The Ancient Egyptians called the aloe vera plant the “plant of immortality,” which should give you some insight into its amazing healing powers.
Actually a cactus from the lily family, this powerful plant is native to northern parts of Africa. It also grows in dry climates like those found in the Canary Islands, the Mediterranean region, Australia, and even some areas in the United States.
Aloe, also known as Barbados or Curaçao Aloe, was used as a medicine for centuries (1). In fact, history shows that Aristotle advised Alexander the Great to conquer the island of Socotra (off the coast of Africa) to secure supplies of aloe vera to treat his wounded soldiers.
The mighty Cleopatra also used aloe daily to keep her skin beautiful and young. There is even mention of the plant in biblical times. Amazingly, after the horrific atomic bomb was unleashed during WWII, the Japanese exposed to radiation applied aloe gel to their wounds and reported faster healing and less scarring (2).
Potent Healing Properties
The thick leaves of the aloe plant secrete a powerful clear gel filled with 75 potentially active constituents including vitamins, enzymes, minerals, sugars, lignin, saponins, and amino acids (3). It also contains a variety of antioxidants and six antiseptic agents including lupeol, salicylic acid, urea nitrogen, cinnamonic acid, phenols, and sulfur that inhibit the growth of bacteria, which can cause infections and inflammation (4).
Numerous studies show the healing properties of aloe for just skin conditions alone are endless. This hearty plant can help to soothe a long list of issues including dermatitis, psoriasis, genital herpes, burns, wounds, pressure ulcers, mucositis, radiation sores, acne frostbite, and just plain dry and aging skin (5,6).
The healing properties of aloe are so effective for burns that one randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study showed that the anti-inflammatory effects of 97.5 percent pure aloe vera gel significantly reduced UV-induced erythema after 48 hours and was actually superior to 1 percent hydrocortisone in a placebo gel (7). That’s pretty powerful!
Aloe Vera Skin Benefits
Studies show that the mucopolysaccharides in aloe help to bind moisture to your skin, which is why this amazing plant is such a powerful moisturizer.
Aloe also stimulates fibroblast, which research shows produces collagen and elastin fibers that make your skin more elastic and less wrinkled looking. Aloe also has cohesive effects on the outer skin cells that help them essentially stick together, making your skin softer.
The numerous amino acids in aloe also help to soften hardened skin cells while the zinc in the gel acts as an astringent to tighten your pores. Studies also looked at the moisturizing effects of aloe to treat very dry skin associated with occupational exposure with respect to people who constantly wash their hands or are exposed to elements that can damage their skin.
These studies show that aloe vera gel gloves actually improved the skin’s integrity and decreased the appearance of fine wrinkles and erythema. Another study even showed that aloe vera can “significantly improve wrinkles and elasticity in photo-aged human skin, with an increase in collagen production…” (8).