Pharmacology & Pharmacy, 2013, 4, 599-610
Published Online November 2013 (
Open Access PP
Therapeutic and Medicinal Uses of Aloe vera: A Review
Pankaj K. Sahu1, Deen Dayal Giri2, Ritu Singh2, Priyanka Pandey1, Sharmistha Gupta3,
Atul Kumar Shrivastava4, Ajay Kumar5, Kapil Dev Pandey5
1Department of Botany, Dr. C.V. Raman University, Bilaspur, India; 2Department of Chemical Engineering & Technology, Institute
of Technology, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, India; 3West Bengal State Council of Science & Technology, Kolkata, India;
4Directorate of Research Services, JNKVV, Jabalpur, India; 5Department of Botany, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, India.
Received September 3rd, 2013; revised October 8th, 2013; accepted October 17th, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Pankaj K. Sahu et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License,
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
The plant Aloe vera is used in Ayurvedic, Homoeopathic and Allopathic streams of medicine, and not only tribal com-
munity but also most of the people for food and medicine. The plant leaves contains numerous vitamins, minerals, en-
zymes, amino acids, natural sugars and other bioactive compounds with emollient, purgative, antimicrobial, anti in-
flammatory, anti-oxidant, aphrodisiac, anti-helmenthic, antifungal, antiseptic and cosmetic values for health care. This
plant has potential to cure sunburns, burns and minor cuts, and even skin cancer. The external use in cosmetic primarily
acts as skin healer and prevents injury of epithelial tissues, cures acne and gives a youthful glow to skin, also acts as
extremely powerful laxative.
Keywords: Aloe vera; Antimicrobial; Therapeutic; Medicinal Uses; Cosmetic Application
1. Introduction
Plant extracts represent a continuous effort to find new
compound against pathogens. Approximately 20% of the
plants found in the world have been submitted to phar-
macological or biological test, and a substantial number
of new antibiotics introduced on the market are obtained
from natural or semi synthetic resources [1]. The genus
Aloe belonging to family Alliaceae is a succulent herb of
80 - 100 cm in height which matures in 4 - 6 years and
survives for nearly 50 years under favorable conditions.
Aloe vera (L.) Burm. f. syn. Aloe barbadensis Miller, is
most biologically active among 400 species [2-4]. Ac-
cording to World Health Organisation, medicinal plants
would be the best source for obtaining a variety of drugs
[5]. The plant is native to southern and eastern Africa
along the upper Nile in the Sudan, and it was subse-
quently introduced into northern Africa and naturalized
in the Mediterranean region and other countries across
the globe. The plant is commercially cultivated in Aruba,
Bonaire, Haiti, India, South Africa, the United States of
America, and Venezuela [6,7] while the finest quality of
Aloe is grown in desert of Southern California. The plant
can survive in hot temperatures of 104˚F and with stand
in below freezing temperatures until root is not damaged.
1.1. Synonym
Aloe barbadensis Miller, Aloe chinensis Bak., Aloe
elongata Murray, Aloe indica Royle, A. officinalis Forsk.,
A. perfoliata L., A. rubescens DC, A. vera L. var. lit-
toralis König ex Bak., A. vera L. var. chinensis Berger, A.
vulgaris Lam. Most formularies and reference books
regard Aloe barbadensis Mill. as the correct species
name, and Aloe vera (L.) Burm. f. as a synonym. Ac-
cording to International Rules of Botanical Nomenclature
(IRBN), Aloe vera (L.) Burm. f. is the legitimate name
for this species [6].
1.2. Taxonomic Treatment
This succulent perennial herb has triangular, sessile
stem, shallow root system, fleshy serrated leaves ar-
ranged in rosette having 30 - 50 cm length and 10 cm
breadth at the base; colour pea-green. The bright yellow
tubular flowers, length 25 - 35 cm, axillary spike and
stamens are frequently projected beyond the perianth
tube and fruits contain many seeds [7].
