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ALOE (AND ALOE VERA) (Aloe barbadensis (Aloe vera))


Botany:  Aloe species are perennial succulents native to Africa that later spread to other parts of world.  Aloe vera is not a cactus and should not be confused with the American aloe or century plant (Agave).  Aloe vera also called Curaçao aloe or Barbados aloe, is produced in the West Indies (Curaçao, Aruba, Bonaire).  Aloe feroxis and its hybrids yield Cape aloe that is produced in South Africa. 
History and/or Folklore: The Indians call the aloes “wand of heaven” because of their wonderful medicinal powers.  According to legend it was the only plant that came directly from the Garden of Eden.  Socotrine Aloe was said to be known to the Greeks as early as the 4th century B.C.  Greek colonists were sent to the island Socotra by Alexandra the Great solely to preserve and cultivate the aloe plant.
Commercial products: Two major products are derived from aloe: 
(1) the drug aloe comes from yellow bitter juice present in special cells beneath the thick epidermis.  This is obtained by cutting the leaves at their base and letting the yellow bitter juice drain out.  The water is evaporated from the juice by heat and the resulting light to dark mass is the drug of aloe. 
(2) aloe gel comes from a mucilaginous gel in the parenchymatous tissue in the centre of the leaf.  Aloe vera gel is prepared from the leaves by numerous methods, which essentially involve expression and/or solvent extraction often with harsh chemical and physical treatment.  The resulting gel products vary considerably in properties and are not generally representative of the fresh gel.


Aloe vera extract
Anthraquinones present in aloe vera extract inhibit the activity of the tyrosinase enzyme, thereby preventing the conversion of the amino acid tyrosine via dihydroxyphenylalanine (DOPA) into melanin and consequently reducing the production of age spots that appear on the skin as a result of aging.  So aloe vera is not only of therapeutic value but also has an effect of anti-aging on skin as it delivers moisture, eliminates wrinkles, increases collagen and elastin and reduces the formation of pigments. 
Aloe vera gel
Contains a lot of mucilage but does not contain anthraquinones.  Vitamins present in aloe vera gel are A, C, E, B (thiamine), B3 (niacin), B2 (riboflavine), which act as antioxidants, and choline, folic acid, and traces of vitamin B12.
The gel also contains many different types of biochemical catalysts, enzymes, such as amylase and lipase, which hydrolyse sugars and fats; and carboxypeptidase, which is an important enzyme that hydrolyses bradykinin, a peptide that is associated with the vasodilation blood vessels and the perception of pain; carboxypeptidase is responsible for a valuable soothing and anti-inflammatory effect.
Magnesium lactate inhibits histamine decarboxylase and thus prevents the formation of histamine from the amino acid histidine.  Histamine is released in many allergic reactions and causes intense itching and pain.  Aloe vera counteracts and soothes itching.  Due to lignin the aloe vera gel extract can penetrate deeper into the skin. Aloe vera gel contains also saponins; soapy substances form a 3% gel and act as cleaners.  The steroids found in aloe vera gel such as cholesterol, campesterol, ß-sitosterol and lupeol have an anti-inflammatory effect. Salicylic acid has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, and has also a keratolytic effect which increases the rate of removal of dead tissue from wounds.
Aloe vera gel is as moisturizer, emollient, wound-healing agent (treatment of cuts, burns, ulcers, inflammatory skin diseases, radiation dermatitis, and roentgen dermatitis),  
The gel can also be a good protection against the sun, since it blocks UV and initiates the process of skin renewal.  
The gel possesses antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, anti-fungi and anaesthetic effects.  It is anti-inflammatory because it inhibits production of blood clotting agents, thromboxane and prostaglandin.  The gel also stimulates the replication of fibroblast cells in the wound, resulting in more secreted collagen and fibrin, which helps the wound heal faster and the skin on the wound site to be more flexible and less scarred.
The fatty fractions of the aloe leaf is used in the cosmetic industry as pigment carrier.

In humans, aloe vera gel preparations containing anthraquinones (aloin) may cause allergic contact dermatitis, mild itching, and burning sensations. These effects have been mild, of rare occurrence and reversible when use was stopped.

AVOCADO (Persea Americana, Persea gratissima)


Botany: The avocado is a dense, large evergreen tree that can grow up to 20 m high; fruit is large (5-20 cm long) and fleshy, pyriform, ovate or spherical, with a thin to thick sometimes woody skin.  Avocado is native to tropical America (Mexico, Central America), where is widely cultivated.  Several commercial varieties are also cultivated in the USA. 
Parts used are fruit and seed. 
History and/or Folklore: The name 'Avocado' originates from the Aztec name ahuacacuauhitl meaning “testicle tree”. Avocado trees produce thousands of flowers and only about one in 5000 sets fruit.  In traditional medicine, pulp of American avocado was used by Guatemalan Indians as hair pomade to stimulate hair growth, to hasten suppuration of wounds, as an aphrodisiac and an emmenagogue; seeds were used to treat diarrhoea and dysentery; powdered seeds were used by American Indians to treat pyorrhoea, and infusions were used to treat toothache. 
The seed yields a milky fluid with the odour and taste of almond.  Because of its tannin content, it turns red on exposure to air, providing an indelible red-brown or blackish ink which was used to write many documents in the days of the Spanish Conquest.  The ink has also been used to mark cotton and linen textiles.
Commercial products: 
(1) Avocado oil: Avocado oil is produced by expressing the dried pulp of the fruit.  It is cold-pressed and refined to give a stable shelf life.
(2) Avocado butter: hydrogenated avocado oil.


