Sep 15, 2019
Aloe vera is a stemless or very short-stemmed succulent plant growing to 60–100 cm tall, spreading by offsets. The leaves are thick and fleshy, green to grey-green, with some varieties showing white flecks on their upper and lower stem surfaces.The margin of the leaf is serrated and has small white teeth. The flowers are produced in summer on a spike up to 90 cm tall, each flower being pendulous, with a yellow tubular corolla 2–3 cm long. Like other Aloe species, Aloe vera forms arbuscular mycorrhiza, a symbiosis that allows the plant better access to mineral nutrients in soil.Aloe vera leaves contain phytochemicals under study for possible bioactivity, such as acetylated mannans, polymannans, anthraquinone C-glycosides, anthrones, other anthraquinones, such as emodin, and various lectins.
Aloin, also know as barbaloin, is a bitter, yellow-brown colored compound noted in the exudate of at least 68 Aloe species at levels from 0.1 to 6.6% of leaf dry weight, and in another 17 species at indeterminate levels. When dried, it has been used as a bittering agent. Aloe is listed in federal regulations as a natural substance that may be " safely used in food" when used " in the minimum quantity required to produce their intended physical or technical effect and in accordance with all the principles of good manufacturing practice." This food application is generally limited to use in quite small quantities as a flavoring in alcoholic beverages and may usually be identified only as a "natural flavor".
The active constituents for aloe's laxative effect are known as anthraquinone glycosides, which are converted by intestinal bacteria into aglycones. The active compounds responsible for aloe's wound healing properties are less well-described but are likely a combination of several saccharide molecules. When the leaf is consumed, the high fiber content of the plant has been shown to exert beneficial effects on cardiac disease risk factors by reducing blood levels of cholesterol, triglycerides and glucose.