By The Skin of Its Leaves
By Anthony Almada, M.S.

Aloe(Aloe barbadensis) gel and whole-leaf extract are used the world over to treat a variety of skin conditions and diseases, from burns and rashes to cuts and scratches. Besides its popularity with consumers, aloe also has enjoyed the attention of international researchers who have investigated its effects on skin and immunity to prove the aloe folklore and anecdotes we've grown up with. Studies are confirming what our grandmothers told us:

A Japanese variety of aloe vera has been shown to curtail the growth of athlete's foot fungus—albeit only, thus far, on the feet of that little-known athlete, the guinea pig.

In test-tube studies, aloeride, a sugar extract derived from the whole leaf, has shown potent immunity enhancing ability. In addition, special processing of polysaccharides from aloe gel has revealed another fraction with potent immune-stimulating effects. Aloe gel also harbors a variety of phenolic and enzyme antioxidants, which may prevent UV light-induced immune suppression, keeping skin cancer at bay. Together, these studies provide possibilities for new aloe extracts standardized to specific aloe elements, with applications for wound healing and melanoma prevention.

Exercise biochemist Anthony Almada, M.S. has collaborated on more than 45 university-based studies and is founder and chief scientific officer of IMAGINutrition.