Aloes contain anthraquinone derivatives (10% to 40%) like aloin, mucilage (30%), resinous substances (16% to 63%) like aloesin and aloesone, sugars (about 25%), polysaccharides like acemannan and betamannan, fatty acids and cholesterol, campe-sterol, P-sistosterol, glycoproteins (aloctins A and B), lectins, a gibberellin-like substance, enzymes such as cyclo-oxygenase and bradykininase, together with other compounds such as lupeol, salicylic acid, urea, cinnamic acid, phenol, sulphur, magnesium lactate, salicylates, and amino acids. Aloin (=barbaloin) is an impure mixture of barbaloin A and barbaloin B, which inter-convert through the anthranol form.
Anthraquinone derivatives possess laxative properties; their content is subject to seasonal variations. Aloins reach a maximum concentration in the dried leaf latex of A. ferox in April-July [24.1%] and a minimum concentration in winter [14.8%].
5-hydroxyaloin A, characteristic of Cape aloe, is absent in Curacao aloe. However, studies carried out on plants grown hydroponically under carefully controlled conditions still show these variations; for example, aloin content can vary as much as 80% from one plant to another in the same field. Aloes also contain other healing components such as analgesic and anti-inflammatory agents, (aloctins, cholesterol, campesterol, P-sitosterol, acemannan, salicylates, etc.), immunostimulant agents, (acemannan, lectin, etc.) and antiseptic agents (lupeol, salicylic acid, phenol, sulphur, etc.). The benefits of aloe are, however, due to synergism between compounds; also, it is quite possible that other unidentified co-factors present in aloe may provide for the optimum effects generally encountered.
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