These days due to lifestyle changes, improper nutrition and increase in toxins, more and more people have cancer. There is no known cure for cancer, but Aloe vera can help reduce the severity of the condition.

Cancer is a group of diseases characterized by abnormal cell growth. The cell’s growth is not inhibited, and large masses of cells are formed. These can be benign (do not spread to other parts of the body) or malignant (spread to other body parts).

Over 100 types of cancers affect humans.

The majority of the cancers are caused due to environmental factors, the remaining due to inherited genetics. Exposure to cancer-causing substances (carcinogens) is linked to several types of cancer.

Signs and symptoms include the growth of masses or ulcerates, abnormal bleeding, unexplained weight loss, prolonged cough, etc. depending on the type of cancer.

It can be prevented by avoiding tobacco consumption, improving your diet in nutrition, proper exercise and weight management and being sexually responsible.

It is usually managed by chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.

It has been observed that Aloe vera holds special qualities that can be really helpful in managing cancer. Let’s understand this magical medicinal herb better.

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What is Aloe vera?

Aloe vera is a medicinal herb that grows in tropical climates throughout the world. It can be found in many products such as skin lotions, beverages, ointments, etc. It has a whole array of uses and health benefits.

Aloe vera has a gel-like substance in its fleshy leaves that are used in many skin products for its properties in soothing burns and skin irritation.

In certain cases, Aloe vera is also used as an alternative medicine by scientists. Aloe vera has hormones such as gibberellins which help the skin to heal quickly.

It has been observed that Aloe vera also has anti-tumor properties. The means by which Aloe vera helps managing cancer would be discussed in the next section.

Proven benefits of Aloe Vera for Cancer

Aloe vera is considered by many, to be the most impressive and effective medicinal herb invented by nature. You will be surprised to learn about all the awesome ways it can help fight against cancer.

Aloe Vera Can Help in Cancer

1. Aloe vera helps boost the immune system

Aloe vera contains several very large polysaccharides (connected sugars) containing glucose and mannose. When released into the human bloodstream, these cause the release of certain substances from white blood cells (cells of the immune system) that activate the natural killer cells of the body.

Natural killer cells attack the cancer cells and kill them within 5 minutes, without affecting the normal cells of the body, unlike chemotherapy or radiation. They have the potential to destroy every last cancer cell.

Acemannan is a polysaccharide extracted from the Aloe vera leaf. It has been shown that acemannan stimulates the immune system to produce macrophages (a type of cell capable of engulfing bacteria and small cells) and interferons (Signaling proteins released during infection).

A few animal studies suggested that acemannan can stimulate the immune system to produce cancer-killing chemicals known as cytokines. Acemannan accelerates the destruction of cancer cells, increases the survival time and finally, results in far better recovery from extensive radiation and chemotherapy treatment.

Acemannan accelerates the destruction of cancer cells, increases the survival time and finally, results in far better recovery from extensive radiation and chemotherapy treatment.

Thus, Acemannan can be used as an effective adjunct to surgery and radiation for effective management of cancer.

Animal models suggest that Aloctin A present in the leaves of aloe plant ramps up the immune system and assists in killing cancer cells rather than directly killing them.

What does this mean?

Aloe vera contains certain polysaccharides and compounds like Acemannan and Aloe emodin which can help destroy cancer cells and stimulate the immune system to function more actively.

2. Aloe vera increases the efficacy of cancer therapy

Aloe vera improves the effectiveness of conventional cancer therapy drugs such as cisplatin.

In a study conducted on 240 patients, it was observed that immunomodulating substances such as present in aloe vera, can be successfully used to boost the efficacy and reduce the toxicity of cancer chemotherapy.

The study yielded results that confirmed that aloe vera could be associated with chemotherapy to increase its efficacy regarding tumor regression and survival rate.

A study was conducted on breast and cervical cancer patients to test the synergistic (additive & cooperative) effects of aloe vera with cisplatin (anti-cancer drug).

The cytotoxic effects (against cancer cells) of aloe vera crude extract (ACE) alone or in combination with cisplatin were observed.

