EXTRACTION AND STABILIZATION OF ALOE VERA GEL FROM THE PLANT

EXTRACTION AND STABILIZATION OF ALOE VERA GEL FROM THE PLANT

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CHAPTER ONE

1.0        INTRODUCTION

Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis miller) is a perennial plant of

Liliacea with turgid green leaves joined at the stem in a rosette pattern, Aloe vera leaves are formed by thick epidermis (skin) covered curticle surrounding the mesophyll, which can be differentiated into chlorenchyma cells and thinner walled cells forming the parenchyma cells (filet). The parenchyma cells contain a transparent mucilaginous jelly which is referred to as aloe Vera gel. Potential use of aloe vera products often involves some type of processing example heating, dehydrating and grinding processing may cause irreversible modification to the polysaccharides affecting their original structure which may promote important changes in the proposed physiological and pharmaceutical properties of these constituents.

          However, aloe vera jel juice was not very popular due to their laxative effect and majority of them contained absolutely no active  muscilaginous polysaccharides or acemannan. Colour changes have little relation to the therapeutic effectiveness of the stabilized gel and it is totally unacceptable in some products. An efficient processing technique was used to improve product quality, to preserve and maintain almost all of the bioactive chemical entities naturally present in the Aloe Vera leave during processing. The production process of aloe vera leaves involves crushing, grinding or pressing of the entire leaf of the aloe vera plant to produce an aloe vera gel juice followed by various steps of filtration and stabilization of the gel. The resulting solution is then incorporated in or mixed with other solution or agents to produce a pharmaceutical, costmetic or food product.

1.1    AIM OF STUDY

To extract Aloe vera gel from the plant and stabilize using sodum benzoate, citric acid and lime.

1.2        BACKGROUND OF STUDY

Aloe vera is a succulent plant of the lilly family native to the cape of good hope and growing wild in much of Africa and Madagascar. Commercial growers cultivate it in the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, Japan and the USA. It produces a ring of dagger shaped fleshy leaves that grow up from the base of plant. Each Aloe vera plant grow up to nearly 2kg in weight. It is from the leaf that the soothing aloe vera jel is extracted.

          The Aloe vera plant is drought resistant and grows mainly in subtropical desert like savanna. When the leaves are cut the plant can close off it’s cell to retain fluid. Aloe vera can grow to 20meters in height but usually grows only to about 1.5meters. each plant has about 15leaves and blooms intermittently. It produces erect spikes of drooping yellow, orange or red tubular flowers on the woody stem

          Russian research has shown benefits to condition other than those for which aloe vera is most well known. These include improvements in bone tuberculosis and broken bones, inflammatory gynecological conditions, paralysis caused by polio, ear, nose and throat conditions and bronchial asthma. They have also been found that aloe vera can help slow aging process[1].

          Both Russia and the United States have carried out extensive research into the use of aloe vera for all types of burns[2]. They found that compounds within aloe vera can help the burn heal and can also have a  cleansing and antibacterial effect[3]. The United States have developed a cream containing 70% aloe Vera juice extract that prevents partially damaged tissues from dying and allows new skin cells to close off the area, thereby promoting healthy new skin beneath the scrab rather than scar tissue.[4]

          Research has also been carried out into whether Aloe vera can play a role in the treatment of cancer. Aloe vera appears to cause the release of tumor necrosis factor alpha that blocks the blood supply to cancerous growths[5]. A study in Japan showed that drinking Aloe vera juice regularly may be effective in preventing the onset of lung cancer in smokers[1]. The first recorded evidence of the healing properties of the Aloe vera are fond on ancient Egyptian texts dating from around 1500BC. The Egyptians referred to Aloe vera as the plant of immortality. Arab traders were probably responsible for the spread of Aloe vera into Persia, India and the far East.