2. Active Ingredients
Leaves have three layers. The outer most layer consist of
Therapeutic and Medicinal Use of Aloe vera: A Review
15 - 20 cells thick protective layer synthesizing carbohy-
drates and proteins [8]. (Figure 1) The active compo-
nents of aloe include anthraquinones, chromones, poly-
saccharides, and enzymes. The anthraquinones and chro-
mones are responsible for the anti-cancer activity, anti-
inflammatory, and evacuating [9]. The elements Al, B,
Ba, Ca, Fe, Mg, Na, P, Si etc. has also been reported to
be present in Aloe vera gel [9-11].
2.1. Outer Protective Layers of Leaf
The bitter yellow latex of pericyclic tubules in the outer
layer of the leaves contain derivatives of hydroxyanthra-
cene, anthraquinone and glycosides aloin A and B from
15% - 40% in different investigations [12-14]. The other
active principles of Aloe include hydroxyanthrone, aloe-
emodin-anthrone 10-C-glucoside and chrones.
Structure of Aloin, Aloin A, Aloin B
2.2. Middle Layer of Leaf
The bitter yellow latex containing anthraquinones and
glycosides has been reported from the middle layers of
Figure 1. The transverse section of the leaf exhibiting three
cells layers, the protective layer, middle layer and colourless
inner layer.
leaf [8]. The juice that is originated from cells of the
pericycle and adjacent leaf parenchyma, flowing sponta-
neously from the cut leaf get dried with or without the
aid of heat and get solidified should not be confused with
Aloe vera gel which is also the colourless mucilaginous
gel that is obtained from the parenchymatous leaf cells
[14]. The parenchymatous tissue or pulp shown to con-
tain proteins, lipids, amino acids, vitamins, enzymes,
inorganic compounds and small organic compounds in
addition to the different carbohydrates. There is some
evidence of chemotaxonomic variation in the polysac-
charide composition [15-17] 16-different polysaccharides
and 12 major polypeptides (mol wt 15 - 77 kD), and vari-
ous glycoproteins (29 kD in leaf gel).
2.3. Inner Layers of Leaf
The innermost layer of leaf gel contains water upto 99%,
with glucomannans, amino acids, lipids, sterols and vi-
tamins [8,17].
Structure of Anthraquinone and structure of glycosides
The other potentially active ingredients include vita-
mins, enzymes, minerals, sugars, lignin, saponins, sali-
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Therapeutic and Medicinal Use of Aloe vera: A Review
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cylic acids, and amino acids [18-21]. It has numerous
monosaccharide’s and polysaccharides; vitamins B1, B2,
B6, and C; niacinamide and choline, several inorganic
ingredients, enzymes (acid and alkaline phosphatase,
amylase, lactate dehydrogenase, lipase) and organic
compounds (aloin, barbaloin, and emodin) as described
by [22]. The main functional component of Aloe vera is a
long chain of acetylated mannose [11,23,24]. Aloe gel is
often commercialized as powdered concentrate. The
therapeutically, it is used to prevent progressive dermal
ischemia due to burns, frostbite, electrical injury and
intra arterial drug abuse. In vivo analysis of these injuries
demonstrates that this gel acts as an inhibitor of throm-
boxane A2, a mediator of progressive tissue damage [20].
The Aloe vera gel play chief role in stimulation of the
complement linked to polysaccharides, hydration, insula-
tion, and protection. Application of fresh gel to normal
human cells in vitro promoted cell growth and attach-
ment, whereas a stabilized gel preparation was cytotoxic
to both normal and tumour cells. This cytotoxicity was
attributed to additional substances added to gel during
processing [25]. The wound healing powers were due to
a high molecular weighted polypeptide in healing of rat’s
excision wounds [26]. This glycoprotein promotes cell
proliferation, so gel improves wound healing by increas-
ing blood supply and increased oxygenation [4,27].
