Processing, food applications and safety of aloe vera products: a review.
Aloe vera is used for vigor, wellness and medicinal purposes since rigvedic times. Health benefits of aloe vera include its application in wound healing, treating burns, minimizing frost bite damage, protection against skin damage from x-rays, lung cancer, intestinal problems, increasing high density lipoprotein (HDL), reducing low density lipoprotein (LDL), reducing blood sugar in diabetics, fighting acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), allergies and improving immune system. Phytochemistry of aloe vera gel has revealed the presence of more than 200 bioactive chemicals. Aloe vera gel is extracted from its leaves and appropriate processing techniques are needed for stabilization as well as preparation of the end products. The industries involved in processing of aloe vera need Government surveillance to ensure that the aloe vera products have beneficial bio-active chemicals as per claims of the manufacturers. Regulatory bodies also need to look into the safety and toxicological aspects of aloe vera products for food applications. The claims made for medicinal value of aloe products should be supported by authentic and approved clinical trial data. It is presumptive to mention that nutraceutical claims of aloe products made by the manufacturers are numerous. However, approved clinical evidences are available only for lowering LDL, increasing HDL, decreasing blood glucose level, treating genital herpes and psoriases.