Aloe vera, along with its cousin plants A. ferox and A. excelsa, have been prized for generations as a homeopathic remedy for a handful of medical issues. Many of these benefits are credited to a derivative of these leaves or seeds called aloe emodin. This so-called hydroxyanthraquinone compound has proven anti-bacterial, cell-restoring and laxative activity. Scientists in the 21st century also just confirmed this drug's usefulness in killing certain kinds of tumor cells.
Research in 2000 by scientists at Italy's University of Genova, published online by the America Association for Cancer Research, indicates that aloe emodin proved effective in vivo and in animal studies to be anti-cancerous against certain fibroasts, or tumors, of the neuroectodermal system. This system stretches from the brain and spine into the various nerve centers of the body and can fall prey to certain nerve sheath, glial cell and neuroepithelial tumors. The study showed the compound effective at killing what are known as neuroblastoma, pPNET and Ewing's sarcoma cells that are associated with tumor formation in this nervous tissue.
This anti-cancerous ability is no surprise. In 1976, researchers at the University of Virginia showed aloe emodin's anticancer ability when battling leukemia. These types of cancerous invasions involve a compromise of the body's blood and blood-making faculties in bone marrow. Uncontested, this progressive cellular damage can lead from fever and lethargy to a range of other more-serious symptoms like swollen areas of the body, skeletal pain and a higher susceptibility to infection.
These developments do not mean that aloe emodin can conquer all tumors. Researchers have also determined that this compound does not appear to have any anti-tumor properties against any of the few hundred other types of benign or malignant tumors. These resistant masses could be epithelial, fibroblast or hemopoietic progenitor tumors occurring anywhere around the body. For certain nervous system cancers, however, a physician may recommend radiation and chemotherapy treatment that incorporates this compound via supplementation, in a dosage tailored to the particular problem being addressed.
Aloe emodin and aloe's other constituents contain many other strengths. Herbalists regularly recommend it as a laxative or for topical skin conditioning, particularly after a sunburn. South African researchers from the University of Fort Hare released the findings of a study in 2006 that also showed aloe emodin to have antibacterial qualities too. The compound, prized by Zimbabwean herbalists for generations, proved effective against several notorious bacterial infections like Escherichia coli, Proteus vulgaris and Shigella sonnei.