Aloe Vera – The Amazing Healing Herb
Recognised as a significant medicinal herb for over 3,000 years, aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis) today still remains a living legend in the world of natural medicine. Scientists continue to research into how this plant produces its amazing healing properties with absolutely no side effects.
Since the times of the ancient Egyptians it has been used to treat burns, cuts, wounds, insect bites, skin ulcers and infections of all types – bacterial, viral and fungal. Today we appear to be discovering even more about its miraculous skin regenerating powers.
The ancient Egyptians called aloe vera ‘The Plant of Immortality’, recognising not only its healing qualities but also its valuable skin moisturising and nourishing effects. This highly prized plant was so revered it was often included among the funerary gifts buried along with the pharaohs. It has been suggested by some that queens Nefertiti and Cleopatra used it as part of their regular skin care routine to retain their beautiful complexions.
As we know, the Egyptians passed much of their knowledge along to the Greeks and Romans, and records show that the Indian and Chinese cultures were also using this plant for cosmetic and medicinal purposes thousands of years ago. Today scientists have clinically proven that aloe vera stimulates the circulation of the skin, helping to accelerate cellular regeneration as well as softening and hydrating the skin.
Believed to have originated in Africa, this succulent, cactus-like plant is actually a member of the Lily family and over time has been introduced to America, Asia and Europe. There are over 240 different species of aloe, but of this large number only 4 offer healing and nutritional properties of any significance, and Aloe barbadensis is at the top of this list.
Aloe vera gel is extracted from the internal portion of the thick, spiny, tapered leaves which grow in a rosette pattern. The size of this plant varies depending on the conditions under which it is grown, but a mature plant can reach a height of over one metre (3ft). It must be allowed to mature for at least 3 years before being harvested, at which time 3 or 4 leaves can be removed from the plant every 6 to 8 weeks.
Taken internally, aloe vera helps to boost the immune system, relieves digestive disorders such as candida, colitis, acid indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome, stomach ulcers and ulcerative colitis and also relieves arthritis and joint pain. The gel contains the complex carbohydrate molecule mucopolysaccharide, which helps with arteriosclerosis, heart disorders and Parkinson’s disease.
When applied externally, aloe vera gel brings quick relief to acne, burns and blisters, chapped lips, eczema, dermatitis, inflammation, insect bites, psoriasis, ringworm, sunburn and varicose veins. After application, the gel produces a protective coating that reduces inflammation, irritation and blisters, and promotes healing at a cellular level.
Perfect for skin
Aloe vera is the perfect ingredient to care for the skin; it helps to remove dark circles around the eyes by stimulating the micro-circulation and reducing puffiness plus it softens, rehydrates and nourishes the skin which makes it an ideal treatment for reducing wrinkles as well.
When we decided to reformulate our award-winning skincare range a few years ago we looked at all of the available therapeutic botanicals that claimed to revitalize, rehydrate and protect sensitive skin. As you might expect, there are dozens available, so testing them thoroughly was an extremely time consuming process.
Although many plant extracts such as lady’s thistle, ginseng and centella all produced a significant benefit to the skin, none of them delivered the range of dramatic improvements our test subjects experienced when pure aloe vera was included. In fact, we were so impressed with its performance that we have included aloe vera in our haircare range too!
Here are just some of the Quinessence products that utilize the wonderful skin enhancing properties of aloe vera;-
- Aloe Vera and Lavender Gel with Seaweed
- Age Defying Cream with Shea Butter & Rose Otto
- Anti-Wrinkle Cream with Frankincense & Lady’s Thistle
- Vitamin E Cream with Neroli & Safflower
- Luxury Shampoos with Olive extract, Seaweed & Pro Vitamin B5
- Luxury Conditioners with Marigold & Pro Vitamin B5
Perhaps in the fullness of time, other plants will be discovered that can rival the vast range of medicinal and cosmetic uses that this plant has to offer. We can only live in hope! But right now in my opinion, the amazing Aloe Vera plant ranks as possibly the most valuable natural resource for both health and skincare on the planet.
Copyright © Quinessence Aromatherapy Ltd 2009. Written by Geoff Lyth