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Aloe in Re-establishing Physiological Equilibrium as Ani-inflammatory and Immunomodulator

Dr. Indu Vaid

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Immunomodulating activity: Hart et al (1988, 1989, 1990) investigated the level at which the gel constituents of aloe vera exert their activity. They found that the high molecular mass fraction of an aqueous gel extract, when preincubated with human pooled serum, produced a depletion of classical and alternative pathway complement activity that was related to a consumption of complement.

Healing effect of aloe vera get when applied to infected wounds is by polysaccharides diffusing from the gel. The low molecular constituents of the aqueous gel extract were not involved in the modulation of complement activity. they inhibited the release of free oxygen radicals by activated human polymorphonuclear neutrophils. It was shown that the inhibitory effect of the diminished availability of intracellular free Ca 2+ ions. The beneficial effects of neutrophils, however, such as phagocytosis and intracellular killing of infectious microorganisms remained intact.
Acemannan is an important immunostimulant because it increases lymphocyte response to alloantigen, which could explain in part its capacity to abrogate viral infections in both animal and man. Immunomodulating and toxicologic evaluations of this polysaccharide have been recently reported.

Interesting studies have been done on the immunostimulant and anti-tumour properties of other Aloe species. Immunostimulant activity of partially purified extract from the leaves of Aloe vahombe, an endemic species of Madagascar protected mice against bacterial, parasitic and fungal infections. A polysaccharide fraction, mostly made up of glucose and mannose (in a ratio of 3:10, was separated and tested for its tumour reduction activity. The authors studied the effect on the development of experimental fibrosarcoma and melanoma in mice. Preliminary studies seem to indicate that the hydrosoluble fraction acts upon the non-specific response and could possibly stimulate the phagocyte activity of the peritoneal macrophages.

Growth inhibition of mouse methlycholanthrene-induced fibrosarcoma in ascites form by aloctin A, a glycoprotein from Aloe arborescence Mill., was evaluated. It showed a marked anti-tumour activity and was not directly cytotoxic.

The antimetastatic activity of aloe juice has been evaluated using different types of experimental tumours in mice and rats. It was found that such ‘Succus aloe’ treatment contributes to a reduction in tumour mass, metastatic foci and metastasis frequency at different stages of tumour progress without affecting major tumour growth.

Adverse Reactions and Contraindications
Adverse reaction to aloe occur mainly after chronic use of overdosage.

The alteration of electrolyte equlibrium with a loss of potassium could be responsible for a progressive paralysis of the intestinal musculature, with a drop in the laxative effect and the observed tendency of aloe to produce tolerance when used chronically.

A reversible pigmentation of the colonic mucosa (melanosis coli) may sometimes be observed. This disappears after four to twelve months when the administration of aloe is topped. Also, if the hydroxyanthracene derivatives are absorbed to some extent, their renal elimination may produce an orange (when the pH is acidic) or reddish to purple (when the pH is alkaline) pigmentation of the urine.

The stimulation of the large intestine may produce a reflex stimulation of the uterus. For this reason, aloe is contraindicated during pregnancy and menstruation. The use of aloe is also contraindicated in appendicitis and abdominal pain of unknown origin.

Overdosage of aloe may cause nephritis, gastritis, vomiting and diarrhoea with discharge of mucous and blood.
In contrast to its wound healing and anti-inflammatory properties, the topical application of aloe gel has been reported to cause some adverse reactions, such as contact and photo-dermatitis.

Aloes is contraindicated in pregnancy, menorrhagia and during the nursing period of mothers.

Scope for Research
Apart from the conventional uses of the drug, homoeopathic scientist may like to evaluate the drug for its anti-inflammatory and immunomodulating activity. Initial findings with 3x have given encouraging results.

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