So can Aloe vera can cancer?
Let´s be clear: At CANCERactive we think no single compound is a ´cure´ for cancer.
However, Dr Lawrence Plaskett, vice-chair of the Nutritional Council in the UK has stated that, "It is amazing in view of all the positive indications which exist for all the anti-cancer effects of Aloe Vera that no medical studies have been initiated in human cancer".
The US Department of Agriculture has however approved Aloe for the treatment of soft tissue cancers in animals (1992) as well as feline leukaemia; and Aloe is approved as an important component in European AIDS therapy where it has a powerful effect on the immune system and complements certain drug therapies.
Aloe is a member of the lily family belonging to the group Xeroids, and grows in dry regions of Africa, Asia, Europe and America. There are 200 varieties of which four have nutritional value, the most common variety being Aloe Barbendis Miller.
It was favoured for the immediate treatment of burns, cuts, wounds, infections and even parasites
The usual debate is about the relative merits of the whole leaf or the gel. Some companies claim the inner leaf has the most benefits whilst others claim the outer leaf and rind are the crucial elements. Whatever the debate, Aloe is very well researched. In fact it has almost so many benefits it is easy to feel many of these are overclaims - but they are not!
People in the West started drinking Aloe gel in the late 70s as brands became available, with claims for nutritional, skin care and even weight loss benefits, It can also alkalise the body. However, recent years have seen biochemistry explain the various benefits of Aloe.
Polysaccharides and Glycoproteins - We have covered this group of compounds previously in ICON. In 1994 Gilman and Rodbell won a Nobel Prize for showing how G-proteins help cells send messages inside them. By 1999 Blobel had won one for showing how messages pass round the body and in 2001 Hartwell, Hunt and Nurse won one for showing how cell messages operate in growth, division and mistakes. Such signals can clean membranes and receptor site like the diabetes receptor site whilst others pass across membranes. Of particular importance is the way bacteria and viruses, for example bond to locations on membranes. The latter is inhibited by glycoproteins and polysaccharides.
Aloe vera fights inflammation, and may thus fight cancer
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The most potent potysaccharide in Aloe is Acetylated Mannose or Acemannan, which is used in European AIDS treatment, Dr Akira Yagi and team at Fukuyama have isolated a number of these polysaccharide, phenolic and chromone compounds and these are at the core of Aloes anti-viral, anti-bacterial and immune boosting powers. Large polysaccharide molecules from Aloe have been shown to produce Tumour Necrosis Factor in the body, shutting off the blood supply to tumours. Others increase Interferon and macrophage production and T-cell quantity. But in cancer patients T-cells look for clear distinguishing areas on cells to sort the good from the bad and normally only one in a thousand T-cells can actively spot a rogue cell. Aloe polysaccharides also appear to dramatically improve this ratio.
So it is quality, not just quantity, that improves!
Anti-inflammatory benefits - There are a number of active compounds which reduce inflammation and can thus help in conditions from arthritis to wound repair, acne and insect bites. Fatty Acids, like gamma-linoleic acid, reduce inflammation, allergic reactions, blood platelet aggregation and improve wound healing. Salicylic acid is commonly found as aspirin and since 1982 Nobel Prize winner Sir John Vanes work on cellular environments we have known this can control excess prostaglandin production along with other negative factors. Gibberlin, sterols and the amino acids phenylalanine and tryptophan are also involved in anti-inflammatory processes and wound healing.
Aloe can help blood and lymph circulation
Other Benefits - Certain enzymes (Bradykininases) break down Bradykinin, which is a peptide substance causing increased vascular permeability. Aloe can help blood and lymph circulation. In wound healing Aloe doesnt just inhibit acute inflammation (like steroids) but stimulates fibroblast growth to improve wound healing and block the spread of infection (Dr Robert Davis, University of Pennsylvania). Its content of vitamin C. E and zinc will help this process. Lignins can help detoxify the blood and intestine by binding chemically to fats, and finally anthraquinones (aloin, aloe-emodin, barbaloin) are cathartic.