2011Aloe Vera by sazizaq


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                                                                                           National Institute of Environmental
                                                                                           Health Sciences NIH-HHS

Aloe Vera
What is Aloe?                                                                            Why would people consume
Aloe is a succulent plant widely                                                         drinks that have Aloe in them?
used in alternative medicine. There                                                      Product advertisements claim
are at least 420 different plant species                                                 the drinks can be used to cleanse
of Aloe. Aloe vera specifically refers                                                   the digestive system or relieve
to the Aloe barbadensis Miller plant,                                                    constipation.
which is the most common form
used in Aloe-based products.                                                             What makes Aloe act like a laxative?
                                                                                         An organic component in the outer
How is Aloe used?                                                                        leaf pulp of Aloe leaves, known as
Traditionally, the clear gel from the                                                    the latex, contains anthraquinones.
Aloe plant is rubbed on the skin as                                                      Aloin is an example of an
an ointment to treat wounds and                                                          anthraquinone found in the
burns. The green part of the leaf                                                        latex that may give the plant
can be made into a juice or dried                                                        its laxative qualities.
and taken orally as a laxative. Aloe
vera is used in many commercial                  The difference between decolorized      How much aloin is in products
products in various forms, including             and non-decolorized whole leaf          in the U.S. that may be consumed
drinks, concentrates, capsules,                  extracts is mostly in how the leaf      by the public?
powders, and as a flavoring.                     is processed or filtered. In many       There are very little data about
                                                 cases, manufacturers of oral            what the levels of aloin are in the
Why did the NTP study Aloe?                      products containing Aloe vera           consumer products. According to
The nomination to study Aloe                     use a charcoal filtration process to    published research, levels of aloin
vera came from the National                      decolorize and remove some of the       in most liquid products are less than
Cancer Institute, because of Aloe’s              components from the leaf, including     1 part per million (ppm); however,
widespread use and concern that                  anthraquinones. Anthraquinones act      levels in solid or semi-solid products
some components may cause cancer.                like laxatives. Some anthraquinones     may be 10-100 times higher.
The NTP studies on Aloe vera were                have previously been shown to be
conducted in collaboration with the              carcinogenic.
Food and Drug Administration’s
National Center for Toxicological                What if I use Aloe vera gel on my                      Aloe Vera
Research.                                        skin, will it cause me harm?
                                                 Applying Aloe vera gel on the skin       The two-year NTP study on consumption of
What did the NTP study find?                     is not likely to cause harm. Although    non-decolorized whole leaf extract of Aloe
The two-year NTP study of a                      these particular NTP studies only        vera found clear evidence of carcinogenic
non-decolorized whole leaf extract               looked at oral exposure to Aloe vera,    activity in male and female rats, based on
of Aloe vera given in an animal’s                other NTP studies examined the           tumors of the large intestine. From what
drinking water found clear evidence              effects of the gel on the skin and       we know right now, there is nothing that
of carcinogenic activity in male and             did not find a strong link between       would lead us to believe that these findings
female rats, based on tumors of the              Aloe vera in skin care products,         are not relevant to humans. However, more
large intestine. There was no evidence           sunlight, and the development            information, including how individuals use
of carcinogenic activity in mice.                of skin cancer. The results of those     different types of Aloe vera products, is
NTP did not conduct two-year                     skin studies were reported in NTP        needed to determine the potential risks
studies of ingestion of the Aloe vera            Technical Report 553: http:/  /ntp.      to humans.
gel or of the plant’s decolorized                niehs.nih.gov/ntp/htdocs/LT_rpts/
whole leaf extracts.                             TR553.pdf.

PO BOX 12233, MD K2-03
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709
Phone: 919.541.3345 • http://ntp.niehs.nih.gov
   Printed on recycled paper April 2011
                                                                               Based on what we know right now,
                                                                               there is nothing that would lead us
                                                                               to believe that this finding would
                                                                               not be relevant to humans.
                                                                               Do you have any idea what may
                                                                               be causing the tumors and the
                                                                               other effects?
                                                                               We suspect it may be the aloin, but
                                                                               we don’t know for sure. We hope to
                                                                               do more studies to determine what
                                                                               may be causing the tumors.
                                                                               I thought drinking Aloe products
How much aloin                          The NTP wanted to test an Aloe         was good for me. Should I stop
is in a typical drink?                  preparation that includes all          drinking Aloe?
This is not clear. Industry usually     components that may be in              That is a decision you might
processes the Aloe vera leaf to make    the products on the market.            want to make with your health
a decolorized whole leaf extract        The NTP study used a whole leaf        care provider. Like any personal
to remove aloin. Industry has a         extract of Aloe barbadensis Miller     decision, the more information
self-regulated upper limit standard     that did not undergo charcoal          you have the better. Currently,
of 10 ppm of aloin in orally ingested   filtration during processing. Many     manufacturers of these products
products, but there are no labeling     commercial producers of Aloe vera      are not required to label aloin
requirements for aloin content.         beverages use charcoal filtration      concentration in Aloe vera products.
                                        to reduce the levels of aloin in       If aloin is the cause of the tumors in
What are the adverse effects            their products.                        rats then, generally speaking, the
of excessive Aloe exposure
                                        Is Aloe vera regulated?                lower the concentration of aloin in
in humans?
                                                                               a product, the lower the possibility
More research is needed to answer       Aloe vera is a dietary supplement
                                                                               that it may cause harm. Tumors
this question. In rodents, it caused    and not a regulated drug. There is
                                                                               developed in animals that drank
intestinal tumors.                      no guarantee of strength, purity, or
                                                                               water containing 60 ppm of aloin
                                        safety of these products. Aloe vera
If you are concerned, have a                                                   daily for nearly their entire lifetime.
                                        is approved by the Food and Drug
medical condition, or are taking        Administration as a food additive
other drugs, herbs, or supplements,     for flavor.

                                                                                     Aloe vera
you should speak with your
physician before altering existing      What do the NTP rodent studies
treatments or starting any              mean for humans?
new treatment.                          The NTP rat studies give cause for
How similar are the doses of aloin      serious concern. Some questions
                                        that need to be answered before          Where can I find out more about
in the drinking water fed to the                                                 Aloe vera?
animals to those found in               their importance can be fully
Aloe vera products?                     appreciated include: 1) what             The NTP data and reports are available at:
                                        products are actually in the             http://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/NTP/About_NTP/
This is not clear, as there are no      market place, 2) what are the aloin      TRPanel/2011/April/DraftTR577.pdf
labeling requirements to list aloin     levels across a broad spectrum
content. The concentration of aloin     of products, and 3) what are the         National Center for Complementary and
in the water that the rodents drank     patterns of human exposure? There        Alternative Medicine
in the NTP study is similar to that     is not enough information currently
found in some Aloe vera products,       available to know how much Aloe
                                                                                 National Library of Medicine
but higher than in other products.      vera people are consuming or for
                                        how long.

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