A Glossary of Aloe Vera Terms
Aloe Vera is one of the oldest medicinal plants known to man. Records show it has been used for millenia by ancient civilizations around the world for its remarkable healing qualities and abilities.
The Aloe variety, Barbadensis Miller, is renowned for its unique soothing, moisturising, softening and anti-inflammatory properties. When applied to the skin Aloe gel attracts and holds oxygen and moisture close to your skin, making it an effective cellular repair and renewal ingredient. Aloe Vera also has astringent properties which can help to tone and refresh the skin while maintaining the natural pH of the skin
Let's talk about some of the terms that make Aloe Vera such an interesting plant.
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- Acemannan Acemannan is a complex sugar isolated from Aloe vera leaves. This compound has been known to have immunostimulant, antiviral, antineoplastic and gastrointestinal properties.
- Activated Charcoal Filtered A form of filtration using activated charcoal; utilized primarily to remove anthraquinones.
- Alcohol Precipitated Alcohol is used to remove water and isolate the solids of the inner leaf.
- Aloe barbadensis Miller A commonly used synonym of the main species we call Aloe Vera.
- Aloe Gel A liquid product typically derived from the inner leaf that may contain pulp, and, depending on the manufacturer may or may not have added thickening agents (which must be identified on the label).
- Aloe Juice Liquid product derived from Aloe vera leaf. Not to be confused with aloe latex (which is often characterized in pharmacopeias as “juice”).
- Aloe Leaf The part of the Aloe vera plant utilized in commerce where processing is begun without stripping off of the rind.
- Aloe Vera A species of succulent plant in the genus Aloe. The plant grows in arid climates and is frequently used in herbal medicine.
- Aloe Vera health benefits Aloe Vera contains a multitude of vitamins including A, C, E, folic acid, B1, B2, B3, B6 and is one of the few plants that contains vitamin B12, which helps with brain and nervous system function. It is also mineral-rich, containing calcium, magnesium, zinc, chromium, selenium, sodium, iron, and potassium, as well as being packed with amino and fatty acids - all helpful in beating indigestion.
- Aloe Vera inner leaf juice As the name suggests, a substance obtained by stripping off the outer rind of the leaves by machine or hand, and then rinsing or washing away the aloe latex. The remaining inner leaf material is then collected and transferred for further processing into juice. For marketing purposes may be referred to as “gel”, “inner leaf fillet” or “fillet gel.”
- Aloe Vera latex A bitter, brown, yellow-brown, or occasionally red exudate found in between the rind and inner leaf of Aloe. Also called “sap”, it contains several constituents, but most notably anthraquinones and aloin.
- Aloe Vera leaf juice A semi-liquid obtained by grinding or macerating the entire Aloe vera leaf. The rind material and aloe latex is removed, typically through filtration via activated charcoal. The end product may be marketed as “whole leaf” or “purified/filtered whole leaf.”
- Aloe Vera plant juice A drink made from the liquid and gel centre of an Aloe Vera leaf.
- Aloin A bitter, yellow organic compound found in aloe latex. When dried, it can be used as a bittering agent and as a laxative. Found in various commercial products as a bittering agent such as alcoholic beverages. It is used as a stimulant-laxative, treating constipation by inducing bowel movements.
- Anthraquinone An organic compound primarily found in the aloe latex, and other plants, whose structure serves as a basic building block for a number of naturally occurring plant pigments and is used in bleaching pulp for papermaking. The substance is commonly utilized for laxative purposes. This yellow, highly crystalline solid, is poorly soluble in water but soluble in hot organic solvents such as ethanol.
- Antifungal Pertaining to a substance that kills fungi or inhibits their growth or reproduction.
- Anti-inflammatory Reducing inflammation by acting on body mechanisms.
- Antioxidant a substance that inhibits oxidation, especially one used to counteract the deterioration of stored food products. Oxidation reactions produce free radicals which can start chain reactions that damage body cells. In the case of Aloe Vera the antioxidant effect is thought to inhibit these oxidation reactions.
- Antiseptic Preventing the growth of disease-causing microorganisms.
- Antiviral Capable of destroying or inhibiting the growth or reproduction of viruses.
