Clinical Trials

CAMPHOR Camphor (Cinnamomum camphora [Latin]) For thousands of years, camphor has been prized for its bacteria-fighting and preservative powers. Indian Ayurvedic medicine has used camphor as an antibacterial agent for over 5,000 years, and Africans have used camphor bark to fight fever and malaria and as an antiseptic. Today camphor is still used to treat colds and help fight bacteria.

Research has shown that camphor does kill bacteria and fight infection, although it is not recommended for treatment of open wounds, as it can cause irritation. Camphor oil was traditionally massaged into sprains and sore muscles and joints for pain relief, and most modern herbalists agree that this is the best use for pure camphor oil. Camphor has been shown to help ease inflammation by acting as a counterirritant and numbing the peripheral sensory nerves. It also warms the skin and is easily absorbed when applied topically, making it a particularly effective treatment for arthritic and rheumatic joint pain. Camphor oil preparations have been used both internally and externally for a variety of ailments, ranging from respiratory problems to rheumatic pain and improving capillary circulation

The components of Aloe Vera can be divided into the following groups:

  1. Vitamins It is rich in all vitamins excluding Vitamin D, especially the antioxidant Vitamins A (beta-carotene), C and E and even contains a trace of Vit. B12, one of the very few plant sources of this vitamin. This is important for vegetarians and vegans.
  2. Enzymes Several different types of these biochemical catalysts when taken orally aid digestion by breaking down fat and sugars. One in particular, Bradykinase, helps to reduce excessive inflammation when applied to the skin topically and therefore reduces pain, whereas others help digest any dead tissues in wounds. Lipases and proteases which break down foods and aid digestion are present.
  3. Minerals Calcium, Sodium Potassium, Manganese, Magnesium, Copper, Zinc, Chromium and the anti-oxidant Selenium. Although minerals and trace elements are only needed in very small quantities, they are essential for the proper functioning of various enzyme systems in different metabolic pathways.
  4. Sugars These are derived from the mucilage layer of the plant which surrounds the inner gel. and are known as mucopolysaccharides, which enhance the immune system and help to detoxify. Aloe Vera contains both mono and polysaccharides, but the most important are the long chain sugars involving glucose and mannose or the gluco-mannans which I have already referred to. These sugars are ingested whole from the gut, not broken down like other sugars, and appear in the bloodstream in exactly the same form. This process is known as pinocytosis. Once in the blood stream they are able to exert their immuno-regulating effect. Some of these polysaccharides are not absorbed but stick to certain cells lining the gut and form a barrier preventing absorption of unwanted material so helping to prevent a “leaking” gut syndrome. In topical preparations the sugars are also the main moisturisers.
  5. Anthraquinones There are twelve of these Phenolic compounds which are found exclusively in the plant sap. In small quantities, when they do not exert their purgative effect, they aid absorption from the gastro-intestinal tract and have anti-microbial and pain killing effects. In some commercial health drinks, the anthraquinones are removed because of the fear of producing abdominal pain or diarrhoea, but I feel that they are actually beneficial in small amounts. The important ones, Aloin and Emodin, act as painkillers. They also function as anti-bacterials and anti-virals.
  6. Lignin This in itself is an inert substance but when included in topical preparations it endows Aloe Vera with a singular penetrative effect so the other ingredients are absorbed into the skin.
  7. Saponins These soapy substances form about 3% of the Aloe Vera gel and are capable of cleansing, having antiseptic properties. These act powerfully as anti-microbials against bacteria, viruses, fungi and yeasts.
  8. Fatty Acids Cholesterol, Campesterol, b. Sisosterol and Lupeol. These four plant steroids are important anti-inflammatory agents.
  9. Salicylic acid An aspirin-like compound possessing anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.
  10. Amino Acids The body needs 22 amino acids – the gel provides 20 of these. More importantly, it provides 7 out of the 8 essential amino acids which the body cannot synthesise.


