There are many early references to aloe vera. The earliest recording of aloe vera appears to be 1500 B.C. in the Papyrus Ebers, the original copies of which are said to be at the University in Leipzig. These papers state the many beneficial uses of aloe vera.

Cleopatra and aloe vera

History records the all-time Queen of Beauty, Cleopatra, used aloe vera on a regular basis. Dioscorides, a Greek physician of the first century who compiled the first pharmacopoeia, made lengthy reports of aloe’s many applications. The Greek philosopher and scientist Aristotle felt that aloe was priceless to treat wounds. Women of Asia used aloe to stimulate hair growth through external application.

Beneficial attributes

An aloe vera plant should be placed in every kitchen in the world. Not only is it one of the best cosmetic ingredients, it is the best first-aid kit for all kinds of kitchen and other burns. It is attractive and easy to grow, too. It is from the lily plant family like many important herbs, including garlic, onions, leeks, and tulips. Small enough to grow in a pot indoors, in places like Hawaii aloe vera plants grow as large as shrubs

Scientific conclusions

Scientists have found that aloe has anesthetic, anti-bacterial, and tissue restorative properties, and they state conclusively that “aloe gel does indeed heal burns from flame, sun, and radiation. The gel soothes itching and burning, depending upon the severity of the burn, the tissue regenerates with no scar, and normal pigmentation of the skin returns,” according to Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs [Claire Kowalchik and William H. Hylton, eds., Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs, Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press, 1987, p. 506.]. The Aloe Vera Handbook states that “when applied to the skin, [aloe] is absorbed directly through the cells into the blood.” [Max B. Skousen, The Aloe Vera Handbook, Cypress, CA: Aloe Vera Research Institute, 1982, p. 22.]

Aloe is valuable in almost all skin care products—shampoos and conditioners, toners, astringents, skin stimulators—because of its reputation as a biogenic stimulator which activates and enlivens the cells in the skin, tightens tissue, and restores tone. It is perfect for moisturizers if it is used in conjunction with an emollient, oil, or vegetable glycerin. Used by itself, it is a wonderful cleanser. It is also an asset in mists and sprays, but it is especially wonderful for skin that is in dire need of soothing from burns, including sunburns, as well as insect bites.

Varied uses of aloe

In Mexico the women used to wet their hair at night with the juice directly from the aloe vera plant, allow it to dry, and the next morning rinse with water to make their hair rich and manageable.

According to The Complete Book of Natural Cosmetics, the U.S. Navy once kept aloe vera for radiation burns in case of an atomic attack. [Beatrice Travern, The Complete Book of Natural Cosmetics, New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1974, p. 128.]

Applying fresh aloe vera juice on scars daily for very long periods of time is said to diminish them. Try a mixture of aloe vera juice, vitamin E, and Madonna lily for six months. I have personally used aloe vera gel nightly for long periods of time to dry blemishes. I cleanse my face, apply a wonderful lavender and sage toner, let it dry completely, and then apply the gel directly from the plant or from a very high quality, organically grown product.

Many people have found that applying fresh aloe juice three times daily has reduced brown skin spots, also known as “age spots.” For double effectiveness, try a half-and-half mixture with fresh lemon juice.

How good a deodorant is aloe vera? Native American hunters used the aloe vera juice to prevent animals from picking up their scent by rubbing aloe vera all over their bodies.

Many people say they are allergic to aloe vera. I always suggest that they try it directly from the plant before they assume it is the aloe plant they are allergic to. I think many times it is other less-than-desirable ingredients, usually preservatives, in the products that cause allergic reactions.

In an orchard there should be enough to eat, enough to lay up, enough to be stolen, and enough to rot upon the ground.

—James Boswell

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