, lignin.
Modern research has shown that the beneficial activity of Aloe vera is due precisely to the synergistic action of all the components of the entire leaf. In general, the internal pulp is freed from the outer casing by means of decortication and manual decortication, even if more expensive, makes it possible to have a better product.
Other factors can intervene in improving the effectiveness of Aloe juice, for example balsamic time (spring-summer), age of the plant (from the third / fourth year of life), quality of the leaves (yellowed and spotted) are less rich active ingredients), sun exposure (the plant is enriched with aloin); it would be advisable to suspend irrigation a few days before the harvest, which must be manual and precise, do not use chemical pesticides and respect the correct methods of extraction of the gelatinous fillet (no later than three hours from collection to avoid oxidation of components), shredding, fluidification, stabilization and transport (strict temperature control and strict protection from sunlight).
Aloe juice can be used by industry to make products for internal use (food supplements) or external (cosmetics).
The pharmacological activity of Aloe vera is very complex precisely because the chemical constituents of the plant are very numerous and, as we have already said, the therapeutic effects of Aloe are the result of the synergistic interaction of the active ingredients with receptive molecules of the organism human.
Antioxidant and anti-aging activity of Aloe vera
The minerals (especially manganese, copper, selenium) contained in the juice of Aloe are constituents of the superoxide dismutase enzymes and glutathione peroxidase, two important antioxidants and cell anti-aging agents.
The non-essential amino acid proline, is a constituent part of the collagen. Saponins promote better and faster cell exfoliation.
Vitamins (in particular vitamin C, E, B2, B6) and non-essential amino acid, cysteine, are powerful antioxidants capable of combating cellular damage caused by free radicals and in particular by superoxide anion. In particular, cysteine and B vitamins are able to bind to toxic molecules deriving from pathological processes to form inert compounds.
It is now known that oxidative stress is favored by chemical, physical, biological, mental and nutritional factors; accelerates the physiological process of cellular aging and is responsible for various degenerative diseases. It is then understood how important the constant intake of Aloe juice is in the diet: the recommended daily dose should not be less than 100 ml of pure juice.
Healing and re-epithelializing activity
It is an activity directly related to the anti-inflammatory one. Aloe vera stimulates the formation of fibroblasts, precursors of epithelial cells, and of connective tissue. In this process of epithelial tissue repair and formation, polysaccharides are certainly the primary factors; the second factors appear to be plant hormones, gibberellins and auxins. The most recent studies are focused on demonstrating the ability of Aloe gel to prevent progressive dermal ischemia caused by radiation and burns, and the effectiveness of gel in the treatment of diabetic ulcers, chronic ulcers and Psoriasis vulgaris.
Twenty albino rats were exposed to β-rays and the injured areas of each animal were divided into quadrants and a different treatment was applied to each quadrant. Fresh leaves of Aloe vera, a commercial ointment of Aloe vera, application of bandages with dry gauze and a control without treatment. Both the fresh leaves and the ointment of Aloe vera have induced significant improvements: after two months the areas treated with Aloe vera were completely healed, while the other two areas, after 4 months, had not yet healed.
Experimentally, Aloe gel has been compared with lodoxamide, lazaroide and Carrington gel, used to prevent tissue loss in wounds due to their ability to inhibit local TxA2 production; in the burns the Aloe gel was comparable with lodoxamide and lazaroide, with a tissue survival of 82-85% compared to Carrington’s control and gel. From the complete analysis of the results we can conclude that Aloe not only acts as an inhibitor of TxA2 but contributes to the maintenance of vascular endothelium and surrounding tissue homeostasis.
Experimental studies in rats and mice suggest that Aloe vera is effective both for topical use and for internal use, in the treatment of diabetic ulcers of the lower limbs. In addition to facilitating wound healing, Aloe vera also has a hypoglycaemic effect in both healthy mice and those with induced alloxan diabetes, through an action mechanism that is not fully known, perhaps mediated by stimulation of synthesis and / or release of insulin from the β cells of the Langerhans. On three patients with chronic leg ulcers, Aloe vera gel was applied with gauze bandages: the gel induced a rapid reduction in the extent of ulcers in all three patients, and healing in two.
In a double-blind study the efficacy and tolerability of a 0.5% Aloe vera gel in a hydrophilic cream in the treatment of patients with Psoriasis vulgaris was evaluated. Sixty patients (36 males and 24 females) between the ages of 18 and 50 with light or moderate psoriasis plaques were inserted into the study and randomly distributed into two groups. Patients were provided with a 100g cream pack containing placebo or active ingredients (0.5% Aloe vera gel); they had to apply the product (without occlusions) 3 times a day, 5 consecutive days per week, for no more than 4 weeks. Patient follow-up was on a monthly basis for 12 months. The treatment did not show any side effects. At the end of the study, the treatment based on Aloe vera improved the symptomatology of 25 patients out of 30 (83.3%), while the placebo improved the condition of only 2 patients out of 30. This suggests that the topical application of a cream containing Aloe vera gel can be considered a safe and valid treatment for patients with psoriasis.
