Name: Aloe vera, Aloe barbadesis
Active Compounds: Polysaccharides, Aloin, Aloesin, Aloe-emodin
Goes well with: Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Turmeric (Curcumin)
Number of scientific references: 33
Level of Evidence: Level II What is this?
Note: Aloe vera helps protect the metabolic health and can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Only one human study has found that Aloe modestly protects and improves cognition in Alzheimer’s; more research is required to confirm its effectiveness.
Aloe vera is a unique plant; it grows in a dry environment but still derives enough moisture to pack in its large water storage tissue. I am trying to grow one, and my experience so far tells me that this plant likes bare minimum water supply.
Aloe vera is also known as Aloe barbadensis, and there are 400 species of Aloe belonging to the Liliaceae. It has a high-water content of 99-99.5%. The solid material comprises vitamins, minerals, enzymes, polysaccharides, phenols, organic acids etc.
Aloe vera gel contains polysaccharides which contain chains of glucose and mannose. Acemannan is one of the most important constituents of the Aloe gel. Other important secondary metabolites include Aloesin, aloin and Aloe emodin.
Aloe latex and gel are commonly used in pharmaceutical and cosmetic formulations respectively.
Aloe vera helps in Alzheimer’s disease by protecting cognitive function, improving metabolic health and immunity. Daily consumption of aloe vera gel or juice can boost antioxidant defences and aid in the prevention of Alzheimer’s.
5 Evidence-Based Benefits Of Aloe Vera In Alzheimer’s Prevention
There has been only one study in human that has found Aloe vera beneficial as an adjunct therapy in Alzheimer’s. However, the plant has other properties that can benefit in disease prevention.
1.Aloe vera may improve cognition in a few Alzheimer’s disease patients
The interest of utilising Aloe vera for Alzheimer’s arose from Lewis and colleagues’ study. Conventional medicines prescribed for Alzheimer’s reduce disease symptoms, but they may improve or worsen cognition.
Table of Contents
- 1 5 Evidence-Based Benefits Of Aloe Vera In Alzheimer’s Prevention
- 2 Dosage of Aloe vera For Alzheimer’s
- 3 Precautions with Aloe vera Use
- 4 Conclusion
Improved nutrition in the form of dietary supplements can be a viable strategy to protect cognition. On this premise, the researchers decided to investigate the benefits of aloe polymannose multi-nutrient complex on cognition and immune system functioning in Alzheimer’s.
Individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s were given four teaspoons of Aloe vera polymannose multi-nutrient complex every day. The study lasted for 12 months.
Significant improvement in cognition was observed at 9 and 12 months. 46% of the study population experienced a significant improvement in cognition at the end of 12 months.
But 23.1% showed no change and 30.8% experienced worsening of symptoms at the end of 12 months.
Immune system dysfunction is said to be one of the causative factors of Alzheimer’s disease. Aloe vera extract consumption reduced inflammatory parameters and favourably regulated the level of immune cells.
A few temporary side effects were observed. This is the only pilot study demonstrating positive effects of Aloe vera on Alzheimer’s.
Quick Gist: A study published in Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 2013 has demonstrated that daily supplementation with Aloe vera polymannose complex helped in improving cognitive function and immunity in a few Alzheimer’s disease patients. This is the only pilot study assessing the benefits of Aloe vera in the disease. Further research is warranted.
2.It protects the brain from amyloid beta toxicity
Amyloidogenesis is the process of formation and accumulation of amyloid beta protein in the brain. This process occurs in many brain disorders, and Alzheimer’s is one of the worst form of amyloidogenesis induced dementia.
Amyloid beta precursor protein leads to the formation of amyloid beta peptide which is misfolded and accumulated as plaque in the brain. This accumulation is neurotoxic- it leads to cell death and degeneration of the brain.
β-secretase-1 (BACE-1) is one of the enzymes that trigger the initial stages of amyloidogenesis. Various drugs are being developed to inhibit this enzyme, and they are referred to as BACE inhibitors.
In 2006, Gao et al. identified 8 compounds from Aloe that showed natural BACE inhibition property.