Growth of new blood capillaries (angiogenesis) and tis-
sue regeneration in the burn tissue for a guinea pig has
been reported, however, no specific constituents were
identified [26]. Further, a low molecular weight com-
pound from freeze-dried gel stimulated angiogenesis in
chick chorioallantoic membrane, and a methanol-soluble
fraction of the gel stimulated proliferation of arteries in
endothelial cells and induced them to invade a collage
substrate [28]. Table 1 representing the chemical com-
position and properties and activity of Aloe vera.
3. Therapeutic Use
3.1. Wound Healing
Wound healing is a dynamic process, occurring in 3
phases. The first phase is inflammation, hyperaemia and
leukocyte infiltration. The second phase consists of re-
moval of dead tissue. The third phase of proliferation
consisting of epithelial regeneration and formation of
fibrous tissue [30].
A more recent review concludes that the cumulative
evidence supports the use of Aloe vera for the healing of
first to second degree burns [31]. The wound healing
property of Aloe vera gel has been attributed to Man-
nose-6-phosphate [25]. Actually, glucomannan and plant
growth harmone gibberellins interacts with growth factor
receptors of fibrobroblast and stimulate its activity and
proliferation for increases collagen synthesis in topical
and oral administration of Aloe according to Hayes [22].
The Aloe administration influence collagen composition
(more type III) and increased collagen cross linking for
wound contraction and improving breaking strength [17].
It also increases synthesis of hyaluronic acid and derma-
tan sulfate in the granulation tissue of a healing wound
Acemannan is considered the main functional compo-
nent of Aloe vera, is composed of a long chain of acety-
lated mannose [11,23,24]. This complex carbohydrate
accelerates wound healing and reduces radiation induced
skin reactions [33,34]. Macrophage-activating potential
acermannan may stimulate the release of fibrogenic cy-
tokines [34,35]. Direct binding of acemannan to growth
Table 1. Chemical composition and properties of Aloe vera [29].
Constituents Number and identification Properties and activity
Amino acids Provides 20 of the 22 required amino acids and 7 of the 8
essential ones
Basic building blocks of proteins in the body and
muscle tissues
Anthraquinones Provides Aloe emodin, Aloetic acid, alovin, anthracine Analgesic, antibacterial
Enzymes Anthranol, barbaloin, chrysophanic acid, smodin, ethereal oil,
ester of cinnamonic acid, isobarbaloin, resistannol
Antifungal and antiviral activity but toxic at high
Hormones Auxins and gibberellins Wound healing and anti-inflammatory
Minerals Calcium, chromium, copper, iron, manganese, potassium,
sodium and zinc Essential for good health
Salicyclic acid Aspirin like compounds Analgesic
Saponins Glycosides Cleansing and antiseptic
Steroids Cholesterol, campesterol, lupeol, sistosterol Anti-inflammatory agents, lupeol has
Antiseptic and analgesic properties
Sugars Monosaccharides: Glucose and Fructose
Polysaccharides: Glucomannans/polymannose Anti-viral, immune modulating activity of acemannan
Vitamins A, B, C, E, choline, B12, folic acid Antioxidant (A, C, E), neutralises free radicals
Therapeutic and Medicinal Use of Aloe vera: A Review
factors and their stabilization may lead to promotion of
prolong stimulation of granulation tissue [33].
The Aloe gel has been used for the treatment of radia-
tion burns and radiation ulcers [36], and complete heal-
ing has been observed in two radiation burns patients [7].
The fresh gel was more effective than the cream [7,37] as
Aloe gel-treated lesions healed faster (11.8 days) com-
pared to burns treated with petroleum jelly gauze (18.2
days) by Fulton [38]. The 27 patients with partial thick-
ness burns have been treated with Aloe gel in a pla-
cebo-controlled study [39].
3.2. Anti-Inflammatory Action
The anti-inflammatory activity of Aloe vera gel has been
revealed by a number of in vitro and in vivo studies
through bradykinase activity [40,41]. The peptidase bra-
dykinase was isolated from aloe and shown to break
down the bradykinin, an inflammatory substance that
induces pain [42]. A novel anti-inflammatory compound,
C-glucosyl chromone, was isolated from gel extracts [43].
