Aloe vera: A plant for many uses

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Aloe vera, a cactus-like plant has been used for traditional medical purposes for thousands of years. Aloe leaves can be separated into two basic products: the latex, a bitter yellow liquid beneath the epidermis of the leaf and the gel, a colorless and tasteless substance in the inner part of the leaf. Both of them have many biologically active components, mainly anthraquinones and polysaccharides (the most active is acemannan), which may act alone or in synergy. Scientific studies provide support for the application of Aloe vera in cosmetic-moisturizers, toothpastes etc, food as flavoring compounds or preservative of fresh products and in medicine of humans or animals. Aloe vera seems to treat a variety of conditions because of its wound healing, anti-inflammatory, immunity, antidiabetic, antioxidant, laxative, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and antitumor effects. Besides these applications it can be also included in the animals diet to utilize their benefits to the maximum extent.
Journal of Food, Agriculture & Environment, Vol.8 (2), April 2010 24 5
Journal of Food, Agriculture & Environment Vol.8 (2): 245-249. 2010
Science and Technology
Meri-Rastilantie 3 B, FI-00980
Helsinki, Finland
Aloe vera: A plant for many uses
Efterpi V. Christaki * and Panagiota C. Florou-Paneri
1Laboratory of Animal Nutrition, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece.
Aloe vera, a cactus-like plant has been used for traditional medical purposes for thousands of years. Aloe leaves can be separated into two basic
products: the latex, a bitter yellow liquid beneath the epidermis of the leaf and the gel, a colorless and tasteless substance in the inner part of the leaf.
Both of them have many biologically active components, mainly anthraquinones and polysaccharides (the most active is acemannan), which may act
alone or in synergy. Scientific studies provide support for the application of Aloe vera in cosmetic-moisturizers, toothpastes etc, food as flavoring
compounds or preservative of fresh products and in medicine of humans or animals. Aloe vera seems to treat a variety of conditions because of its
wound healing, anti-inflammatory, immunity, antidiabetic, antioxidant, laxative, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and antitumor effects. Besides these
applications it can be also included in the animals diet to utilize their benefits to the maximum extent.
Key words: Aloe vera, cosmetic applications, food applications, medicinal applications, animal nutrition.
Received 3 February 2010, accepted 15 April 2010.
Aloe vera has been used by mankind for thousands of years in
folk medicine for therapeutic properties especially on skin. This
plant is one of the oldest known and its first documented use by
humans dates back to an Egyptian papyrus from 3500 BC 1. The
Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote about the beneficial medicinal
effect of Aloe vera, while references are also found throughout
the Bible 2. The ancient Greeks, Romans, Chinese and Indians
used it. By the early 1800s Aloe vera was served as a laxative in
the United States. Moreover, modern clinical use began in the
1930s with reports of successful treatment of x-ray and radium
burns 3. Aloe vera derives its name from the Arabic word “Alloeh”
which means “shining bitter substance” because of the bitter
liquid found in the leaves and Vera which means “true” in
Latin2, 3. This species was first described by Carl Linnaeus in 1753
who suggested the following classification: Kingdom: plantae,
Order: Asparagales, Family: Asphodelaceae, Genus: Aloe, Species:
Aloe vera. There are a number of synonyms: Aloe barbadensis
Mill., Aloe indica Royle, Aloe perfoliat L. var Vera and Aloe
vulgaris Lam 4. Most of the Aloe plants are not toxic, but a few are
extremely poisonous. There are about four main species of
approximately 420, that have medicinal properties and among them
is Aloe vera which is considered to be the most potent and
therefore the most popular, also widely grown as an ornamental
plant 5, 6.
The natural range of Aloe vera is unclear as the species has
been widely cultivated throughout the world, rather originating in
Africa. It is grown in most subtropical and tropical locations
including South Africa and Latin America, then it was introduced
to China, India and various parts of Southern Europe in the 17th
century 1, 6, 7.
