Aloe: properties and benefits
The genus Aloe is a plant typology belonging to the family of the Aloeaceae , also called fat or succulent plant species. It is present practically in the whole Mediterranean area and in the world it is now cultivated in numerous areas such as Asia, Africa, Australia, Russia, Japan, North America and South America. The Dominican Republic is the largest producer of aloe vera gel.
The Aloe genus counts over hundreds of species, but the best known for its therapeutic virtues is Aloe Barbadensis or Aloe vera, widely used for some time now in formulations intended for medicine and beauty.
Part of the plant used and formulations
The leaf, in particular the gel present inside it that can be put in direct contact with the skin. It is a valid medicine for burns, wounds, anti-age treatments, redness and burns, couperose, acne, dermatitis; you can directly use the gel once it is extracted from the leaf after cutting it, eliminating the green part, or you can also find the gel in a pharmacy or herbalist’s shop in formulations such as ointment or cream. It is generally recommended to make a compress on diaper irritations, sudamine, vaginal itching, hemorrhoids, hives, psoriasis, sunburn. For internal use instead we recommend the aloe juice to drink, a valid aid in case of dehydration, connective tissue problems – such as periarthritis (shoulder pain), tendinitis, fasciitis (inflammation of the sole of the foot), gonarthrosis (knee pain ), cervicalgia (pain in the neck) – pefs and tissue aging.
Do not use the yellow sap that comes out of the cut part but clean it and eliminate it. The leaf can be kept in the fridge in the area reserved for vegetables. To have therapeutic effects it is necessary to choose active plants that are at least 5 years old.
Aloe has the following properties: anti-inflammatory, healing, toning, immunostimulant, moisturizing, analgesic, fungicidal and virostatic, anti-itching, detoxifying.
The Aloe plant has a use that is lost over time. Already in 2000 BC it was used in Egypt for practices related to embalming and as a healing and cosmetic product for skin care (quotations found in the Papyrus of Ebers ). Even Cleopatra seems to have given her the credit for her beauty.
It begins to be marketed thanks to an American pharmacist who designed the formula in 1959.
Types of Aloe and effects
There are many varieties of Aloe; the best known for therapeutic and cosmetic use are 3, including:
Aloe Barbadensis Miller
Also better known as Aloe Vera , it has long, thick and very succulent leaves. It is a plant with infinite resources as it is rich in vitamins, amino acids, sugars and mineral salts. The gel obtained from the inside of the leaves can be used as a juice when a detoxifying, anti-aging, disinfectant and antiviral effect is needed, or as a natural tonic. Aloe juice can be taken not for long periods, because otherwise it can be laxative, and following the instructions on the leaflet or the opinion of the doctor or pharmacist. The external application is instead recommended in case you want to obtain effects of various kinds including those listed below.
- Soothing effect for skin problems, inflamed acne, redness, sensitive skin: deep moisturizing, emollient, anti-wrinkle, Aloe intervenes effectively in the case of sunburn, sunburn, skin irritation of various origins, calming pain and reducing inflammation.
- Healing and anti-inflammatory effect: in case of cuts and burns, Aloe is regenerating and epithelising; gives relief from burning due to sunburn and inflammation and is an excellent fungicide and shows bacteriostatic virtues that make it safe in case of open wounds. The gel of the aloe leaf put in contact with the skin has an anti-inflammatory and cicatrising action on the skin, such as to guarantee the immediate and complete recovery of the damaged tissues and the disappearance of the biological damage, with reduction to the minimum of scars or keloids. In the case of burns, sun rashes, irritations, wax epilation treatments, pulsed light and laser treatments, you can use the gel of the leaf or an ointment, in the form of a gel, available in herbal medicine, applied repeatedly during the day. The aloe placed in contact with the tissues also guarantees immediate relief. In the event of burns, just make a pack with transparent film and let it work for at least 10 hours.
- Constipation and intestinal irregularities : thanks to the presence of aloin, a bitter substance present between the leaf and the gel, aloe juice can be used to stimulate intestinal peristalsis and eliminate swelling and abdominal pain. It is advisable to drink the juice following the instructions on the bottle which must be strictly dark. The administration should not be prolonged because otherwise there could be inverse problems, or they could increase the number of evacuations and cause stomach ache and irritation of the colon. Better not to abuse.
- Mouth and oral cavity disorders: it is possible to apply the gel in the form of a patch, available from pharmacies and herbalists, or directly apply the gel on painful gums, on mouth ulcers or irritation of the mouth. Dissolved in a little water it is excellent to refresh the oral cavity and give relief in case of sore throat and tonsillitis.