It was observed that exposure of cancer cells to aloe vera extract resulted in significant loss of cell viability through apoptotic pathways (programmed cell death), observed by changes in the physical characteristics of the cell. This occurred in a time and dose-dependent fashion.

Aloe vera extracted downregulated expression of cyclin D1 (regulation of cell multiplication cycle), CYP 1A1 (metabolizes drugs) and increased the expression of Bax protein (cell death activator) and HeLa cells (used in cancer research).

It did not have any significant cytotoxic effects towards normal cells and can, therefore, be categorized as a safe chemoprotective agent.

Aloe-emodin, a compound present in aloe vera leaves, has been observed to enhance the radiation effects in radiotherapy and improves cell differentiation. It inhibited the proliferation of HeLa cells in a time and dose-dependent manner.

Aloe-emodin interferes in the cell cycle of a cell and prevents it from replicating, thus stopping the cancer cells from proliferating. It also enhanced the sensitivity of HeLa cells to radiation.

Overall, aloe-emodin inhibited the proliferation of cancer cells, affected their cell cycles, enhanced the radiosensitivity of cancer cells and improved their differentiation.

Studies have indicated that Pineal indole melatonin (MLT), a neurohormone, when administered along with aloe vera produces therapeutic effects.

It leads to stabilization of the disease and increased survival in patients with advanced solid tumours, for which no standard effective therapy is available.

What does this mean?

Aloe vera contains compounds such as emodin which increase the efficacy of cancer treatment by increasing the radiosensitivity of cancer cells and preventing them from proliferating. It increases blood circulation, thus improving the absorption and transport of anti-cancer drugs.

3. Aloe vera is a natural chemopreventive agent

Drugs or compounds that interfere with the progress of cancer are known as cancer chemopreventive agents. They can be used to inhibit, delay or reverse carcinogenesis.

A study was conducted to examine the effect of processed aloe vera gel on colon cancer.

It was observed that oral administration of aloe vera gel significantly reduced proliferation of colonic adenomas (glandular cancer) and adenocarcinoma (malignant glandular cancer) to 80% and 60% respectively.

It was seen that aloe vera gel reduced the activation of nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kB). It increases the expression of caudal-related transcription factor 2, which is a tumour suppressor in colorectal cancer.

PAG suppresses colitis-related colon carcinogenesis by inhibiting inflammation and cell cycle progression in the colon.

Obesity has been considered an important risk factor for several cancers including colorectal cancer. Aloe vera gel supercritical CO2 extract contains five phytosterols that reduce visceral fat accumulation and influence the metabolism of glucose and lipids in animal model studies.

The study focused on examining the effects of aloe vera extract on intestinal polyp formation. The results indicated that aloe vera reduced large sized intestinal polyps and enhanced reduction in plasma adiponectin (a protein hormone released from fat cells that modulate metabolic processes) levels.

What does this mean?

Aloe vera interferes with the progression of cancer, delays or reverses carcinogenesis.

It is a chemoprotective agent and suppresses colorectal cancer, adenoma, and adenocarcinoma. It also reduces cancer risk factors such as visceral fat and obesity.

4. Aloe vera has anti-metastatic properties

A tumour can be benign (do not spread to other parts of the body) or malignant (spread to other body parts). Malignant tumors can form secondary growths at a distance from the primary site of cancer and are highly fatal.

Aloe vera prevents the tumors from metastasizing (spreading), by blocking their proliferation and shrinking them.

Acemannan is observed to have antitumor activities. It can cause shrinkage in tumor size. A few animal studies suggested that acemannan can stimulate the immune system to produce cancer-killing chemicals known as cytokines.

It also increases the cell’s production of nitric oxide (NO), which is an anti cancer chemical strongly associated with shrinking of tumors.

Acemannan accelerates the destruction of cancer cells, increases the survival time and finally, results in far better recovery from extensive radiation and chemotherapy treatment.

