Potential Impact of Aloe Vera on AIDS
Housed in the leaves of the aloe vera plant is a treasure trove of vital nutrients and minerals beneficial to the human body. Long-used to soothe skin burns and dermatological diseases, aloe vera has antibacterial and antifungal properties. Evidence also shows aloe vera’s potential to boost the immune system. Consequently, over the past 20 years, a number of research studies have examined the effect of aloe vera on patients with HIV/AIDS.
AIDS, or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, is a chronic condition caused by the human immunodeficiency virus, HIV. HIV attacks the immune system and destroys the white blood cells that fortify against disease, slowly weakening the body and its ability to fight off dangerous infections. AIDS is a potentially life-threatening pandemic, affecting an estimated 33.2 million people worldwide. There is no cure for AIDS, but a variety of drugs and lifestyle changes are used to control and slow progression of the virus.
Aloe Vera Gel
The body has several mechanisms to protect the immune system and ward off infection through certain white blood cells and antibodies. For a person combating an immunodeficiency disease like HIV, anything to bolster these cells has the capacity to improve the body’s resistance to harmful infections. In a 1977 study on the chemical composition of aloe vera, it was found that aloe vera gel contains a substance that forms disease-fighting antibodies and stimulates white blood cells, called phagocytes. Research also showed aloe vera to possess antiviral polysaccharides, which enhance cell function. These preliminary findings led to more reports linking aloe vera to the treatment of AIDS.
Early Research treating AIDS with Aloe Vera
In 1988, a study by McDaniel and McAnalley, out of the University of Texas Health Science Center, tested the immune-boosting properties of aloe vera on eight AIDS patients. Over a 90-day period, consistent oral consumption revealed improvement in all eight cases, eliminating night sweats and sometimes alleviating diarrhea. The study also reported a decrease in infections with no adverse side effects. The results, when applied to every day living, gave two patients, previously unemployed because of the severity of their symptoms, the ability to return to work.
Further Research Aloe Vera Gel on AIDS
Nearly a decade later, homeopathic and naturopathic practitioner Wesley Calvin, conducted an open trial on 24 males suffering from AIDS. Over a 14-month period, patients were asked to drink 4-8 ounces of Fresh Frozen Aloe #1® Health Drink twice daily, along with antiretroviral therapy. From the original 24 subjects, the quality of life improved in 11 cases. The clinical findings indicated a lower risk of infection, reduction of dermal lesions and decreased viral loading. Consequently, the positive physical effects impacted both social and psychological health by reducing hospitalization, decreasing depression and maintaining body weight. As in earlier research studies, there was an absence of negative and toxic side effects. Two subjects continued use of Fresh Frozen Aloe #1® Health Drink for years later.
Though the clinical findings suggest potential therapeutic benefits of aloe vera on AIDS patients, it does not constitute a cure for the virus. However, these studies did produce positive findings when exposing aloe vera’s immune-building properties to immunodeficiency diseases.
One plausible contributor to the immune system benefits of aloe vera is it’s acemannan content. Acemannan is a phytonutrient in the aloe plant that is known to increase tumor necrosis factor, interferon, and interleukins, in humans. According to Wikipedia, “This compound has been known to have immunostimulant, antiviral, antineoplastic and gastrointestinal properties.”
Stepanova OS; Prudnik NZ; Solov’eva VP; Golovchenko GA; Svishchuk AA; Grin Erg BG; Dubkova OM: Chemical composition and biological activity of dry Aloe leaves. Fiziol Akt Veshchestva 9: 94-97, 1977.
McDaniel HR; McAnalley BH: Evaluation of Acemannan in the treatment of acquired immuno-deficiency syndrome (AIDS) patients. Scientific Poster Presentation, Texas Society of Pathologists, University of Texas Health Science Center, Galveston, Texas, 29-31 January, 1988.
Calvin, Wesley B.: Aloe #1 Therapeutic/ Adjunctive Use in HIV/AIDS Subjects; 1996.