Aloe vera inhibits the cyclo-oxygenase pathway and re-
duces prostaglandin E2 production from arachidonic acid.
Fresh Aloe vera gel significantly reduced acute inflam-
mation in rats (carrageenin-induced paw oedema), but
not in chronic inflammation [41]. In croton oil-induced
oedema in mice, three Aloe vera gel sterols were able to
reduce inflammation by up to 37%. Lupeol, the most
active antiinflamatory sterol, reduced inflammation in a
dose dependent manner. The data suggest that specific
plant sterols may also contribute to the anti-inflammatory
activity of gel [43]. The aloe sterol includes campesterol,
β-sitosterol, lupeol, and cholesterol which are anti-in-
flammatory in nature, helps in reducing the inflammation
pain and act as a natural analgesic. Other aspirin-like
compound present in Aloe is responsible for anti-in-
flammatory and antimicrobial properties [44]. Even, Aloe
vera extract (5.0% leaf homogenate) decreased inflam-
mation by 48% in a rat adjuvant-induced arthritic in-
flammatory model [45,46].
3.3. Effects on the Immune System
Alprogen inhibit calcium influx into mast cells, thereby
inhibiting the antigen-antibody-mediated release of his-
tamine and leukotriene from mast cells [47]. In a study
on mice that had previously been implanted with murine
sarcoma cells, acemannan stimulates the synthesis and
release of interleukin-1 (IL-1) and tumor necrosis factor
from macrophages in mice, which in turn initiated an
immune attack that resulted in necrosis and regression of
the cancerous cells [48]. Several low-molecular-weight
compounds are also capable of inhibiting the release of
reactive oxygen free radicals from activated human neu-
trophils [49].
3.4. Moisturizing and Anti-Aging Agent
Muco-polysaccharides help in binding moisture into the
skin. The amino acids also soften hardened skin cells and
zinc acts as an astringent to tighten pores. Its moisturiz-
ing effects have also been studied in treatment of dry
skin associated with occupational exposure where Aloe
vera gel gloves improved the skin integrity, decrease
appearance of acne wrinkle and decrease erythema [50].
The Aloe gel gives cooling effect and also acts as a
moisturizing agent. It also has role in gerontology and
rejuvenation of aging skin. This property of Aloe is be-
cause it’s biogenic material. Aloe vera is used as skin
tonic in cosmetic industry.
3.5. Antitumor Activity
A number of glycoproteins present in Aloe vera gel have
been reported to have antitumor and antiulcer effects and
to increase proliferation of normal human dermal cells
[51-53]. However, statistically significant clinical studies
on the efficacy of Aloe vera gel on human health are very
limited and often inconclusive [54]. In recent studies, a
polysaccharide fraction has shown to inhibit the binding
of benzopyrene to primary rat hepatocytes, thereby pre-
venting the formation of potentially cancer-initiating
benzopyrene-DNA adducts. An induction of glutathione
S-transferase and an inhibition of the tumor-promoting
effects of phorbol myristic acetate has also been reported
which suggest a possible benefit of using aloe gel in
cancer chemoprevention [55,56].
3.6. Laxative Effects
Anthraquinones present in latex are a potent laxative; it’s
stimulating mucus secretion, increase intestinal water
content and intestinal peristalsis [35]. The Aloe are due
primarily to the 1, 8-dihydroxyanthracene glycosides,
aloin A and B (formerly designated barbaloin) [40,57].
