A Mesopotamian Folk Remedy
Aloe Vera is a natural plant. The form you buy may be nearly 100 per
cent natural. This natural compound was used in Egyptian times to
fight skin problems and as a cancer treatment particularly for skin
cancer, and one of its major benefits is its ability to soothe. It
contains at least 6 natural ingredients which act as “anti-inflammatory
agents“, reducing inflammation, one of the important precursors to
Aloe vera can fight cancer.
Dr Lawrence Plaskett, vice-chair of the Nutritional Council in the UK
has stated that, "It is amazing in view of all the positive
indications which exist for all the anti-cancer effects of Aloe Vera
that no medical studies have been initiated in human cancer".
The US Department of Agriculture has however approved Aloe for the
treatment of soft tissue cancers in animals (1992) as well as feline
leukaemia; and Aloe is approved as an important component in European
AIDS therapy where it has a powerful effect on the immune system and
complements certain drug therapies.
Aloe“s first recorded use was in Mesopotamia in about 1500 BC. It
was then favoured by both Egyptians and Greeks for the immediate
treatment of burns, cuts, wounds, infections and even
Aloe is a member of the lily family belonging to the group Xeroids,
and grows in dry regions of Africa, Asia, Europe and America. There are
200 varieties of which four have nutritional value, the most common
variety being Aloe Barbendis Miller.
The usual debate is about the relative merits of the whole leaf or
the gel. Some companies claim the inner leaf has the most benefits
whilst others claim the outer leaf and rind are the crucial elements.
Whatever the debate, Aloe is very well researched. In fact it has almost
so many benefits it is easy to feel many of these are overclaims - but
they are not!
People in the West started drinking Aloe gel in the late 70“s as
brands became available, with claims for nutritional, skin care and even
weight loss benefits, It can also alkalise the body. However, recent
years have seen biochemistry explain the various benefits of Aloe.
What doesn“t Aloe have? Over 200 active compounds have been recorded
including vitamins, amino acids, minerals, enzymes, polysaccharides,
fatty acids and more. For example:
Polysaccharides and Glycoproteins - We have covered
this group of compounds previously in ICON. In 1994 Gilman and Rodbell
won a Nobel Prize for showing how G-proteins help cells send messages
inside them. By 1999 Blobel had won one for showing how messages pass
round the body and in 2001 Hartwell, Hunt and Nurse won one for showing
how cell messages operate in growth, division and mistakes. Such signals
can clean membranes and receptor site like the diabetes receptor site
whilst others pass across membranes. Of particular importance is the way
bacteria and viruses, for example bond to locations on membranes. The
latter is inhibited by glycoproteins and polysaccharides.
The most potent potysaccharide in Aloe is Acetylated Mannose or
Acemannan, which is used in European AIDS treatment, Dr Akira Yagi and
team at Fukuyama have isolated a number of these polysaccharide,
phenolic and chromone compounds and these are
at the core of Aloe“s anti-viral, anti-bacterial and immune boosting
powers. Large polysaccharide molecules from Aloe have been shown to
produce Tumour Necrosis Factor in the body, shutting off the blood
supply to tumours. Others increase Interferon and macrophage production
and T-cell quantity. But in cancer patients T-cells look for clear
distinguishing areas on cells to sort the good from the bad and normally
only one in a thousand T-cells can actively spot a rogue cell. Aloe
polysaccharides also appear to dramatically improve this ratio.
So it is quality, not just quantity, that improves!
Anti-inflammatory benefits - There are a number of
active compounds which reduce inflammation and can thus help in
conditions from arthritis to wound repair, acne and insect bites. Fatty
Acids, like gamma-linoleic acid,
reduce inflammation, allergic reactions, blood platelet aggregation and
improve wound healing. Salicylic acid is commonly found
as aspirin and since 1982 Nobel Prize winner Sir John Vane“s work on
cellular environments we have known this can control excess
prostaglandin production along with other negative factors. Gibberlin,
sterols and the amino acids phenylalanine and tryptophan
are also involved in anti-inflammatory processes and wound healing.
"Aloe can help blood and lymph circulation"
Other Benefits - Certain enzymes (Bradykininases)
break down Bradykinin, which is a peptide substance causing increased
vascular permeability. Aloe can help blood and lymph circulation. In
wound healing Aloe doesn“t just inhibit acute inflammation (like
steroids) but stimulates fibroblast growth to improve wound healing and
block the spread of infection (Dr Robert Davis, University of
Pennsylvania). Its content of vitamin C. E and zinc will help this
process. Lignins can help detoxify the blood and
intestine by binding chemically to fats, and finally anthraquinones
(aloin, aloe-emodin, barbaloin) are cathartic.