(Australian Wild Plum and Willow Facial Cleanser, Egyptian Calendula and Blood Orange Facial Cleanser, Pyrenees Lavender and Cardamom Lip Balm, Italian Red Mandarin with Rose Lip Balm, Chilean Reship with Tamanu and Red Clover Hand Cream)
Aloe vera is native to the arid regions of Southern Africa and Madagascar, though it has long been naturalized around the world. It is now commonly cultivated in arid parts of China, North Africa, Arabian Peninsula, India, Australia, Southern United States, Caribbean Islands, Central and South America. It is also a very common household plant, growing well in sunny, dry parts of the home or apartment. My personal Aloe flourished in the winter months of the Northeast when my apartment was heated with the extremely drying old school, inefficient radiator.
Medicinally Aloe (over 500 species are known, not all are medicinal, many have been cultivate for ornamental purposes), is best known for its emollient (soothing and cooling) action topically, most popularly used for sunburns. Aloe can also have this same action internally when prepared correctly (cut the leaf and hang it upside-down, letting the yellow “mucus” drain out), being soothing to irritated mucus membranes associated with heart burn, IBS, colitis and stomach ulcers. Aloe vera can also be an aggresive laxative (do not drain out the yellow “mucus”). It is bitter and stimulates the digestive juices (not to be used during pregnancy). It can be used this way in a beverage along with mint.
Aloe vera is extremely healing to the skin, it has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties which make it a mainstay in herbal first aid for wound care. I use it as a poultice for various infections, including staph, bug and animal bites. Aloe after the leaf is cut forms a protective barrier over the wound, creating a seal that can keep it from being infected by external pathogens. The ability of the plant to care for itself shows the amazing ways it can help human skin. Aloe is also very moisturizing, healing dry, damaged skin. All skin types can benefit from using Aloe as it is not greasy and absorbs rapidly. Aloe also makes an excellent wash for irritated and inflamed oral tissue and can also be used safely diluted in a neti pot along with a saline solution for irritated nasal membranes. Many prepared, shelf stable Aloe gels have a lot of fillers and preservatives, we recommend using only pure products or fresh leaves. Aloe can also be use topically on dogs, but NOT cats, as it is toxic to them.
It is said that both renowned beauties, Nefertiti and Cleopatra used Aloe as a part of their beauty regime! In ancient Egypt is was hung from doors to prevent the evil eye and when a Pharaoh died, the admission to the ceremony was a minimum one pound of Aloe leaves and a person’s status as judged by the amount they brought. The leaves were also used along with Myrrh in the embalming process. Arabian merchants coined the still used name Lily of the Desert and it was well known to be an ingredient in the “Elixir of Longevity” along with palm wine and hemp. Historical figures like Alexander the Great, King Solomon, Dioscorides, Pliny and Galen all wrote about and used Aloe in healing and ritual.
“You ask me what were the secret forces which sustained me during my long fasts. Well, it was my unshakable faith in God, my simple and frugal lifestyle, and Aloe…”
– Mahatma Gandhi