Aloe-emodin, a compound present in aloe vera leaves, has a specific anti neuroectodermal tumor (tumour of the nervous system) activity. Animal studies demonstrated the action of aloe-emodin on neuroectodermal tumours. It showed significant cytotoxic mechanisms without any appreciable toxic effects.

A study was conducted to analyze the effect of Aloe-emodin on invasive and metastatic abilities of human metastatic breast cancer cells.

After 24 hours treatment, aloe-emodin significantly inhibited the migration of metastatic cells. The number and volume of metastatic lung nodules were decreased as compared to control group.

Aloe emodin inhibits the capabilities of invasion and migration of metastatic cells.

Photodynamic therapy is a mild clinical therapy which involves the use of photosensitizers (PSs) located in target cells and then irradiated by the corresponding wavelength. This generates a selective cytotoxicity against target cancer cells without harming other cells.

Aloe emodin has been observed to be an effective photosensitizer. Photo-toxicity induced by aloe emodin in breast cancer cells was investigated.

There was a drastic depression in cell proliferation after photodynamic treatment with various concentrations of aloe emodin and light doses.

Changes in cell death were observed and linked to cellular pathways. The capacity of adhesion, migration, and invasion of breast cells was significantly inhibited.

Aloe emodin successfully suppressed cancer developed in breast cancer cells and can be used as a potential effective photosensitizer.

What does this mean?

Aloe vera possessed compounds such as acemannan and known as aloe emodin which has anti-metastatic properties. They can cause shrinkage in tumor size, reduce mobility, adhesion and proliferation of cancer cells.

5. Aloe vera helps soothe burns and inflammation caused by radiotherapy and chemotherapy

It has been reported that Aloe vera gel has a protective effect against radiation damage to the skin. Aloe contains 75 active compounds, including vitamins, enzymes, minerals, sugars, etc. These compounds help in reducing pain and inflammation.

Aloe vera helps skin rejuvenation by enhancing collagen (gives skin elasticity and strength while replacing dead skin cells) and hyaluronic acid (helps soothe burns). The increase in collagen production makes skin more elastic and flexible. Thus, helping in soothing skin ailments.

Aloe can act as an antipruritic. Antipruritics are substances that help in itch relief or prevention. It also acts as a great astringent as it possesses a great capacity to contract body tissues. These properties help reduce bleeding from minor abrasions.

Aloe vera reduces the production of prostaglandin, a lipid compounds which causes inflammation, thus reducing the chances of inflammation to occur after radiotherapy.

It also helps increase the healing rate of skin burns. In one study, burn sites treated using Aloe gel healed in 16 days as compared to the 19 days healing time taken for sites treated with normal medicine.

On the other hand, some studies showed that aloe showed delayed healing for some specific types of burns. It should never be applied to an open wound.

Acute radiation proctitis (inflammation of rectum) is a common side effect of radiotherapy. Up to 50% of patients being treated with radiotherapy suffer from this condition.

Aloe vera has been observed to successfully treat acute radiation proctitis induced by radiotherapy of the pelvic area.

In a human clinical trial consisting of 20 subjects suffering from radiation side effects like rectal bleeding, rectal pain, diarrhea, etc. aloe vera ointment reduced radiation proctitis.

Antioxidants like VitA and VitC, present in aloe vera, have been shown to successfully and sustainably treat chronic radiation proctitis in radiotherapy patients. These act as scavengers, reducing oxidative stress (caused by the inability of the body to detoxify toxins) and removing free radicals.

Bleeding resolved in 4 of 11 patients, diarrhea was relieved in 8 of 16 patients and lifestyle improved in 13 patients. Seven patients reported returning back to normal. After one year, all the patients reported a significant improvement in their symptoms.

Aloe vera helps prevent and soothe radiation-induced dermatitis ( a group of diseases which cause inflammation of the skin).

A study was conducted in which patients starting radiotherapy treatment for head, neck, and breast cancers were given aloe vera gel to apply on one-half of the irradiated area and for the other half, no medicine was supposed to be used.

The grade of dermatitis was recorded for each patient weekly until four weeks after the end of radiotherapy.