After oral administration aloin A and B, which are not
absorbed in the upper intestine, are hydrolysed in the
colon by intestinal bacteria and then reduced to the active
metabolites (the main active metabolite is aloe-emodin-
9-anthrone) [41,58], which like senna acts as a stimulant
and irritant to the gastrointestinal tract [59]. Aloe latex is
known for its laxative properties. The laxative effect of
Aloe is not generally observed before 6 hours after oral
administration, and sometimes not until 24 or more hours
4. Medicinal Uses
Aloe vera is anthelmintic, aperients, carminative, deob-
struent, depurative, diuretic, stomachic and emmena-
gogue. Juice is used in skin care medicine, dyspepsia,
amenorrhea, burns, colic, hyperadenosis, hepatopathy,
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Therapeutic and Medicinal Use of Aloe vera: A Review 603
splenopathy, constipation, span menorrhea, abdominal
tumors, dropsy carbuncles, sciatica, lumbago and flatu-
lence. The elio, a product made by juice of this plant, is
used for helminthiasis in children and is a purgative,
anthelmintic & emmenagogue. A number of glycoprotein
present in Aloe vera gel have been reported to have anti-
tumor and antiulcer effects and to increase proliferation
of normal human dermal cells [51-53]. Gel is useful in
ulcerative colitis and pressure ulcers, respectively [60,61].
Traditionally, Aloe vera gel is used both, topically (treat-
ment of wounds, minor burns, and skin irritations) and
internally to treat constipation, coughs, ulcers, diabetes,
headaches, arthritis, immune-system deficiencies [54,62].
Aloe vera has been used for medicinal purposes in
several cultures for millennia: Greece, Egypt, India,
Mexico, Japan, and China [63]. The Egyptians used the
Aloe vera to make papyrus like scrolls as well as for
treatment of tuberculosis [64]. Nadkerni [65] stated
various preparations of Aloe barbadensis like confection,
lotion and juice, useful remedies for curing various dis-
eases. Aloe contains mixture of glucosides collectively
called aloin which is the active constituent of various
drugs. Traditionally Aloe is extensively used in treating
urine related problems, pimples and ulcers etc. It is also
used in gerontology and rejuvenation of aging skin. The
juice of Aloe vera leaves is used as stomachic tonic and
purgative. Scientific evidence for the cosmetic and ther-
apeutic effectiveness of Aloe vera is limited and when
present is frequently contradictory [66,67]. Despite this,
the cosmetic and alternative medicine industries regu-
larly make claims regarding the soothing, moisturizing,
and healing properties of Aloe vera, especially via inter-
net advertising [68,69]. The bioactive compounds are
used as astringent, haemostatic, antidiabetic, antiulcer,
antiseptic, antibacterial, anti inflammatory, antioxidant
and anticancer agent also, effective in treating stomach
ailments, gastrointestinal problems, skin diseases, con-
stipation, radiation injury, wound healing, burns, dysen-
tery, diarrhoea and in the treatment of skin diseases [70]
(represents in Graph 1). It is used in ayurvedic formula-
tions as appetite-stimulant, purgative, emmenogogue and
antihelminthic, for treating cough, colds, piles, debility,
dyspnoea, asthma and jaundice [71].
4.1. Cosmetic & Skin Protection Application
Aloin and its gel are used as skin tonic against pimples.
Aloe vera is also used for soothing the skin, and keeping
the skin moist to help avoid flaky scalp and skin in harsh
and dry weather. The Aloe sugars are also used in mois-
turizing preparations [72]. Mixed with selected essential
oils, it makes an excellent skin smoothening moisturizer,
sun block lotion plus a whole range of beauty products.
Due to its soothing and cooling qualities, Maharishi Ay-
urveda recommends Aloe vera for a number of skin
Graph 1. Representing the medicinal utilities of Aloe vera.
problems [71]. Aloe vera extracts have antibacterial and
antifungal activities, which may help in the treatment of
minor skin infections, such as boils and benign skin cysts
and have been shown to inhibit the growth of fungi that
cause tinea [73].
Currently, the plant is widely used in skin care, cos-
metics and asnutraceuticals [74]. Aloe vera gel has been
reported to have a protective effect against radiation
damage to the skin [75,76]. Exact role is not known, but
following the administration of Aloe vera gel, an anti-
oxidant protein, metallothionein, is generated in the skin,
which scavenges hydroxyl radicals and prevents suppres-
sion of superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase
in the skin. It reduces the production and release of skin
keratinocyte derived immunosuppressive cytokines such
as interleukin-10 (IL-10) and hence prevents UV-induced
suppression of delayed type hypersensitivity [77]. Skin
burns effect is reported and radiation dermatitis [78-80].
