Aloe Vera

Botanical Name: Aloe Vera (chinensis)

Sanskrit Name: Kumara

Family Name: LILIACEAE

Description

Vernacular names :

Common name – Indian aloe

  1. Hindi – gheekuvar
  2. Kannada –lolisara
  3. Malayalam –kattarvazha
  4. Tamil –chiruli

Synonyms

GrihaKanya, GhritaKumarika, Vipulasrava, Sthuladala, Dirghapatra, Mandala.

Introduction

In PaniniyaGrihyasutras (1/21) we come across the mentioning about two kinds of Kumari (Kumaridvaya) but the botanical identity is not possible for the same.This plant is not mentioned by BrihatTrayi. One plant Kanya described by Susruta in the context of Rasayana is said to be a Soma like powerful, magic herb is different from Kumari.Dhanvantarinighantu did not mention this plant while sodhala for the first time introduced this plant into the Nighantus. It is interesting to note that it is the last drug mentioned in Kaiyadevanighantu. He considered Kumari as Vrisya as well as Rasayana. He specifically mentioned its flowers as Krmihara and guru.

Controversial Studies

After reviewing more than 100 species of Aloe it is noticed that neither A. vera nor A. barbadensis wasin use in India. The exotica published for UK describe A.barbadensis (Perfoliatavera) as the “Bitter Aloe” which is native of Arabia, Africa, to St. Helena; West Indies to Aruba. It is known in the first century AD to Dioscordes; Greek herbal describes it as having healing values; growing to 50 cm high with inflated tubular yellow flowers. Similarly, A. vera (bar badensis) which is known as “True Aloe” or “Medicinal plant” is native of Cape Verde, Canaryl Islands and Maderra. The pulp is used to heal sore burns and cuts. It is widely cultivated there; 60 cm high with cylindrical yellow flowers.

In the same book “Indian medicinal plant” Aloe is described as A. Vera chinensis which is native of India and Vietnam. It grows to 30 cm high and the flowers are orange in colour. It is a tropical plant while above two species are subtropical. We often come across the orange coloured flowers of Aloe but not yellow. The author is of the opinion that A. verachinensis is the Kumari actually we are using/cultivating in India.

Varieties :

At present A. verachinensis, A. barbadensis, A. vera are mainly being used as Kumari. The author also noticed several other species of Aloe are being sold or cultivated in the name of Kumari in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

Botanical details

  1. barbadensis – A perennial plant with a short stem. Leaves- 30-60 cm long, erect, crowded in a basal rosette, juicy, glaucous- green, narrow lanceolate, long acuminate, margins with spiny teeth. Flowers— yellow, in dense racemes terminating the scapes.
  2. verachinensis – Smaller Asiatic form, fleshy, lanceolate leaves 30 cm long and recurvedat tips, rounded beneath, blue- green with white markings and whitish teeth; flowers orange.

Distribution

Throughout India

Chemical constituents

Aloe-Emodin, aloctin A (glycoprotein), aloenin (bitter glucoside), barbaloin, chrysophanol glycoside; galactose, mannose; aldopentose, aloesin, aloesone, 13-sitosterol, alocutin A & B etc.

Properties

Rasa –tikta

Guna – guru, snigdha, picchila

Virya – sita

Vipaka –katu

Karma –kapaha- vatahara, chaksusya, vrisya, brimhana, rasyana, bhedana

Indications

Yakritodara, Plihodara, Gulma, Granthi, AgnidagdhaVrana, Jvara, Tvakroga, Soola, Vibandha

Part used

Leaves

Dosage

Fresh juice 10-20 ml; Aqueous Extract 100-300 mg

Therapeutic uses

(1) PlihaVrisddhi— Haridra powder and juice of Kumari are given

(2) Kamala— Kumarisvarasa as nasya

(3) Apasmara— Ghee prepared with YastimadhuKvatha and Kumarisvarasa is useful

Preparations

  • Kumaryasava
  • Rajahpravartanivati
  • Kumarikavati
  • Kumaritailam

Research , Studies and other information

(1) The fertility rate of female rabbits was found to increase when 60 mg/kg or more of A. indica powder was given intragastrically (Sharma et al., 1972).