Aloe vera is a cactus-like plant, although is related to the onion,
garlic and asparagus 2. It is stemless with triangular, fleshy leaves
ranging in color from grey-green to bright green and in the margin
of the leaves has small white teeth 6. The leaves are composed of
three layers: an inner gel, a yellow sap and the outer thick layer of
15-20 cells called as rind 3, 8. Aloe leaves have long been used for
medical and cosmetic purposes as well in health foods but there is
no clear understanding or scientific analysis of the basis for such
properties 8. According to other researchers 8-10 Aloe vera can be
separated into two basic products, latex and gel. The latex,
representing approximately 20-30% by weight of the whole leaf
referred as “aloe juice” or “aloe sap”, is a bitter yellow exudate
from the pericyclic tubules beneath the epidermis of the leaf. Young
leaves were found to have higher concentrations of latex
components compared to older leaves 11. On the other hand, the
colorless, tasteless gel is the pulp or mucilage from the parenchyma
cells of the plant in the inner part of the leaf 8-10.
Early, in 1941 was reported that the leaf pulp of Aloe vera
contained 98.5% water and its alcoholic-insoluble portion was a
mucilage containing uronic acid, fructose, hydrolysable sugars
and enzymes 12. Nowadays, it is known that the gel representing
approximately 70-80% by weight of the whole leaf, serves as the
water and energy storage component of the plant 11. When it is
used the whole leaf of Aloe vera, it is difficult to distinguish if their
biological effects are attributed to the gel or the latex because
during the gel preparation exudates compounds may infiltrate 10.
Biological Components
Aloe vera latex and gel have physiologically active substances
with biological effects, acting alone or indicating a synergistic
246 Journal of Food, Agriculture & Environment, Vol.8 (2), April 2010
effect 10, 14. The identification of these substances is important for
the effective use of the plant. The chemical composition of Aloe
vera varies and depends on climate, region, growing conditions,
the age of the plant or the processing method 8, 11. According to
Choi and Chung 15,the major substances of Aloe vera are shown
in Table 1.
Aloe vera latex is high in anthraquinones, phenolic compounds,
that have strong laxative effects while they can act also as
antibacterials especially against Gram-positive bacteria 3, 11, 16,
analgetics and antivirals 3, 11. In addition, the latex is reported to
contain, on a dry weight basis, an acid insoluble resin (16-33%),
significant ash content (24.5%) and a small quantity of essential
oil that is responsible for the odor of the latex 17. In spite of these
biological activities, anthraquinones may have harmful effects,
such as genotoxic, mutagenic and tumor promoting 18.
A potent source of polysaccharides seems to be Aloe vera gel19.
It has been shown that three years old Aloe vera contained
significantly higher levels of polysaccharides 10, 11, 20. The most
active among them is acemannan 11, 21 which is reported to have
antiviral 22, antibacterial 23, wound healing 25-27 and
immunnostimulative activity 24, 25, reduces radiation-induced skin
reactions 26 and stimulates hematopoiesis 28. It should be noticed
that active glycoproteins have been also found in Aloe vera gel
and may play some role in therapeutic activity, either
immunologically as lectins or as proteases (antibrady kinins) 10.
Moreover, Aloe vera gel has pH 4.4-4.7, consists primarily of water
(98.5%) and polysaccharides and contains vitamins, enzymes,
steroids etc 11, 15, 29, 30.
The gel when exposed to air rapidly oxidizes, decomposes and
looses much of its biological activities, so there are different
processing techniques with regard to gel’s sterilization and
stabilization 8, 30. Because many of the active ingredients of Aloe
vera gel appear to deteriorate on storage, the use of fresh gel is
There have been also, a few reports of harmful effects of Aloe
vera gel such as eczema, allergic dermatitis or an increase in
circulating leucocyte count probably as a result of stimulation of
the immune system 10.
Mechanism of Actions - Uses and Applications
Cosmetic uses: Generally, Aloe vera has many uses both for
humans and animals. Three distinct preparations of the plant are
used: Aloe vera latex, Aloe vera gel and Aloe vera whole leaf
extract, whose biological ingredients may act alone or in
synergy 11, 19. The use of Aloe vera in cosmetics is not new; there
are many of them on the market which use Aloe vera in
concentrations varying from 1 to 98% 14. It is well known that Aloe
gel enables the plant to hold moisture for extremely long periods
of time and has soothing effects as well 2. So, Aloe vera has found
an extensive application in the cosmetic and toiletry industries,
such as moisturizers, cleansers, sun lotions, toothpastes,
mouthwashes, shaving creams, deodorants and shampoos 6, 8, 31.