          In the first century AD, the Greek physician Dioscorrides wrote in his Material Medica that Aloe vera extract could be used to treat wounds, stomach complaints, constipation, hemorrhoids, headaches, all mouth problems, hair loss, insect bites, kidney ailments and skin irritation.[6] In Africa, aloe vera was used for stomach aches and to prevent infection from insect bites.[6] Chinese used Aloe vera for treating eczema during the sung dynasty. [8] In I India during the forth century BC, people believed that Aloe Vera grew in the garden of Eden, they called it “the silent healer” and used it to heal skin conditions and inflammation. In the early Christian era, Aloe vera could be found in all advanced medicinal texts[9].

Eventually, Aloe vera was introduced into the Americans. In Mexico, the juice was used to treat skin complaints and wounds. Aloe vera was sold in the street market of Latin America as an aphrodisiac. Jesuit Preists were encouraged to take Aloe vera with them when going to the new world to spread the bible. As the popularity of aloe vera increased during the 18th century, so trade wars occurred between the British, Spanish and Dutch to establish Aloe in the new world. During the late 18th and early 19th centuries, many wealthy collectors of exotic plants added aloe vera to their collections and many discoveries about its properties were made during this period.[10]

By late 19th century, synthetic laboratory drugs were taking procedence over botanical compounds. There was a naïve optimism that scientific advance would lead to even more effective drugs that would eventually “conquer” all diseases and herbal remedies such as Aloe vera fell from favour. Although research was carried out by the united state into the burn healing properties of Aloe vera during the 1930s to find a cure for radiation burns. It was only in the 1960s that improved techniques allowed proper stabilization of the aloe vera. Stabilization of the Aloe vera gel juice allowed it to be stored for a long period and therefore commercial production became viable. Public interest was rekindled.[11]

Previous methods of extraction concentrate only on the Aloe vera gel found in the middle of the leaf. The whole leaf processing was not used because it was difficult to prevent contamination with Aloe latex. Aloe latex is a yellow extract from the inner leaf of the plant that acts as a laxative and can cause severe cramps and diarrhoeas. The very latest processing methods now allow the whole aloe vera to be processed without the latex contamination. This is a hugely important step forward as the juice/gel can now contain the healing power of all parts of the plant rather than just the inner gel. The polysaccharide count in whole leaf juice can reach much higher values using these latest processing methods. [12]

1.3    BIOLOGICAL ACTIVITY OF ALOE VERA

The controversy over the identity of the active substance(s) in aloe vera has not settled. Also various mechanisms have been proposed for the alleged healing properties of Aloe vera. Since no single definite active ingredient has been found. It is commonly suggested that there may be some synergitic action between the polysaccharides base and other components.[13]

          According to Mackee [38] vitamin D was the healing agent but row and parks [12] reported the absence of vitamin D. Morton [15] suggested a theory starting the seeming efficacy of aloe vera pulp may be attributed to its high water content i.e 96%+, providing a means of making water available for injured tissue without scaling it off from the air. This recovery would explain the instant soothing effect of Aloe vera gel has on burns but would not account for the long term effect of healing. The action of aloe vera is simply due to its moisturizing and emollient effects, hence its use in cosmetics.

          Various researchers reported that the effective component for wound healing may be tannic acids [16] and a type of polysaccharide [17]. other researchers have also reported anti-inflammatory effects of complex polysaccharides. It is logical that the mucilaginous gel of Aloe vera plant which is essentially a polysaccharide  holds secrete to Aloe vera’s medicinal properties. Many researchers such as Collins[18] Fine and Brown [17]and Crew [18] have attributed pain – relieving properties to aloe vera gel. It is virtually impossible to prevent contamination during commercial extraction of Aloe vera gel. It is believed that the intact leaves anthraquinones and their derivatives may diffuse into the gel from the bundle sheath cells, this possibly supports the conclusion of Row et al.,[21] who states that the healing agent is passed from the ring into gel on standing.

          The things that happen to make aloe product less desirable or cause it to become virtually non-beneficial were stem from the harvesting of the leaves processing and distribution of leaves. The fleshly removed leaves must go directly into production or must be appropriately refrigerated to prevent a loss of biological activity. Principally through the degradative decomposition of the gel matrix. The value of Aloe vera further diminishes if the processing procedures applies too much heat for too long a time. [22] Extended heating renders the product free from bacterial contamination but effectively destroys aloe’s mucopolysaccharide and consequently its efficacy.[23]

          To assure that an aloe product at a price worth paying and to achieve a desired result it is recommended to look for international aloe science Council (IASC) certification seal on interation and packaging. Another way to ascertain whether an Aloe vera product has a high healing capacity is to find out the number of mucopolysaccharide (MPS) present. This is sometimes included on the labeling. The highest therapeutic value is found in product containing between 10, 000 and 20, 000 MPS per litre.

