The Aloe Vera Plant

Aloe Vera is a species in the Lily family. There are more than 300 species of Aloe, although only a few of them have special properties. Aloe Vera, or Aloe Barbadensis as it is sometimes called, is one of the few. The plant originates from Africa, probably North Africa. It is a succulent, which is only found to grow in subtropical and tropical climates, which never see frost.

 

Section of Aloe Vera leaf

Two parts of the plant are used.

It is IMPORTANT to know that two parts of the plant are used – and that they have very different effects:

1. Down the ages the gel inside the leaf has been used to treat all kinds of different conditions. The gel is still used to soothe and revitalise the skin after sunburn, insect bites, scratches, nappy rash and other skin irritations.  If this gel is mixed with the yellow plant juice (3), its beneficial effects are impaired – especially in topical use.


2 + 3. From the beginning of this century, the yellow plant juice, which originates in the cells beneath the green outer leaf (2 & 3 in the drawing), was extracted from a number of difference species of Aloe. It was used as a very potent laxative, although doses were difficult to manage accurately.  The juice is a skin irritant. In early pharmaceutical manuals, this yellow plant juice is referred to as "Aloe".


The History of Aloe Vera

The first time Aloe Vera is ever mentioned in writing is in "Papyrus Ebers", an ancient Egyptian script, which is about 3,000 years old and which is kept at the University of Leipzig in Germany. There are several later examples of written evidence that Aloe Vera was used as a healing agent in the past, e.g. in Ancient Greece. It is said, for example, that Aristotle persuaded Alexander the Great to conquer the island of Sokroto off the East coast of Africa for the purpose of obtaining enough Aloe to heal his soldiers' wounds. 


From Ancient Egypt and Greece, the plant spread eastwards to India, China, South-east Asia and Southern Europe. In the 16th Century it was brought across the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean and South America.


Aloe Vera was consumed orally and applied topically especially in subtropical and tropical parts of the world. Topical applications include healing burns, wounds, cuts and grazes. 


Aloe Vera was popular in Denmark before the Second World War.  It was common to have a "burns plant" in the kitchen. When you burned yourself cooking, you cut a small slice of leaf and applied the leaf gel to the burn, to relieve the pain and make the wound heal more quickly.


The use of Aloe Vera in recent times

Since the 1930s and 1940s the effects of Aloe Vera have been described in a large number of scientific papers. However, it was not until the mid-1960s that methods were developed, by which to stabilise and preserve the leaf gel. Subsequently Aloe Vera was used in cosmetic products in the USA, which exploited the moisturising, softening and rejuvenating effects of the plant. During this period, the use of the plant spread to more temperate parts of USA and the rest of the world.  As the market grew, science showed renewed interest in the plant and in the past two decades many experiments have been performed and heaps of articles have been written about the effects of Aloe Vera and preservation of the active substances in the stabilised gel. 


Aloe Vera in Cosmetics

Based on promising results from the latest scientific research into Aloe Vera, some players in the cosmetics industry include Aloe Vera in more or less every product they make. Unfortunately many companies omit to state how much Aloe Vera is contained in their products and which quality is used.  Aloe Vera is a relatively costly ingredient to handle if the quality is to be good enough for pharmaceutical and cosmetic purposes. Production processes must be painstaking and gentle to obtain the best quality Aloe Vera, in which all the revitalising and moisturising properties are preserved. These processes are described below. We advise consumers to buy Aloe Vera with care.  According to FDA (the US Food & Drug Administration), for there to be any effect on skin irritation, the concentration of Aloe Vera in a cosmetic product must be at least 5-10 %. If a regenerating effect is required, the concentration must be much higher.  At Aloe Vera Group, we believe it is important that our products meet all our consumers' expectations. All our products contain the highest possible concentration of Aloe Vera. 


If you would like more information about Aloe Vera, you are welcome to request articles and/or documentation. Call us on +45 39690814.


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