Some researcher has been reported the contact dermatitis
and burning skin sensations following topical applica-
tions of Aloe vera gel to dermabraded skin. These reac-
tions appeared to be associated with anthraquinone con-
taminants in this preparation [81,82].
4.2. Antiseptic
The antiseptic property of Aloe vera is due to presence of
six antiseptic agents namely lupeol, salicylic acid, urea
nitrogen, cinnamonic acid, phenols and sulphur. These
compounds have inhibitory action on fungi, bacteria and
viruses. Though most of these uses are interesting con-
trolled trials are essential to determine its effectiveness in
all diseases [83].
4.3. Anti Diabetic
The five phytosterols of A. vera, lophenol, 24-methyl-
lophenol, 24-ethyl-lophenol, cycloartanol and 24-methy-
lenecycloartanol showed anti-diabetic effects in type-2
diabetic mice [84]. Aloe vera contains polysaccharides
which increase the insulin level and show hypoglycemic
properties [85]. Noor et al., [86] reviewed the beneficial
effects of selective medicinal plant species such as Al-
lium cepa, Allium sativum, Aloe vera, Azadirachta indica,
Gymnema sylvestre, Syzygium cumini and Pterocarpus
marsupium, and emphasize on the role of active bio-
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Therapeutic and Medicinal Use of Aloe vera: A Review
molecules which possess anti-diabetic activity. The treat-
ment of diabetes mellitus has been attempted with vari-
ous indigenous plants and polyherbal formulations [87-
89]. Encouraging results have been obtained from plant
extracts with respect to antidiabetic activity, but still only
a meager percentage of the plant world has been explored
[90]. Medicinal plants like Trigonella foenum graecum,
Allium sativum, Gymnema slyvestre, Syzigium cumini
and Aloe vera have been studied for treatment of diabetes
mellitus [91]. Extracts of Aloe gum increases glucose
tolerance in both normal and diabetic rats [92] and Aloe
vera sap taken for 4 - 14 weeks has shown a significant
hypoglycaemic effect both clinically and experimentally
[93]. Aloe vera gel is used in reducing sugar in diabetes
[7]. The five phytosterols of A. vera, lophenol, 24-
methyl-lophenol, 24-ethyl-lophenol, cycloartanol and 24-
methylenecycloartanol showed anti-diabetic effects in
type-2 diabetic mice [84]. Traditional anti-diabetic plants
might provide new oral anti-diabetic compounds, which
can counter the high cost and poor availability of the
current medicines for many rural populations in devel-
oping countries [84].
4.4. Anticancer Properties
The role of Aloe in carcinogenicity has not been evalu-
ated well. The chronic abuse of anthranoid-containing
laxatives has been hypothesized to play a role in colo-
rectal cancer, however, no causal relationship between
anthranoid laxative abuse and colorectal cancer has been
demonstrated and [81,82]. Report on cancer prevention is
done by [94,95]. Aloe vera juice enables the body to heal
itself from cancer and also from the damage caused by
radio and chemotherapy that destroys healthy immune
cells crucial for the recovery. Aloe vera emodin, an an-
thraquinone, has the ability to suppress or inhibit the
growth of malignant cancer cells making it to have anti-
neoplastic properties [96].