(2) The expressed juice of A. vera, in the form of an ointment in vaseline has been found to hasten healing of wounds of thermal burns and radiation injury in albino rats. In addition, hydroxyproline and mucopolysaccharide contents were increased significantly in A. vera treated animals (Singh et al., 1973)

(3) Hypoglycaemic activity of polysaccharides yielded from the plant (A barbadensis) is reported (Hikino et al., 1983),

(4) Enzymes like carboxypeptides are present in Aloe, which inactivate the bradykinin (which is responsible for inflammatory changes). Minerals like Mg inhibit histamine formation and hence aloe has anti-pruritic action. It contains vit. C, E and Zn which are important for wound healing. Mannose-6-phopshatase is the major sugar in aloe which helps in wound healing (J. AmericanPodiatr. Med. Assn. 1994 Feb.; 84   :77).

(5) The sugar present in aloe acts on the immune system. The anthraquinoues exhibit antimicrobial effect. Salicylic acid present in aloe has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effect. They also produce Keratolytic effect. Out of 22 essential amino acids required for human body, 20 are present in aloe. Aloe has an effect on cytokine system causing immunomodilation (Marshall et al., 1993 & Green, 1996).

(6) Aloe increases the cross-linking of newly synthesized collagen tissue. The aqueous extracts of aloe have distinct anti- prostaglandin activity (analgesic activity) through inhibition of arachidonic acid a cyclo-oxygenase 2 pathway. Aloe increases blood flow to the site of wound. A. vera has 6 antiseptic agents (lupeol, salicylic acid, urea nitrogen, cinnamic acid, phenol &sulphur) – (Ind. J. Exp. Biol., 1998; 36 : 896-901).

(7) Aloe covers the open nerve endings to reduce pain sensation. Recent studied identified the role of aloe in patients with chronic leg ulcers (Nuts). Stand. 1998; 12 : 49-52).

(8) Aloe stimulates microcirculation in ulcers and wounds by increasing arteriolar diameter (J. Med. Asson. Thai, 2000; 83 :417-425).

(9) The application of aloe in second degree burn wounds has produced excellent results (J. Med. Assn. Thai. 2000).

(10) Aloes have long been in use for a host of diseases, particularly connected with the digestive system; they have also been used for wounds, bums and skin troubles. The term ‘Aloe’, used in medicine, stands for the dried juice which flows from the transversely cut bases of the large leaves of various species belonging to the genus Aloe. For the preparation of aloe, the juice is allowed to drain from the cut leaves into suitable vessels and then concentrated by evaporation, either spontaneously or more frequently by boiling. The juice is colourlessor yellowish to start with but darkens due to evaporation and boiling. The nature of aloe depends upon the species from which it is prepared and the manner in which the juice is concentrated. If the juice is dried in the sun, or concentrated over a low fire, it gives an amorphous, opaque, waxy extract called ‘hepatic’ or ‘livery’ aloe. But if the juice is concentrated rapidly over a strong fire, the material obtained on cooling is amorphous and semi- transparent and is called ‘glassy’ or ‘vitreous’ aloe. All aloes occur in both vitreous and opaque modifications [Cheney, Quart J Crude Drug Res, 1970, 10, 1523; Wallis, 446, 449; B.P.C., 1968, 20; Bhandari&Mukerji, Pharmaceutist, 1959-60, 5(6), 39; Chopra et al, 1958, 61].

(11) Aloe Vera, commonly known as Musabbar, is a reputed purgative in the indigenous system of medicine. Threevarieties   of   aloes   are  official   in   the   Indian Pharmacopoeia: (1) Curacao aloe obtained from A. bar- badensis; (2) Socotrine aloe obtained from A. perryi; and (3) Cape aloe from A. ferox and its hybrids. The colourandodour of each variety is characteristic and the taste bitter and nauseous. Besides, Moka or Mocha aloe derived from A. succotrina is also in use (LP., 1966, 24).

(12) Aloe Vera has a characteristic bitter taste and is used mainly as a purgative; it not only improves digestion, but also does not lose in activity by repetitive use; it is not, however, prescribed for expectant women. Aloe forms one of the constituents of several proprietary laxative preparations .It is also used in early stages of tuberculosis, dyspepsia, uterine disorders and rectal fissures, and as an anthelmintic, cholagogue and emmenagogue (Wallis, 453; Steinmetz, 1957, 65; Kirtikar&Basu, IV, 2504; Verma, loc. cit.; Morton, Econ Bot, 1961, 15, 311).