Most of the Aloe vera studies have been conducted on different animals, in various experimental models of cicatrization and inflammation. Although limited, research into the healing of wounds in humans is promising and encouraging results have also been reported for acne and seborrhea, and in pediatric aphthous stomatitis, where the effectiveness of a new adhesive patch was evaluated. based on Aloe vera: after a period of treatment, in 77% of cases the problem has been solved and in the remaining 23% there is still a noticeable reduction in discomfort.
Aloe vera against bacteria and fungi
The antimicrobial effects of Aloe vera are comparable to those of silver sulfadiazine, an antibiotic of the sulfonamide family used very often at the topical level to prevent skin infections in burn patients.
It has been shown that the bacterial action of the Aloe is directly proportional to its concentration; in particular, 60% extracts were active against Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Streptococcus pyogenes; 70% extracts on Staphylococcus aureus, 80% extract on Escherichia coli and 90% extracts on Candida albicans.
It appears to have bactericidal action also towards Mycobacterium tubercolosise Bacillus subtilis. We only mention the fact that some anthraquinone glycosides contained in Aloe vera juice, aloins, also exhibit antibiotic properties and that cinnamic acid has a good antiseptic and germicidal action.
Acemannan in particular, polymeric sugar isolated in Aloe vera juice, has significant antiviral activity against various viruses such as HIV-1 and Paramyxovirus (the measles virus). In vitro studies have shown that acemannan, in combination with sub optimal concentrations of azidothymidine (AZT or the antiviral drug used for the treatment of AIDS) or acyclovir, acts synergistically inhibiting the replication of HIV and Herpes simplex. Based on these studies, it is therefore hypothesized to be able to use acemannan to lower the concentration of AZT in the treatment of the first stages of AIDS and thus reduce the serious side effects caused by the drug.
To confirm, we can remember a study where Aloe vera juice was administered, together with essential fatty acids, amino acids, multivitamin and multimineral supplements, in the treatment of 29 patients – 15 with AIDS, 12 with a syndrome linked to AIDS, 2 HIV serum-positive – who continued the prescribed therapy including AZT. After 180 days, all patients had clinical improvement and AZT-induced anemia had decreased. Acemannan has not given significant effects in patients with a confirmed AIDS.
Immunomodulatory potential of Aloe vera
The acemannan, contained in Aloe vera gel, is a powerful stimulant of the immune system. It acts by stimulating the activity of macrophages and with it the production of cytokines by the macrophages themselves; favors the release of substances that boost the immune system (such as nitric oxide, ie nitrogen monoxide); causes cellular morphological changes in particular intervenes in the expression of surface antigens. The acemannan is able to enhance the activity of T cells and increase the production of interferon even if these actions could be related to stimulation of the activity of macrophages. Immunostimulating activity of the acemannan was dose-dependent.
Animal studies have yielded promising results in cases of induced sarcomas and spontaneous tumors. It has also been noted that Aloe juice enhances the antitumor effect of 5-fluorouracil and cyclophosphamide, two important drugs of combined chemotherapy.
Anti-inflammatory and analgesic activity
Aloe vera has a significant anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving action, for both topical and oral application, and its anti-inflammatory activity is mediated by the inhibition of the production: of prostaglandins by the bradykinase enzyme; of histamine by lactate magnesium; and of leukotrienes from particular glycoproteins such as aloctine A.
The bradykinase enzyme contained in the Aloe, is able to hydrolyse bradykinin, an endogenous substance of polypeptide structure, responsible for many events characteristic of the inflammatory process: vasodilatation, increased vascular permeability, contracting action on the muscles, feeling of heat, pain, redness, swelling; we can therefore say that Aloe vera is an excellent anti-inflammatory and painkiller remedy, thanks to its intense antibradykinin activity. Magnesium lactate present in the Aloe, is able to inhibit the enzyme involved in the production of histamine, a vasoactive substance involved in the inflammatory process.
Aloctin A isolated in Aloe has also shown to have good anti-inflammatory properties in the edema induced by carrageenin in the rat: it reduces the swelling of the treated paw, the action is rapid (about three hours after injection), dose dependent and free of side effects. A similar result was achieved in the experimental model of arthritis induced in rats.