By week 5 of radiotherapy, it was observed that the side treated with aloe vera showed slower dermatitis progression as compared to the untreated side. But the difference was not very significant or conclusive.

In many studies, aloe vera has displayed no significant effect on people with radiation dermatitis.

However, aloe vera did not cause any complications and can be used as an adjunct with normal medicines to boost skin health.

What does this mean?

Aloe vera can help reduce skin inflammation and burns caused by radiotherapy in cancer patients. It can be used to improve skin health, elasticity and healing period and also improves the general lifestyle of cancer patients.

6. Detoxification and Prevent Cancer Occurrence

Aloe vera consists of more than 75 different active compounds including polyphenols which can act as natural scavengers and eliminate toxins.

Free radicals are formed when a molecule either gains or loses an electron. These can cause oxidation of cells and lead to their degradation. In high concentrations, free radicals can cause toxicity in the body.

The damage caused by free radicals to the DNA may play a role in the development of cancer.

These free radicals are produced during radiotherapy as well, and a misbalance of them in the body can turn normal cells into carcinogenic cells.

An antioxidant is a substance that interacts with and neutralizes free radicals thereby preventing them from causing oxidative damage.

Free radicals are more abundantly present in the colon, and any infection can decrease the antioxidant capacity of the colon, thus making it more susceptible to oxidative damage.

Aloe vera possesses antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, polyphenols, etc., which act as scavengers and remove the free radicals and toxins from the body.

It is loaded with amino acids, vitamins, and minerals and is one of the most effective natural cleansers. These compounds detoxify the colon and reduce the formation of free radicals in the digestive tract.

These antioxidants can also help in reducing inflammation and preventing cancers due to ulcerative colitis.

Studies have discovered that an aloe fermentation product can be used as a functional beverage to guard human gastrointestinal health.

Aloe vera amplifies the antioxidant effects of vitamins. It makes VitC and VitE works better. This is due to the property aloe vera of enhancing blood quality and transportation throughout the body.

Aloe vera has also seen to improve the effects of anti cancer drugs due to the same reason.

What does this mean?

Aloe vera enriches the body with antioxidants and improves the antioxidant capacity of the antioxidants already present in the body. These properties help in detoxification and protection of the body against cancer causing free radicals.

7. Aloe vera reduces risk factors for developing cancer

Polysaccharides in aloe vera such as Acemannan can help cure numerous digestive disorders and ulcers, including ulcerative colitis (inflammation of the large intestine).

People suffering from IBD, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease (a type of IBD) have been associated with an increased risk of developing cancer of the rectum and large intestine (colorectal cancer).

Aloe vera shows antibacterial properties against dangerous bacteria that can make the gastrointestinal tract susceptible to infections and consequent ulceration.

About 3.5% cancers in men and 9.5% cancers in women are due to obesity.
Fat cells produce an excess amount of estrogen, overproduction of which is linked with increased risks of breast, ovarian and some other cancers.

Obese people have chronic low-level inflammation, which can over time cause DNA damage that leads to cancer. Obesity causes a metabolic imbalance which leads to increase in insulin levels, high levels of which may promote the development of kidney, colon and prostate cancers.

Aloe vera contains phytosterols (plant derived cholesterols) which have been proven to act against obesity by modulating glucose and lipid metabolism. They also reduce visceral fat.

Aloe vera prevents the food to be stored as fat and leads to burning of body fat. It induces significant weight loss due to the presence of aloe-emodin and polyphenols by controlling insulin resistance.

It helps counteract the deficiency of antioxidants and increase the number of free radicals in obese individuals by supplying and boosting the effects of antioxidants.

Aloe vera possesses compounds that help treat obesity, maintain proper metabolism and lower cholesterol, thus reducing the risk of various cancers.

What does this mean?

Aloe vera reduces cancer risk factors such as Inflammatory Bowel Diseases and obesity. Thus, it helps prevent cancer.

Research Study – Aloe and Chemotherapy

According to research conducted in the U.S. by the National Cancer Institute, breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women after skin cancer.

