Supply Spotlight: Aloecorp

Aloe vera for joints, heart and skin
Since it was founded in 1988, Aloecorp has been dedicated to one ingredient: Aloe vera. And over these 17 years, it has become a leader as a vertically integrated supplier of raw Aloe vera materials — everything from gels to whole leaf, concentrates and powders.

"What makes Aloecorp's ingredients unique is that they are all tested and guaranteed to be biologically active, based on the plant's polysaccharide measurements (50,000-100,000mw)," explains Ken Jones, Aloecorp's director of scientific affairs. This is made possible by Aloecorp's Qmatrix proprietary processing method, which is based on a two-year research study aimed at preserving, enhancing and stabilising the biological activities of aloe. The results of the study were published in the journal Planta Medica in 1999.

The company is also one of the first aloe suppliers to have its entire raw-material product line certified by the International Aloe Science Council.

Based in Washington state, Aloecorp networks with researchers throughout the world on development and research; its facilities in south Texas serve as both a research base and a manufacturing centre. The company operates thousands of acres of aloe fields in three countries — the US, Mexico and China — ensuring a stable, year-round supply source for the company's 13 aloe product offerings.

The products are available in two trademarked product lines: ACTIValoe, a premium Aloe vera with no less than 10 per cent total polysaccharides by weight of solids; and Certified Plus, which contains no less than 5 per cent total polysaccharides. Both lines carry gels and whole leaf varieties.

Aloecorp's sales have grown steadily worldwide over the past five years. "We have seen the European and Asian sales gain at a faster rate than in the US, but they have many more applications and uses for aloe," says Wayne McCune, senior vice-president of sales and marketing. "Our main markets are nutritional supplements, liquid beverages and cosmetics. We certainly sell for other applications, but these are the primary markets, with liquid beverages being the greatest."

Health benefits
Use of aloe has been associated with a wide range of health benefits. Internally, it has been shown to relieve joint and muscle pain; relieve gastrointestinal problems such as ulcers, kidney problems, irritable bowel syndrome and colitis; and target coronary heart disease, by decreasing total cholesterol, triglyceride, phospholipid and nonesterified fatty acid levels.

It has also been shown to be a strong antioxidant, antimicrobial and antiviral, due to its content of vitamins C and E, zinc, and seven superoxide dismutases.

When applied topically, Aloe vera is best known for its soothing and healing effects on burns and other wounds. Studies show that when applied to a wound, it increases both the rate of wound closure and the tensile strength of the wound via the proliferation of cells, including skin, liver, nerve and blood cells.

Topical use has also been shown to reduce inflammation from injuries, reverse degenerative skin changes by stimulating collagen and elastin synthesis, improving overall skin hydration. What's more, research on Aloecorp's proprietary processing method shows aloe's ability to reverse the suppression of the skin's immune system following UVB exposure.

Structure/function claims but not health claims are permitted for Aloe vera in the US and EU.

Latest research

Polysaccharides isolated from the gel of aloe species have diverse biological activities, including immunomodulatory and antitumour activities. The potency in these polysaccharide molecules is directly correlated to their weight.

In a study published in 1995 in International Immunopharmacology, the relationship between molecular size and immunomodulatory activity of modified aloe polysaccharides (MAP) was examined, using Aloecorp's Aloe vera gel 200:1 concentrate.

Crude MAP (G2E1) was prepared from the gel of Aloe vera partially digested with cellulase. Proteins in crude MAP were removed by passage through a DEAE-Sephacel column, and then the protein-free MAP (G2E1D) was further separated into three fractions.

Immunomodulatory activities of MAP preparations were examined on a mouse macrophage cell line, RAW 264.7 cells, and in ICR strain of mouse implanted with sarcoma 180 cells. The researchers found that polysaccharides between 400 and 5 KDa exhibit the most potent macrophage-activating activity as determined by increased cytokine production, nitric oxide release, expression of surface molecules and phagocytic activity, as well as the most potent antitumour activity in vivo.

"All of our products contain a specific molecular weight distribution pattern that we show, and this paper also shows, retains and even increases the biological activity of our aloe," says Ken Jones, director of scientific affairs.

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