In 2008, researchers identified as many as 13 compounds from Aloe and related species that exerted significant BACE inhibition activity and also inhibited amyloid beta production.
In 2015, Clementi et al. demonstrated that Aloe extract protected brain cells from amyloid beta toxicity.
Aloe extracts reduced the potential of the cells to be oxidised and lowered the formation of harmful reactive oxygen species in the presence of amyloid beta. The extracts also protected mitochondrial function (mitochondria are energy producing units in the cell) and also improved cell survival.
Quick Gist: β-secretase ( BACE-1) is one of the enzymes that contribute to the formation of amyloid beta plaques which lead to dementia. Its inhibition can protect brain health and prevent Alzheimer’s.
Aloe vera contains active compounds that are natural BACE inhibitors and can aid in the inhibition of β-secretase enzyme and thus prevent dementia.
3.It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties
Lu et al. have proven that the anti-inflammatory action of Aloe polysaccharides can help initiate brain recovery in case of brain injury.
Aloe polysaccharides and flavonoids have proven antioxidant activity. Ozsoy et al. reported that aqueous extract of Aloe vera leaves contains antioxidants such as flavonoids, phenols, ascorbic acid, beta-carotene and alpha-tocopherol that can help strengthen antioxidant defences in degenerative brain diseases.
Oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction (mitochondria are energy producing units in the cell) is observed in Alzheimer’s disease. Aloe vera extracts are proven to have a protective effect on mitochondria in neurons. This property of Aloe can aid in the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases.
Quick Gist: Amyloid beta accumulation in Alzheimer’s triggers inflammation in the brain and reduces antioxidant defences. Aloe extracts have natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can help in protecting the brain and prevention of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.
4.It is a neuroprotective agent
Aloe vera’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant property contribute to its neuroprotective or brain protective property.
A study published in Phytotherapy Research, 2002 reported that long-term ingestion of aloe vera does not cause any side effects. Instead, it can aid in the prevention of age-related diseases.
In an animal study, Kaithwas et al. demonstrated that Aloe vera interacts with the cholinergic system ( this system interacts with neurotransmitter acetylcholine which is important for memory development and retrieval) to prevent toxin-induced memory impairment.
Excess secretion of certain neurotransmitters such as glutamate can cause neuronal cell death. This process is known as excitotoxicity.
An experimental study reveals that Aloe vera alone or in combination with Withania somnifera and Convolvulus pleurocarps can exert an antioxidant action and protect from excitotoxicity in the hippocampus (part of the brain dealing with memory retention).
Quick Gist: Various active compounds present in Aloe vera have brain protective properties. Pre-clinical studies indicate that they protect memory and also protect brain cells from toxicity. Further research in humans is required to ascertain their effectiveness.
5.Aloe vera protects metabolic health and reduces risk of brain disorders
The link between metabolic health and Alzheimer’s is receiving quite a bit of attention lately.
Metabolic syndrome comprises of many symptoms that indicate damaged metabolic health such as abnormal cholesterol and lipid levels, disturbances in blood pressure, excess body weight etc.
Recent studies have put forward a possibility that oxidative damage occurs before the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are visible, and occurrence of metabolic syndrome could be an indicator of such damage.
A recent study published in International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 2015 demonstrated that the presence of metabolic syndrome might hinder blood flow to the brain and increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
It was also observed that Alzheimer’s disease patients who were also affected by metabolic syndrome scored less on the mental health scale.
Researchers from Baylor College of Medicine, Texas, USA have proven that Aloe vera products improve various parameters of metabolic syndrome. Eight-week therapy with a proprietary formulation of aloe vera improved fasting blood sugar levels and insulin levels and also lowered cholesterol levels in individuals diagnosed with metabolic syndrome and prediabetes.
Insulin plays an important role in regulating metabolism and supporting cognitive processes like learning and memory. Insulin resistance or lack of response to insulin is identified as a major risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.
UP780 is a standardised preparation of Aloe vera that is rich in active compounds: aloesin and aloesinol. The experimental study suggests that this preparation improves insulin sensitivity and can help in normalising blood sugar levels.