In Aloe-derived ingredients used in cosmetics anthraquinone
levels should not exceed 50 ppm, concentrations too low to induce
phototoxicity 32. In the United States the Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) has approved the external use of Aloe vera
gel only as cosmetic ingredient 30, 31.
Food uses: The food and beverage market is a promising arena
for Aloe vera. It has been used as a resource of functional food
such as yogurt or for the preparation of health drinks, including
tea 2, 8, 31. It is well known, that botanical products are widely used
as nutritional supplement for promotion of health or prevention
of diseases. According to Serrano et al. 33 Aloe vera gel can be
used as an edible coating to prolong the quality and safety of
fresh products. Table grapes coated with Aloe gel significantly
delayed the loss of functional compounds such as total phenolic
and ascorbic acid. Indeed, Aloe vera inhibits the growth of
microorganisms responsible for foodborne illness in humans or
animals as well as food spoilage 8, 9.
Aloe vera does not appear to affect food taste or appearance, so
it seems to be promise as a safe, natural and environmentally-
friendly alternative solution to conventional synthetic
preservatives 33.
FDA, in the United States has approved the internal use of gel
as a “dietary supplement”. In the European Commission (EC)
according to Annex I of Regulation No 1831/2003 Aloe vera can
be used by the feed industries as sensory additive functional
group “flavoring compounds”, to increase smell or palatability of
feedings stuff 30, 31.
Medicinal uses:
Healing wounds: Due to polysaccharides and the growth hormone
gibberellins, increased collagen and elastin formation may reduce
wrinkling 3, 10, 19, 27, 28, 35. The high healing capacity of Aloe vera is
to find out a number of mucopolysaccharides (MPS) present
between 10,000-20,000 MPS per litre 8. Moreover, Aloe vera effects
are in the treatment of scar tissue and the prevention of scar
formation following injury to the skin, probably are attributed to
the activity of the amino acids necessary to new cell formation
Glycoproteins Anthraquinones Saccharides Vitamins Enzymes Low molecular –
weight substances
aloetic acid
ester of cinnamic acid
acetylated mannan (acemannan)
acetylated glycomannan
folic acid
arachidonic acid
lectin-like substances
salicylic acid
uric acid
Table 1. Major substances of Aloe vera.
Journal of Food, Agriculture & Environment, Vol.8 (2), April 2010 24 7
and due to the ability of its enzymes to promote regeneration of
the deepest layers of the skin 8, 15.
Anti-inflammatory action and immunity activity: Because of
salicylic acid, which is both analgetic and anti-inflammatory, the
production of prostaglandins from arachidonic acid is inhibited 9,
10, 19. So Aloe has been used to help with arthritis and joint related
problems 2, 27. Immunity activity is enhanced by Aloe
polysaccharides 15, 25, 31, 36.
Effects on skin exposure to UV and X-radiation: Aloe vera
supports the healing of first to second degree burns 37 although
the exact role is not well known 2, 10. It is suggested that lectin may
be responsible for the therapeutic effect 8.
Effects on ulcers: Aloe vera can be used successfully in the general
treatment of skin ulcers including mouth ulcers 2, 8, 24, herpes simplex
and psoriasis 10, 35. Also, this plant was found to protect against
the formation of gastric ulcers 8, 31.
Antidiabetic activities: Some inorganic elements (vanadium,
manganese, copper) 38 and especially the polysaccharides present
inAloe vera may have a significant role for antidiabetic activities10,
31. This plant has been linked with reduced blood glucose levels
in diabetics 2, 10, 31 and with lower blood lipid levels or
cholesterol 31, 39 (approximately 30% lower) 40 in hyperlipidaemic
Antioxidant activities: Antioxidant activities have been studied10,
40, 41. According to Lee et al. 42 Aloe vera activity was similar to
that of α-tocopherol. Also, it has been noticed that the growth
stage of the plant is important for such activities 20.