Another component of Aloe vera with good anti-inflammatory properties is C-glycosyl-chromone: applied topically, the compound has anti-inflammatory activity equivalent to that of hydrocortisone for the same dose and, unlike the drug, does not cause side effects.
Aloe vera for stomach diseases
Aloe vera juice allows to solve the most common disorders of the gastrointestinal apparatus such as abdominal spasms, heartburn, pain and swelling; Aloe gel normalizes intestinal secretions, influences the intestinal bacterial flora, stabilizes the pH in the stomach and intestine, improves the functionality of the pancreas and in the colon limits the proliferation of pathogens reducing putrefactive phenomena.
Aloe gel can improve some forms of gastritis (peptic ulcers) and intestinal inflammation (irritable colon); the effectiveness of the gel is due to its healing action, anti-inflammatory, analgesic and the ability to coat and protect the stomach walls.
The use of Aloe vera juice as a gastrointestinal tonic is very frequent even if there is little scientific evidence to support it. The following is certainly significant:
In a study of ten subjects (five men and five women) the effects of Aloe vera juice on urinary urinary, gastrointestinal pH, coproculture and specific stool weight were evaluated. 170g of Aloe vera juice were administered three times a day for a week. The urinary indigo reflects the degree of malabsorption of food proteins, so high levels of indigo in the urine are therefore an indication of ‘protein rotting’. In all the subjects the urinary indigo is decreased by one unit and this denotes a better assimilation of the proteins that is a reduction of bacterial putrefaction.
The gastric pH in all patients increased on average by 1.88 units and this result confirms the hypothesis that Aloe vera is able to inhibit the secretion of hydrochloric acid; it also seems capable of slowing gastric emptying thus facilitating digestion.
After a week of treatment, in six out of ten subjects, the results of coproculture have changed profoundly; this means that the Aloe vera juice could have an antibacterial action in particular against Candida albicans; a reduction in yeast colonies occurred in the four patients who had positive culture with Candida albicans. After a week of treatment, the specific weight of the faeces was reduced and this demonstrates an improvement in water retention; none of the subjects, however, complained of diarrhea or loose stools while taking Aloe juice.
Numerous scientific studies demonstrate the gastroprotective activity of Aloe juice, of particular interest are the following:
At twelve patients with duodenal ulcers confirmed by X-ray, a table spoon of Aloe vera gel emulsion was given in mineral oil, once a day. After one year, all patients had a complete cure and no recurrence.
Aloe vera as a natural detox product
Aloe vera juice has its detoxifying action in the gastrointestinal tract, which is a particularly suitable district for the accumulation of toxins. The purifying activity is mainly linked to polysaccharides, able, thanks to the particular composition and the viscous consistency, to bind and eliminate the toxic substances produced during the metabolic processes thus reducing the contact time of the slag with the mucous membranes.
Aloin contained in the latex (latex obtained from the peel of the leaf) gives Aloe vera a laxative activity. In small doses, the aloin acts as a tonic of the digestive system, giving tone to the intestinal muscles. At higher dosage it becomes a strong laxative that acts on the large intestine where it stimulates the secretions of the colon and promotes intestinal peristalsis. Aloin has been the most used anthraquinone laxative for many years; often causes painful contractions and for this reason are currently used other anthraquinones such as cascara and senna (see appendix ‘Cenni farmacologici sul anthraquinones’).
Aloe vera against asthma
Oral administration of Aloe vera extract for 6 months has given good results in the treatment of asthma. Only in the case of corticosteroid-dependent patients, the Aloe extract was not active. It is thought that the antiasthmatic action is related to a protective and anti-inflammatory activity and to the strengthening of the immune system.
Aloe vera in pharmacology
Anthraquinones are substances that stimulate intestinal peristalsis, so they have a laxative action. The anthraquinone plants are precisely Aloe, senna, cascara, frangula and rhubarb: all present a strong laxative action whose effect occurs after 8-12 hours from administration.
Anthraquinones have a general chemical structure characterized by three condensed benzene rings and by substituents which generally occupy positions 9 and 10 as they are particularly reactive. Anthraquinones are normally found in the form of glycosides, chemical compounds consisting of a part sugar (called glycine) and a non-sugar (called aglycone). In anthraquinone glycosides, aglycones belong to the class of anthracene derivatives; barbaloin, for example, is a C-glycoside derived from aloe-emodin antrone.
The glycosidic form allows these compounds to transit unchanged through the stomach and the small intestine up to the large intestine where they are transformed by bacterial microflora into their respective aglyons, the real active metabolites, which perform laxative activity locally in two ways : accumulation of fluid in the intestinal lumen and modification of intestinal motility; after which, without being absorbed, they bind to the intestinal contents and are expelled with the feces.