Huseini et al. conducted this interesting study assessing the effect of aloe vera gel in type 2 diabetes. Their study involved patients who were not taking any anti-hyperlipidemic drugs (medicines used to lower lipid levels) and were resistant to glyburide and metformin (conventional anti-diabetes treatment).
These patients were asked to take 300mg aloe vera capsules every 12 hours in addition to the regular treatment. The study lasted for 12 months.
Aloe vera significantly lowered blood sugar, total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels. Researchers concluded that aloe vera could be safely used to reduce lipid and cholesterol levels in type 2 diabetes patients.
Aloe vera juice in combination with glibenclamide (anti-diabetes drug) is found to be better than glibenclamide alone for managing diabetes.
Diabetes can impair memory and cognition. An animal study demonstrated that Aloe vera and Withania somnifera helped in ameliorating diabetes-induced memory loss. They lowered blood sugar levels and protected the brain from oxidative damage. Further, the herbs were successful in improving memory and cognitive function.
Quick Gist: Disturbances in metabolic health can increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Such disturbances accelerate oxidative damage, affect insulin levels, impair blood flow to the brain and impair memory.
Aloe vera protects metabolic health. It benefits in metabolic syndrome and is a proven anti-diabetic agent. It lowers blood sugar and lipid levels, increases insulin sensitivity and protects from diabetes-induced memory impairment.
Dosage of Aloe vera For Alzheimer’s
There is no specific dose of Aloe vera prescribed for Alzheimer’s. The Aloe vera supplement used in the Alzheimer’s study was Aloe Polymannose Multi-Nutrient Complex. It included aloe powder containing more than 15% acetylated polymannose (BiAloe®). The study utilised a dose one tsp of Aloe Polymannose Multi-Nutrient Complex four times a day.
In human studies, a dose of 300-500mg Aloe vera gel capsules 1-2 times a day has been used to treat metabolic health related disorders. This dose may benefit in Alzheimer’s prevention. The capsules are prepared from standardised extracts UP780 and AC952.
If you are planning to use Aloe vera juice for Alzheimer’s prevention, you can consume about 20-30ml aloe vera juice mixed with other fruit juices.
Please consult a health practitioner before taking aloe vera supplements.
Precautions with Aloe vera Use
Studies utilising aloe vera standardised extracts have not reported any serious side effects.
In rare cases, it may cause allergic reactions. Aloe latex is used to treat constipation, but if taken in excess it may cause diarrhea and severe stomach cramps. If consuming fresh gel, please remove the aloe latex part (yellow in colour and present at the base of the leaf) before consuming it.
Aloin present in the plant contributes to its laxative properties, but there are some health concerns linked with this compound. Safety guidelines recommend state that aloin content in proprietary products should not be more than 50 ppm.
If you purchase commercial aloe juice or gel, ensure that it has the lowest concentrations of aloin. Please purchase aloe vera products from a trusted supplier.
Excess aloe latex may cause diarrhoea, cramps, muscle weakness, kidney issues, low potassium if taken in the long term.
Aloe has anti-platelet activity; avoid if taking blood thinners or if suffering from bleeding disorders.
Aloe latex should be avoided by pregnant and nursing women.
Aloe vera may have drug interactions with diabetes medication, digoxin and diuretics. Please consult a health practitioner before taking aloe vera supplements.
Aloe vera is considered as a superfood and research has proven its multiple health benefits that range from cardioprotection to healing of skin burns.
The plant is repeatedly proven to protect metabolic health in human studies. It is a clinically proven anti-diabetic agent. These properties of Aloe can aid in reducing risk factors for Alzheimer’s development.
It also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can help protect brain health. There has been only one study that demonstrates that high dose consumption of Aloe based product for 9-12 months improves cognitive function in Alzheimer’s
More research in the form of human studies to confirm it’s effectiveness and understand the mechanism behind its therapeutic action. Since there is limited research available on this, we can’t say that Aloe is the cure for Alzheimer’s; but yes the plant may help in Alzheimer’s prevention.
Regular consumption of Aloe vera juice or gel can benefit brain and metabolic health.