Natural Products Insider

SEP-OCT 2018

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54 INSIDER September/October 2018 Aloe vera has been a mainstay among humankind for thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians viewed it as a sacred plant renowned for its benefi cial effects on skin and complexion. Records show that both Alexander the Great and Christopher Columbus used the plant's juices to help heal the wounds of their soldiers. In the past, viewed as a cure-all, it's doubtful people understood the chemical processes behind aloe vera's benefi ts. The World Health Organization (WHO) stated 80 percent of the world population uses medicinal plants for the treatment of diseases. Aloe vera remains a common ingredient for its benefi cial properties. One area researchers have focused on is the application of the plant for digestive health. In a 2017 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers examined the nutraceutical properties of aloe vera, which "were attributed to a glucomannan known as acemannan." 1 The study found that fructans from the plant induced bacterial growth better than inulin (commercial fructooligosaccharide [FOS]). The study concluded aloe vera showed evidence of prebiotic potential. Prebiotics are food ingredients that help induce the activity of benefi cial microorganisms. Additionally, the study found aloe treated gastrointestinal (GI) distress by increasing pepsin production and mucus secretion, and decreasing stomach acid production. A 2015 study through the Royal Society of Chemistry also concluded that incorporating aloe vera into food products can play a benefi cial role in prebiotic health. 2 Overall, the plant has been shown to exhibit gastric anti-secretory activity and could protect the gastric mucosa against injurious agents. 3 The gels of aloe vera contain immunomodulatory components, including aloctin A and acemannan. A separate study looked to examine the effects of the plant on immune health. 4 The results showed aloe vera gel increased ovalbumin-specifi c cytotoxic T lymphocyte generation in those with diabetes. A T lymphocyte kills damaged or infected cells. Similarly, the study noted the inner gel component of aloe vera suppressed bacterial-induced pro-infl ammatory cytokines from human immune cells. Metabolic syndrome is a collection of conditions that increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Metabolic syndrome affects one in three U.S. adults. A 2012 double-blind study examined the effects of aloe vera supplementation in subjects with prediabetes/metabolic syndrome. 5 The results showed standardized aloe vera preparations offered an attractive strategy to revert the impaired fasting glucose and impaired glucose tolerance observed in conditions of prediabetes/metabolic syndrome. Scott Meadows, research and development (R&D), Concentrated Aloe Corp., pointed to an important heart health study. "A clinical study of 5,000 patients treated with aloe vera gel observed marked reduction in total serum cholesterol, serum triglycerides, fasting and post-prandial blood sugar level in diabetic patients, total lipids and also an increase in high-density lipoprotein (HDL), all which result in a reduction of heart disease." 6 The International Aloe Science Council (IASC) is a nonprofi t trade organization for the aloe vera industry. Its website states, "The IASC provides the forum for establishing and sharing best practices in the aloe business community, as well as creating common standards for the aloe vera marketplace." An IASC certifi cation underscores an aloe product's quality and safety. Even with the popularity and clinically proven benefi ts of aloe vera, some consumers have shown a reluctance to embrace the plant. "Consumers may have heard or read that a specifi c form of whole leaf aloe vera was found to be carcinogenic in rats by the National Toxicology Program (NTP)," 7 said Jane Wilson, executive director, IASC. "The form of whole leaf aloe vera that was used in the NTP research study was not processed to remove potentially toxic constituents and is not the form of aloe vera being classifi ed by the International Agency for Research on Carcinogens (IARC)." The conclusions of the NTP research study resulted in aloe vera being classifi ed Ingredients: Aloe Aloe vera, used for centuries all around the world for its healing properties, is increasingly being studied using modern scientific methods. Recent research has shown aloe's benefits to digestive health, immune health, cardiovascular health and blood sugar support. Consumers generally accept the safety status of aloe products, despite reports of a form of the botanical's potential toxicity when processed incorrectly. A Closer Look at Aloe Vera by Connor Lovejoy INSIDER's Take "Many consumers have had the experience of growing up with aloe vera plants in their households and have used aloe vera gel directly for minor scrapes and burns all their lives." ÑJane Wilson, executive director, The International Aloe Science Council

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