It’s the star component of all sorts of health-related videos, from smoothies and juices to creams, skincare and tips to help your health. Indeed, its virtues are so multiple that aloe vera always seems to occupy a space in peoples homes. It was first written about in the Mesopotamia era. So long ago, it was even labelled the ‘the fountain of youth’ or ‘the source of youth’ by the Mayas.
So, aloe vera, what exactly is it?
Originating from South Africa, aloe vera is a type of aloe, a fleshy plant that is perfectly adapted to survive harsh and arid climatic conditions. It is composed of a viscous, transparent gel found in the internal parts (the latex and the bark) of the plant. Each part of the plant is used, either for consumption (juices, gels), or for external use (creams, gels). Its external application remains the most simple and the most common form of use.
In shops, we find it under the following guises: aloe, aloe gel, aloe juice, aloe concentrate, aloe latex. So how do you navigate all this info? It’s easy. Aloe refers to the plant. The gel and the juice relate to the pulp while the latex is a thin film of yellow sap found under the inner surface of the skin which can be toxic in certain cases. It’s important not to confuse the two.
Aloe vera and skin treatment
When going on a tropical holiday we all, or nearly all of us, have the natural habit of packing a tube of Biafine® in our cases to sooth the after effects of the sun. But did you know you shouldn’t go back in the sun for the first three days after it’s application? Mmmm, yes, three days of sunshine less. Out of one weeks holiday, that’s not great, is it? But if you use aloe vera gel the problem will be sorted. Aside from its refreshing and soothing qualities, you only have to apply it once after a shower so that the next day, your skin can once again, tolerate the sun. Its richness in vitamin A, E and those vitamins from group B, as well as its mineral salts gives it exceptional healing powers on scar tissue, rehydration of the cutis as well as mycoses, eczema, psoriasis etc.
Used daily, aloe vera can make dry and scarred skin seem softer and more supple.
Aloe vera and capillary health
Thanks to its wealth of vitamins and minerals: phosphorous, potassium, calcium, chlorine, iron and zinc….it moisturises hair, detoxifies roots, and strengthens and moisturise the scalp to facilitate disentangling.
Aloe vera and the digestion system
Aloe vera contains mucopolysaccharides, these are sugar molecules that help stimulate natural defences and maintain intestinal well-being. These molecules also aid in the growth and activity of intestinal flora, strengthening it, and allowing a better control of pathogens.
In the case of digestive problems, a course of aloe juice (gel), taken as two tablespoons in a glass of water three times a day, can have spectacular results. Among the many formulas on offer today, avoid capsules as the plant in a dehydrated and dried-frozen form would have lost some of its healing properties.
Many virtues, but not just that!
Aloe vera is a real miniature pharmacy, but like everything, too much of it is not necessarily good for you.
Indeed, the latex contains a molecule called aloin with strong laxative effects, which can be irritating to the skin and the mucous and can even cause toxicity in the case of frequent use or pure consumption. It can also increase hyper-tension and so can be dangerous to old people.
As a precaution, this plant should be avoided during pregnancy and should not be administered to children under 6.
Whichever option you choose, always look out for organic aloe vera, and ask your doctor for his or her advice.