- Cold Pressed Biomass which is claimed to be pressed and treated without any heat.
- De-colorized, sometimes called “de-carmelized” A purification process used by the vast majority of Aloe vera juice manufacturers. The process includes filtration with activated charcoal which removes aloe latex (including aloin) from the material.
- Enzyme Enzymes are proteins that accelerate, or catalyze, chemical reactions. The molecules at the beginning of the process are called substrates and the enzyme converts these into different molecules, called products. Chemically, enzymes are like any catalyst and are not consumed in chemical reactions, nor do they alter the equilibrium of a reaction.
- Enzyme Treated Entire Aloe leaf biomass is ground into a slurry, enzymes are added to assist in breaking down the fibre into a liquid. The enzymes are then neutralized/deactivated.
- Evaporative Concentrate The process of concentrating a material by removing water from the biomass so the material becomes thicker.
- Evaporative Concentrate Vacuum The process of using a vacuum to concentrate the biomass by removing excess water.
- Filtered Biomass is mechanically forced through a filtering device, such as a screen, a sieve or other membrane, to remove soluble material.
- Freeze-dried The liquid concentrated aloe is frozen in a vacuum state to remove water and convert it into a powdered form.
- Granulated/Powdered Aloe Vera Powder that has been processed to a specific screen size and then dried.
- Grind/Mascerated Aloe Vera Material from the entire leaf is ground up into a mash often called “guacamole” by the industry due to its appearance.
- Hand Fillet Aloe leaves that have the outer rind of the leaf removed manually to leave only the inner leaf.
- History of Aloe Vera Information regarding aloe vera’s use dates back nearly 5,000 years to early Egyptian times. Since then it has been used both topically and orally by all of the major civilizations, and seems to be useful for many symptoms, ailments and illnesses.
- HTST (Pasteurization) High Temperature Short Time process utilized to reduce microbial counts.
- Inner leaf The plant part used to describe the clear, central parenchymatous tissues of the aloe leaf.
- Low Heat Processing A process to concentrate or powder raw material
- Machine Fillet Aloe leaves that have the outer rind of the leaf removed by mechanical means to leave only the inner leaf.
- Non De-colorized Aloe vera leaf juice products that have not been “de-colorized” and have therefore not undergone the filtration and purification process.
- Non Enzyme Treated Aloe Vera biomass that is processed into a liquid without the use of enzymes.
- Non Preserved Aloe Vera Raw material and finished product which does not contain any preservatives
- Organic Certified Product or raw material that complies with USDA, UK Soil Association, or country of origin certification requirements.
- Preserved product Aloe Vera with chemical components added to maintain freshness. Individual ingredients used as preservatives must be designated as such on labels for raw materials and finished products.
- Purified/Filtered “whole leaf” Terminology used on Aloe products or raw material where the entire leaf is used as a starting ingredient and where some sort of purification or filtration is utilized (and may also be treated with enzymes, etc.) to remove or substantially reduce unwanted material and substances from the resulting juice or powder, such as the rind and aloe latex. Other terms such as “charcoal filtered” or “treated” may also be seen in use as descriptors.
- Reconstituted from Concentrate A liquid Aloe Vera concentrate that is diluted with water.
- Reconstituted from Powder Aloe Vera powder that is liquefied by adding water.
- Reflective Dried The liquid concentrated aloe is placed on mylar over high heat to remove water and convert it into a powdered form.
- Spray-dried The liquid concentrated aloe is mechanically processed to force evaporation of water and convert it into a powdered form.
- Squeezed Fillet A process that via mechanical pressure extracts the inner leaf without manually or mechanically removing the rind first.
- “Whole leaf” Historically used to describe products derived from the entire leaf that were filtered/purified. However, usage of this term without adequate clarification is not recommended in order to avoid claims of misbranding. This terminology is now seen on products or in reference to raw material
where the entire leaf is used as a starting ingredient to create Aloe vera juice. The IASC (International Aloe Science Council) now recognizes this terminology to be accurate only if no purification, filtration or other treatment (enzyme, etc.) is conducted on the ingredient beyond removal of any insoluble material. Visit the IASC website.