The Aloe bitters contain anthraquinones, mainly aloin and alecin, as well as resins. Aloin is pharmacologically inactive, but when ingested it is converted by the bowel flora to aloe-emodin anthrone, which has primarily a laxative effect. As the aloin has to reach the colon before any effect can occur, it takes about 8 hours to work. A dose taken at bedtime therefore results in a bowel movement the next morning.
Many other therapeutic effects are claimed by purveyors of traditional preparations containing either the bitter sap or the bitter powder. One such indication was reserched by world-renowned Professor M C Botha, immunologist in Professor Chris Barnard’s heart transplant team, and ethno-botanist. The results of this work resulted in a patented product for use in the treatment of arthritis. The anti-inflammatory effects of orally administered aloin have been demonstrated in animal experiments.
An interesting advantage of this application of Aloe ferox bitters, is that the inactive aloin passes harmlessly through the stomach on the way to the colon leaving the stomach unaffected. Most of the anti-inflammatory drugs produced by the pharmaceutical industry can cause gastritis and stomach ulcers, making them unsuitable for treating arthritis n patients who have gastric ulcer problems.
Aloe ferox in particular. He patented a number of novel bioprocessing methods pertaining to Aloe ferox which have resulted in new products derived from this traditional medicinal plant. The gel from the leaf of the Aloe ferox differs from that of Aloe vera. This property has been used to advantage by South African producers of cosmetics and skincare products. The Gel has moisturising and soothing properties.
More interesting from the therapeutic perspective is the high-fibre powder produced from the Aloe ferox leaf. Professor Botha developed a method of removing the bitter sap from the leaf. The leaf can then be dried and milled into a powder. This powdered leaf has a number of beneficial properties when taken by mouth. It has a high dietary fibre content of 43%; one-third of this is soluble fibre and two-thirds is insoluble fibre. This makes it ideal as a fibre supplement for people on a typical Western diet. All commercially available fibre supplements are derived from grains such as wheat, oats and isphagula. These all contain phytic acid or phytates. The effect of the latter is to ‘chelat’ mineral ions in the gut. Effectively these fibre supplements rob the body of essential minerals such as calcium, iron and magnesium.
Aleo ferox leaf contains no phytic acid or phytates as it is a leaf and not a grain or seed. In addition the leaf contains significant amounts of natural calcium as well as iron, magnesium, zinc and other beneficial minerals. The net effect is that instead of depleting stores of essential minerals, the user of Aloe ferox fibre supplements intake of these minerals. Reserac has shown that daily intake of dietary fibre supplements can help to prevent most forms of colon disease.
Aloe ferox components Use
Whole leaf including bitters treatment of constipation
Whole leaf including bitters Treatment of arthritis
Whole leaf excluding bitters fibre supplement of regular bowl function
Leaf gel exluding insoluble components and bitter sap treatment of skin irritations insect bites and rashes.
1. Botha MC. Various unpublished lectures and presentations
2. Milton G. Nathaniel’s Nutmeg: Or the True and Incredible Adventrueres of the Spice Trader who changed the Course of History. London: Sceptre.
3. van Wyk B, van Oudshoorn B, Gericke N. Medicinal Plants of South Africa. Pretoria: Briza 1997.
4. Davies RH. Anti-arthritic activity of anthraquinones found in Aloe for padiatric medicine. JAMA 1986; 76 (2)
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