Aloe vera is a succulent plant derived from the Cape of Good Hope, primarily known from the external use of the gelatinous material extracted from its leaves. It is used for burns, abrasions, wound healing, sunburn. My personal experience is that when smeared on a scratch, my wound always healed faster and did not become inflamed, it did not itch so much.
The legendary secret of Cleopatra's beautiful skin
The beauty of Cleopatra enchanted 2 Roman rulers. To care for the beauty of her skin, according to the legend, she bathed in milk every day. While this legend may have been spread by her enemies to be misrepresented in the eyes of the people because of the waste of milk, another legend that she used the leaves of Aloe vera as a moisturizer may prove much more true.
The new side of Aloe vera
Aloe vera leaf extract not only soothes the damaged skin surface, it has also been observed to exert antibacterial and antiviral effects, thus also preventing wound infection. And here we come to the point: recent research shows that Aloe vera retains its antiviral effect not only externally, but also when applied internally.
A research group of the Korean Institute of Oriental Medicine infected laboratory cell cultures with two types of influenza strains. One was the H3N2 variant and the other was the H1N1 strain, which may be familiar, since it is closely related to bird flu, which is also dangerous to humans. Cell cultures were treated with Aloe vera extract during viral infection.
Influenza infection at the cellular level
The influenza virus, after infecting the host cell, tries to take control. The host cell, on the other hand, fights by trying to “eat” the virus that has entered the cell plasma (in scientific terms, autophagy is triggered against the virus particles). However, what the host cell misses, is that although this “eating” method is useful against several other types of viruses, the influenza virus is activated by such, as the small “stomachs” (autophagosomes) provide the right environment for the virus to release the genetic material. The virus information, activated in this way, takes control of the host cell, forcing it to replicate the virus instead of its own function.
Result of the experiment
Influencing the process of autophagy, based on the above, promises to alleviate the severity of influenza infection, and based on the results, the researchers concluded that Aloe vera exerts its anti-influenza effect through this process.
48 hours after H1N1 infection:
- approx. 30% of the host cells died, if left untreated,
- but only approx. 5% died when they received Aloe extract.
48 hours after H3N2 infection:
- approx. 35% of the host cells died, if left untreated,
- but only approx. 10% died when they received Aloe extract.
The reason for the difference was obvious: as the result of the treatment with Aloe vera extract, 5 times less virus particles were present in the cells after 48 hours, so the active ingredients of the plant really limited the replication of the virus.
What are the antiviral components of Aloe vera?
By examining the Aloe vera extract, 3 active ingredients were found, which according to computer simulations, inhibited the expression of the viral protein that was activated in the small “stomachs” of the host cell. These active substances all belong to the family of flavonoids:
- Quercetin: approx. 50% inhibition
- Kaempferol: approx. 40% inhibition
- Catechin: approx. 25% inhibition.
In the experiments, the antiviral drug Ribavirin was the control, which achieved approx. 30% inhibition. It means, two of the flavonoids appeared to be more effective. The antiviral activity of quercetin and kaempferol has already been described, these herbal substances can even inhibit coronavirus proteins, thus their importance has further increased. (See at: FLAVONOIDS AGAINST CORONAVIRUS – WHERE ARE WE NOW?).
Aloe Vera can be consumed in the form of food/drink or dietary supplements if we want to do something against the influenza infection, but it can also be used to treat stomach ulcers and indigestion.
Source of the scientific article: Aloe vera and its components inhibit Influenza A virus-Induced autophagy and replication.