The lack of or reduced absorption of anthracene glycosides by the body, together with the absence of alterations to the intestinal mucosa, makes these products safe and free of undesirable effects, provided that some contraindications are observed and, very importantly, that they are used at the recommended doses and administered only when actually needed.
Like all laxatives, anthraquinones should not be administered in the presence of undiagnosed, acute or persistent abdominal symptoms. High doses of anthraquinone laxatives cause almost complete emptying of the colon and the natural lack of stimulation in the next day (or even in the following two days) can prompt patients to reuse the laxative, perhaps increasing the dosage; This creates a psychological dependence dictated by the anxiety of the subject to regularize any delays between an evacuation and the next. The abuse of anthraquinone laxatives can cause disturbances in the water and electrolyte balance, mainly hypokalemia, atonic colon and aggravation of constipation.
Hypokalaemia enhances the action of cardiac glycosides and interacts with antiarrhythmic drugs. The combination with other drugs that induce hypokalaemia (such as thiazine diuretics, corticosteroids) can exacerbate electrolyte imbalance. The level of electrolytes, especially potassium, must always be monitored, especially in elderly and young subjects.
The dark pigmentation of the colonic mucosa, called pseudomelanosis coli, observed following chronic intake of anthraquinone laxatives (but also other laxatives) is not harmful and is reversible with treatment discontinuation. You can also observe yellow-brown or red-violet color of the urine (pH dependent) due to the effect of anthraquinone metabolites, is not clinically significant.
Sometimes abdominal spasms and pains can occur, especially in patients with an irritable bowel. It is very recent an observational study that demonstrates how a colon-specific formulation containing anthraquinones from Senna angustifolia, mixed with microencapsulated oils of Mentha piperita and Matricaria camomilla, manages to counter constipation without however causing evident inflammatory states characterized by pain, spasms, distension abdominal, meteorism, flatulence and diarrheal states.
Aloe vera against cancer
The tumor, more properly called neoplasia, is a pathological process characterized by an abnormal growth of a tissue, which also continues at the end of the triggering stimulus. This unregulated growth can subvert the normal functions of the affected tissue and / or create compression / obstruction disorders of neighboring structures.
A tumor can affect various tissues, present in various ways, be benign or malignant (in this case it is called cancer or carcinoma) and evolve in different stages. As it is deducible, therefore, tumors are not all the same; gravity depends on the affected tissue and the histological type, but the most dangerous form is always the cancerous one (malignant tumor). Usually, cancer presents cells different from the original ones (with loss of tissue function), has a rapid and infiltrative growth (invades healthy tissues), tends to recur and creates metastases that affect other districts at a distance; the damage to the organism is so high that it leads (if not treated) usually to death. Being a particularly heterogeneous disease (since it affects all the tissues of the body), cancer still has an extremely disturbing epidemiology; in 2008, 12.7 million new cases were registered worldwide, while deaths (decreasing) reached 60% of diagnoses.
The causes of tumors are likely to be of mixed nature, with greater importance for some risk factors such as: inheritance, pre-existing episodes, improper nutrition and other abuses (smoking, alcoholism, etc.), sedentariness, oncogenic infections, radiation, hormones etc.
The treatments available today are essentially of a surgical, chemotherapeutic and radiotherapeutic type; an important weapon is represented by primary and secondary prevention (early detection through screening tests), while in the near future the possibility of acting directly at the genetic level should significantly limit the size of the problem, which as we have seen are considerable.
Besides the scientific research and the deepening of conventional techniques, numerous alternative methods of dubious effectiveness have been proposed (among the best known cases we mention the Kousmine method, the sodium bicarbonate cure, the one with amygdalin and the one with scorpion venom); more often than not, these are ineffective or even harmful practices, often motivated by a profound economic interest. On the other hand, due to the ethical obligation, contemporary medicine is required to verify the possible effectiveness of all the proposed alternative systems. Having clarified this, let’s try to understand more in detail what Aloe arborescens is.
Aloe arborescens is a very common ‘fat plant’. Like all succulent plants, for reserve purposes, it has leaves full of liquids, from which it is possible to obtain a gel rich in phytotherapeutic properties; famous, for example, is the gel obtained from the leaves of Aloe vera, a different species that would however lack the anticancer properties attributed to the arborescens.
Aloe arborescens is a perennial plant typical of desert regions (America and Africa) that reaches 3-4m in height. It develops with numerous ramifications and takes on the appearance of a large bush, with thorny green leaves up to 50cm long and red cluster flowers. The medicinal properties of Aloe arborescens, known and already proven, are similar to those of Aloe vera: laxative, cicatrizing, emollient, moisturizing, anti-inflammatory, immunostimulant and antioxidant.
