Aloe Vera – A Truly Versatile Natural Ingredient
I think it is a safe bet to say that many of us are familiar with Aloe Vera. Probably what first springs to mind are the words, "soothing," and "healing." Walk into any health food store and you will find bottles filled with this remarkable liquid, which can be used as an internal supplement. It can also be found in capsules as well. It is also found in many skin and body care products.
But exactly what is in Aloe Vera that makes it so wonderful?
Aloe Vera is a medicinal plant which is part of the lily family. According to the literature, there may be as many as 240 varieties growing in Asia, Europe, Africa and America. However, the one that is used most frequently in commercial products is Aloe Bardadenis. Aloe has been used since ancient times and is best known for healing burns and infection. The Ancient Chinese used it to treat eczema. Aloe Vera has a very significant water content which is as high as 96%.
Aloe Vera contains an abundance of nutrients such as vitamins, enzymes, minerals, saponins (soapy substances that provide antiseptic and mild cleansing abilities), amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein, phenolic compounds which contain antioxidant properties, and lignin, chemical compounds found in plants which may help repair damaged skin and increase circulation.
Because Aloe Vera contains an abundance of enzymes, when taken internally, it can help the digestive system by breaking down fats and sugars, and by aiding digestion and increasing nutrient absorption. Some of these enzymes include Lipase, Cellulase, Amylase, Peroxidase, etc
Aloe Vera has been reported to have beneficial effect for cardiovascular health. When taken as a juice, aloe Vera has natural cleansing properties and may help ease constipation (the juice is obtained from the inner gel found in the leaves). However, it is advised to use with caution as laxative dependency can result if taken in large amounts. It is also reported that it may be of some benefit to those suffering from IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). When taken regularly Aloe juice may help loosen accumulated residue in the colon and gently sweep it out of the body.
However, because Aloe can trigger uterine contractions, it is not recommended for pregnant women. It is also not recommended for children when taken internally. As with any substance, whether it is natural or synthetic, you should always check with your physician to make sure that a particular compound is right for you. Even natural substances can have adverse effects when taken in large amounts or if they are contraindicated with some medicines you may already be taking. In fact, high dosages of Aloe Vera juice may cause abdominal pain, diarrhea and electrolyte imbalance.
So, how can Aloe Vera benefit your skin?
How many of us have thought of using topical Aloe Vera on a burn? That is because Aloe Vera also contains salicylic acid which contains aspirin like compounds. It can help reduce pain because of its anti-inflammatory as well as anti-bacterial properties.
In fact, in its gel form, Aloe Vera can be used to treat first degree burns and facilitates the healing process. Aloe Vera gel is made by using the whole leaves and then pulverizing them as opposed to using the inner leaf when making Aloe Vera juice. Aloe Vera juice may be helpful in the treatment of psoriasis, a condition characterized by excessively dry, irritated and scaly skin. The juice contains anti-inflammatory properties and may also be helpful in treating facial edema.
You will find an abundance of natural skin care products which contain Aloe Vera. It may be in the form of a juice or gel. When used topically, Aloe Vera may help to increase oxygen to the skin and may help strengthen skin tissues. Many Aloe Vera lotions are used to both cleanse and moisturize the skin.
Aloe Vera has natural moisturizing properties which can be helpful for all skin types. This can be of great benefit for oily and combination skin which may not be able to tolerate oil based moisturizers. Because Aloe Vera can help retain moisture in the skin, it is great for all skin types, including dry. Aloe can be found in some suntan lotions because it may help to prevent burning when exposed to the sun.
Adding some pure grade Aloe Vera to your first aid kit and beauty regimen can not only help heal burns but may also give you glowing soft skin as well.
Dr. Teri Dourmashkin received her Doctorate in Health Education at Columbia University in NYC. She is an avid researcher and is passionate about developing skin care products that are safe, gentle and effective. She is the Founder and President of La Vie Celeste Skin Care, Inc. If you would love to learn more about the remarkable La Vie Celeste Skin Care line, then visit – www.laviecelesteskincare.com.