Gift of Nature - Aloe Vera
In the 1992 film “Medicine Man” Sean Connery and Lorraine Bracco scour the rain forests of darkest South America and discover a plant that will cure all forms of cancer. The “feel good” plot instills hope in all of us that right around the corner, just waiting to be discovered, is the cure for one of mankind’s scourges. This elusive elixir is, of course, sheer fantasy. There is no such cure-all blanketing a forest floor screaming out “discover me!” But are you aware that there is a plant that has multiple benefits easing numerous maladies that constantly afflict humans? This wonder plant is called Aloe Vera.
Drawings of what was called the “plant of immortality”have been found in the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs dating back to 4000 BCE. Sumerian clay tablets dating to 1750 BCE actually mention the use of aloe vera for medical purposes. Aristotle persuaded Alexander the Great to conquer the island of Socotra solely because the wonder plant grew so freely there. And there are accounts of Cleopatra applying aloe vera to her skin on a daily basis. Obviously it made her skin supple and beautiful but it did not draw out the venom of the asp!
Any natural substance that exhibits such a long historical record touting medicinal properties surely must be valuable as a natural alternative to man made chemical based products. (Click here to read previous blogs about the hazards associated with chemical based skin care products.) Derived from the Arabic word “alloeh” meaning bitter, most people think it’s a member of the cactus family but actually it’s a succulent member of the lily family growing mainly in Africa.
The list of conditions that aloe vera assists in healing is impressive: dry skin, psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, dandruff, skin burns, wounds, irritations, sunburn, frostbite, inflammation, osteoarthritis, cold sores, etc etc. The chemistry behind this wonder plant explains why it is so multifaceted. Polysaccharides give it hydrating, emollient and anti-inflammatory benefits. Anthraquinones offer antimicrobial and antioxidant characteristics. Flavones offer protection from free-radical damage and Glycosides promote healthy cell regeneration.
In its gel form aloe can be applied directly to the skin. In liquid form it can be ingested and is also used in numerous natural skin creams as an alternative to the water phase of the cream making process. Its also a great base ingredient used in natural facial toners and skin misters.
Aloe vera is truly a wonderful gift of nature.