Laxative effects: Anthraquinones present in Aloe vera latex are a
potent laxative, increasing intestinal peristalsis 11, 31.
Antibacterial properties: Many researchers 3, 11, 23 mentioned that
Aloe vera inhibits the growth of some microorganisms like Str.
pyogenes,Shigella flexneri,Klebsiella sp., especially against
Gram-positive bacteria causing food poisoning or diseases in
humans and animals 16.
Antifungal activity: Antifungal activity has received less attention,
although inhibitory activity against Candida 35 has been reported.
For its antifungal properties Aloe vera is used as a fish tank water
conditioner 43.
Antiviral and antitumor activity: These actions may be due to
the indirect or direct effects: indirect through the stimulation of
the immune system and direct to anthraquinones 3. So, clinical
trials are in progress to obtain conclusive evidence for the use of
Aloe vera in the treatment of HIV-AIDS or cancer 8-10, 31.
Age-related effects: Aloe vera was investigated on pathogen-free
rats with some promising results on age-related diseases 44, 45.
The Use of Aloe vera in Animal Nutrition
Aloe vera apart from the above mentioned uses, seems to play an
important role in promoting growth in chickens 46 or in their health
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management 47. As concerns the broiler chickens, the
supplementation of their basal diet with 600 mg·kg-1 of Aloe powder,
or Aloe water extract or Aloe ethanol extract or an extract mixture
of all above, could improve production performance and immune
function of male broilers, while the Aloe water extracts had better
results than the others 48. Analogous were the findings of other
researchers 46, 49 on body weight of broilers, when their drinking
water was mixed with Aloe vera extract (5-30 cm3 per dm3 of water).
On the other hand, broiler chickens fed with 0.1or 0.2% Aloe vera
had no significant effect on body weight 50, 51. No significant results
were found in the feed conversion ratio 46, 48-51. Likewise the dietary
supplementation of Aloe vera did not significantly affect the
carcass and sensory characteristics of the broiler meat 46. This
finding favorably compared with earlier reports on carcass yield
and internal organs 50, 51. On the contrary, other researchers
observed that Aloe vera improved the acceptability of broiler
Moreover, dietary Aloe vera had no effect on abdominal fat
levels 51, 52, on breast and thigh muscle cholesterol levels or on
serum biochemistry (serum glucose, total cholesterol, HDL
cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides) 52.
Meanwhile, Aloe vera fed broilers showed significantly higher
haemagglutination inhibition titre values against Newcastle
disease 52. Also, it is reported that this plant can be used to treat
and control coccidiosis in chickens 47, 53.
The incorporation of Aloe vera in laying hen diet resulted in a
significant improvement in egg production (eggs/hen) but no
difference was observed in feed consumption or feed conversion
ratio 54. Furthermore the dietary supplementation of Aloe vera
extracts in laying hens may prevent or treat the effects of
experimentally intoxicated lead on birds 55.
Moreover, it is reported that a natural phytogenic growth
promoter, including Aloe vera was used on the shrimp growth
with promising results 56.
Aloe vera contains many physiologically active substances. It
would be worthwhile embarking more scientific investigation on
this medicinal plant and to promote its large-scale utilization.
248 Journal of Food, Agriculture & Environment, Vol.8 (2), April 2010
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    In recent days health related problems are arises globally in all age groups due to bad life style and food habits. Aloe vera is recommended as herbal panacea for the management of different diseases. It is a rich source of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and hormones which make it therapeutically important. It contain sugar like acemannan, glucose and polysaccharides of mannose. It is well introduced for its functional properties and is loaded with lots of health benefits like wound healing, anti-inflammatory, gastro protective, anti-microbial etc. Foods are the most common source by which the bioactive components of Aloe vera can rich inside the body and stimulate immunity. Therefore in present it has high demand in the formulation of dairy and confectionary products to take benefit of its functional properties. The unique properties of Aloe vera gel i. e. color less and watery jelly like texture makes it easy to blend in different formulations. All these beneficial properties of Aloe vera increase its industrial importance in pharma, cosmetics and food. However, aloin and aloe in Aloe gel gives bitter test and responsible for health issues. The bitter after taste make it unsuitable for raw consumption. Therefore it required proper processing and value addition to make it suitable for consumption by all age groups. Hence are converted into the form of Aloe vera gel, dairy and fruit based products. These are the most commonly consumable food products through which the functional properties of Aloe vera can reach all age groups.
