Welcome to the Meet The Plant Educational Series. Over the next several months we will be sharing information on plant properties, their common uses, health and skin benefits as well as helpful recipes you can use in your home. Keep an eye open for our weekly informative emails, promoting a chemical-free household!
Aloe vera - the juicy, slimy succulent that is famous for its ability to instantly cool and heal a sunburn. There are around 300-400 species of Aloe! The botanical name of Aloe vera is Aloe barbadensis miller. Originally from Africa, this miracle plant grows mostly in warm dry climates around the world where it is so needed for cooling and moisturizing. It is one of the oldest recorded medicinal plants, with a multitude of uses both topically and internally. With almost 200 active properties, it is no wonder this plant has so many uses for healing! There are several antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial agents in Aloe vera too, which is why we use the hydrosol in our Rain and Coastal scents. We will be exploring both the internal and external uses of Aloe vera in our first, of many, monthly Meet The Plant Series.
Plants are healers with astounding healing properties. One of the reasons Aloe vera is called "The Plant of Immortality" is because it contains a large number of healing constituents. Plant constituents are the healing properties of plants. The most studied and well-documented property of the inner Aloe vera leaf is the polysaccharide, Acemannan. This compound has been known to have immunostimulant, antiviral, antineoplastic (inhibiting the development of a tumor) and gastrointestinal properties. Other properties that Aloe vera contains are:
Amino acids - Aloe vera provides 20 of the 22 human required amino acids and 7 of the 8 essential amino acids. It also contains salicylic acid that possesses anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
Minerals - Calcium, chromium, copper, selenium, magnesium, manganese, potassium, sodium, and zinc are essential for the proper functioning of various enzyme systems in different metabolic pathways and a few are antioxidants. Aloe vera contains all of them!
Vitamins - Antioxidant-rich vitamins A (beta-carotene), C and E help protect skin. Vitamin B12, folic acid, and choline are also found in Aloe vera.
Enzymes - Aloe vera contains eight enzymes. Aliiase, alkaline phosphatase, amylase, bradykinase, carboxypeptidase, catalase, cellulase, lipase, and peroxidase. Bradykinase helps to reduce excessive inflammation when applied to the skin topically, while others help in the breakdown of sugars and fats.
Saponins - Saponins are the soapy substances that form about 3% of the Aloe vera gel and have cleansing and antiseptic properties. Great for skin!
Here in Southern California, we think there is nothing better than slicing open a thick, juicy Aloe vera leaf and rubbing the cooling gel all over our skin after a long day at the beach or on a boat. If you happen to live in an area where Aloe vera is not very abundant you can purchase a potted plant and try growing it indoors. Here is a link with great tips for growing Aloe vera in your home or office:
Have fun getting to know Aloe vera. It is no doubt one of our favorite plant allies, which is why we have included Aloe vera hydrosol in our Rain and Coastal scents.
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Next Week - Aloe vera and your skin health!