Have you ever wondered "What is Aloe Vera?" Well, this whole site is dedicated to answering just that question and sharing the amazing benefits of our favourite plant.
Aloe Vera is a medicinal plant, known since ancient times for its healing properties, but the definition of Aloe Vera has also now been expanded as a term to describe any of the products made from the plant and used in cosmetics, food and medicines.
Throughout history it has also been called the 'Burn Plant', 'Miracle Plant', and 'Plant of Life' among various romantic names. It is a cactus-like succulent, with a long spike of yellow to reddish flowers which grows in warm tropical climates.
Originally in the Lily family and related to tulips, garlic and turnips,
this succulent wonder-plant was moved into the family Xanthorrhoeaceae
in 2009 when taxonomists re-classified the Genus of 400 different
species of Aloes.
Its proper scientific name is Aloe vera (L.) Burm. f., also known as Aloe barbadensis, which you see frequently on ingredient labels.
Aloe Vera appears in the earliest medical treatises in existence, the Ebers Papyrus and the Edwin Smith Papyrus from the 1550s and has been used in folk medicine to treat ailments including sunburn, skin rashes, gastric problems, rheumatism and infections. It is thought to have anti-bacterial, anti-viral and antioxidant properties.
Although much is known scientifically about Aloe Vera, much work is still needed to complete investigations into the benefits of the plant, the efficacy of its healing powers and the safety of its use.
It has been generally proved that use in skin products is safe, but the jury is out on whether we should be using it internally. However, it is undeniable that this plant is incredibly versatile and has a thousand and one uses.
The parts of the plant which are used include a yellow, bitter, latex layer just under the skin of the leaves, which is used for laxatives and a bitter flavouring. The gel from the middle of the leaves is extracted for cosmetics and skin preparations, and the whole leaf is processed for juice. Powders and concentrates are made from the juice for use in innumerable products.
The active ingredients in Aloe Vera do not last for very long, and so it wasn't until the 1960s when a method was invented to preserve them that Aloe really took off in a big way in the cosmetics and natural health industries.
The International Aloe Science Council have set standards which require any product labelled as containing Aloe Vera to have the polysaccharide Acemannan present. This is a way of identifying Aloe Vera in chemical analysis and proving that a product really contains extracts of this healing plant.
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