4.5. Stress
Aloe juice is helpful in smooth functioning of the body
machinery [97]. It reduces cell-damaging process during
stress condition and minimizes biochemical and physio-
logical changes in the body [98]. Oxidative stress refers
to chemical reactions in which compounds have their
oxidative state changed. Some antioxidants are part of
the body’s natural regulating machinery while other die-
tary antioxidants are derived from diet sources. Aloe vera
is an excellent example of a functional food that plays a
significant role in protection from oxidative stress [71,72,
4.6. Adverse Reactions
Abdominal spasms and pain may occur after even a sin-
gle dose and overdose can lead to colicky abdominal
spasms and pain, as well as the formation of thin, watery
stools. Chronic abuse of anthraquinone stimulant laxa-
tives can lead to hepatitis [100] and electrolyte distur-
bances (hypokalaemia, hypocalcaemia), metabolic acido-
sis, malabsorption, weight loss, albuminuria, and haema-
turia [101,102]. Weakness and orthostatic hypotension
may be exacerbated in elderly patients when stimulant
laxatives are repeatedly used [103]. Secondary aldos-
teronism may occur owing to renal tubular damage after
aggravated use. Steatorrhoea and protein-losing gastro-
enteropathy with hypoalbuminaemia have also been ob-
served, as have excessive excretion of calcium in the
stools and osteomalacia of the vertebral column [104].
Melanotic pigmentation of the colonic mucosa (pseu-
domelanosis coli) has been observed in individuals tak-
ing anthraquinone laxatives for extended time periods.
The pigmentation is clinically harmless and usually re-
versible within 4 to 12 months after the drug is discon-
tinued [101].
Aloe vera contains polysaccharides which increase the
insulin level and show hypoglycemic properties [85].
Noor et al., [86] reviewed the beneficial effects of selec-
tive medicinal plant species such as Allium cepa, Allium
sativum, Aloe vera, Azadirachta indica, Gymnema syl-
vestre, Syzygium cumini and Pterocarpus marsupium,
and emphasize on the role of active biomolecules which
possess anti-diabetic activity. As with other stimulant
laxatives, products containing Aloe should not be used in
patients with intestinal obstruction or steno sis, stony
severe dehydration with electrolyte depletion, or chronic
constipation [105]. Chronic use may cause dependence
and need for increased dosages, disturbances of water
and electrolyte balance (e.g. hypokalaemia), and an
atonic colon with impaired function [105]. The use of
stimulant laxatives for more than 2 weeks requires
medical supervision. Chronic abuse with diarrhoea and
consequent fluid and electrolyte losses (mainly hypo-
kalaemia) may cause albuminuria and haematuria, and
may result in cardiac and neuromuscular dysfunction, the
latter particularly in the case of concomitant use of car-
diac glycosides (digoxin), diuretics, corticosteroids, or
liquorices root. Aloe should not be administered to pa-
tients with inflammatory intestinal diseases, such as ap-
pendicitis, Crohn disease, ulcerative colitis, irritable
bowel syndrome, or diverticulitis or to children less than
10 years of age. Aloe should not be used during preg-
nancy or lactation except under medical supervision after
evaluating benefits and risks. Aloe is also contraindicated
in patients with cramps, colic, hemorrhoids’, nephritis, or
any undiagnosed abdominal symptoms such as pain,
nausea, or vomiting [105,106]. Leaf anti-hyperglycemic
activity with protective effect on pancreas, liver and
small Intestine in rabbits was studied [93,107-109].
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Therapeutic and Medicinal Use of Aloe vera: A Review 605
5. Antimicrobial Activities
5.1. Antibacterial Activity
Aloe vera gel was bactericidal against Pseudomonas
aeruginosa and acemannan prevented it from adhering to
human lung epithelial cells in a monolayer culture [110,
111]. A processed Aloe vera gel preparation inhibited the
growth of fungus Candida albicans [112]. The gel con-
tains 99.3% of water, the remaining 0.7% is made up of
solids with carbohydrates constituting for a large com-
ponents [99]. Concentrated extracts of Aloe leaves are
used as laxative and as a haemorrhoid treatment. Aloe gel
can help to stimulate the body’s immune system [113].
