Immune Enhancing Effects of Aloe
Galactomannans are a class of long chain sugars derived from plants, which have
been shown in laboratory and clinical studies to have a wide variety of immune stimulating
and protective effects within the body, in studying the different sources of this polymer,
it has been discovered that the Aloe barbadensis plant contains the greatest concentration
of acetylated mannan which is also the most active form of mannans. This "acemannan"
has been shown to have many effects in the body, mostly impacting on the gastrointestinal
and immune systems, which are intricately related. Before elaborating on acemannan's beneficial effects, it is appropriate to discuss the type of pathology often
present in individuals experiencing immune system depression.
The most striking commonality found in individuals suffering with immune-depressive
conditions (Epstein-Barr virus, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, systematic candidiasis, HIV
infection and others) is their high incidence of digestive dysfunction and
maldigestion. This has several effects that contribute to stress on the immune system and therefore its
weakening. Maldigestion means that the consumed food is not properly broken down
into the elemental building blocks needed for the body to rebuild itself and to generate
energy for metabolism. This results in a type of starvation at the cellular level, with all
tissue suffering malnourishment and therefore decreased effectiveness of all internal
chemical processes. These processes include breakdown and transport of toxins out of
the cell, movement of nutrients into the cell, and energy production for cell functioning.
This affects all cells in the body, including those of the immune system such as white
blood cells, (macrophages, monocytes, and lymphocytes) and red blood cells which
carry oxygen. Not only do we lack enough fuel but we're low on oxygen too.
However, it is not this cellular starvation alone that causes the immune depression.
Maldigestion also results in partially digested food remnants which can be involved in
several pathological reactions. First, these remnants become irritants and cause
inflammation of the mucosal wall of the intestines. Many powerful enzymes and damaging chemicals are released, injuring the intestinal wall causing increased intestinal
mucosal permeability. The foreign proteins of the digested food can then leak across the
mucosa into the lymphatic channels of the intestinal wall and from there gain access to
the circulation. Here, these absorbed proteins are recognized as foreign and attacked by
cells of the immune system. Antibodies bind to the protein, then call in macrophages and
monocytes. T-cells arrive later, releasing enzymes and using oxygen to drive the
metabolic breakdown of the foreign protein. The total result is that the immune system
is constantly turned off and draining down like a battery. As these allergic reactions to food
breakdown products continue, the cells of the immune system wear out faster, run out of
fuel and aren't reproduced in sufficient numbers.
In addition to this chronic hyperimmune state, undigested food remnants provide fuel for
the overgrowth of fermentative fungal organisms such as Candida albicans as well as
several types of parasites. Overgrowth of Candida in the intestine has significant effects
throughout the body due to the absorption of toxic by-products of its metabolism. This
can result in worsening of food allergies, hypoglycemja, digestive disturbances,
excessive mucus, bloating, flatulence, skin rashes, and extreme fatigue. This chronic
infection further drains the immune system and complicates the picture.
Further damage is inflicted on all cell membranes from the effects of the generalized
inflammation occurring as a result of maldigestion. These metabolic reactions utilize
large amounts of oxygen and produce oxidative free radicals as waste by-products. These
negatively charged oxygen molecules are desperately trying to balance their electrical
charge and immediately begin to chop holes in cell membranes as they grab positive
charges. The result here is further damage to the intestinal mucosa and ever worsening of
the increased permeability.
All these processes work together in a vicious sequence of events leading to progressive
weakening of the immune system. It is clear that many mechanisms are at play in orchestrating these processes. Without definitive therapy directed at each component of
immune system pathology, this is a downward spiral to death. Fortunately, a thorough
multidimensional treatment protocol addressing each component has been shown to reverse these processes,
Also, Aloe appears to play a key role on many different levels in boosting immune function.
As the biologic activities of Aloe derived acemannan have been elucidated, it has been
shown to have a remarkable ability to normalize all of these damaging processes and
therefore contribute significantly to the enhancement of immune system function. At the
intestinal level, acemannrin acts as a potent anti-inflammatory agent, neutralizing many
of the enzymes responsible for damaging the mucosal wall; in effect, quenching the fire.
This results in decreased leakiness of the intestinal wall and less absorption of allergic
stimulating foreign protein. Acemannan has direct virucidal, bactericidal, and fungicidal
properties which can help control Candida overgrowth so that normal gastrointestinal
bacterial flora can be restored. Acemannan also stimulates intestinal motility, helping to
move allergenic proteins from the 51n;111 intestine into the colon. All these processes help
to normalize gastrointestinal wall structure and function and therefore stop the vicious
macrophages, killer T-cells, and monocytes, as well as increasing the number of
antibody forming B-cells in the spleen. Acemannan also protects the bone marrow from
damage by toxic chemicals and drugs such as AZT.
These various effects while seemingly widespread and unrelated, are in fact due to one
simple process at the cell membrane level. Acemannan, a mucopolysaccharide, is a long
chain sugar which interjects itself into all cell membranes. This results in an increase in
the fluidity and permeability of the membrane allowing toxins to flow out of the cell
more easily and nutrients to enter the cell. This results in improved cellular metabolism
throughout the body and an overall boost in energy production. The vicious cycle of
maldigestion and cellular starvation is finally broken as the acemannan normalizes
absorption of nutrients and increases tolerance for allergenic foods. The immune system
is now stronger, under control, and better prepared for any new threat.
As humans living in the late twentieth century, our bodies' metabolic and detoxification
systems are under ever-increasing stress from foreign chemicals, nutrient depleted food,
and immune damaging infectious agents. In order to control and prevent the inevitable
progression of immune system destruction that these stresses cause, therapy must be
multifactorial involving all levels of health, diet, and lifestyle. These different areas
consist of destruction of pathogenic organisms, metabolic detoxification, intestinal
cleansing, increasing cellular metabolism, antioxidant agents to combat free radicals, and
direct stimulation of immune system cells. Acemannan, the active ingredient in cold-processed, whole-leaf Aloe has
been demonstrated in laboratory testing and clinical use to be effective on all levels of this therapeutic
It is because of these versatile and comprehensive characteristics that concentrated Aloe
vera juice is strongly recommended in the treatment of immune deficiency disorders. It
plays a prominent role along with other therapies, nutritional supplements, and medications in the
multidimensional treatment of these illnesses. The healing powers of Aloe have been known for centuries, but now we have the scientific
foundation that allows appreciation of this amazing plant and its important role in restoring and
maintaining our health.
Dr. Pittman is currently practicing in Raleigh, NC, where he specializes in
a multidimensional treatment plan for immune disorders, utilizing nutritional and
alternative therapies along with conventional medicine. He is also the clinical program director at
Hippocrates Health Institute in West Palm Beach, Florida, a world-famous holistic and nutritional