Why does aloe matter?
So many products we see today promote the fact that they contain aloe vera. From moisturisers to toilet paper and everything in between; many products boast that they contain this miracle plant, but why does aloe matter?
Although aloe vera has been popularised in the UK over the last few years, it has actually been around for several thousand years and has some wonderful nicknames that derive from various cultures, such as 'the burn plant', 'the medicine plant', 'the silent healer' and a great one from Japan is 'isha irazu' which literally means 'no need for a doctor'.
Although it looks like a cactus, it is in fact a succulent of the lily family, related to onions, garlic and asparagus. About five aloes have medicinal qualities, but Barbadensis Miller is the most powerful. All aloes originated from Africa and have subsequently spread around the world and thrive in warm countries where they will not be threatened by their main enemy, frost. This is the reason that you don't see them growing here in the UK, except in indoor pots.
There are many legends about aloe. It is said that Aristotle advised Alexander the Great to conquer the island of Socotra to secure its aloe harvest for his troops'. Another legend tells us queen Cleopatra used aloe to keep her skin soft and beautiful.
While many still consider aloe vera to be a folk remedy, it is important to consider that two-thirds of the world's population is treated with herbs and plant products that are not only effective, but offer benefits that are equal to chemically derived remedies of the western world. In Africa today, people still pack whole aloe leaves around their wounds, and in South America, mothers coat the arms and legs of children to keep the biting insects away.
There are many varieties of aloe vera that can be used in products, and they greatly vary. There is a significant difference between aloe vera 'juice' and aloe vera 'gel'. Aloe vera juices are made from the bitter part of the leaf known as aloe latex. There is very little to suggest that this part of the leaf carries any health benefits, but it can be highly laxative. Aloe vera gels, which we produce, are made from the inner leaf, which seems to be the most beneficial part of the plant. This potent inner leaf gel contains over 200 different beneficial compounds, as well as being naturally high in vitamin C.
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