Aloe Vera, commonly known as barbadensis and ‘Gwar Patha or Ghrit Kumari’ in Hindi (and Sanskrit respectively) is a succulent or juicy plant species of the genus Aloe. It belongs to family Alliaceae. It grows up to 80-100 cm in height, matures in 4-6 years and survives for around 50 years under favourable conditions.
This succulent perennial herb has a triangular, sessile stem, shallow root system, and fleshy serrated, pea-green leaves arranged in a rosette of 30 - 50 cm length and 10 cm breadth at the base. The bright yellow tubular flowers are 25 - 35 cm in length and their axillary spikes and stamens are frequently projected beyond the perianth tube. The fruits contain many seeds. The gel inside leaves is clear, odourless, and tasteless and free of leaf skin or yellow parts. Aloe vera gel has immense medicinal value and so, finds use in a wide range of products.
What is the Botanical Name of Aloe Vera?
The botanical name of aloe vera is Aloe barbadensis miller. It belongs to the family of Liliaceae or Asphodelaceae. It is a shrubby, perennial and xerophytic plant and has originated from the Arabian peninsula.
What are the Active Ingredients in Aloe Vera Leaves?
The leaves of aloe vera have three layers. The outermost layer consists of 15 - 20 cells thick protective layer synthesizing carbohydrates and proteins. The major components include anthraquinones, chromones, polysaccharides, and enzymes. The elements present in the gel are Al, B, Ba, Ca, Fe, Mg, Na, P, Si etc.
The transverse section of leaf is made up of three layers and these are:
(A) Outer Protective Layer
(B) Middle Layer
(C) Colourless Inner Layer
Outer Protective Layer:
The pericyclic tubules in the outer layer contain a bitter yellow latex. In it, derivatives of hydroxyanthra-cene, anthraquinone and glycosides aloin A and B are found in the amount of 15-40%. Besides these, hydroxyanthrone, aloe- emodin-anthrone 10-C-glucoside and chrones are also present as the active components of the aloe.
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The bitter yellow layer contains anthraquinones and glycosides. The juice that is originated from cells of the pericycle and adjacent leaf parenchyma, flowing continuously from the cut leaf get dried with or without the help of heat and get solidified easily. But it should not be confused with Aloe Vera gel which is also the colourless mucilaginous gel which is obtained from the parenchymatous leaf cells. These parenchymatous cells contain carbohydrates, protein, lipids and amino acids along with vitamins, enzymes and other organic and inorganic compounds.
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The innermost layer contains water up to 99%, with glucomannans, amino acids, lipids, sterols and vitamins. The other main ingredients include vitamins, enzymes, minerals, sugars, lignin, saponins, salicylic acids, and amino acids. It also has numerous monosaccharide 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).
Chemical Composition of the Aloe Vera Gel
The fresh gel consists of water (99.1%) and mesophyll cells (0.9% dry matter), in 3 distinct fractions: cell wall, microparticles, and liquid gel (accounting for 16.2%, 0.7%, and 83.1% of dry pulp (w/w), respectively). Sugar component is mannose as mannose-6-phosphate. Overall, the 5 neutral sugars (i.e., arabinose, xylose, mannose, galactose, glucose) account for 69.2% of the total sugars in the gel. Mucopolysaccharides are mainly present as acemannan. The anthraquinone content is present below 50 ppm and this is the impurity from the leaf extract of aloe vera. Other ingredients include various amino acids, enzymes, and vitamins present in minute amount.
What are the Therapeutic Uses of Aloe Vera?
From keeping the body cool to healing wounds and burns, aloe vera or rather, aloe vera gel has numerous health benefits. Following are some of the top therapeutic values of aloe vera:
Wound Healing- Aloe Vera is used for the treatment of radiation burn & radiation ulcers.
Anti-Inflammatory Action- Sterols present in Aloe vera gel which are considered to reduce inflammation up to 37%, contains campesterol, β-sitosterol, lupeol & cholesterol which is considered to be anti-inflammatory in nature& helps in reducing inflammatory pain.
Moisturising & Anti-Aging Agent- Gel improves skin integrity and decreases acne, wrinkles also give a cooling effect and act as a moisturizer. Amino acids soften the skin cells & zinc helps to tighten the pores.
Antitumor Activity- Presence of glycoproteins have antitumor & antinuclear effects& increase proliferation of human dermal cells.
The active ingredients present in leaves have the power to soothe human life & health in many ways. Undoubtedly, it’s a gift of nature to human beings that are used extensively for cosmetic and medicinal applications. We can call it “Wonder Plant” for its numerous contributions.
1. What is Aloe Vera?
Ans. Aloe vera is a juicy plant used in alternative medicine. Around 420 number of plant species are popular in Indian medicine for the treatment of many conditions. The plant has gained immense popularity than other plants for its contribution to beauty, health and skincare and the medicinal value it possesses. The name Aloe was derived from the Arabic word “Alloeh”, means “shining bitter substance” and vera came from the Latin word “vera”, meaning “true”. For several years, it has been widely used in several cultures of Egypt, Greece, Mexico, India, China, and Japan.
2. Which Enzymes and Hormones are Present in Aloe Vera?
Enzymes: Aloe Vera contains enzymes called amylase, bradykinase, aliiase, alkaline phosphatase, peroxidase, catalase, cellulose, lipase, and carboxypeptidase. When directly applied to the skin enzymes work by reducing inflammation.
Hormones: The plant of aloe vera and the gel within contains hormones, such as gibberellins and auxins, which help in the faster healing of wounds. The hormones are also responsible for the anti-inflammatory properties as possessed by Aloe Vera.
3. Mention any 5 Benefits of Aloe Vera if Included in the Daily Routine?
Ans. The top five benefits of aloe vera are:
It is alkaline in nature. But the human body contains an acidic pH and is more liable to diseases. Thus it is important to maintain a balance between acidic and alkaline pH. Drinking aloe vera juice helps balance your body, and fights inflammation, colds, and a host of other issues.
It helps stop acid reflux as it has been proved to be a safe and effective treatment for reducing acid reflux symptoms.
It helps treat sunburns. Aloe vera is one of the options for effectively treating sunburns. It feels soothing on burnt skin and contains vitamins like B, B12, C, and E that helps the skin repair itself.
It’s a natural beauty product that can be used as a makeup primer, remover, moisturizer, and skin softener.
It has tons of vitamins in it which means that it can supply the daily dose of vitamin along with other additional supplements for our bodies.
4. How is Aloe Vera Used for Business Purposes?
Ans. This plant has significant medicinal value and hence, its gel and extracts are sold commercially all over the world. In between December 2008 and February 2009, a manufacturing unit in Udaipur district, Rajasthan produced about 500 litres of aloe vera juice. The state government later launched the processed and bottled juice for sale to the general public and tourists as a health drink. Local inhabitants and tribals who are the members of the Van Suraksha Evam Prabandhan Samiti in Madhya Pradesh are also earning handsome amounts by producing and selling aloe vera juice commercially. Besides, there are many cosmetics and healthcare brands that use aloe vera as the main ingredient of their products.