Aloe vera has been one of the leading botanical ingredients for going on 15 years, and it’s high time that suppliers be able to say with confidence what exactly it is they are selling, the chief of the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia said.
That why the organization is in the last stages of finalizing its Aloe Vera Monograph, which is set to be released in draft form in conjunction with an event Las Vegas on Friday, Nov. 9, Roy Upton, AHP executive director, told NutraIngredients-USA.
The release will take place at the first Aloe Summit sponsored by the International Aloe Science Council (IASC). The summit will take place in conjunction with the Supply Side West trade show.
Upton is the first speaker on the agenda for the one-day event.
“The focus on my presentation is going to be on the process by how AHP develops its monographs. The first thing we do is go out looking the world’s leading experts on the subject–on aloe botany, aloe chemistry, aloe morphology, aloe analytical–and we enlist those people to develop those portions of the monograph,” he said.
“When that’s done, the sections of the monograph are sent to aloe experts worldwide. We send it out to them to get a peer review. Right now it’s on to its final review process, and it’s getting very tight. At the end of the day you have the most comprehensive and critically reviewed field of information on the quality control on aloe.”
Out with the bad, while keeping the good
Aloe is an ingredient that needs careful processing in order to preserve its active ingredients–the polysaccharides in the juice–and to process out chemicals known as anthraquinone glycosides that are present in the raw form of the leaf and are both very bitter and known to be intestinal irritants.
“The whole nature of us producing the monograph and the IASC having its certification is to ensure that you don’t have the anthraquinones, or at least they are down around 10 ppm, and that you have a minimum quantity for polysaccharides. And with the monograph you have all of the testing criteria used for determining that,” Upton said.
“The million dollar question is whether a product has been prepared properly so that the polysaccharides remain intact. The polysaccharides are subject to degradation, for example, with heat. There are research papers out there stating that some of the aloe juice products on the market had very low amounts of, or were devoid, of polysaccharides.”
Rooting out adulteration
The monograph, with its detailed description of validated testing methods, will help root out these phony products, Upton said. Until now, there has been a dearth of validated test standards for aloe, especially in the juice form, he said.
“It has been alleged that some manufacturers might start with a good quality product to begin with and then dilute it in finished juice form and they’ll add maltodextrin in order to boost the amount of polysaccharides in the finished product. That’s just unadulterated adulteration.
“There might be other people making aloe juice from other species. That would also be illegal adulteration,” he said.
The market for aloe has grown steadily. In a recently released report from the American Botanical Council, the top 5 herbal supplements in the natural channel according to data from SPINS were flaxseed oil, wheat and barley grass, turmeric, aloe and milk thistle. Speaking to NutraIngredients-USA earlier this year, Peter Haferman, president of aloe specialist Improve USA said, “I see a lot of opportunity for growth in beverages in particular, but there are also big growth opportunities across food, dietary supplements and personal care.”
The inaugural aloe event seems poised to support this growth. Titled “Inside Aloe: Turning Science into Sales,” the agenda features, in addition to Upton's presentation, sessions on testing and identification, market data, recent science and regulatory compliance in terms marketing and claims language.