The cervix is the lower, narrow end of the uterus. It leads from the uterus to the vagina (birth canal). Cervical cancer develops from the cervix.

The two types of cervical cancer are squamous cell carcinoma (develops in the thin flat cells that line the cervix) and adenocarcinoma (develops in cells of the cervix that make mucous and other fluids). It can usually be cured if detected and treated in the early stages.

What happened in the study?

Scientists in this research study worked to determine the cytotoxic potential of Aloe Vera extracts, alone or in combination with commonly used chemotherapy agent Cisplatin, inhuman Breast cancer cells (MCF-7) and Cervical cancer cells (HeLa).

The study involved various tests like cell cycle analysis, Nuclear morphological changes and flow cytometry in order to evaluate the anti-proliferative activity of Aloe Vera Crude Extracts (ALOE VERA EXTRACT), alone or in combination with cisplatin on human breast cancer cells, cervical cancer cells and lymphocytes (isolated from healthy nonsmoking donors.

What were the results of the study?

According to the results obtained:

Aloe vera extract showed cytotoxic activity (creating toxic conditions that kill cells) on the cancer-causing cells. However, no cytotoxic activity was observed on lymphocytes that were isolated from healthy donors indicating the safe toxic property of aloe vera extract.

Another important result was that aloe vera extract induced cell death in the cancer-causing cells. The untreated cells were compared with the aloe vera extract-treated cells.

Various changes in the cell structure were also observed in cancer cells that were treated with Aloe vera extract.

Aloe vera also arrested the cancerous cells in various cell cycle phases thus preventing them from growing.

When the effect of Aloe vera extract is determined in combination with Cisplatin they work synergistically to inhibit the growth of cancer-causing cells.

How did this occur?

Aloe Vera contains various chemical compounds that contribute to its anti-cancer properties. Aloe Vera exhibits anti-tumor activity, which may be due to direct or indirect effects.

The indirect effect of Aloe Vera is due to stimulation of the immune system whereas the direct effect is exhibited by anthraquinones (these are organic phenolic compounds found in plants and are known to exhibit anticancer activity.

Apart from antraquinines, Aloin is another derivative of Aloe Vera that is found to be carcinogenic in nature. Aloin inhibits the growth of tumor hence serving as a potential drug candidate in the prevention of cancer.

Cisplatin is known to have various anticancer properties. However, according to some research studies cisplatin causes toxicity in the kidney when administered in cancer patients.

Which in turn may lead to other problems like electrolyte imbalance etc.

Prokindin is an ingredient found in Aloe Vera that can reduce cisplatin nephrotoxicity.

An experiment conducted to confirm the action of this Aloe Vera derivative revealed that Prokindin inhibited the nephrotoxicity of cisplatin without affecting its anti-cancer activity.

The results thus confirmed that using
Aloe Vera overcomes the side effects of cisplastin.

What does this mean?

All the results obtained lead us to the conclusion that Aloe Vera may be used as an effective anti-cancer agent and in increasing the efficacy of conventional drugs like Cisplatin. This promotes the development of more and more naturally occurring plant sources that can serve as novel agents in cancer therapy.

Read the paper at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25854386

Research Study – Aloe Vera Extracts & Colon Cancer

Colorectal Aberrant Crypt Fociis a condition with clusters of abnormally large glands on the mucosal surface of the human colon. It is considered to be one of the early symptoms of colon cancer.

Azoxymethane is a common inducer of Aberrant Crypt Foci.

What happened in the study?

The study examined the effects of Aloe vera gel powder (AVGP) and extract (AVGE) on colorectal Aberrant Crypt Foci in an animal model. The treatment consisted of various concentrations of aloe vera gel.

Tests were conducted to assess the number of colon polyps, size, and antioxidant status.

What were the results of the study?

It was found that there was no change in the body weight either of the groups. No change in food consumption was observed.

It was clearly observed that a high number of aberrant crypt foci were present in High-Fat Diet than Normal Diet group.

Increased concentration of aloe vera extract brought a better decrease in number and size of colon polyps.