Regarding the possible curative power on cancer, the responsible active principle is a complex of anthraquinones, among which the most important is the aloin and in particular its aglycone called aloe emodin. It is certainly not a new molecule to the attention of researchers; these substances have been studied in the laboratory (in vitro and in guinea pigs) for many years now, but the results are conflicting and inconclusive. While some studies have shown some usefulness in the fight against some types of cancer, on the other there is no lack of evidence about potential side effects, such as the reduction of the activity of certain anticancer drugs (in particular doxorubicin and paclitaxel) and a role favoring the development of some types of cancer (especially in the skin and colon). We must not forget how many natural substances are able to eliminate or slow down cancer cells in the laboratory; however, when leaving the tube to transfer the studies to the guinea pigs or to humans, given the biological complexity of the latter, problems of inefficacy, toxicity and drug interactions emerge punctually.
At this point, if the most skeptical readers were asked: ‘Are there or there is no scientific evidence validated on the properties of this formula?’, we suggest stopping the reading because, at the moment, no experimental or statistical data are available. favor of the method of Father Romano Zago. The only supports to statements as exaggerated as unreliable on the anticancer properties of this ‘cure’, derive from the timid scientific evidence on anthraquinones (see previous chapter) and from several positive testimonies of patients and specialists who were able to test their effectiveness.
The formula for the preparation of the mixture is as simple as it is ancient. First of all, it is necessary to use a live Aloe (therefore it is suggested to cultivate it in pot). Then, cut 350g of leaves and blend with 350g of natural honey; it is advisable to take the drink with a tablespoon of brandy. The Aloe smoothie can be stored but only for a very short time and absolutely never exposed to light and / or heat (so it is advisable to prepare it and consume it in the dark). NB. The only active ingredient is contained in the aloe; honey has a sweetening function and grappa is a vasodilator.
The treatment with Aloe arborescens involves various phases of intake with breaks of about a day between them. Each phase requires the consumption of 3 cans of 120g (2 tablespoons 3 times a day).
In addition to this recipe, Father Romano Zago makes many references to other plants and active ingredients to be taken regularly; one, for example, is the amygdalin of bitter almond which, for those who do not know, is a molecule containing cyanide (from the friar considered toxic but selective on cancer… affirmation already widely denied in the past by the scientific community). Other natural remedies proposed against cancer are potassium bicarbonate and vitamin C, to be mixed with cold green tea to produce potassium ascorbate. Then a real diet is offered which, not surprisingly, refers to the Kousmine method.
Aloe vera juice
Indicative posology in adolescents over 12 years of age, in adults and in the elderly:
Take, orally, a dose of Aloe juice equivalent to 10-30 mg of hydroxyanthrenic derivatives calculated as barbaloin = aloin. The correct dose is the minimum dose sufficient to produce an easy evacuation of loose stools. It is advisable to initially use the minimum doses provided. When necessary, the dose can then be increased, but never exceed the maximum indicated. Take preferably in the evening, during the meal. The laxative effect is appreciable after 10-12 hours after ingestion.
Contraindicated in case of hypersensitivity to one or more pharmacologically active substances contained in the juice of Aloe. Contraindicated in case of intestinal obstructions, intestinal atony, appendicitis, inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), abdominal pain of unknown origin, severe dehydration accompanied by hydroelectrolytic imbalances.
Patients receiving cardiac glycosides (digitalis), anti-arrhythmic drugs, drugs that increase the QT interval, diuretics, corticosteroids or licorice root should consult their physician before starting concomitant aloe-juice therapy. In fact, the intake of the aloe could reduce its absorption and / or interfere with their pharmacological action.
Like all laxatives, aloe juice should not be taken by patients suffering from faecal symptoms or suffering from episodes of abdominal pain or other gastrointestinal disorders (nausea, vomiting) that are not due to a well-identified disease; these symptoms could be the indicator of an intestinal block (ileum).
Prolonged use is contraindicated; when constipation is a recurring problem, contact your doctor to identify the causes. Use for a duration of more than one or two weeks requires medical supervision. Among the consequences of prolonged use / abuse are: possible alterations of hydroelectrolyte balances, muscular asthenia and changes in heart rhythm due to potassium depletion in the blood; this risk increases with concomitant medication with cardiac glycosides, diuretics, corticosteroids or licorice root. Chronic use of aloe juice can cause loss of blood and protein with urine (albuminuria and haematuria); there is also the risk of pigmentation of the intestinal mucosa (colonic pseudomelanosis), which however tends to regress with the suspension of therapy.
Take it only after correcting dietary habits (increase in fluid intake and soluble fiber) and behavioral (increased physical activity), and have attested the ineffectiveness.
