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Hot Ingredient: Aloe Vera

The use of aloe vera dates back to the ancient Egyptians.  They called the plant the “plant of immortality”.  It was presented to dead pharaohs as burial gifts. Stone carvings still exist depicting its uses. The ancient Egyptians utilized the Aloe plant to heal infections, burns, and to clear up the existence of parasites on the body.  Since those times, the use of aloe vera has expanded.  We know it’s a leading therapy for sunburns; however, the additional uses of this magnificent plant may astonish you.  Aloe vera is a cactus plant that belongs to the Liliaceae family. It grows in dry climates such as those found in parts of Africa and India and has been used medicinally for centuries. The plant can grow anywhere from several inches in height to several feet, depending on its growing environment.  Ancient Greeks, Spaniards, and Arabs applied aloe to the body to minimize the occurrence of perspiration and body odor. During the sixteenth century, aloe made its way to the West Indies and shortly thereafter arrived in the Caribbean and America. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, American herbalists relied heavily on Aloe Vera for many of their treatments.
Aloe leaves secrete, a clear gel that when broken off from the rest of the plant that can be applied topically to heal wounds and soothe skin.  The leaves of this plant contain a high percentage of water, essential oil, amino acids, minerals, vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, essential fatty acids, and glycoproteins. Aloe Vera has been credited with the following capabilities: antibacterial (minimizing the presence of bacteria), antimicrobial (minimizing microbes), antifungal (minimizing the existence of fungus), anthelmintic (reduction in number of parasites and worms), anti-inflammatory (easing of swelling), antiviral (destruction of viruses), vulnerary (wound healing), purgative (performance as an aggressive laxative), and emollient (acts to moisturize and soothe).

Various studies have been conducted to examine the benefits of the aloe vera plant and it was found that aloe vera does in fact have several properties that are effective in treating a variety of skin conditions, from flaky or dry skin, cosmetic ailments, and hair and scalp problems.   Aloe vera has been credited with the ability to promote cell renewal as it soothes the skin. Taken orally, it is used to cleanse and support the digestive system, infuse energy, and support the immune system. Aloe vera juice is taken internally to provide relief from common digestive issues such as irritable bowel syndrome and heartburn. It is also taken orally to treat conditions such as osteoarthritis, epilepsy, asthma, and diabetes. Topical applications revolve primarily around the treatment of sunburn, burns obtained from sources other than the sun, and psoriasis.
As an antibacterial substance, it offers relief from the redness associated with acne while helping to heal breakouts. Enhancing the skin’s natural levels of moisture, aloe vera is particularly helpful to use on sensitive or dry skin. Its moisturizing capabilities have led to its use in anti-dandruff shampoos. A rich source of many vitamins including A, B, and C, it is used to brighten skin tone and minimize minor pigmentation issues.  We hope you add aloe vera to your list of “must try” ingredients!

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