Book Review: Aloe Vera: A Scientific Approach
by Robert H Davis, PhD
Published by Vantage Press (New York, NY 10001, USA)1997

Dr Robert H Davis comes from a solid academic background: he graduated from Kings College and completed his PhD at Rutgers University. He has written over 200 scientific papers in various areas of research and he is a Professor Emeritus at the Pennsylvania College of Podiatric Medicine. His aim with this book is to show - scientifically - how and why Aloe vera works. He discusses the model he has developed over the years to describe how the biologically-active components of Aloe vera work synergistically to produce their overall benefits - he calls this "The Conductor-Orchestra Concept of Aloe" where the polysaccharide component is the conductor and the other active agents are the orchestra. His ongoing research now has all the data needed to show how Aloe vera can attack the entire spectrum of human conditions: he has demonstrated experimentally that Aloe eliminates pain, inflammation and arthritis, and promotes wound-healing. In his book, Dr Davis states:

"No longer can anyone say that "aloe vera is a myth or the result of magic," because the efficacy is based on scientific dose-response curves. This has been clearly demonstrated, for example, on anti-inflammation, wound healing and analgesia."

Dr Davis began his work with Aloe back in the mid-1970s following a fortunate accident: during an experiment in his laboratory, where he was seeking natural anti-inflammatories as an alternative to cortisone and other steroid drugs, he mistakenly used an extract of Aloe leaf gel as the "control" for his experiment. In fact, when the results were analysed, the Aloe sample produced the most dramatic anti-inflammatory response he had ever seen with a natural substance. He spent time going through the scientific literature on Aloe usage and experimentation and decided to do some fundamental research of his own.

In Chapters One, Two and Three, he describes the structure of Aloe, its historical background, the manufacturing processes which produce good aloe, and the government restrictions on description and what can be claimed about its effectiveness. In Chapter Four he goes on to discuss the way that Aloe can act as a Biological Vehicle (or active carrier) - meaning that as well as physically helping other products to penetrate the skin, it also has its own complementary biological activity. In Chapter Five he describes his experiments on the effectiveness of ethanol-extracted Aloe in wound-healing, and the anti-inflammatory experiments using his Simulated Synovial Pouch model to show the increase in fibroblast numbers and activity. In Chapter Six he discusses the increase in wound tensile strength produced by stimulating fibroblasts, and in Chapter Seven considers basic wound-healing and the essential growth factors that promote it. He describes experiments on diabetic animals where wound-healing is known to be retarded. He postulates that the Gibberellin in Aloe may be the vital growth factor. In Chapter Eight he robustly challenges the received medical view of the relationship between AIDS and HIV infection. He sees a promising role for the natural broad-spectrum healer, Aloe vera, because of its immunomodulatory properties: Aloe vera can act as an immune- stimulant on wound-healing, for example, and at the same time as an immune-inhibitor on inflammation. In Chapter Nine he looks at the sterols present in Aloe vera: it is known that the lupeol, campesterol, and beta-sitosterol all have significant anti-inflammatory effects. He used the model of rheumatoid arthritis which he had developed to prove the efficacy of Aloe as an anti-inflammatory agent: he showed how particularly effective it could be when a wound was also present - the standard therapy using topical steroids would have interfered with wound-healing, whereas Aloe enhanced it. In Chapter Ten he compares the effects of Aspirin and Aloe: it is well known that in the high doses needed to achieve the anti- inflammatory effect, aspirin can be toxic. He found that taking asprin and Aloe together meant that the effective dose of aspirin to achieve the same pain-relief and anti-inflammatory action was lower, hence the toxic side effects were also reduced. Chapter Eleven details his Conductor-Orchestra Concept of ALoe in great detail with many explanatory diagrams. Finally, his Summary draws together the concepts that have grown out of his detailed research over twenty years.

Each chapter ends with an excellent set of scientific references, and there is a good Index.

Aloe Vera: A Scientific Approach by Robert H Davis, PhD
Published by Vantage Press (New York, NY 10001, USA)1997
ISBN : 0-533-12137-X [Hardback, 321 pages]

Amazon Books in the States at a cost of $21.95 plus postage - or order from your local bookshop

Review by Jane Rubin
AloeVera - USA
February 1998

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