There have been reports of abdominal pain and cramps, faecal incontinence (spontaneous passage of liquid stool), particularly in patients with irritable bowel syndrome or in cases of overdose. The appearance of red-brown urine (pH dependent) has no pathological significance.
If these side effects manifest themselves in a severe way, or if other side effects occur, consult your doctor or pharmacist. In case of intense diarrhea follow a rehydrating therapy to replace the lost liquids and mineral salts.
The doses of aloe juice indicated for the eupeptic (digestive) activity are about 4-5 times lower than those expected to obtain the laxative effect. For more information on the proper use of a specific product based on aloe juice, and for the full list of side effects, please refer to the package leaflet that accompanies the product. This information should always be read carefully before starting treatment.
Examples of herbal and pharmaceutical preparations containing Aloe Juice are laxative capsules Aloe vera 40% dry extract; rhubarb, dry extract 30%; alder buckthorn, dry extract 30%. Take one to three tablets in the evening, as appropriate. Therapeutic indications: Short-term treatment of occasional constipation. The correct dose is the minimum dose sufficient to produce an easy evacuation of loose stools. It is advisable to initially use the minimum doses provided. Take preferably in the evening, during the meal.
The juice of aloe is extracted from the leaves of different species of the genus Aloe, a plant known and appreciated for its many medicinal and health properties. It should not be confused with aloe gel and its food derivatives (often called juices); in these products, the anthraquinone component is removed, typical of the aloe juice proper and responsible for its laxative effects. After extraction, the yellow aloe juice is condensed with heat, turning it into a shiny mass, similar to a broken glass, with shades ranging from greenish-yellow to red-black. To obtain it, the most superficial portion of the leaves is used; on the cortical edges of the leaf mesophyll, immediately under the epidermis, there are in fact specialized cells (pericyclic tubules) that contain it.
Aloe juice is indicated for constipation that does not respond to nutritional and behavioral therapy. It would be advisable to use aloe juice as a last resort, as it often triggers acute and important side effects and, in the long term, tends to irritate the intestine excessively.
What benefits has aloe juice shown during the studies? ►
Aloe juice is considered a highly effective anti-constipation product, although not without side effects. Aloe juice shows a marked laxative activity, due to its content of anthraquinone glycosides, the so-called aloins (A and B, called respectively barbaloina and isobarbaloine); its action is so powerful as to make it a real purgative.
Among all the anthraquinone drugs, ordered by intensity of therapeutic effect (aloe juice, senna leaf, senna fruit, cascara cortex, frangula cortex and rhubarb rhizome), the aloe juice exhibits the most pronounced laxative power and the greatest side effects. For this reason, the use of pure aloe juice is limited today, both because it can cause significant abdominal pain, and because of the drasticity of its effect. Often, to modulate the effect, it is combined with other anthraquinone drugs or mass laxatives.
The active ingredients of aloe juice (anthraquinone glucosides), are not degraded in the stomach and reach the colon releasing the aglycones (hemodyn, reina, crisofanolo) with a laxative action. These substances act synergistically increasing peristalsis and irritating the mucosa, thus stimulating its secretion; this explains why between the ingestion of the drug and the appearance of the laxative effect there is a rather long period, which goes from 6 to 10-12 hours.
How to use aloe juice? ►
Aloe juice is highly evacuative. In fact, 0.025 grams are enough to produce a marked laxative action after 6-12 hours from intake, supported by the powerful stimulus on intestinal motility (often responsible for undesirable effects)
What are aloe juice side effects? ►
The short-term side effects, typical of aloe juice, are cramps and abdominal pain. Excessive amounts of aloe juice, like prolonged use, can cause problems at various levels of the digestive tract, with the appearance of gastritis, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, flatulence and expulsion of stools rich in mucus or with traces of blood more or less showy; there is also a significant risk of nephritis, which requires particular caution in the use of aloe juice in patients with kidney disorders. Like all anthraquinone laxatives, prolonged use over time (4-12 months) can induce the onset of colon melanosis.
When should aloe juice not be used? ►
Prolonged use of aloe juice is particularly discouraged for patients who follow certain pharmacological therapies. In addition, it is advisable to pay close attention in case of irritable colon characterized by the alternation between constipation and diarrhea; taking aloe juice at the time when the intestine radically changes its motility and the consistency of feces (from solid to liquid), increases the risk of severe diarrhea and dysentery. As the anthraquinones are absorbed and can also pass into milk (secretion of the mammary gland), the use of aloe juice is contraindicated both during pregnancy and lactation. Moreover, anthraquinones can increase uterine contractility by exposing pregnant women to the risk of abortion. Aloe juice is also contraindicated during menstrual flow, in the presence of varicose veins, hemorrhoids, anal fistulae, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, appendicitis, other inflammatory bowel diseases and renal affections.