Avocado oil (avocado fixed oil), Avocado butter (solid)
Traditional use: a light, fast penetrating oil that was reported to be absorbed faster by the skin that corn, soybean, almond and olive oils.  A complex blend of vitamins A and E (antioxidants, which are both fat-soluble and easily penetrate the lipid bilayer) and other active materials, which increase skin elasticity and encourages healthy skin.
This highly therapeutic oil is rich also in vitamins B1, B2 (lack of B2 leads to chapped lips and skin, skin peeling, sores in the mouth corners, dermatitis), B5 (panthothenic acid), and D, minerals (K, P, Mg, S, Ca, Na, Cu), proteins, lecithin (a mixture of phospholipids and other similar substances and is a major component of the phospholipid bilayer of cell membranes) and fatty acids.  Avocado oil is more oily and viscous oil which passes through the epidermis better than some other oils. It also helps in the reconstruction of the hydrolipid layer and thus improves the skin's protective barrier, and this gives it a more pleasant, softer look and even more flexibility.  It is a useful, penetrating nutrient for dry, mature skin and eczema. 
Contains sterols: β-sitosterol, campesterol, stigmasterol, brassicasterol, δ5-Avenastenol, tocopherols (vitamin E) and others.
The phytosterols in the human digestive tract cannot be absorbed into the body and are mostly eliminated from the body.  However they are distributed in the so-called mixed micelles faster than cholesterol.  Fatty acids and fat-soluble substances like cholesterol and fat-soluble vitamins pass through mixed micelles with the help of bile acids in plasma. Since in this process phytosterols are faster than cholesterol, the cholesterol is practically displaced from the micelles, thus preventing the cholesterol passing from the food into the body and increasing the amount of free LDL-cholesterol and total cholesterol in the blood.
Avocado oil is believed to have healing and soothing properties to the skin and the pulp oil is used in massage creams, muscle oils, hair products, and others.  The fruit pulp is used in face creams.  A pharmaceutical preparation containing the seed oil (unsaponifiable fraction) has been patented for use in the treatment of sclerosis of the skin, pyorrhoea, arthritis and others.  The unsaponifiable fraction is combined with those of soy beans for use in the treatment of osteoarthritis.  Clinical studies have shown that avocado oil can reduce blood cholesterol.

Avocado is a known cross-reactant in individuals with latex allergy.  Severe allergic reactions can occur in these patients after eating avocado.  



The production of alcohol from sugar by yeast is an industry in its own right.  A wine that is carefully produced using sterile equipment and fermented to 13% by volume will just about resist further infection from external organisms once that ferment has completed.  The time during the fermentation of the must is when the must is most vulnerable to infection. The naturally produced fermentation-grade alcohol may be concentrated by distillation. 
Denatured alcohol is a mixture of ethanol (ethyl alcohol) with a denaturing agent.  To prevent alcohol intended to be used for purposes other than oral ingestion, many countries, require that denaturants be added to alcohol.  The denaturant makes the alcohol taste bad.  When a denaturant is added to alcohol it is called denatured alcohol or Alcohol Denat (Alcohol Denat. is the general name used for denatured alcohol).  The denaturant present in the alcohol is not natural and there is need to return to quassin, the bitter substance present in Quassia (Picrasma excelsa), which used to be acceptable as a denaturant (brucine and brucine sulphate are also bitter alkaloid compounds obtained from plants).
The naturally produced fermentation-grade alcohol concentrated by distillation is used as a natural preservative in toners, aftershaves and colognes.  Alcohol at a level of 15% is effective, but 20% is more assured.  It is used also in other product types including makeup, fragrance, oral care, skin care, and hair care products.  Besides antimicrobial activity, it also has antifoaming, astringent, masking and viscosity controlling activities. It is also used as a solvent.
The safety of Alcohol Denat., Alcohol 3-A, SD Alcohol 30, SD Alcohol 39, SD Alcohol 39-B, SD Alcohol 39-C, SD Alcohol 40, SD Alcohol 40-B, SD Alcohol 40-C, as well as the denaturants Denatonium Benzoate, Quassin, Brucine and Brucine Sulphate has been assessed by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel.  The safety of other denaturants such as t-Butyl Alcohol, Diethyl Phthalate and Methyl Alcohol were reviewed by the CIR Expert Panel in other reports and found safe for use. The CIR Expert Panel evaluated the scientific data and concluded that Alcohol Denat., SD Alcohol 3-A, SD Alcohol 30, SD Alcohol 39-B, SD Alcohol 39-C, SD Alcohol 40-B, and SD Alcohol 40-C denatured with t-Butyl Alcohol, Denatonium Benzoate, Diethyl Phthalate, or Methyl Alcohol were safe for use in cosmetic products.  The data were also considered sufficient to support the safety of Denatonium Benzoate when used as a denaturant.  The CIR Expert Panel also concluded that the data were insufficient to support the safety Quassin, Brucine and Brucine Sulphate as denaturants, and Alcohol denatured with these denaturants.
Ethanol is considered broadly toxic and linked to birth defects following excessive oral ingestion. Potential risks from ethanol in personal care products are significantly smaller than the health risks posed by the consumption of alcohol.