7 Ways Aloe Vera Can Help in Cancer [Science Backed]

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.

7 WAYS 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.

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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