Aloe Vera and Arthritis

Aloe Vera is a stimulant to the immune system, a powerful anti- inflammatory, an analgesic and is able to speed up cell growth. Aloe Vera contains a large number of mucopolysaccharides (basic sugars) which are found in every cell in the body. Aloe also contains large numbers of nutrients including vitamins E, C, B1, 2, 3, and 6 as well as iron, manganese, calcium and zinc. Seven essential amino acids and fatty acids are also found in Aloe Vera.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a painful, debilitating condition. It manifests itself as stiff, swollen joints with varying degrees of associated pain caused partly due to nerve damage and partly by the pressure of the swollen area. The swollen area is normally red in colour and described as inflamed. The redness is caused by the blood supply to the ‘damaged’ area being increased.
Conventional treatment includes use of anti-inflammatory drugs and steroids, typically cortisone injections or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. These certainly can ease the painful effects but unfortunately do not repair damaged tissues. There can also be undesirable side effects, particularly thinning of the skin and osteoporosis. Although many NSAIDs are available, each one has the potential to cause stomach ulcers.
Repairing damaged tissue by regenerating cells is a function at which Aloe Vera has been shown to be most successful. It not only relieves the painful symptoms but also helps to disperse damaged tissue – a type of detoxification process. Aloe Vera may be taken both internally as a juice or as a gel applied to the painful joint. Here Aloe Vera’s deep penetration may show benefit.
The degree of success with this treatment varies considerably from person to person. With some, relief and improved joint flexibility is virtually immediate – an apparent ‘magical’ cure, whereas in others, the process can take much longer and the degree of recovery may not be so great.
In any event, an important fact must be remembered: Aloe Vera has no known adverse side effects. It is an extract from the leaf of the Aloe Vera plant, known throughout the world where it grows naturally as the ‘First Aid Plant’, the ‘Burn Plant’, the ‘Miracle Plant’ and the ‘Medicine Plant’.

References

  1. Collins, C.E., M.D. (1935), Vol 57 No. 6 June, The Radiological Review and Chicago Medical Recorder. Aloe Vera as a Therapeutic Agent in the Treatment of Roentgen and Radium Burns.
  2. Collins, C.E. and Collins, C. (1935), Roentgen Dermatitis Treated with Fresh Whole Leaf of Aloe Vera. American Journal of Roentgenology 33, 396-397.
  3. Wright, C.S. (1936), Aloe Vera in the Treatment of Roentgen Ulcers and Telangiectasis. Journal of the American Medical Association 106, 1363-1364.
  4. Loveman, A.B. (1937), Leaf of Aloe Vera in Treatment of Roentgen Ray Ulcers. Archives of Dermatology and Sphilology 36, 838-843.
  5. Cutak, L. (1937), Aloe Vera as a Remedy for Burns. Missouri Botanical Garden Bulletin 25, 169-174.
  6. Mandeville, F.B. (1939), Aloe Vera in the Treatment of Radiation Ulcers of Mucous Membranes. Radiology 32, 598-599.
  7. Crewe, J.E. (1939), Aloes in the Treatment of Burns and Scalds. Minnesota Medicine 22, 538-539.
  8. Rowe, T.D. (1940), Effect of Fresh Aloe Vera Jelly in the Treatment of Third-Degree Roentgen Reactions on White Rats. Journal of the American Pharmaceutical Association 29, 348-350.
  9. Rowe, T.D., Lovell, B.K. and Parks, L.M. (1941), Further Observations on the Use of Aloe Vera Leaf in the Treatment of Third-Degree X-Ray Reactions. Journal of the American Pharmaceutical Association 30, 266-269.
  10. Danhof, I.E., McAnally, B.H. (1983), Stabilized Aloe Vera: Effect on Human Skin Cells. Drug. Cosmet. Ind. 133, 52-106
  11. Winters, W.D., Benavides, R., Clouse, W.J. (1981), Effects of Aloe Extracts on Human Normal and Tumor Cells In Vitro. Eco. Bot. 35: 89-95.
  12. Blitz, J.J., Smith, J.W. and Gerard, J.R. (1963), Aloe Vera Gel in Peptic Ulcer Therapy: Preliminary Report. Journal of the American Osteopathic Association 62: 731-735.
  13. Bland, J. Ph.D. (1985), Linus Pauling Institute of Science and Medicine, Palo Alto, C.A., Prevention Magazine, Effect of Orally Consumed Aloe Vera Juice in Gastrointestinal Function in Normal Humans.