History of Aloe Vera
The use of Aloe Vera for medicinal purposes dates back to ancient times. The plant is native to North Africa, Southern Europe, and the Canary Islands. It is also found in tropical and subtropical regions. The gel from the plant's leaves is often used in skincare products, as it is thought to have soothing and anti-inflammatory properties.
Aloe Vera is known for its ability to hydrate and heal the skin. It is also said to be effective in treating sunburns, cuts, and scrapes. The plant's gel can be applied topically to the skin or consumed in a drink.
Aloe Vera & Skin Care
If you are interested in using Aloe Vera for its health benefits, it is important to learn about how to use it safely in skincare. As we enter the hot season in the Northern Hemisphere, Aloe Vera is a must-have in your skincare routine.
If you are an avid watcher of TikTok and/or Instagram, you know there are many, many, many ‘influencer’ type folks purporting the benefits of a whole range of skincare products with an even wider range of skincare ingredients. For our purposes today, we are going to investigate a little further in to the skincare properties of Aloe Vera.
Depending on your age and what decade you grew up in, you may have had an Aloe Vera plant in your house and whenever someone sustained a minor scrape or burn, one of your parents would break off a piece of the plant and apply the gel to the wound.
Fast forward to 2023, we now know there is a great deal of research that supports these uses (see References at the end of this article):
‘Aloe Vera: is a most ingenious mixture of an antibiotic, an astringent coagulating agent, a pain inhibitor and a growth stimulator (also called a "wound hormone"), whose function is to accelerate the healing of injured surfaces. It is used for pain relief and healing of 'hemorrhoids, applied externally and internally it’s also used for sunburn, scratch and a cleansing purge for the body or skin. It is an aid to growing new tissue and alleviating the advance of skin cancer caused by the sun.’ (https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C5&q=The+Benefits+of+Aloe+wrinkles+topical&btnG=)And:
‘Externally, aloe vera inner leaf, often called “gel,” and leaf juice have been used in cosmetics, post-treatment of dermabrasion (treatment of acne scars, tattoos, fine wrinkles, etc. from the skin), to promote wound healing, and to alleviate psoriasis. In cosmetics, aloe vera juice and gel is added to moisturizers, cleansers, shampoos, suntan lotions, and sunburn treatments. Though other species of Aloe are used in products globally, Aloe vera is believed to be the most widely used species throughout the world.’ (Gayle Engels for the American Botanical Council \ https://www.herbalgram.org/resources/herbalgram/issues/87/table-of-contents/herbalgram-87-herb-profile-aloe/
Health Canada recommends these uses:
- Used in Herbal Medicine to help relieve minor burns including sunburn (Barnes et al. 2007; Williamson 2003).
- Used in Herbal Medicine to assist healing of minor wounds such as cuts and burns, and minor skin irritations (Barnes et al. 2007; Boon and Smith 2004; Williamson 2003; WHO 1999; Fulton 1990).
As with all herbal preparations, patch-test first and stop use if hypersensitivity/allergy occurs (Brinker 2018; EMEA 2006).
You may have guessed by now, Aloe Vera can be used in a wide variety of topical applications with little to no risk. (If you wish to take Aloe Vera internally, please consult a professional in the field.)
DIY Uses at Home
Aloe Vera is water-based and water soluble. Boost your skincare routine today! I use Aloe Vera Gel for my eye gel and the juice for my rose and witch hazel toner. Some other ways I use it:• Oily T-zone
• Soothing and cooling eye gel
• Aromatherapy blend of rose hydrosol and witch hazel for a lovely scented toner
• Hydrate scar tissue
• Addition to my body lotion and face cream
Because Aloe Vera is water-based, it does not blend with essential oils or carrier oils – both of which are hydrophobic (ie. Water-repelling).
Where to Buy
Always check the ingredient list! There are many ‘sun burn’ formulations in your local drug store that are not pure Aloe Vera.
Well.ca carries the brand, Lily of the Desert, and you can get both the gel and juice. I would start there. (Note: I receive no affiliate link payments.)
For more research about Aloe Vera, I’ve complied a reference list before for your perusal.
References & Further Reading
Barnes J, Anderson LA, Philipson JD. 2007. Herbal Medicines, 3rd edition. London (UK): The Pharmaceutical Press.
Boon H, Smith MJ. 2004. The Complete Natural Medicine Guide to the 50 Most Common Medicinal Herbs, 2nd edition. Toronto (ON): Robert Rose Inc
Bove M. 2001. An Encyclopedia of Natural Healing for Children and Infants. New Canaan (CT): Keats Publishing Incorporated.
Choonhakarn C, Busaracome P, Sripanidkulchai B, Sarakarn P. A prospective, randomized clinical trial comparing topical aloe vera with 0.1% triamcinolone acetonide in mild to moderate plaque psoriasis. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2010;24(2):168-172.
Fulton JE. 1990. The stimulation of post dermabrasion wound healing with stabilized Aloe vera gel-polyethylene oxide dressing. Journal of Dermatologic Surgery and Oncology 16(5):460-467.
Grindlay D, Reynolds T. The aloe vera phenomenon: a review of the properties and modern uses of the leaf parenchymagel. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 1986;16:117-51.
McAnalley BH. The Science Behind Aloe: The Healing Plant. Grand Prairie, TX: Bill McAnalley & Assoc.; 2009.
Mascola N, Izzo AA, Borrelli F, Capasso R, et al. Healing powers of aloes. In: Reynolds T. Aloes: The genus Aloe. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2004:211-238.
McGuffin M, Kartesz JT, Leung AY, Tucker AO, editors. 2000. Herbs of Commerce, 2nd edition. Silver Spring (MD): American Herbal Products Association.
McIntyre A. 2005. Herbal Treatment of Children - Western and Ayurvedic Perspectives. Toronto (ON): Elsevier Limited.
Paulsen E, Korsholm L, Brandrup F. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study of a commercial Aloe vera gel in the treatment of slight to moderate psoriasis vulgaris. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2005;19(3):326-331.
USDA 2018: United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, National Genetic Resources Program. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN) [online database]. Aloe vera (L.) Burm. f. Beltsville (MD): National Germplasm Resources Laboratory. [Accessed 2018 June 1]. Available from: http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/tax_search.pl
WHO 1999: World Health Organization. WHO Monographs on Selected Medicinal Plants, Volume 1. Geneva (CHE): World Health Organization.
Williamson EM. 2003. Potter's Herbal Cyclopaedia: The Authoritative Reference work on Plants with a Known Medical Use. Saffron Walden (UK): The C.W. Daniel Company Limited.
Lisa, owner of LJ Turtle Aromatherapy, is a Certified Aromatherapy Health Professional (CAHP), practicing in Guelph, Ontario. She carries over fifty, 100% pure, natural and undiluted essential oils. Her speciality line of Lifestyle blends help you manage stress, anxiety, sleep problems, low mood and much more. As a fortunate outcome of her aromatherapy practice, Lisa is a self-taught felter and jewelry maker - both of which can be used as essential oil accessories (diffusers).