How does this occur?

Aloe-sterols is the bioactive molecules in Aloe vera. Commonly identified aloe-sterol or

Commonly identified aloe-sterol or phyto-sterols are, 24-methylene-cycloartano,l 24-methyl-lophenol, cycloartanol,24-ethyl-lophenol, and lophenol.  Lophenol and

Lophenol and Cycloartanol have found to be effective in reducing blood glucose level and lowering of lipids by accelerating breakdown of fatty acid and enhancing fatty acid oxidation. Aloe vera has remarkable potential in treating cancer. Aloin, an anthraquinone inhibits secretion of vascular endothelial growth factors in cancer

Aloe vera has remarkable potential in treating cancer. Aloin, an anthraquinone inhibits secretion of vascular endothelial growth factors in cancer cells.

Similarly, Aloe-emodin also acts as chemo-preventive by inhibiting the proliferation activity of the tumor cells. Aloe and Aloin inhibit the expression ofCYP2E1 and increases the level of phase II enzyme glutathione S-transferase in the liver. This lead to

This lead to a reduction of DNA adduct. DNA adduct is cancer-causing chemical attached to DNA segment which can initiate tumor formation.  Azoxymethane is activated by the higher level CYP2E1.

Due to the reduction in CYP2E1 level, Azoxymethane can’t be triggered. Reduction in DNA adduct also inhibits Aberrant Crypt Foci which led to inhibition of cell proliferation in the colon.

What does this mean?

Aloe vera acts as chemo-preventive against colorectal cancer and is helpful in initial stages. Aloe-sterols especially Lophenol and cycloartanol mainly suppress the formation of Aberrant Crypt Foci.

Inhibition of cell proliferation in colonic mucosa by these aloe-sterols protects the colon cancer at early stage.

This implies the appropriate concentration of Lophenol and cycloartanol can be included in drugs used for colon cancer as it has chemo-preventive activity.

The people who are prone to colon cancer or people with colon cancer genes should consume Aloe vera regularly.

Read the full study at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25684508

The dosage of aloe vera for cancer

The normal recommended dosage for aloe fractions is 300 mg twice daily. There is no evidence to suggest that it is the most suitable dose but benefits were observed at this dosage.

Aloe gel is most likely safe when applied to the skin. Latex is likely unsafe taken in high doses. It is advised to use freshly obtained aloe leaf gel. It is not to be applied to open wounds and cleaning the affected area before applying is advised.

The daily dosage of Aloe life juice concentrate is 1 ounce or 2 tbsp, best when taken before meals.

It is not advised to consume aloe vera in large doses. There is no prescribed dosage, and it is best to consult a health practitioner before consumption.

Precautions

Concentrated aloe fractions stimulate increased bowel function, and it is recommended to start dosage slowly and increase your intake gradually to avoid intestinal cramping.

Diarrhea has been reported with oral use of aloe latex because it is a laxative. It may also reduce absorption and effectiveness of some oral drugs.

People with diabetes taking glucose-lowering medication should be cautious because aloe may lower blood glucose levels.

Pregnant women are advised not to take aloe latex unless advised by a registered health practitioner.

There have been a few reports of liver problems in individuals taking aloe leaf extract, yet this is uncommon.

Consult a health practitioner before taking larger supplements.

Conclusion

Aloe vera is considered to be one of the best natural medicinal herbs. It has no significant side effects, unlike the many medications used to treat cancer. It helps in soothing the side effects caused by radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

It boosts the immune system and kills cancer cells while protecting the normal cells of the body. Acemannan found in aloe extract has immunoprotective effects.

Active compounds present in aloe vera help soothe inflammation and burns caused by radiotherapy. Antioxidants remove free radicals and prevent cancer formation.

Along with proper lifestyle changes and exercise it can help decrease body weight and fight obesity, thus decreasing the chances of cancer. It improves the general well being of the body.

Aloe vera can be used as an add-on therapy in addition to usual cancer medication. Consulting a health practitioner and consuming proper dosage can lead to significant progress in treating cancer.

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