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IASC takes issue with description of aloe used in research study

By Hank Schultz , 30-May-2013

The International Aloe Science council has weighed in on an aloe science study that does not adequately characterize the ingredient in its description. The term “nondecolorized” should have been included so as not to mislead consumers, the group says.

In a letter sent to the editor of the peer-reviewed journal Toxicological Sciences, IASC science advisor Steven Dentali, PhD, takes issue with the aloe description found in a 2012 research article.  The way that article is written misrepresents tbhe material being tested, Dentali asserts.

Aloe juice in its base, “nondecolorized” form, contains a number of compounds such as latex anthrones and anthraquinones—together known as aloins—that are known to be intestinal irritants.  The IASC specifies that materials in the marketplace intended for consumption as opposed to topical use should be very low in these compounds, which are removed in the decolorizing process.

Inadequate description

The study, by researchers from the National Center for Toxicological Research at the Food and Drug Administration indicated that "Aloe vera whole-leaf extract" is an intestinal irritant in rats and mice and a carcinogen of the large intestine in rats.

 "At issue for IASC is that the article "omits a vital test-material qualifier from the title and throughout the article," Dentali said in his letter to the editor. "The research was conducted on nondecolorized aloe vera whole leaf extract, and inclusion of the term nondecolorized in the description of the tested plant material is essential to ensure that it is accurately identified. ... Failure to disclose this important distinction in the identity of the tested ingredient is simply inaccurate and grossly misleading.

"Our concern is that while it may be technically correct to leave out 'non-decolorized' from the title of the research article, it's liable to mislead consumers without it," Dentali said separately in response to a rebuttal letter to the editor by the study's lead researcher, Mary D. Boudreau. Boudreau's letter clarifies that the previous research on oral studies included the term non-decolorized.

Coffee analogy

“Her point of view is that you don’t say, ‘non decaffeinated coffee’ to refer to coffee.  My point of view is maybe you should if everyone is drinking decaffeinated coffee,” Dentali told NutraIngredients-USA. “We tried to get them to budge and they wouldn’t.”

 The fear is that consumers, and perhaps members of the time-pressed mainstream media, will do a quick read of the article and get the message that aloe is unsuitable for oral consumption, when virtually all of the products in the marketplace have the offending compounds removed.

"IASC appreciates the chemical differences of various aloe vera leaf juice dietary ingredients, which is why IASC certifies only those products for oral consumption that are low in aloin," said Devon Powell, IASC executive director. "Unfortunately, the researchers of the original article failed to recognize the likelihood of consumers and consumer organizations mistakenly thinking this research applies to the aloe vera products typically consumed by the general public. This is regrettable for publicly funded research, and is a disservice to consumers of safe, decolorized aloe vera products."

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