What drugs or foods can change the effect of aloe juice? ►
Aloe juice can negatively interfere with the metabolism of individuals who take certain drugs and potassiur medications such as:
- Thiazide diuretics
Furthermore, we recall that the increased intestinal transit triggered by the intake of aloe juice can reduce the absorption of drugs taken at the same time orally.
What do you need to know before taking aloe juice? ►
Aloe juice can exert various unwanted reactions. In addition to acute, chronic side effects, drug interactions and contraindications, it must be remembered that aloe juice also leads to a reduction in intestinal absorption, increases the risk of dehydration and can promote the loss of certain nutrients.
Aloe juice vs. aloe gel: characteristics
Aloe juice is the mucilaginous juice contained in the internal parenchymal tissues of the leaves of Aloe barbadensis (Aloe vera) and obtained by cold pressing. Since the liquid form is sensitive to light and heat, it can be dried by lyophilization. Aloe juice is mainly composed of polysaccharides, partly acetylated and partly non-acetylated, containing D-glucose and D-mannose. Minor constituents, but of great importance are the phytosterols (cholesterol, campesterol and 3-sitosterol), vitamins, enzymes, trace elements and amino acids.
Aloe juice acts primarily as a skin moisturizer and soothing, but also has antifungal and antimicrobial properties. As with products rich in mucopolysaccharides, Aloe gel forms a protective film on the skin, which allows it to perform the function of an excellent moisturizing agent. Traditionally, healing, soothing and anti-reddening properties are attributed to Aloe. The phyto-constituents of Aloe also appear to be able to stimulate the production of collagen and elastin, helping to counteract the effects of skin aging.
Aloe is used once its powder is rehydrated. It is generally compatible with most cosmetic ingredients and can be incorporated into most products. Aloe is mainly used for moisturizing and anti-aging products. Thanks to the ability to calm irritations and reduce redness of the skin, it is often used in sunscreen products and in cosmetics used to counteract the aggressive effects of atmospheric agents on the skin (wind, cold, sun).
Aloe is present in many products for laxative use, but also in tonic and bitter preparations – aperitifs, because the anthraquinones are extremely bitter substances. Aloe is also a source of a carbohydrate / heteropolisaccharide drug, with a completely different type of use. Aloe, therefore, is a source that determines different types of drugs and their different types of use. The aloe drug characterized by anthraquinones is prevalently used laxative – stimulating.
Aloe is a genus of extremely species-rich plants. Some have arborescent shapes (up to 6-7 m in height), other very small dimensions (we are talking about a few centimeters). Aloe The most important species of herbal medicine is Aloe barbadensis, present and cultivated on the Barbados islands; it seems to have been derived from a parent species: Aloe ferox, with a South African origin. The Aloe barbadensis is a plant of the family Liliacee, has fleshy leaves, is between 50 and 80 cm (rarely a meter); the leaves have toothed margin and a mucronate apex.
The leaves of the Aloe are the part used; they are harvested after a clean cut at their base and then hung in bunches on top of containers, or stacked in such a way that the juice leaking from the cut ends up in a container; it is the juice, in fact, the important part in the processing and in the healthy use of this drug.
The juice leaking from the fresh leaves is then cooked over high heat, to remove all the water, as long as it does not reach a solid consistency and a reddish brown color, with a glassy fracture after breaking (therefore with net margins); this type of fracture, together with the color and consistency, indicates that the extraction of aloe juice has occurred correctly.
From the chemical point of view, aloe juice consists of pure anthraquinones; in this case aloe as an anthraquinone drug should be considered under the name of Aloe ferox or Aloe barbadensis, or simply aloe juice. Aloe juice is a product to be used with extreme caution, because it is rich in pure active ingredients with laxative – stimulating activity. Using aloe juice as an anthraquinone drug is a very different thing compared to using senna as an anthraquinone drug, because dried senna or dried fruits are used in senna (or rhizomes are used in rhubarb, so no pure anthraquinones but a set of different compounds). What changes in the use of these drugs is the dosage, much lower when it comes to pure anthraquinones derived from aloe juice.
The laxative effect, but also the contraindications are maximum in the aloe. At equal weight, aloe juice – compared to senna fruit, cascara bark and rhubarb rhizome – boasts the greatest laxative effects, while the minors are dependent on rhubarb; in the same way, side effects are maximum in the aloe, because pure anthraquinones are contained in the same drug weight, while in other drugs it is called phytocomplex (the effect of anthraquinones is therefore mediated by other active molecules).