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    Objective: Obesity is an epidemic disease act as causative for global death. The principal aim of this study is to create an obesity treatment beverage that is palatable and readily acceptable to the public. Aloe vera juice is one such drink known to assist in reducing obesity. This juice is sold at several places in Chennai and more easily available for morning walkers along the Marina beach. Although known for its benefits in promoting a slim and fit physique, its taste is less palatable. The objective of this study is to develop a concoction that will make the A. vera juice tasty without compromising its nutritive value. Materials and Methods: The taste is achieved by the addition of various fruit juices such as orange, lime, sweet lime, muskmelon, and pineapple with honey and stevia for sweetening. The weight loss ability of the prepared drinks is evaluated using pancreatic lipase inhibitory and the presence of phytochemicals. To the credit, the present study also determines the efficiency of A. vera compounds for its antiobesity property through in silico techniques. The significant interaction exhibited by the compounds with the antiobesity target inositol hexakisphosphate kinase 1 (IP6K1) was discussed. Results: The recipe B containing orange juice: A. vera juice: stevia in the ratio 3:3:1 had good taste and the significant lipase activity. The phytochemicals present in the A. vera are tannins, flavonoids, alkaloids, steroids, and polyphenols, and these phytochemicals are observed having significant interaction with protein IP6K1. Aloin A and aloe emodin had significant Glide score and interactions with active site residues. Conclusion: Natural herbal products for weight reduction may be effective in the treatment of obesity and associated disorders. The potential lipase inhibition activity of juice may be due to the presence of various phytochemicals such as flavonoids, polyphenol etc. in the Aloe vera.
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    Aloe vera is a perennial ethno-medicinal potential plant with a xerophytic characteristic, but not a cactus. It has a famous history owing to its phytopharmaceutical properties and this had made it useful in the pharmaceutical, cosmetic and food industries. Studies had shown the positive effects of its extract against bacteria, fungi, virus and parasitic organisms. The phytochemical properties of A. vera have been exploited for various economic and commercial purposes. This review contributes literature on the bioactive potential composition, processing and the pharmaceutical potential uses, an adverse side-effect that might spring up in case of overdosage and important safety precautions are summarized. More scientific innovations and developments in the aspect of analytical chemistry are on the way to provide a more acceptable, purified chemical characterization of A. vera using sophisticated laboratory equipment and machines.
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    The study included the preparation of alcohol and aqueous extracts of Aloe Vera leaves at concentrations 50-75-100 mg / ml to study the effect of the viability protoscolices of the parasitic Echinococcus granolosus in vitro and their growth in vitro in order to reach an effective focus in killing the protoscolices during the shortest period of time. The results showed a significant decrease in the treatment of the alcoholic and aqueous extracts Aloe Vera leaves. Total killings for protoscolices at 100 mg / ml at 24 hours followed by concentration 75 and 50 mg / ml at 48 hours exposure period.
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    : Aloe vera is a medicinal plant species of the genus Aloe with a long history of usage around the world. Acemannan, considered one of the main bioactive polysaccharides of Aloe vera, possesses immunoregulation, anti-cancer, anti-oxidation, wound healing and bone proliferation promotion, neuroprotection, and intestinal health promotion activities, among others. In this review, recent advancements in the extraction, purification, structural characteristics and biological activities of acemannan from Aloe vera were summarized. Among these advancements, the structural characteristics of purified polysaccharides were reviewed in detail. Meanwhile, the biological activities of acemannan from Aloe vera determined by in vivo, in vitro and clinical experiments are summarized, and possible mechanisms of these bioactivities were discussed. Moreover, the latest research progress on the use of acemannan in dentistry and wound healing was also summarized in details. The structure-activity relationships of acemannan and its medical applications were discussed. Finally, new perspectives for future research work on acemannan were proposed. In conclusion, this review summarizes the extraction, purification, structural characteristics, biological activities and pharmacological applications of acemannan, and provides information for the industrial production and possible applications in dentistry and wound healing in the future.