 

1.4    DESCRIPTION

Fig. 1 Aloe vera plant

Aloe vera is a stem less or very short-stemmed succulent plant growing to 60-100cm (24-39in) tall, spreading by offsets. The leaves are thick and fleshy, green to grey-green with some varieties showing white flecks on the upper and lower stem surfaces.[24]

          The margin of the leaf is serrated and has small white teeth. The flowers are produced in summer on a spike up to 90cm (35in) tall, each flower pendulous with a yellow tubular corrolla 2-3cm (0.8-1.2in) long [24][25] like other aloe spices, aloe vera forms arbuscular mycorrhiza, a symbiosis that allows the plant better access to mental nutrients in soil.[26]

1.5    CULTIVATION

          Aloe vera has been widely grown as an ornamental plant. The specie is popularly known with modern gardeners as a putatively medicinal plant and due to its interesting flowers, form and succulence. This succulence enables the specie to survive in areas of low natural rainfall making it ideal for rockeries and other low water use gardeners.[24] The specie is hardy in zones 8-11, although it is intolerant of very heavy frost or snow[25][27]. The specie is relatively resistant to most insect pests, though mealy bugs, scale insects and aphids (greenfly) species may cause a decline in plant health. [28][29].

          In pots, the specie requires well drained sandy potting soil and bright sunny conditions. The use of a god quality commercial propagation mix or pre-packaged “cactic and succulent mix” is recommended as they allow good drainage[30]. Terracotta pots are preferable as they are porous[30]. Potted plants should be allowed to completely dry prior to re-watering. During winter, a vera may become dormant during which little moisture is required. In areas that recieve frost or snow, the specie is best kept indoors or in a heated glass house. Large scale agricultural production of aloe vera is undertaken in Australia [31][32] cuba, the Dominican Republic, China, Mexico[33] Indian [34] , Jamaica, Kenya and South Africa, along with the USA [35] to supply the cosmetic industry with Aloe vera gel.

1.6    TAXONOMY AND ETYMOLOGY

Kingdom:           Plantae

Order:                 Asparagales

Family:                Lily (Asphodelaceae)

Genus:               Aloe

Specie:               Aloe Vera

Bionomial:         Aloe Vera (L) (Burn F.)

          The Aloe vera specie has a number of synonyms, A Barbadensis mill, aloe vera indica Royale, Aloe perfoliata L. Var. Vera and A. vulgaris Lam, and common names including Chinese Aloe, Indian aloe, true Aloe, Barbados aloe, burn aloe, first aid plant. The specie name vera mean “true” or “genine”. Some literature identifies the white spotted form of aloe Vera as Aloe vera var. Chinensis, However, the species varies widely with regard to leaf spot and it has been suggested that the spotted form of Aloe vera may be conspecific with A. Massawana. The specie was first described by carl Linnaeus in 1753 as aloe  perfoliata var vera, and was described again in 1768 by Nicolaas Laurens Burman as Aloe vera in flora indica on the 6th of April and by Philip miller as Aloe barbadensis some ten days after Burman in the Gardener’s dictionary. Lack of obvious natural population of specie have led some authors to suggest that aloe vera may be of hybrid origin.

1.7    GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT

          Aloe specie follows the crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM). Cam plants can fix CO2 at night and photosynthesized with closed stomata during the day, thus minimizing water loss. This plus their succulent leaves and stems and the presence of a thick curticle makes them well adopted to dry conditions. Birds are the most important pollinators of aloe but in Africa honey bees also play a role. In Africa aloe vera flowers and fruits normally but elsewhere fruit formation is rare failure to set fruit is presumed to be caused by pollen sterility and self incompatibility


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