The remaining part of the leaf, in particular the parenchymal tissue located in the central portion, is used to extract the drug known as ‘Aloe gel’. This product, particularly rich in mucilage, boasts health and therapeutic applications that are completely different from those of aloe juice; in fact, it is used externally for its anti-inflammatory and healing properties, or for internal use, in the case of the soothing and protective action of mucilage (useful in the presence of gastritis, colitis, esophagitis, etc.).
Aloe gel is a viscous, transparent and colorless liquid; particularly diluted (rich in water) it is used daily for internal use as a multivitamin, moisturizing and natural mineralizing agent; they are decanted – often with excessive enthusiasm, given the lack of randomized studies – also antitumor properties (due to the content of Aloe-emodin, which in vitro has shown antineoplastic activity), immunostimulants and hypoglycemic agents. Therefore, what we commonly call aloe juice is actually the diluted gel, while the real aloe juice is a glassy mass used in minimal doses (a few milligrams) to combat constipation.
The fresh leaves of Aloe are squeezed and from this they are obtained a gel, a whitish colloidal liquid, which according to the different types of use, external or internal, is treated to be deprived of much of the content in water. The Aloe gel is also appropriately worked to block the oxidation of some compounds that characterize it, both chemically and functionally; in general, preservatives, citric acid, for example, are added to the aloe gel.
If the use is external, the aloe gel is treated to evaporate most of the water present, then stabilized and added with preservatives, to prevent the aggression of unwanted microorganisms and the oxidation of the main functional components, or treated with UV rays. For internal use, on the other hand, a large quantity of water is maintained and the objectives for which it is used are different. From the compositional point of view, the aloe gel is characterized by heteropolisaccharides, therefore carbohydrates, organic acids, vitamins, water.
For external use it has healing, vulnerable and humectant properties. It is used in the treatment of hardly cicatrisable wounds, bedsores, but above all burns, and skin lesions or irritations in general; it is also an important lenitive, like all mucilage drugs. For internal use, however, the aloe gel has antioxidant, vitaminizing and adaptogenic properties (that is, capable of stimulating the reactivity of the various organisms in relation to episodes such as moments of stress). With regard to aloe vera gel, there are actually many other things, but one thing is to talk about aloe gel as an anticarcinogenic to make a commercial sensation, but the other thing is to talk about aloe gel as an anticarcinogenic from a professional point of view; therefore, since there is no certain evidence that aloe gel is anticarcinogenic, care must be taken to attribute these characteristics to it.
We consider the clinical appearance of aloe gel, so it is good to talk about dermatological therapies to treat skin inflammation related, for example, to psoriasis treatments. When psoriasis is in particularly heavy conditions, the patient is subjected to treatments with UV lamps, which lead to a strong irritation of the skin, just to stimulate the change; these people are then covered with aloe gel and vegetable tar and then wrapped. Indeed, Aloe gel has a marked healing and keratoplasty activity (which renews the formation of tissues).
Simple and healthy recipes with Aloe vera
We all know the benefits of Aloe vera in the treatment of rashes, burns and eczema but perhaps few know the benefits deriving from the gastronomic use of this plant with a thousand virtues. Below, we offer you some recipes based on Aloe vera to add to your catering service to amaze your customers with an innovative and healthy ingredient! The latest culinary trend is called Aloe vera. It is a plant with countless healing benefits, especially for the skin. For many years now, it has been used to reduce the effects caused by rashes, burns and eczema but for some years the avant-garde kitchen has decided to make the plant a gastronomic use.
Eating Aloe vera is beneficial thanks to its strong healing power (suitable for people with ulcers and internal injuries), improves constipation and ease digestion. This is the reason why some chefs around the world have introduced the plant in their dishes, in natural fruit juices and smoothies. It is proven that Aloe is beneficial for people with ulcers or internal injuries, thanks to its healing power.
Before starting, make sure the Aloe is fresh, not contaminated with pesticides and insecticides. For the preparation of any recipe you will have to follow the following steps first:
Cut a couple of leaves (or as needed) and, with a sharp knife, peel the bark covering the gelatinous part. Remove the yellow layer using a knife.
Aloe vera smoothie with strawberries and bananas
Orange juice and Aloe vera
Spring salad with Aloe vera
Granita with Aloe vera
How about a granita for snack? The properties of Aloe vera are endless and the same applies to its versatility in the kitchen. There are no limits in its use, either for aperitifs or for first courses or desserts. The important thing is that the leaves are well cleaned so that the yellow layer is completely removed, being the most acid part of the plant. Because of its acidic touch, Aloe vera is used in many sweet dishes or alone, cut into cubes with a sprinkling of brown sugar.