Immune-Boosting Properties Of Aloe Vera

  • Shazia AsimMPhil Pharmacology University of Health Sciences Lahore, Pakistan

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An effective natural botanical remedy with notable immunomodulatory qualities is aloe vera. Its rich chemical makeup and long history of use in conventional medicine highlight its potential as a therapeutic herb to strengthen the immune system. Even though more investigation is necessary to understand aloe vera's immunomodulatory effects and maximize its therapeutic uses, preliminary results indicate that aloe vera may be a useful adjunct in supporting immune function and treating immune-related conditions.

Introduction

The perennial green herb known as aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis Miller, family Xanthorrhoeaceae) is widely found in hot, dry regions of northern Africa, the eastern half of Asia, the Southern Mediterranean, and the Canary Islands. It has bright yellow tubular flowers.1 Aloe has been the subject of extensive research for a variety of therapeutic purposes, such as its purported antimicrobial, anti-cancer, immunoregulatory, and hepatoprotective qualities. However, as some recent studies have shown, some of these claims have been called into question.2 

Brief overview of  historical and cultural significance of Aloe vera

Clay tablets from 1750 B.C.E. in Mesopotamia demonstrated the use of aloe vera in medicine. Aloe vera was said to be able to treat skin infections in Egyptian texts dating back to 550 BCE. Greek physician Discordes wrote a book titled De Materia Medica in 74 C.E. in which he claimed that aloe vera could cure skin infections, heal wounds, stop hair loss, and get rid of hemorrhoids.3 Nefertiti and Cleopatra, the queens of Egypt, incorporated it into their daily beauty regimens. It was used by both Alexander the Great and Christopher Columbus to treat military wounds. John Goodyew translated Dioscorides' medical treatise De Materia Medica in A.D. 1655, which is when aloe vera was first mentioned in the English language.4

Immune-boosting properties of Aloe vera

Because of the different bioactive compounds it contains, aloe vera is thought to have immune-boosting qualities. Studies have demonstrated that Aloe vera has immunostimulatory properties that may improve the non-specific immune response.5 Furthermore, by boosting macrophage cell viability and strengthening the immune system's first line of defense against infections, aloe vera has been shown to play a critical role in the immune system.6  

Composition of Aloe Vera 

About 110 potentially active components from six different classes are present in the plant, including flavonoids, phenylpropanoids and coumarins, phenylpyrone and phenol derivatives, anthraquinone and its glycoside derivatives, chromone, and others.7Amino acids, polysaccharides, minerals, organic acids, phenolic compounds, anthrones, C-glycosides, and other compounds tend to be all present in the plant's gel.8 In addition, aloe vera is a rich source of minerals like calcium, magnesium, zinc, and selenium, as well as vitamins A (beta-carotene), C, and E.9 These varied ingredients support aloe vera's numerous medicinal qualities and potential health advantages.

Importance of composition in immune modulation

These various chemicals found in aloe vera are important in modulating the immune system in one way or the other.

Aloe vera contains vitamins A (beta-carotene), C, and E, which are antioxidants.10 Antioxidants protect the body against free radicals(exceptionally reactive species that can harm biologically significant molecules like DNA, proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids in the cell's membranes and nucleus).11

The plant has several anti-inflammatory and medicinal enzymes, such as peroxidase, amylase, and bradykinase. When applied topically to the skin, bradykinase helps to minimize excessive inflammation, and other enzymes aid in the breakdown of fats and sugars. There are twelve anthraquinones in aloe vera, which are phenolic acids that are commonly used as laxatives.Aloin and emodin offer antiviral, antibacterial, and analgesic properties. 

It has four plant steroids: lupeol, cholesterol, campesterol, and β-sisosterol. Each of these reduces inflammation, and lupeol also acts as an analgesic and antiseptic.12 Also, Its components, like mannose-rich polysaccharide glucomannan and the growth hormone gibberellin, interact with the fibroblast's growth factor receptors to stimulate the cell's activity and proliferation. This, in turn, dramatically boosts the production of collagen following topical and oral Aloe vera therapy.13

Forms of Aloe Vera products

Products containing aloe vera are offered in a variety of formats, such as gels, creams, lotions, juices, and supplements. These products are utilized for many different things, including wound healing, skincare, and internal health. It promotes mucus secretion, raises intestinal peristalsis, and increases intestinal water content.1

Recommended dosage for immune support

In one experiment, mice given 150 µl of aloe gel daily were the only ones that showed stimulatory effects. Regardless of the daily dosage of aloe vera, feeding mice with the gel for 14 days increased the production of 2-mercaptoethanol + resistant, anti-SRBC 7 S (IgG) antibodies.15 The 2-mercaptoethanol serves as a physiological antioxidant by removing reactive oxygen species.

Potential side effects and precautions

Some studies reported a few minor side effects, like pain, discomfort, and the emergence of hypersensitive reactions. Nevertheless, a male patient who used the Aloe vera gel topically and orally developed papular and generalized eczematous dermatitis.16 It has also been established that herbal products, including dietary supplements, are frequently the cause of drug-induced liver damage. According to a recent report, consumers who frequently buy dietary/herbal supplements online without the guidance of a healthcare provider and who are unaware of drug-herb interactions and relevant warnings are responsible for 19% of drug-induced acute liver failure cases.17

Areas for future research

It has been discovered that aloe vera extracts reduce inflammatory reactions on the skin by controlling the expression of NF-κB. NF-κB is usually activated by moving from the cytoplasm to the nucleus, where it binds to particular DNA sequences called κB sites to either induce or repress target gene transcription. To validate these advantages, additional long-term data from human clinical trials are required.18

Summary  

Aloe vera juice is a good way to include aloe vera in your diet regularly to support your immune system. The anti-inflammatory qualities of aloe vera juice are well known, and they can aid in reducing inflammation and boosting immunity. Rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, it provides a natural means of boosting immunity.

