Aloe Vera: Centuries of Effective Skin Care Products
History and Herbal Traditions of Aloe Vera
Used at least since the 16th century BCE, aloe vera contains a number of biologically active ingredients and phytochemicals that are beneficial to your skin. Mentioned in the New Testament, aloe vera has also been used in ancient Chinese and Egyptian medicine for a number of afflictions, including the treatment of burns and a number of skin conditions such as eczema.
It has been used to soothe the pain of shingles, treat psoriasis, and also help heal facial edema. It is also believed to ease constipation and the symptoms of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), support the cardiovascular system, and also boost the immune system.
Another property of the plant is that it can initiate uterine contractions, and so should not be used by pregnant women, particularly internally. Children should also not take it internally. That said, it is one of the most popular types of skin care product available.
Aloe Vera for Skin Care
However, it is for its use in skin care that most people are familiar with aloe vera. Amongst other properties, it increases the availability of oxygen to the skin, strengthening it, and supporting the growth of new skin tissue. However, in order for a skin preparation to be effective, it must contain an appreciable quantity of aloe vera extract, and those containing only small percentages should be avoided.
What phytochemicals does aloe vera contain that offer these remarkable skin care properties? There is certainly no single ingredient responsible for them all, and in fact, over 150 have been found. The term ‘phytochemical’ means nothing more than ‘plant chemical’ In other words, they are chemicals, but natural ones contained in plants, and ones that offer health benefits. Try our Aloe Body Butter or our Pure Aloe Vera Juice immerse your skin in the many benefits of natural Aloe Vera.
Aloe vera contains six of the B vitamins, plus choline and a number of minerals important for healthy skin. It also contains the antibacterial and antiviral anthraquinones that clear pus from wounds and acne pustules, essential and non-essential amino acids needed for healthy skin growth, plant sterols with anti-inflammatory properties, and a large number of other antibacterial substances such as salicylic acid and saponins, which help maintain the health of your body in general, and of your skin in particular.
Aloe Vera for Anti-Aging Benefits
Not yet mentioned are the antioxidants. These important substances help to destroy small molecules known as free radicals that are responsible for many adverse health effects. One of these is atherosclerosis, caused by free radical oxidation of LDL lipids that carry cholesterol around your blood stream to where it is needed.
Although cholesterol has a bad press, we could not live without it. However, free radical oxidation of the low density lipids causes plaques of cholesterol to be deposited in your artery walls, leading eventually to cardiovascular disease, which can be fatal. Antioxidants destroy free radicals as they are generated, and help to maintain your health.
This is also true of your skin. Free radical oxidation of skin cells destroy them, and make you look older than you really are by creating wrinkles and premature liver spots. Those brown marks in your skin caused by oxidation of fatty deposits under your skin. Aloe vera contains a large variety of antioxidants, including Vitamins, A, C and E, antioxidant polysaccharides and flavanoids, and also the mineral antioxidants, zinc and selenium. Aloe is also beneficial to your pet's health and fur coat, which is why we include it in our Shampoo Bars.
It therefore contains a powerful broth of natural chemicals that are fatal to free radicals of every kind, and helps to keep your skin looking youthful and fresh, even when exposed to the hottest sun. UV in sunlight is a prime cause of free radical generation, but they also arise from our natural metabolism as well as from exposure to pollutants.
Of all the natural substances beneficial to your skin, aloe vera is likely the most widely known, and rightly so, due to its extensive arsenal of biologically active natural substances and its easy accessibility.