Aloe Vera, commonly known as ‘Gwar Patha or Ghrit Kumari’ in Hindi (and Sanskrit respectively) is a succulent or juicy plant species of the genus Aloe. It grows up to 80-100 cm in height, matures in 4-6 years and survives for around 25 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, 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.
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.
The leaves of aloe vera have three layers. The outermost layer consists of 15 - 20 cells thick protective layer synthesising 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 the leaf is made up of three layers and are
Outer Protective Layer
Colourless Inner 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 gets dried with or without the help of heat and gets solidified easily. But it should not be confused with aloe vera gel which is also the colourless mucilaginous gel that is obtained from the parenchymatous leaf cells. These parenchymatous cells contain carbohydrates, proteins, 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 monosaccharides 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).
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). The 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 amounts.
From keeping the body cool to healing wounds and burns, aloe vera or rather, aloe vera gel has numerous health benefits. FDA approved that Aloe vera can be used in food as flavoring, herbal remedies, cosmetics, and food supplements. However, studies show that the benefits of aloe vera are endless. Following are some of the top therapeutic values of aloe vera:
Wound Healing- Aloe Vera is used for the treatment of radiation burns & radiation ulcers.
Anti-Inflammatory Action- Sterols present in Aloe vera gel which are considered to reduce inflammation up to 37%, contain campesterol, β-sitosterol, lupeol & cholesterol which are considered to be anti-inflammatory in nature and help in reducing inflammatory pain.
Moisturising and Anti-Aging Agent- Gel improves skin integrity and decreases acne, wrinkles. It also gives a cooling effect and acts as a moisturizer. Amino acids soften the skin cells & zinc helps to tighten the pores.
Antitumor Activity- The presence of glycoproteins has antitumor & antinuclear effects and increases the proliferation of human dermal cells.
Maintaining Oral Hygiene- Reports show that aloe vera in tooth gels is very effective and helps to fight cavities. In some cases, aloe vera gels are even better than commercial toothpaste to control oral bacteria.
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 is used extensively for cosmetic and medicinal applications. We can call it “Wonder Plant” for its numerous contributions.
1. What is Aloe Vera?
Aloe vera is a juicy plant used in alternative medicine. Around 420 species of aloe vera are popular in Indian medicine for the treatment of many conditions. The plant has gained immense popularity over 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”, meaning “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?
Aloe Vera contains enzymes called amylase, bradykinesia, aliiase, alkaline phosphatase, peroxidase, catalase, cellulase, lipase, and carboxypeptidase. When directly applied to the skin enzymes work by reducing inflammation.
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?
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 help 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 vitamins along with other additional supplements for our bodies.
4. How is Aloe Vera Used for Business Purposes?
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 liters 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 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.
5. What is the botanical name of aloe vera?
The botanical name of aloe vera is Aloe barbadensis miller.
6. Can aloe vera be grown organically?
In most cases, aloe vera can be grown organically. There are many countries that have their own organic standards coupled with sealed-based programs. Aloe vera is grown without using pesticides since it has some natural predators as long as growers stick to the organic standards. Hence, there is no such reason for not growing aloe vera organically.