References

  1. Sánchez M, González-Burgos E, Iglesias I, Gómez-Serranillos MP. Pharmacological update properties of aloe vera and its major active constituents. Molecules [Internet]. 2020 Mar 13 [cited 2024 Feb 7];25(6):1324. Available from: https://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/25/6/1324
  2. Gao Y, Kuok KI, Jin Y, Wang R. Biomedical applications of Aloe vera. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition [Internet]. 2019 Jun 27 [cited 2024 Feb 7];59(sup1):S244–56. Available from: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10408398.2018.1496320
  3. Shelton RM. Aloe vera: its chemical and therapeutic properties. Int J Dermatology [Internet]. 1991 Oct [cited 2024 Feb 7];30(10):679–83. Available from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-4362.1991.tb02607.x
  4. Mehrabi Z, Firouzbakhsh F, Rahimi-Mianji G, Paknejad H. Immunostimulatory effect of Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis) on non-specific immune response, immune gene expression, and experimental challenge with Saprolegnia parasitica in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). Aquaculture [Internet]. 2019 Mar 30 [cited 2024 Feb 7];503:330–8. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0044848618308470
  5. Rahmani AH, Aldebasi YH, Srikar S, Khan AA, Aly SM. Aloe vera: Potential candidate in health management via modulation of biological activities. Pharmacogn Rev [Internet]. 2015 [cited 2024 Feb 7];9(18):120–6. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4557234/
  6. Rahmani AH, Aldebasi YH, Srikar S, Khan AA, Aly SM. Aloe vera: Potential candidate in health management via modulation of biological activities. Pharmacogn Rev [Internet]. 2015 [cited 2024 Feb 7];9(18):120–6. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4557234/
  7. Kahramanoğlu İ, Chen C, Chen J, Wan C. Chemical constituents, antimicrobial activity, and food preservative characteristics of aloe vera gel. Agronomy [Internet]. 2019 Dec 2 [cited 2024 Feb 7];9(12):831. Available from: https://www.mdpi.com/2073-4395/9/12/831
  8. Aloe vera - an overview | sciencedirect topics [Internet]. [cited 2024 Feb 7]. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/aloe-vera
  9. Surjushe A, Vasani R, Saple DG. Aloe vera: a short review. Indian J Dermatol [Internet]. 2008 [cited 2024 Feb 7];53(4):163–6. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2763764/
  10. Surjushe A, Vasani R, Saple DG. Aloe vera: a short review. Indian J Dermatol [Internet]. 2008 [cited 2024 Feb 7];53(4):163–6. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2763764/
  11. Lobo V, Patil A, Phatak A, Chandra N. Free radicals, antioxidants and functional foods: Impact on human health. Pharmacogn Rev [Internet]. 2010 [cited 2024 Feb 7];4(8):118–26. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3249911/
  12. Chithra P, Sajithlal GB, Chandrakasan G. [No title found]. Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry [Internet]. 1998 [cited 2024 Feb 7];181(1/2):71–6. Available from: http://link.springer.com/10.1023/A:1006813510959
  13. Surjushe A, Vasani R, Saple DG. Aloe vera: a short review. Indian J Dermatol [Internet]. 2008 [cited 2024 Feb 8];53(4):163–6. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2763764/
  14. Bałan BJ, Niemcewicz M, Kocik J, Jung L, Skopińska-Różewska E, Skopiński P. Oral administration of Aloe vera gel, anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory herbal remedy, stimulates cell-mediated immunity and antibody production in a mouse model. Cent Eur J Immunol [Internet]. 2014 [cited 2024 Feb 8];39(2):125–30. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4440021/
  15. Morrow DM, Rapaport MJ, Strick RA. Hypersensitivity to aloe. Arch Dermatol. 1980 Sep;116(9):1064–5.
  16. Guo X, Mei N. Aloe vera: A review of toxicity and adverse clinical effects. J Environ Sci Health C Environ Carcinog Ecotoxicol Rev [Internet]. 2016 Apr 2 [cited 2024 Feb 8];34(2):77–96. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6349368/
  17. Wang F, Liu J, An Q, Wang Y, Yang Y, Huo T, et al. Aloe extracts inhibit skin inflammatory responses by regulating nf-κb, erk, and jnk signaling pathways in an lps-induced raw264. 7 macrophages model. CCID [Internet]. 2023 Jan 28 [cited 2024 Feb 8];16:267–78. Available from: https://www.dovepress.com/aloe-extracts-inhibit-skin-inflammatory-responses-by-regulating-nf-b-e-peer-reviewed-fulltext-article-CCID

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Philip has successfully combined my love of creating engaging healthcare tales with my passion for studying as a medical writer throughout my career as a student. As an undergraduate Biomedical Science Student, I have a solid grasp of medical language and concepts. My area of expertise is creating easily understood content for a variety of groups, including patients and medical professionals, by interpreting complex medical information. I have refined my medical writing abilities via thorough investigation, painstaking attention to detail, and a dedication to precision and lucidity. Whether it's writing interesting articles, thought-provoking blog entries, or instructional resources, my goal is to spread health literacy and provide readers with knowledge.

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