Aloe vera: medicine and cosmetics

Aloe vera is a plant that has been used for thousands of years not only as a medicine, but also for its caring effect. The plant contains a kind of gel, which contains enzymes, minerals, essential fatty acids and amino acids. It is good for the growth of new cells in the skin. It ensures firm and young skin, but it also heals wounds faster.

The aloe vera plant

Aloe vera probably originates from the Arabian Peninsula. Nowadays it occurs worldwide. You often see this plant on the windowsill in pharmacies in Poland. There are many nurseries of this plant on the island of Barbados. This plant has a short trunk that branches from the base. It has a blue-green color and the leaves are rounded at the bottom. On the edge they have spaced, horn-like teeth. It is a clustered plant that has both red and yellow inflorescences. Stamens are hidden in the flower tube. The ovary consists of three carpels and grows into a capsule.

In history

The popularity of the plant is not only worldwide, but also thousands of years old. The plant has a long tradition in medicine in China and India. The ancient Egyptians not only used the plant for medicinal purposes, but also attributed mystical powers to it and the plant was given the name: plant of immortality. The Egyptian Queen Cleopatra used aloe vera as a cosmetic to support beauty.
In classical antiquity, aloe vera also played a role in magical and ritual burnings of incense. The healing powers of the plant have also been known for a long time in Northern Europe. Knowledge about this came to Northern Europe through the writings of Arabic, Greek and Roman scholars. In a number of Arab countries, aloe vera has a certain symbolism. There are Muslims who hang an aloe vera leaf in the doorframe when they have been to Mecca. They do this as a sign of their connection with the prophet Mohammed and as a bringer of good luck and protector from evil. In Curaçao people hang the plant upside down from the ceiling against evil and bad vibrations.

What the plant is used for

The juice of the aloe vera can be used as a wound remedy and against sunburn. It is a plant that has been used for thousands of years for its medicinal, nourishing, stimulating and firming properties. Due to its beneficial effect, it is also used in cosmetic products. The sap comes from the leaf. The leaves are cut, the drops are collected from them and dried in the air.

The effect of the juice

The juice of this plant is a kind of gel. It contains enzymes, minerals, essential fatty acids and amino acids. It strengthens the cell walls, has a natural cleansing effect and has a restorative effect on damaged tissue. In addition, the immune system is strengthened. It binds with moisture, accelerates the production of new skin cells and promotes the healing of wounds.

Good for the skin

Aloe vera is most commonly used in skin care. The juice can penetrate quickly and deeply into the skin and rejuvenates the skin and prevents wrinkles. As a result, the skin looks fresher. The enzymes in the juice are able to loosen dead skin cells, giving the skin more room to breathe. The natural acidity of the skin is supported, the skin is kept elastic and healthy and the skin-healing properties are supported. Aloe vera is also used for insect bites, sunburn or eczema.

Our own aloe vera plant

Make sure that if you buy an aloe vera plant, it is also a specimen of the aloe vera and that it is not a different type of aloe plant. It is also possible to take cuttings from the plant yourself. If you know someone with an aloe vera plant you can ask for a shoot. The best way to take cuttings is to put it in a pot with two parts sand and one part potting soil and then water well. Only water the plant again after two weeks and then again when the soil has dried out completely. It is a desert plant and therefore it does not need much moisture, but it does need a lot of sunlight.

Harvest

This plant needs 3 to 4 years of growth to develop all the useful components. If you use the plant, always harvest the lower part of the leaf because that contains the most gel. Cut the leaf from the stem with a sharp knife. You can also cut away part of the leaf. Once you have removed (part of) the leaf, cut off the spiky edges. Make sure you have removed all the sap before using the leaf further. Do not use the yellow juice as it can be irritating. Halve the leaf lengthwise and scrape out the clear gel with a spoon. If you want to use it immediately, you can place the cut leaf with the jelly-like side on your skin.

Where available

If you don’t want to grow an aloe vera plant yourself, you can buy the gel in the store. Both drugstores and health food stores sell it. Apply the gel to your face and décolleté preferably twice a day. There are also facial and hair masks available if you want to treat yourself.

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