Much has been said and written about aloe. Those who believe that the health properties of aloe are remarkable and those who argue that this plant can even be toxic. The research we are talking about today finally brings clarity to this much debated topic and demonstrates, without a shadow of a doubt, that the gel extracted from aloe arborescens, a lesser known but more powerful sister of aloe vera, does not cause harm but on the contrary is beneficial for skin and brain, it counteracts hyperglycemia and inflammation. The research is available online in the journal Molecules thanks to the work of a team of Polish scientists (Pawlowicz et al, Molecules, 2022).
The aloe family
Aloe is a vast family of plants that includes more than 500 different species. The common feature of aloe plants is the gel contained in the pulp of the leaves. This gel can contain up to 99.5% of water, but it is the remaining part, albeit small, that has aroused the interest of science. In fact, more than 70 substances have been isolated, all potentially beneficial for health, such as phenolic compounds, polysaccharides, vitamins and minerals. The best known and most used aloe plant is certainly aloe vera, which is also characterized by larger and more gel-rich leaves. Precisely for this characteristic, aloe vera is the first choice for the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industry. However, there is also another very interesting species, with thinner leaves but, as it seems, even richer in active ingredients, aloe arborescens. Aloe arborescens has been studied less than aloe vera and for this reason the Polish researchers have developed the study conducted in the laboratory we are talking about today.
The properties of aloe arborescens
First, the researchers evaluated the degree of toxicity of the aloe arborescens gel extracted from three-year-old leaves. At this age, the plant is considered mature and capable of expressing its full potential in terms of active ingredients. Well, the aloe gel showed no trace of toxicity and the cells treated with this substance did not show DNA modifications. Once it was determined that aloe arborescens gel is non-toxic, the researchers tested its properties. What emerged is that the aloe gel exhibits a powerful anti-inflammatory action. In particular, it is able to inhibit an enzyme, hyaluronidase, involved in inflammatory processes. Not only that, the aloe gel also has antidiabetic properties, showing itself capable of inhibiting the action of alpha glucosidase, the enzyme responsible for the digestion of carbohydrates, more effectively than acarbose, a medicine commonly used in the case of type 2 diabetes. Scientists also had the opportunity to observe the neuroprotective action of the aloe gel. In fact, aloe arborescens gel has been shown to inhibit acetylcholinesterase and butyrylcholinesterase enzymes. The drugs currently in use against Alzheimer's are based precisely on their ability to inhibit the action of these enzymes, which have the task of degrading the neurotransmitter acetylcholine that carries the impulse to neurons. Finally, the aloe gel is antioxidant, useful in countering the damage of free radicals, and healing. In fact, the topical application of aloe arborescens gel has been shown to accelerate the healing processes in case of wounds and to be antibacterial, with an even greater action than aloe vera gel.