Everything You Want to Know: Aloe Vera
What is Aloe Vera?
Aloe Vera (Aloe barbadensis miller) is a shrubby, perennial, succulent, pea-green color plant. The word Aloe derives from the Arabic word “Alloch” meaning “shining bitter substance.” The word Vera in Latin means “true.” The Egyptians named Aloe Vera “the plant of immortality”
Since the mid-1930’s it has been used to treat chronic and severe radiation dermatitis.
Aloe Vera is a natural product that contains 75 potentially active constituents; vitamins, enzymes, minerals, sugars, lignin, saponins, salicylic acids and amino acids.
Vitamins: It contains vitamins A (beta-carotene), C and E, which are antioxidants. It also contains vitamin B12, folic acid and choline.
Enzymes: It contains 8 enzymes: aliiase, alkaline phosphatase, amylase, bradykinase, carboxypeptidase, catalase, cellulose, lipase and peroxidase. Bradykinase helps to reduce excessive inflammation when applied topically, while others help in the breakdown of sugars and fats.
Minerals: It provides calcium, chromium, copper, selenium, magnesium, manganese, potassium, sodium and zinc. Magnesium and Zinc are especially supportive for skin health.
Sugars: Monosaccharaides (glucose and fructose) and Polysaccharides (glucomannanss/polymannose). These are derived from the mucilage layer of the plant and are known as mucopolysaccharides.
Anthraquinones: Aloin and emodin act as analgesics, antibacterial and antivirals.
Fatty acids: It provides 4 plant steroids; cholesterol, campesterol, B-sisosterol and lupeol. All these have anti-inflammatory action and lupeol alsom possesses antiseptic and analgesic properties.
Hormones: Auxins and gibberellins that help in wound healing and have anti-inflammatory action.
Others: It contains salicylic acid that possesses anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Lignin, an inert substance, when included in topical preparations, enhances penetrative effect of the other ingredients into the skin. Saponins have cleansing and antiseptic properties.
Mechanism of Actions
Healing properties: Glucomannan, a mannose-rich polysaccharide, and gibberellin, a growth hormone, increases collagen synthesis after topical and oral Aloe Vera. It increases synthesis of hyaluronic acid and dermatan sulfate in the granulation tissue of a healing wound following topical treatment.
Skin exposure to UV and Gamma Radiation: Aloe Vera gel has been reported to have a protective effect against radiation damage to the skin.
Anti-inflammatory action: Aloe Vera inhibits the cyclooxygenase pathway and reduces prostaglandin E2 production.
Antiviral and Antitumor Activity: Aloin inactivates various enveloped viruses such as herpes simplex, varicella zoster and influenza.
Moisturizing and Anti-aging effect: Mucopolysaccharides help in binding moisture into the skin. Aloe stimulates fibroblast which produces the collagen and elastin fibers making the skin more elastic and less wrinkled. Zinc acts as an astringent to tighten pores. It also has anti-acne effect.
Antiseptic effect: Aloe Vera contains 6 antiseptic agents. They all have inhibitory action on fungi, bacteria and viruses.
Aloe Vera extract is used in the following skin conditions:
Bacterial and fungal skin infections
Chronic leg wounds
Some light redness and a short period of burning, stinging sensation.
Contraindicated in patients with demonstrated allergic reaction.