(13) Aloin is widely used in chronic constipation. Because ofthe absence of resin, the cathartic action of aloin is relatively milder than aloe. It is often used in combination with belladonna to overcome the tendency to griping although action of belladonna is rapid and brief compared to aloe. Aloin may produce renal irritation (U.S.D., 1955, 50).

(14) In USSR, aloe juice, aloe emulsion and aloe syrup with iron are in use. Aloe Vera juice is used for treating burns, suppurative wounds and trophic ulcers. Its application results in quick cleansing of ulcers and wounds. Thicksyrup of aloe with iron is effective against anaemia, and the pulp of the leaves is used for rock bruises, sunburns, boils and carbuncles. In Florida, the pulp is used in ointments, cosmetic creams, lotions, shampoos and sundry other products [Klevakin, East Pharm, 1961, 4 (46), 15; Eldridge, Econ Bot, 1975, 29, 307; Morton, loc. cit.; HortAbstr, 1965, 35, 6346; ChemAbstr, 1975, 83, 4818].

 

Aloe Vera Helps Immune System

Numerous studies worldwide indicate that it is a general tonic for the immune system, helping it to fight illness of all kinds. Various research studies are underway to explore the potential of the components to boost immunity and combat the HIV virus, and to treat certain types of cancer (particularly leukemia). It may even have a role to play in managing diabetes.

Over 200 worldwide scientific research papers have been published on the effects. The three main categories of research include anti-inflammatory, anti- bacterial, and anti-viral actions of the plant. The juice is said to soothe digestive tract irritations such as colitis, ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome. It’s ability to encourage the release of pepsin (a gastric juice enzyme necessary for digestion) when the stomach is full is a possible reason for its ulcer-healing effects (Journal of the American Osteopathic Society, 1963, vol.62). In one study, oral use for six months helped mitigate asthma symptoms in almost half of the participants. Eleven of twenty-seven patients studied who drank Aloe reported feeling better at the end of the study. Researchers think that results might be due to stimulation of the immune system, as well as naturally occurring anti-inflammatory agents in the plant.

In 1994, the US Food and Drug Administration approved Aloe vera for the treatment of HIV. On-going studies worldwide show that taken in highly concentrated doses can stimulate the production of white blood cells that may help fight viruses and also tumours.

Moderate Interaction: Be cautious with this combination

Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs) interacts with ALOE

Aloe gel might decrease blood sugar. Diabetes medications are also used to lower blood sugar. Taking aloe gel along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to go too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.

Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, GlynasePresTab, Micronase), insulin, pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), chlorpropamide (Diabinese), glipizide (Glucotrol), tolbutamide (Orinase), and others.

Medications taken by mouth (Oral drugs) interacts with ALOE

When taken by mouth aloe latex is a laxative. Laxatives can decrease how much medicine your body absorbs. Taking aloe latex along with medications you take by mouth might decrease the effectiveness of your medication.

Sevoflurane (Ultane) interacts with ALOE

Aloe might decrease clotting of the blood. Sevoflurane is used as anesthesia during surgery. Sevoflurane also decreases clotting of the blood. Taking aloe before surgery might cause increased bleeding during the surgical procedure. Do not take aloe by mouth if you are having surgery within 2 weeks.

Stimulant laxatives interacts with ALOE

When taken orally aloe latex is a type of laxative called a stimulant laxative. Stimulant laxatives speed up the bowels. Taking aloe latex along with other stimulant laxatives could speed up the bowels too much and cause dehydration and low minerals in the body.

Some stimulant laxatives include bisacodyl (Correctol, Dulcolax), cascara, castor oil (Purge), senna (Senokot), and others.

Warfarin (Coumadin) interacts with ALOE

When taken orally, aloe latex is a type of laxative called a stimulant laxative. Stimulant laxatives speed up the bowels and can cause diarrhea in some people. Diarrhea can increase the effects of warfarin and increase the risk of bleeding. If you take warfarin, do not to take excessive amounts of aloe latex.

Water pills (Diuretic drugs) interacts with ALOE

When taken by mouth aloe latex is a laxative. Some laxatives can decrease potassium in the body. “Water pills” can also decrease potassium in the body. Taking aloe latex along with “water pills” might decrease potassium in the body too much.

Some “water pills” that can decrease potassium include chlorothiazide (Diuril), chlorthalidone (Thalitone), furosemide (Lasix), hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ, HydroDIURIL, Microzide), and others.

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