Saponary or spotted aloe
The aloe saponaria is a plant of sure interest for the aesthetic operator, less “famous”, of the aloe vera but equally effective above all for the care of the tissues, of delicate zones like the face, neck and decoltè. Rich in saponins gel, it has an emollient, softening and detergent action. Very suitable for cleaning the scalp, treating skin blemishes, burns and irritations. Excellent for removing dead cells, dandruff and excess sebum.
- Anti-aging for the face, eye and lip contour : thanks to the moisturizing properties, Aloe makes the skin of the face bright and more tense. We recommend 3 facial treatments a week, to have a restoring and anti-aging effect, with the application of milk, tonic, mask, vial and Aloe cream and Hyaluronic acid. It is also good to apply Aloe gel on your face every night before going to bed.
- Proteolytic effect : Aloe dissolves and absorbs dead or damaged cells with an enzymatic process; it is therefore suitable for regenerating, sebum-balancing and purifying treatments. It is advisable to carry out 3 treatments a week with products based on Aloe and Marine Collagen to improve the skin affected by acne and post-acne scars.
- Anti- dandruff and anti -itching effect in case of irritation to the scalp or in delicate areas, spread a layer of Aloe gel on the affected areas and leave on for at least two hours; repeat the operation if necessary.
Aloe Arborescens is particularly known for its therapeutic virtues similar to Aloe Vera, it is a plant with great depurative and detoxifying virtues. It can be used as Aloe Vera. Excellent for alimentary use through the juice of aloe or through the gel present in the diced leaf and served in salads or summer dishes. It balances the intestinal bacterial flora, normalizes cholesterol and blood pressure values, strengthens the immune system and improves blood circulation.
Active elements of the plant
- Anthraquinones : are natural analgesics able to fight inflammation and remove pain. The Aloe plant contains several, including aloin, a yellow bitter organic compound (anthraquinone) with a laxative action.
- Glucomannans : they have immunostimulant properties; excellent for stimulating the immune defenses of skin and tissues.
- Salicylic acid : it is a natural anti-inflammatory generally known because it is present in a well-known drug, aspirin.
- Sterols : they have an anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and purifying action.
- Minerals : calcium, sodium, magnesium , iron, copper, zinc and chromium are present in high quantities in the Aloe plant. They are fundamental for balance and psycho-physical health and bring well-being to the muscles and nervous system.
- Vitamins of group A : they are regenerating, elasticizing and healing. They fight infections and are excellent for eyesight given their antioxidant power.
- B vitamins : help the nervous system, increase the immune response, improve the health of skin, skin and hair.
- Group C vitamins : strengthen the immune system.
- Group D vitamins : strengthen bones and improve calcium absorption.
- Group E vitamins : they have a high antioxidant power; keep the skin’s hydrolipid mantle in balance (the barrier that guarantees the health of our skin) giving a fresh and relaxed appearance to the tissues. The group’s vitamins perform a broad-spectrum anti-aging action on tissues and organs.
- Amino acids : amino acids are fundamental basic structures for the organism from which the process of protein genesis starts; 22 is the number of amino acids the human body needs, Aloe provides 20. This quality makes it a powerful aid for extreme sports, convalescence and intense training.
- Saponins : they are chemical elements that possess a mildly cleansing, disinfecting and antimicrobial function. Aloe gel is a valid aid in case of skin problems. Milk formulations can be used to remove make-up and to cleanse the face without damaging the tissues.
- Enzymes : they are very precious chemical elements because they are functional on the skin and on the mucous membranes for their ability to favor tissue repair and reduce inflammation. In the Aloe plant there are some of the lipases.
- Lignin : it is a substance with a high penetration power that gives the Aloe gel a high tissue permeability; this allows the plant to be highly moisturizing and restorative.
Features and contraindications:
Safety : very high
Use : a very well-known plant used since ancient times
Research : the research has devoted extensive studies to this plant and there is ample literature on the subject.
Aloe is suitable for both topical and internal use.
I agree in saying that aloe is a perfect aid for the skin , and tissues in general; to keep them healthy, balanced, to ensure homeostasis and to ensure that the skin does not undergo aging.
It is one of those plants that I call precious in its kind and for its properties. It would be good that everyone had a plant in the garden or on their balcony, especially those with children and the elderly at home, since there are no contraindications except that it can be laxative if ingested in large quantities.
The cultivation of aloe vera
The Aloe vera plant has leaves 40 to 60 cm long, fleshy and lanceolate, with pungent spikes around it, and can reach a height of 1 meter. It produces a single central inflorescence, with orange-red flowers.
Its cultivation can take place both in pots and on the ground, through the seeds or by cultivating the shoots that form at the root. The plant should not be subjected to strong heat, as it generally darkens the leaves by drying them; it does not need much water and indeed it is advisable to water the earth only when it is dry.