Glucomannan and acemannan have been proved to ac-
celerate wound healing, activating macrophages, sti-
mulating immune system as well antibacterial and anti-
viral effects [23,79,114-118]. Streptoccocus pyogenes
and Streptococcus faecalis are two microorganisms that
have been inhibited by Aloe vera gel [112,119]. Using a
rat model, it was suggested that the antibacterial effect of
the Aloe vera gel in vivo could enhance the wound heal-
ing process by eliminating the bacteria that contributed to
inflammation [120]. The aloe extract was potent against
three strains of Mycobacterium (M. fortuitum, M. smeg-
matis and M. kansasii) and a strong anti-mycobacterial
activity against M. tuberculosis ss well as antibacterial
activity against P. aeruginosa, E. coli, S. aureus and S.
typhi. The preliminary phytochemistry revealed presence
of terpenoids, flavonoids and tannins. Thus, Aloe secun-
diflora could be a rich source of antimicrobial agentsand
it can give scientific backing to its use by the local peo-
ple of Lake Victoria region of Kenyas [121].
5.2. Antiviral Activity
Several ingredients in Aloe vera jel have been shown to
be effective antiviral agent. Acemannan reduced herpes
simplex infection in two cultured target cell lines [122].
Lectins, fractions of Aloe vera gel, directly inhibited the
cytomegalovirus proliferation in cell culture, perhaps by
interfering with protein synthesis [123]. A purified sam-
ple of aloe emodin was effective against infectivity of
herpes simplex virus Type I and Type II and it was capa-
ble of inactivating all of the viruses, including varicella-
zoster virus, influenza virus, and pseudorabies virus
[124]. Electron micrograph examination of anthro-
quinone treated herpes simplex virus demonstrated that
the envelopes were partially disrupted. Such results indi-
cate that anthraquinones extract from variety of plants
are directly virucidal to enveloped viruses. These actions
may be due to indirect effect due to stimulation of the
immune system. The anthraquinone aloin also inactivates
various enveloped viruses such as herpes simplex, va-
ricella zoster and influenza [124].
5.3. Antifungal Activity
Aloe vera was evaluated on the mycellium development
of Rhizoctonia solani, Fusarium oxysporum, and Colle-
totrichum coccodes, that showed an inhibitory effect of
the pulp of A. vera on F. oxysporum at 104 μl L-1 and the
liquid fraction reduced the rate of colony growth at a
concentration of 105 μl L-1 in R. solani, F. oxysporum,
and C. coccodes [125,126]. It is also reported that the
Aloe juice have antiinflammatory, anti-arthritic activity,
antibacterial and hypoglycaemic effects [127]. For bacte-
ria, inner-leaf gel from Aloe vera was shown to inhibit
growth of Streptococcus and Shigella species in vitro
[128]. Agarry et al., [129] reported that the Aloe gel in-
hibited the growth of Trichophyton mentagrophytes (20.0
mm), while the leaf possesses inhibitory effects on both
Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Candida albicans. In con-
trast, Aloe vera extracts failed to show antibiotic proper-
ties against Xanthomonas species [130]. Other uses for
extracts of Aloe vera include the dilution of semen for
the artificial fertilization of sheep, used as fresh food
preservative [131] and used in water conservation in
small farms [132]. Another constituent of Aloe vera in-
cludes saponins. These are soapy substances from the gel
that are capable of cleansing and having antiseptic prop-
erties. The saponins perform strongly as anti-microbial
against bacteria, viruses, fungi and yeasts [133].
6. Conclusion
The active ingredients hidden in its succulent leaves have
the power to soothe human life and health in a myriad
ways. The plant has importance in everyday life to
soothe a variety of skin ailments such as mild cuts, an-
tidote for insect stings, bruises, poison ivy and eczema
along with skin moisturizing and anti ageing, digestive
tract health, blood and lymphatic circulation and func-
tioning of kidney, liver and gall bladder makes it a boon
to human kind. Aloe vera as the “wonder plant” is mul-
tiple from being an antiseptic, anti-inflammatory agent,
helps in relieving like cancer and diabetes, and being a
cosmetic field. The plant is in need to a greater research
emphasis for better utilization of this plant for human-
kind. Aloe vera is undoubtedly, the nature’s gift to hu-
manity for cosmetic, burn and medicinal application and
it remains for us to introduce it to ourselves and thank the
nature for its never-ending gift.
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