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    Nanofibrous structures mimicking the native extracellular matrix have attracted considerable attention for biomedical applications. The present study aims to design and produce drug-eluting core-shell fibrous scaffolds for wound healing and skin tissue engineering. Aloe vera extracts were encapsulated inside polymer fibers containing chitosan, polycaprolactone, and keratin using the co-axial electrospinning technique. Electron microscopic studies show that continuous and uniform fibers with an average diameter of 209 ± 47 nm were successfully fabricated. The fibers have a core-shell structure with a shell thickness of about 90 nm, as confirmed by transmission electron microscopy. By employing Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy, the characteristic peaks of Aloe vera were detected, which indicate successful incorporation of this natural herb into the polymeric fibers. Tensile testing and hydrophilicity measurements indicated an ultimate strength of 5.3 MPa (elongation of 0.63%) and water contact angle of 89°. In-vitro biological assay revealed increased cellular growth and adhesion with the presence of Aloe vera without any cytotoxic effects. The prepared core-shell fibrous mats containing medical herbs have a great potential for wound healing applications.
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    The present experiment was conducted to study the effect of Aloe barbadensis supplementation through mixing in milk on hematological and certain rumen fluid parameters of crossbred calves. For this purpose, a 56 day's feeding trial was conducted on growing crossbred calves. Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis) was supplemented at graded levels as powder of leaf of Aloe vera (2 g/Kg body weight and 4 g/ Kg body weight) through milk to treatment groups T1, and T2, respectively with 3 replicates of 12 crossbred calves, each for a period of 56 days. The overall mean haemoglobin, packed cell volume percentage, total leucocyte count, neutrophil and lymphocyte number differed significantly (P<0.05) between aloe vera supplemented groups and control. Total volatile fatty acids (mEq/dl) in Aloe vera supplemented group were significantly higher at 42 th day and 56 th day of experimental trial compared to control group. The T2 supplemented group had significantly lower ruminal bacterial populations than control at 42 nd and 56 th of experiment. Rumenal bacterial population was highest and lowest in T1 and T2 groups respectively. The study revealed that Aloe barbadensis supplementation of aloe vera in milk would be beneficial in increasing blood profile (Hb, PCV, TEC and TLC), total volatile fatty acids concentration and bacterial count in cross bred calves. Thus Aloe barbadensis supplementation helps in early development of rumen.
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    ABSTRACT The study aimed to determine the effect of water extract of Aloe vera gel and vitamin C in some physiological performance of female Japanese quail. Sixty female quail were divided randomly to four treatment groups of 15 female each, each group included three replicates each replicate included five female. (T1) was control unsuppleminted, (T2) contained 10% Aloe vera /liter of drinking water, (T3) contained (250mg/liter) Vitamin C and (T4) contained 10% Aloe vera with 250 mg/liter Vitamin C. After eight weeks, three birds from each treatment were slaughtered to study some physiological performance such as Red Blood Cells (RBC), Packed Cells Volume (PCV), Mean Corpuscular Volume (MCV), White blood cells (WBC), GOT, GPT, total Protein, albumin, globulin, glucose and cholesterol concentration in blood also, relative weight of liver, heart, ovary and ova duct. The results showed significantly decreasing (P<0.05) in RBC, PCV, albumin and body weight in (T3), whenever (T2) showed significantly lowering (P<0.05) in RBC, PCV, GOT, albumin, glucose, relative weight of ova duct and weight of first ova, while the results showed significant decrease (p<0.05) in PCV, total protein, albumin and cholesterol, ova duct and body weight in (T4). Key words: Japanese quail, Aloe vera gel, vitamin C, physiological traits.